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Olympus Mju Stylus 770SW - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 13/03/07
Rating: Recommended
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Introduction: Announced on the 25th of January 07, the Olympus Mju 770SW "Shock and Waterproof" is an update to the Olympus Mju Stylus 720SW / 725SW, although it has some impressive improvements such as being freezeproof, crush proof (upto 100kg!), waterproof up to 10 metres, shock proof (it can be dropped from 1.5 metres high), and it even features a manometer so that your depth can be recorded with the image. As well as this it features a 7 megapixel sensor, a 3x optical zoom lens, a 2.5" screen and an ultra compact metal body available in three colours ("Titanium grey" / Silver, "Mocca brown" / Bronze, and "Midnight Blue" / Royal Blue). As far as I'm aware, this is the only shockproof, freezeproof and crushproof digital camera ever released! The 3x optical zoom lens is equiv. 38-114mm on a 35mm camera. The Olympus Mju 770SW is available from around £240, this makes it good value for money for an ultra compact waterproof, crushproof and shockproof 7 megapixel digital camera. The camera records videos at 15fps and with a resolution of 640x480. The camera is very compact and thin - the body measures: 91.8 x 59.2 x 20.6 mm (without protruding parts), and weighs approx. 155g.

Olympus have this to say about the camera:

"It’s time for a camera that stands up to life. The Olympus µ[mju:] 770 SW is the world’s first compact camera that’s waterproof* to 10m, shockproof ** against falls to 1.5m and crushproof to an unbelievable 100kg! It’s even a delight to tote around - with a stylish metal casing that’s available in three attractive colours: Midnight Blue, Titanium Grey and Mocca Brown. Test the limits of tough photography with this charming addition to the µ[mju:] family - because if it’s in your life, it’s in your Olympus µ[mju:] 770 SW."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Olympus SP-550UZ)


Front - Camera on, after being submerged in water.


Front - Camera off - the lens has a built in metal cover.


Front - Camera on - Flash, Macro-LED Illuminator / Self-timer lamp, Internal lens, Microphone, silver grey front.


Back - 2.5" screen, zoom control, mode button, playback button, speaker, 4-way controller, OK/Func middle button, Menu / Illuminator button, Print button, lens strap loop.


Top: Power button, shutter release. Right: USB / AV, DC in. Manometer.


Bottom - battery / XD memory compartment, plastic tripod mount.


New Super Macro LED Illuminator Light - this can be switched on / off to use as a torch by holding the Menu button when LED Illuminator is switched on in the menu.


Super Macro Light in action

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium / compact sized 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Size comparison - compared to the Olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom.


Size comparison - compared to the Canon Digital IXUS i7 Zoom.


Size comparison - compared to the Samsung NV7 OPS.

Specifications / Features:

  • 7.1 Megapixels
  • 3x Optical Zoom (1:3.5 - 5.0, 38 - 114 mm)
  • 5x Digital Zoom
  • 2.5" / 6.4cm TFT screen - 230,000 pixels
  • 7cm Super macro mode
  • Shutter speed: 0.5 - 1/1000 (Night scene up to 4 sec.)
  • 640x480 / 15fps Movie recording with sound
  • ISO: Auto: 80, 100, 200, 400 Manual adds: 800, 1600 Available light / Candle upto: 2500 (at 3mp)
  • Digital Image Stabilisation - increases ISO setting
  • 24 Scene modes (one of them being Video mode)
  • 18mb Internal memory
  • Shock-proof from heights of up to 1.5m / 5 feet
  • Metal Body, waterproof up to a depth of 10m / 33ft (including dust protection.)
  • Crushproof up to 100kg / up to 220lbf
  • Freezeproof up to -10°C / 14F
  • Manometer - no it doesn't determine how much of a man you are, instead it "displays the atmospheric pressure and altitude/depth during shooting (from -10 m (-32.8 ft.) to 5,000 m (16,400 ft.)).A warning message is displayed when a water depth close to 10 m (32.8 ft.) is reached."

Box Contents:

  • Camera
  • Handstrap
  • Instruction Manual
  • 2 Year Warranty Card
  • LI-42B Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery
  • LI-40C Charger
  • Olympus Master Software
  • CB-USB6 USB Cable
  • CB-AVC3 Video Cable
  • Full Manual on CDROM

Average box contents - There is no memory card provided with the camera - instead there is only 18mb of memory built in. Some kind of case would have been nice, as would a full printed manual.

