Olympus Stylus 1030SW First Impressions Review
Olympus has introduced another tough digital camera with its Stylus 1030SW. It can handle a drop from 6.6 feet, a dunk in water 33 feet deep, temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and crushing weight of up to 220 pounds. The 10.1-megapixel 1030SW
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Watch our video preview of the 1030SW below by clicking play.
Front **The front of the Olympus Stylus 1030SW looks very much like its predecessors – almost like an industrial chunk of metal. There is a darker steel frame that shows around the edges of the camera. On the left edge is the Olympus logo. In the upper left corner are two holes that make up the microphone. In the upper right corner is the rectangular-framed lens, which is positioned where the left fingers wrap around the camera, thus blocking the view if not careful. The center of the camera has a lighter silver-colored metal plate anchored by three tough-looking bolts and surrounded by a thin black material, perhaps alluding to the many rubber seals throughout the camera. On the left edge of this inner plate is a token finger grip made only of a protruding chrome strip. There is also a Stylus 1030SW logo along with the words, "Shock + Waterproof." Above the text is the small built-in flash and a yellow LED to its right. On the right edge of the inner plate Olympus flaunts the increased resolution: "10.1 megapixel." Back**The left side of the back is occupied by a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and the right side is scattered with buttons. There are two zoom control buttons in the upper right corner: the left one zooms out and the right one zooms in. There is a bump between the separate buttons to differentiate them. Below them is the round mode dial, which is surrounded with a black grooved gasket and complemented with a divot in the camera body to its right for better handling. The mode dial has these positions: Camera, Auto, Playback, Star, Movie, Guide, Scene, and Digital Image Stabilization. To the left of the dial is a single LED to show which mode is currently selected. In the lower right corner of the back is a combination of buttons that looks like it came off a handheld gaming device. There is a central cross-like multi-selector that can be pushed in the four directions to navigate. Each direction has an icon embossed into it, but it is very hard to see. The top accesses the exposure compensation, the right side changes the flash modes, the bottom turns on the self-timer, and the left side activates the Macro mode. The outer corners look carved away to make room for the four buttons that surround the multi-selector. These buttons are labeled in silver lettering on a silver background (a less than helpful design), so they are also incredibly hard to see. The button in the upper left accesses the menus. The button in the upper right opens the Playback mode and also serves as a print button. The button to the lower left accesses different display information, provides basic info about shooting features, and turns on the flashlight when the camera is off. The button to the lower left deletes images in the Playback mode and turns on the shadow adjustment in the Recording mode.
Left Side **The left side of the camera is labeled "3.6x optical wide zoom" and has screws on the top and bottom. You can also see how the metal exterior attracts fingerprints; perhaps a quick dip 33 feet underwater would wash them off. ****Right Side The right side is pretty straightforward: It is colored in black and has a chrome wrist strap eyelet in its center. Near the top is a latched door that opens to reveal the one multifunctional port. Top The top and bottom of the camera aren’t very exciting. On the top, there is some text on the left regarding the lens: "Olympus Lens, AF Wide Zoom, 5.0-18.2mm 1:3.5-5.1." On the right side are the top’s only two buttons for power (on the left) and shutter release. The shutter release button is nice and large, and spaced far enough apart from the power button that you won’t be pushing both at once. ****Bottom**The battery and memory card compartment sits on the left side under a plastic lock. The inside of this compartment has a rubber seal to complement the outside’s lock. To its right is a tripod socket.
