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With both water and shockproof features, the Olympus 770 SW is ideal for water and sports enthusiasts, allowing you to take pictures in places you might not have been able to before. At £249.00 it is quite pricey for a compact, so what does it have that other compacts don't?
- CCD size: 7.1Mp
- Optical zoom: 3x
- LCD screen: 2in
- Lens: 38-114mm f3.5-5.0 (3x zoom)
- Focus: TTL Auto - 7cm Macro
- Exposure: Prog. AE/ 24 Scene
- Metering: ESP/Spot
- Movie Mode: Yes (with sound)
- Storage: 18MB Internal, xD Card
- Batteries: Lithium-ion
- Size/Weight: 92 x 59 x 20mm – 155g
- Shockproof with falls of up to 1.5 metres
- Waterproof up to depths of 10 metres
- Freezeproof up to -10 degrees Celsius
- Crushproof against loads of up to 100kg
With its sub-aquatic features, the Olympus 770 SW is specifically aimed at water and sports enthusiasts, but is also a good camera for those who want a high quality and stylish compact with that little bit extra. At £249.00 it's up against other compacts such as Nikon's Coolpix S500, Canon's IXUS 850 IS and the Pentax Optio A30.
Modes and features
One thing I particularly liked about this camera was the various image modes. There are 25 pre-set modes that can be selected, including Landscapes, Indoor, Beach and Snow, Sport, Night Scene, Cuisine, Through Glass, and Available Light settings, as well as 4 underwater modes. While the camera is suitable for underwater photography up to depths of 10m, it is not suitable for scuba diving or other such like activities as these can be anything up to 40m in depth. It is recommended that a waterproof casing kit be purchased if that is the sort of photography you are interested in pursuing. Each of the convenient scene modes are pre-set for certain conditions, allowing you to snap away without worrying about adjusting the camera to the correct settings, helping you to achieve perfect pictures every time. These modes are easy to use and can be changed at the touch of a button.
The Olympus also features a Macro mode function which allows you to shoot from as close as 10cm, and a Super Macro function for even closer shots. There is also an Exposure Compensation bar, which can be easily adjusted allowing you to set the exposure according to your own requirements, ISO and white balance settings to be changed according to the conditions. This is one of the functions that allows the user a little more control and creativity over their photography than the pre-set functions would allow. Alongside this it has a Self-Timer function, Power Save feature, and various flash modes that I will discuss later on. The menu also allows the user to select the image quality from standards such as SHQ (Super high quality) down to 16:9 (Widescreen mode). Another feature of the 770 SW is that it has integrated BrightCapture technology, designed to give better results in low light conditions such as night time scenes.
Build and handling
At 115g, the Olympus is a lightweight but sturdy camera. Well-built and with a stylish metal outer-casing, the controls and functions are easy to use and can be customised to suit the individual by means of language setting, sound on/off, image quality and various other settings. The memory card and battery compartments are easily accessible and simple to use, and once charged, the battery has a reasonably long life span. The case is obviously watertight without having to have any additional waterproof casing, and, once used, can be cleaned easily by immersing in fresh water for approximately 10 minutes. The power button and shutter release are conveniently positioned on the top of the camera, while the rocker zoom, playback/favourites button, shoot mode button, microphone, functions dial, menu button and printing button are all placed on the rear surface of the camera. The USB socket and battery/memory card compartment are both in water-tight compartments on the right side and bottom of the camera.
The MJU-770 SW has four different flash modes. Firstly there is Auto Flash, which fires automatically in low light and back-light conditions or whenever the camera thinks its is necessary to use flash. Secondly there is the red-eye reduction flash which emits the pre-flash, therefore reducing the red-eye effect that sometimes occurs in photographs, and thirdly there is the fill-in flash, which fires on every shot you take regardless of the available light at that time, There is also a flash-off mode for use where flash is prohibited, for example, in museums. The working range is up to 3.8 metres at wide angle, and 2.6 metres in telephoto function.
When placed in burst mode, the 770-SW was able to take 3 shots very quickly, with less than 1 second between each burst, but then could take no more within the 10 second test as the buffer had become full. The macro mode, which according to the product specifications focuses at 20cm wide-angle actually appears to focus at a much shorter distance when put to the test - more like 10cm.
The colour rendition of the test shots is fairly accurate although on the colour chart test some of the blues did appear quite a lot brighter than they were in real life. In the case of the portrait shots, they were reasonably true-to-life in terms of colour, although on close inspection there did appear to be some red and purple tones around the area where the jawline meets the hair.
Good results were achieved with the built in flash and the red eye reduction is effective.
There is good level of detail on the landscape shot, negligible noise in colour areas no colour fringing where the landscape meets the skyline.
The underwater mode gives sharp, clear results.
The noise tests show good results with no visible noise until the third or fourth test where there are darker areas appearing where the object meets the background. By the fifth and sixth shot noise is more noticeable but is still good quality for ISO settings of 800 and 1600.
The ISO64 test
The ISO100 test
The IS0200 test
The ISO400 test
The ISO800 test
The ISO1600 test
A hard wearing yet stylishly designed compact, the MJU-770 SW is practical, sturdy and life-proof with a variety of useful features. It's easy to use and perfect for either beginners or those who want a little more creative control over their photography and those want to experiment with underwater photography.
Has a variety of scene modes
Well-designed and stylish outer casing
Could have larger zoom
Quite expensive for a compact camera
Blue/Greencolour rendition could be improved
The Olympus 770 SW is available in Titanium Grey, Midnight Blue and Mocca Brown and can be purchased from the ePHOTOzine shop for around £249.00.
All product images in this review were taken with the Canon EOS 400D.