Battery usage: Battery life seemed average, I managed to take around 170 photos before "battery empty" appeared on screen. Battery life is rated at 180 shots with the LI-42B rechargable battery provided - this is quite good for an ultra compact camera. There is no way to turn off the screen, as there is no optical viewfinder, therefore the only way to get better battery life is to purchase a second battery, or turn off the flash.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the two small buttons on the back of the camera, one toggles between Program mode, Anti-shake mode, and Scene mode, and the other button switches to the playback / favourites mode. The movie mode is accessible in the scene menu.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen(s) as shown below:

First camera menu Camera menu

Photo / Camera menu options: The first screen gives you quick access to some options such as image quality, reset, demo, silent mode etc. The Camera menu options are: White Balance, ISO, Drive, ESP / Metering, Digital Zoom, AF mode, Microphone, Panorama (only available with Olympus XD cards!).

Photo mode Function Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown above) The screen resolution with 230,000 pixels is very good and an improvement over the 720SW / 725SW. The screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read.

Function Menu: much like the Canon Function button, the Olympus Function button gives quick access to photo controls such as: Photo mode (Program or Auto), White Balance (Auto, Sun, Cloud, Lightbulb, Flourescent 1,2,3), ISO (Auto, 80 - 1600), Drive (Single, Continuous, Continuous High Speed - at 3mp), Metering (ESP, Spot).

Optical / Electronic Viewfinder: There is none.

Setup Menu Scene modes / Underwater snapshot

Setup menu options: Format, Backup (top copy internal memory to XD memory card), Language, Photo / Play (Yes/No), Save settings, Power on setup, Menu Theme, Beep, Volume, Shutter sound, Record view (turn this off to speed the camera up in photo mode), File name, Pixel mapping, LCD brightness, Date / Time, Dual time, Alarm Clock, Video out, Power save, LED Illuminator, Manometer, m/ft.

Scenes: Portrait, Landscape, Landscape and Portrait, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Available light, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot and Select 1, Shoot and Select 2, Beach and Snow, Under water snapshot, under water wide 1, under water wide 2, under water macro, Movie.

A quick note on shoot and select 1 and 2 - this takes numerous photos in quick succession, you then choose the ones you want to delete by putting a tick next to them! Originally I thought I had to put a tick next to the one's I wanted to keep only to see them get deleted! Surely a big red cross should be put on the ones you don't want, and big green ticks on the ones you want to keep!

Playback (Review) mode/menu:

Playback mode First Playback menu

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is a bit sluggish / slow. The zoom is very quick. There were numerous different playback views: Calendar view by date, Normal, thumbs - showing 4, 9, 16, or 25 thumbnails. There was limited additional information available about the photos, however it does show the ISO setting, aperture, shutter speed etc.

On the initial playback menu, you have the choice of: Slideshow, Edit, Print order, Add favourite, Playback menu, Setup, Calendar, Erase and Silent mode.

Playback menu Playback edit menu

Playback menu options: (left) Protect, Rotate, Audio.

Playback edit menu options: (right) Resize, Redeye fix, Black and White, Sepia, Frame, Label, Calendar, Layout, Brightness, Saturation.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of photos will fit in the built in 18mb of memory:

Mode
Image Size
Number Stored
SHQ
3,072 x 2,304
4

HQ

8
SQ1
2,560 x 1,920 (5mp)
12
2,304 x 1,728 (4mp)
15
2,048 x 1,536 (3mp)
19
SQ2
1,600 x 1,200 (2mp)
23
1,280 x 960 (1.3mp)
36
1024 x 768 (1mp)
55
640 x 480 (VGA)
90
16:9
1920 x 1080
28

As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended, unless you're prepared to sacrifice image size or use higher compression options to fit more pictures in memory. There is a very good choice of image sizes, and the new 770SW adds the option of taking 16:9 wide-screen aspect ratio photos.

A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Olympus Mju 770SW / Stylus 770SW:

Find the latest prices for XD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 512mb: £8, 1gb (1000mb): £12, 2gb (2000mb): £23.
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera is fairly quick to switch on and take photos, being ready in just under two seconds. Focusing seemed fairly quick (under 1 second in low light). The playback mode is a bit sluggish, with photos taking around one second or less before displaying when going from photo to photo - however the zoom is very quick. The camera shutter response seemed very quick when pre-focused, with a response time of around 0.1 seconds. Shot to shot time was average, with a delay of around 2 seconds between shots without flash. The flash recharge time was quite quick with shot to shot time roughly half a second slower than without the flash. The cameras menus seemed quick. On the High Speed continuous shooting mode (at 3mp), shot time is very quick, at roughly 4fps. On the normal continuous shooting mode, at the full 7mp resolution, shot time was slower, with flash on providing around 0.8fps, and with flash off around 1.1fps.

Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, and works just like a point and shoot as soon as it's switched on, in any of the modes, whether you are in the Auto / Program mode, the Digital Anti-shake mode, or the Scene mode. The Anti-shake mode makes it especially easy to get blur free photos, just so long as you don't mind the camera using a higher ISO setting. If you want to get more advanced then the majority of the options are easy to access and easy to understand - however, I was surprised that there wasn't a "Built in Guide" like on other recent Olympus digital cameras. The controls on the back of the camera are quite straightforward - the menus are responsive and easy to read and navigate. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple, mainly thanks to the large screen (most options are easily accessible by use of the ok button and the direction arrows) which makes it easier to use. Overall, I found the camera very easy to use, with the scene modes especially useful.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc.) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There aren't too many buttons on the camera, which should make it simpler to master the cameras basic functions. The buttons feel okay, although some may find them small, especially the power button. The shutter release is good.  The four-way controller could be labelled more clearly, however, this may have made the camera appear less stylish. The main mode button could have been labelled better, perhaps using a different colour to show that it's one of the more important buttons. I thought the camera felt quite good ergonomically, although there is only a very small handgrip on the front of the camera, and a small bit at the back sticks out to act as a thumb grip. The camera feels like a very solid, robust and well built camera, the metal feels solid and is very reassuring, even the screen seems well protected, the only part I was dissapointed with was that they used a plastic on some areas of the camera, such as the tripod mount and USB cover.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Olympus Mju / Stylus 770SW Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower (ISO100) Group photo (ISO160)

Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is little red-eye in the photo, although there is some in other group photos (red-eye reduction flash helps here). It has a decent flash, and copes fairly well with group photos lighting up a group of people, and on AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was kept fairly low in these photos, although some noise was visible. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light. Colour could be more saturated, but seems accurate - to increase saturation, you can use one of the many scene modes, for example, cuisine, and landscape are two of the scene modes that will add more saturation - saturation seemed much better when the subject was closer to the camera when using flash (numerous examples can be seen in the gallery).

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600) with a further ISO2500 mode available in the "Available light" / "Candle light" scene modes - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 6 megapixel Fujifilm FinePix F30 and 7 megapixel Samsung NV7 OPS.

Fujifilm FinePix F30 Olympus Mju 770SW (Tungsten) Samsung NV7 OPS

ISO Noise Test Photo - Flash off unless otherwise stated. Fujifilm FinePix F30 on the left, Samsung NV7 OPS on the right. The colour difference is due to the camera's automatic white balance / white balance setting.

Fujifilm FinePix F30 (6mp) Olympus Mju 770SW (Tungsten) Samsung NV7 OPS (7mp)
 
N/A ISO80 - Actual Pixels N/A
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO 1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1000 - Actual Pixels

Noise is much more noticable on the Samsung NV7 OPS than on the Olympus Mju 770SW at all ISO settings, and much lower on the Fujifilm FinePix F30. Noise levels from the Olympus 770SW appear acceptable as long as you use ISO400 or lower. Above ISO400 and noise is removed with strong noise-reduction creating blurred images that lack detail. The 770sw has an additional high ISO mode (of upto ISO2500 using candlelight and available light scene modes) at 3 megapixels, this may be useful for small prints, however detail is quite low.

Outside:

Liverpool Shops (ISO80) Trees (ISO80)

Outside, the camera has very good colour, it is accurate with good saturation and contrast. There was good detail although some images seemed a little soft. Noise seemed low for ISO100 photos. I turned up the quality to maximum to avoid jpeg artefacts. Exposure seemed good with detail visible in both light and dark areas.

Zoom: The Olympus 3x optical zoom lens provides a good / standard zoom range. The camera also features a 5x digital zoom. Digital zoom simply degrades image quality and better results can often be obtained using software. I've included examples to show what is possible.

Wide-angle 3x optical zoom Digital and optical zoom

Exposure / Metering on the photos of the clock tower seems very good,with the dark areas of the photo not too dark, and the bright areas of the photo still visible. Purple fringing was also very low in these photos.

Lens noise and zoom: The lens and shutter noise are very quiet and almost impossible to hear (assuming you've switched off the "pretend" sounds). There are around 9 steps between wide angle and telephoto. This gives good control over how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was low in most photos, but can be seen in some extreme test cases near the edges of the photos, however this was only seen when looking closely at the images, and was not seen in most normal photos.

Macro:

Macro Timex Watch Actual Pixels (ISO80)

The super macro mode zooms in slightly and allows you to be 7cm away from the subject - this allows you to get good, close-up, detailed macro photos. Unfortunately there is no custom white balance - auto white balance did a fairly good job here, but in different lighting conditions results may not be as good. The LED Illuminator can help with super macro photos when lighting is poor.