**Viewfinder Like its predecessors, the Olympus Stylus 1030SW skips an optical viewfinder and uses the larger, brighter, and more accurate LCD screen. The screen has decent colors and contrast, but its refresh rate isn’t very fast, so subjects look choppy when they move. Some cameras speed up the refresh rate when the exposure is locked, but the Olympus 1030SW’s screen remains unchanged when the shutter release button is pushed. The display on the live view can be changed with a push of the button to the lower left of the multi-selector. It can show a blank screen, file info with a framing grid, file info with a histogram, and file info only. Olympus markets a "perfect shot preview" that is hidden within its Guide mode. It isn’t even called by that name on the camera. Instead, the tutorial-like mode offers four previews per screen for several different settings. For instance, if you choose to brighten your image, four previews will appear with EV changes of 0, +0.3, +0.7, and +1. You can keep scrolling if you want to access more options up to +2 with the "perfect shot preview." LCD Screen The 1030SW has a 2.7-inch HyperCrystal II LCD that Olympus says has "improved contrast and color reproduction," according to its press release. It looks good to me, especially with its wide viewing angles. I could see the image on the screen even when I held the camera above, below, and to the sides of my head. The LCD has 230,000 pixels, which makes for a nice smooth view. The LCD’s surface is shiny and catches glare from strong lighting. It also collects fingerprints on its surface, which glistened in the show lighting from above. There is a five-step brightness adjustment in the Setup menu. It significantly boosts the lighting of the LCD and that always looks good, but it sucks the battery dry faster. Overall, the LCD is nicely sized and has great resolution and viewing angles. Flash The flash unit is shifted to the left above the lens, when viewing from the front. Its positioning isn’t great, but there’s hardly any space on this compact camera. It is placed near the upper left corner where the right fingers wrap and grip the body. The flash looks small and squatty, its length is less than that of a dime. The flash is effective from 0.33 to 13.5 feet when zoomed out and 0.98 to 8.9 feet when zoomed in, at ISO 800. These specs are provided by the manufacturer. Most manufacturers publish flash range specs with lower, less sensitive ISO settings. While 13.5 feet sounds standard, the actual range when compared with other cameras’ specs will be much shorter. On the PMA show floor, the flash seemed effective to about 6 feet at best. And it didn’t look that good; being brighter in the center than the edges. We'll have to get the camera into our testing lab before we can draw any real conclusions on this, though. The following flash modes can be accessed on the right side of the multi-selector: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, On, and Off. There are no frills with this flash system; even the Red-Eye Reduction mode caught a red-eye of a woman with her head turned sideways. The camera takes about three seconds between shots that use the flash; we can’t be overly harsh, though, because this is a pre-production model. Overall, though, the flash looks to be small, weak, and uneven. ****Zoom Lens**The Olympus Stylus 1030SW upgrades from the standard 3x lens to a 3.6x optical zoom lens. The 5-18.2mm lens is internal and located in the upper right corner of the front. Its placement makes it easy to block with the left fingers that wrap around the camera there. The lens is wider than previous waterproof cameras with its 28-102mm equivalent range. The Olympus Stylus 770SW has a 38-114mm range. The new lens on the 1030SW is made of 10 lenses in eight groups and includes four aspherical lenses and two ED lenses. It is still tightly packaged as an internal lens in this very compact digital camera. The lens has a water-repellant coating and is sealed around the edges to keep water and dust out of the camera body. The lens is controlled by two tiny buttons on the back of the camera. When pushed, a horizontal bar appears across the LCD screen and a graphic moves through the range to show approximately where you’re at within the 3.6x. The lens can stop at about nine different focal lengths throughout the 3.6x. It isn’t very sensitive but it doesn’t make any noise and moves smoothly. The Olympus Stylus 1030SW has 5x digital zoom. It also includes a digital image stabilization system that has its own exposure mode on the dial, but is also employed in other exposure modes. This system uses only an algorithm to correct bumps in camera handling; digital systems aren’t nearly as effective as optical image stabilization systems. The increased zoom on the new lens is a welcome treat, but the tiny controls aren’t very comfortable.
