Olympus Stylus SW770 camera

this camera seems to be the prime competitor to the venerable and much loved Pentax Optio waterproof point and shoot camera series.

does anyone own one, do they like it, major pros, cons, etc. it has a shuttered lens which i’m told is a desirable feature. rugged enough to never have to worry about. your thoughts are apprecaited. i wonder about these proprietary batteries for trips over a few days duration…

I believe the camera you have referenced has been replaced by the Olympus SW1030. I do not own this camera, but am very close to purchasing one. I looked at the Pentax, but it would appear they are no longer producing the Optio line. Rumour is they are contracting that line out to be produced by another manufacturer. I am also not aware of any camera Pentax has that is comparable to the SW1030, at least as far as how rugged and durable it is.

Have the 770 - (wtrprf, yes)
If it’s the waterproof one.

That part works fine - snorkeled for an hour and a half in salt water with it a year ago Christmas and no problem. Where i’s an issue for paddling is the size and intuitiveness of the buttons and controls - very small and anything but intuitive. So when paddling I end up using it as a real basic point and shoot, hope for a good shot once in a while.

I have the
790 and love it. Takes great pictures, and is easy to download. The videos are good too, but they drain battery power fast. Because it’s so small, it has a special battery that has to be recharged. I haven’t recorded how much time between chargings. I haven’t dived with it, just kayaked in salt water. When I get home, I follow the manufacturers instructions and dunk it in a bucket of fresh water. So far, I really am pleased.

770SW was superseeded
by 790SW and currently by 1030SW.

The 770SW is a very sturdy camera with excellent features and built quality.

The newer 1030SW adds a wide angle lens.

For samples of pictures taken on the 720SW (they all have the same lens, just slightly different features…) view http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnarlydog/sets/72157600524255302/

Very Nice Pictures
Just curious - are you using any of the special modes on the camera when taking your pictures, or is the camera just set on automatic?

very nice indeed
and nice boats. i have many sea miles on my Formula Cadence, which is the same boat as your Assateague. are you the new Aussie distributor?

automatic is the go
why mess with something that works just fine. With a point and shoot the program modes are most times brilliant. In saying that I admit to rarely use on of the special “modes” juts because there is not manual settings on the SW models. It is best to undestand what a particular mode does before actually setting that option.

The only thing I change is the exposure compensation, generally -0.3 to slightly saturate the highlights (sky)

Thank you for the praise.

not me but
Expedition Kayaks in Sydney is.

I am just a happy customer that Expedition Kayaks has been looking after very well.

SW770 Review
I’ve had the SW770 for about a year now. Here’s my assessment.

o Overall - very happy with the purchase. No regrets.

o Have taken it on a couple of extended trips and have not had to re-charge it, although I have taken the charging unit along just in case.

o Biggest negative is that, if you’re not careful, you can get blurred pictures due to camera shake under certain conditions. Camera has a stabilization mode that minimizes this problem. Although stabilization mode is easy to set (press one button), it re-sets to the default “off” when you turn the camera off and, therefore, you need to remember to reset it each time you turn the camera back on.

o Big positives are size and toughness. Easily fits in the pocket of your PFD. Seems to be well-built and able to withstand a lot of rough handling.

o Pictures are generally excellent in most conditions (see camera shake comment above). If there’s a picture I really, really want to get, I take a lot of shots and have always gotten at least a couple that have turned out excellent.

o Camera supposedly has some kind of coating that causes water to run off when it gets wet, minimizing the risks of water spots on the lens that show up on your pictures. So far, I’ve had no problem with water spots.

o LCD is excellent for reviewing pictures. Note that there is no viewfinder. Thus, if there is a lot of sun glare on the LCD, you just have to point in general direction and shoot a few pictures to make sure you get what you want.

o Please Note! - Instruction Manual says that in order to maintain camera’s waterproof seal, you need to have the seals replaced annually. Unfortunately, this can only be done by sending the camera in to Olympus. They would not quote me a price for replacing the seals (I checked before I purchased), but it’s probably not cheap. I decided that since I only planned to use the camera on the beach and when paddling and did not plan to snorkel or dive with it, I’d just visually check the seals regularly and forego this recommended annual maintenance procedure.

o Camera is not positively buoyant, meaning it will sink if you drop it in the water (which I’ve almost done on a couple of occasions). Thinking about attaching some kind of flotation on the camera’s lanyard, but haven’t figured out just what to use (need something small, but buoyant enough to counteract the weight of the camera - any suggestions?).

Hope these comments help.

Older model
I reviewed a 720 in the “reviews” section a couple of years ago. Still have the same opinion of it, with more water miles under my belt. Great camera for grab shots.

I use a Nikon rangefinder retracting lanyard ancored inside my PFD pocket for safety. So far, so good.


cut a piece of micell
(closed cell foam) just big enogh to make the camera float. A nice rather roundish shape is desirable.

Make a hole just large enough to insert a very small diameter PVC tube at one end of the foam. Insert tube and cut flush to the foam. Insert a light lanyard to the camera and to the PVC tube in the foam. Without the reinforcement and load distribution of the PVC tube the camera when yanked (in the heat of the battle/kayak surfing) will rip through the foam. Test the CFD (camera floatation device) in a controlled environment (kitchen sink).

Tomel’s review
Great review Tomel!

I have the SW720 (1st generation of the SW line).

I agree all of Tomel’s points, especially the picture blur when taking pictures without flash. The stabilization mode does correct this for the most part.

The battery life is very good compared to other cameras I’ve used, but I always purchase a second battery for my digital cameras so I don’t have to worry too much on long trips when there is no power source.

I have only used it a few times underwater, but the pictures came out really good (I’ll post a couple if I have some time).

Overall, it’s nice not to worry about getting it wet or banging it around when you paddle. It saves a lot of time not having to open up a case/drybag to find your camera - just pull it out of your pocket and start taking pictures.

My only “peeve” is the lack of an optical view finder.

Floatation Strap
Olympus sells a floatation strap that goes on to the camera. I have not actually seen the strap yet, but the write up on the web site says it will keep the camera afloat and it is also a bright red (I also believe you can get it in orange) so it is fairly visible. The link to the Canadian web site is as follows:


Hope this helps.

Camera shake
Be aware that the “stabilizing” feature is just that the shutter speed is increased to reduce blurring.


there is always the simple option of DIY in about 20 minutes for around $ 1.75. Sample at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnarlydog/2507422346/

excellent discourse
great photos, and reviews, thanks much. i will be looking closely at this camera (or it’s progeny) next week.

Shutter Speed, ISO or Both?
I didn’t see in the manual (may have missed it), but was wondering whether the stabilization mode increases the shutter speed, the ISO, or both. Anybody know?

a couple of underwater pictures
Here are a couple of pictures I took underwater with my 720SW. This was the first time I used it underwater, and I got decent results.



(pictures were not uploaded in full res).

It’s a little scary the first time you dunk your brand new camera in the drink!