Video mode: The camera features a 640x480 video mode at 15fps with sound. This is fairly average, a higher frame rate would have been nice, and unfortunately the lower resolution video mode of 320x240 still features the same choppy 15fps.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality was generally good, with good colour, contrast, and detail, although images were slightly soft, and some flash photos indoors had less saturation than I would have liked to see (this can be increased by using some of the scene modes, or by moving closer to the subject). Images had generally low noise, at most ISO settings upto ISO200. Some images were slightly soft straight from the camera and could benefit from sharpening. Purple fringing was quite low. Red-eye was visible in some photos with flash, this can be fixed using the built in red-eye reduction in playback mode, or by using the red-eye reduction flash. The camera did a good job focusing the majority of the time - and indoor group photos were surprisingly well lit despite the cameras compact size and compact flash. I did not notice vignetting in photos, nor did I notice barrel or pincushion distortion, although there was some corner softness. There is a very good range of image sizes, and a good choice of compression options, plus a new option to take 16:9 aspect ratio photos. Auto white balance, metering, and exposure seemed to be good to very good. The lack of custom white balance my hinder some people, especially those interested in taking macro photos. (7.5/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The cameras most appealing features are it's ultra compact shock, crush, dust, freeze and water proof body. This is the first digital camera to feature a freezeproof and crushproof body (the previous 720SW and 725SW were also dust, shock and water proof). The camera is very compact and very pocketable. The camera is stylish with a solid silver body available in three colours. The camera has good 2.5" screen that is usable in bright sunlight, and has a higher resolution compared to it's predecessor. Other improvements include a manometer to provide depth information under water (or on land), and a new macro LED illuminator. The camera feels very well built, and is comfortable to hold. The camera is easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there is a good layout of buttons and controls, with numerous scene modes and a digital anti-shake mode to help get better shots. The camera speed is good, with a good switch on time, quick focusing time, excellent shutter response, good flash recharge time, slightly sluggish / slow playback mode, quick menus, fairly slow continuous shooting at full resolution, and a very fast high speed shooting mode at 3mp. Battery life is average. The cameras video mode is let down by a fairly poor frame rate compared to other digital cameras. (9/10)

Value for Money: The Olympus Mju / Stylus 770SW at around £240, is good value for money for an ultra compact 7 megapixel digital camera, add in the water, crush, freeze, dust and shock proof features, and this digital camera becomes excellent value for money, especially considering that this camera will survive almost any environment or accident. There is very little to compare this digital camera with, but if all you're looking for is a waterproof digital camera, then the Pentax Optio W20 is a much cheaper option. (8/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Olympus Stylus Mju 770SW is a unique digital camera, and would be especially suited to someone who wants to take their camera with them everywhere they go, especially if they're prone to dropping things, getting things wet, getting things dusty, standing on things, or travelling in freezing conditions. The rugged waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, crushproof and dustproof body and solid build of the digital camera is likely to make the digital camera last much longer than other digital cameras, this makes it excellent value for money compared to less solid digital cameras, and makes it an excellent beach / holiday camera. Image quality was generally good especially outside, although indoors some flash photos seemed slightly under-saturated, and images were slightly soft. Noise was quite well controlled. The camera is very easy to use and there were several features built into the camera to help get better results, such as the digital image stabilisation mode, super macro LED illuminator, and numerous scene modes.

Olympus Mju / Stylus 770SW Rating: Recommended (8/10)
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What I like:

  • Waterproof upto 10 metres
  • World's only shock-proof, freeze-proof, crush-proof digital camera!
  • Very compact rugged dust proof body
  • Very Stylish
  • In camera editing (red-eye removal, contrast, sharpness etc)
  • Digital Image Stabilisation mode (ISO upto 1600 at full resolution), Available light modes (ISO upto 2500 at 3mp)
  • Very good exposure / metering
  • Good colour
  • Good Macro mode
  • 24 Scene modes
  • 2 year warranty

What I don't like:

  • Slow video frame rate (15fps)
  • Advanced manual is on CD
  • Doesn't feature custom white balance
  • Panoramic mode only available with Olympus xD cards!
  • Low saturation in some indoor group photos when using the flash, especially if the subject was further away from the camera
  • Lacks picture options of other Olympus cameras, i.e Saturation, Contrast, Sharpness - instead you'll need to use one of the scene modes, or the playback mode, to increase saturation etc.

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Olympus Mju / Stylus 770SW Sample Photo Gallery.
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