Design / Layout
**Model Design / Appearance**The Olympus Stylus 1030SW looks like the tough kid on the block when compared to dainty and diminutive digital cameras that are vying to be the thinnest. The 1030SW is still thin, but is very solid. It is built from stainless steel and aluminum and is fitted throughout with rubber gaskets and O-rings to keep water and dust from creeping in. On the outside, this Stylus has visible bolts, perhaps to promote its toughness. Indeed, at first glance the Olympus Stylus 1030SW looks different. It still looks like a camera. But a very tough one at that. It comes in silver, black, and glittery green colors. The different colors mainly manifest themselves as the front plate. Overall, the 1030SW is a tough-looking but skinny camera. **Size / Portability**This tough little camera is heftier than you’d think just from looking at it. It measures 3.7 x 2.4 x 0.84 inches (93.6 x 60.9 x 21.3mm) and has flat surfaces that make it perfect for pocketing and carrying along to just about anywhere. It weighs 6.3 ounces (170 grams) without the battery and memory card; most cameras this size weigh less than five ounces. The camera comes with a wrist strap that attaches to an eyelet on its right side. For those who want to seriously venture underwater, Olympus sells a red wrist strap that promises to keep the camera from floating away. **Handling Ability**Convenience is the priority on this slim digital camera, and handling is what was sacrificed. There are a few token handling features, but they don’t really improve handling to the point where you’d want to hold this longer than about five minutes. There is a divot near the mode dial on the back of the camera where the thumb can rest, but it is small and far out on the edge. There is also a vertical strip of chrome on the front of the camera surrounded by black rubber-like material; this is meant to be a finger grip, but it doesn’t protrude very much and chrome isn’t exactly a great gripping surface. To top off the uncomfortable handling, the Olympus Stylus 1030SW’s components are poorly placed. The lens will likely be blocked by left fingers while the right fingers will probably block the flash. The Olympus Stylus 1030SW is designed for an occasional out-of-the-pocket shot with its nonexistent handling comforts and skinny and convenient camera body. **Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size There are several controls on the 1030SW’s camera body, but most of the labels are incredibly difficult to read. The multi-selector is embossed with icons that are hard to see without tilting the camera to catch the light at the right angle. The buttons around the multi-selector are labeled with silver text printed on the silver background. The buttons are generally small and too close to each other, with the exception of the large shutter release button on top that is properly spaced from the power button. To its credit, the 1030SW has a nice mode dial that has big grooves on the side that make it easy to rotate. Menu**The Olympus Stylus 1030SW has a menu system that looks mostly unchanged from its predecessors. There is a Function menu that is useful in avoiding the menus when possible. When not possible, there is Olympus’ typical menu system that opens with an initial menu page before heading to the "Camera menu" and other options like "Setup menu" and "Silent mode." The Function menu appears when the OK/func button is pushed. The menu items show up on the left edge of the LCD and the options appear on the bottom right, so there is still a nice live view that can be seen. The standard Camera menu comes with numbered tabs on the side to skip to different pages, but the tabs don’t have icons so it’s hard to remember what options are on page two, for instance. The Setup menu is available from the initial menu screen that appears. It also has the ambiguously-numbered tabs in its menus. The menu system is a bit confusing but the Function menu makes it easier to avoid. The font is readable, albeit a bit archaic looking. **Ease of Use **The Olympus Stylus 1030SW is an easy to use point-and-shoot digital camera. It has a user-friendly Guide mode directly on the mode dial that walks you through certain problems such as brightening subjects and even zooming. There are lots of live views throughout this mode, as well as a few in the Function and Recording menus. All you really need to know how to do is turn on the camera and push the shutter button: the camera does the rest.
**Auto Mode There is an Auto mode on this camera printed in text on the mode dial. It blocks access to the Recording menu and only allows the image size and compression to be changed in the Function menu. It does have access to options like self-timer and macro focus on the multi-selector. It is very easy to use. There is also a Program exposure mode designated by a camera icon on the mode dial. This can be a little confusing because the camera icon is sometimes used to designated an Auto mode, but not on the Olympus 1030SW. The Program mode is the most manually-oriented mode on the camera. Movie Mode**The Movie mode is improved upon from this camera’s predecessor, the Stylus 770SW. That camera has decent resolution but at a very choppy 15 fps frame rate. The new Olympus Stylus 1030SW has the same 640 x 480 and 320 x 240-pixel resolution, but adds a higher frame rate of 30 fps in addition to the memory-saving 15 fps. Audio is also captured, but I couldn’t really test that out very well on the noisy PMA show floor. The 1030SW’s Movie mode is located directly on the mode dial, so it’s very easy to find. Its videos look smoother than the 770’s, but still aren’t as smooth as what your own eyes can see. Another complaint is that the focus isn’t very sharp in videos, but this camera is a pre-production model, so perhaps this will be fixed by the time the real deal rolls into stores in March or April. The optical zoom cannot be used while recording videos. The full digital zoom can be used, but it degrades image quality until it looks like a convenience store security clip on a crime show. The digital image stabilization takes some bumps out of the movie. There is access to a Recording menu in this mode. It provides control over white balance, digital zoom, and metering. In the Playback mode, you can’t edit the video but you can create an index print from the frames and fast-forward and reverse and play like you would on a television. One interesting, but hidden, mode is the Pre-Capture movie mode. It is tucked away in the Scene mode menu. When selected, it records two seconds prior to the moment the shutter button was pushed and then keeps going until pushed again. This mode is evidence of a growing trend among manufacturers like Casio who offer you the ability to "never miss a shot." The Pre-Capture movie mode was not included on the old 770SW and is a neat feature on the new 1030SW. **Drive / Burst Mode**There is a simple Burst mode on the Olympus Stylus 1030SW that is located in the Function and Recording menus. Single, Continuous, and High-Speed Continuous are the options. The standard Continuous mode shoots 0.7 fps for seven shots straight at full resolution. This is not very fast. The pre-production model was up to speed in terms of meeting the manufacturer’s published specs. But it won’t be fast enough for most photographers who don’t want to miss the perfect shot of their son’s last dunk in his last basketball game of the season. This Burst mode is slower than the 1.1 fps Stylus 770SW. The new 1030SW’s High-Speed Continuous burst is faster than its predecessor, though. The old camera can shoot 3.5 fps, but the new model can shoot 5.2 fps for up to 11 shots. Both models limit the resolution to 3 megapixels in this mode. The bottom of the multi-selector turns on the self-timer, which shows a solid LED while waiting 12 seconds, blinking only in the last two seconds. **Playback Mode The Playback mode can be accessed from the button to the upper right of the multi-selector or by rotating the dial to the designated position. This gives users a choice; personally, I like the button because I can get back to shooting much faster. The Playback mode opens the last image taken and shows it with varying amounts of file info and histograms depending on what is selected with the display button. Pictures can be navigated through with the multi-selector. You can push one at a time or push continuously to watch them roll quickly by. Images can be displayed in screens of four, nine, 16, and 25, as well as in a calendar format. Using the other end of the zoom controls, you can magnify an image up to 10x. Pictures can be deleted with the designated button or by entering the menu, where more than one picture can be deleted at a time. The Playback menu includes options to protect, rotate, and attach four-second voice memos to images. The Playback Edit menu includes a wider range of options. There is also a "perfect fix" editing feature located in the initial menu screen. It can fix red-eyes, shadow adjustment, or both. In the same menu screen is the slide show option with its scores of transition effects and new background music. Old Stylus cameras have a single repeating 10-second clip of elevator music that is horribly annoying. The 1030SW has two clips that are longer than 10 seconds, but are the same style of cheesy elevator music. You can designate images as "favorites" in the Playback mode, but there is a special place to access them later: the star on the mode dial. This makes it easier and faster to find them so you can show them off to friends. Overall, the Playback mode is nicely complemented by the wide-angled and high-resolution LCD screen, along with the host of editing and viewing options. Custom Image Presets**Like other Olympus digital cameras, the Stylus 1030SW provides a nice variety of Scene modes that go beyond just covering the basics. The "SCN" position on the mode dial gives access to a menu that houses these options: Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Beach & Snow, Pre-Capture Movie, Underwater Snapshot, Underwater Wide 1, Underwater Wide 2, and Underwater Macro. The Pre-Capture Movie mode is interesting, but its placement in the Scene mode menu isn’t very intuitive when there is a separate movie position on the mode dial. The mode is still neat, though. It records two seconds prior to when you push the shutter release button. Also interesting are the four underwater Scene modes that promote the versatility of this digital camera. Indeed, the 1030SW can swim to 33 feet below the surface and actually focuses quite well, too. The Scene mode menu is very user-friendly, as it shows a sample image and a phrase or two about each exposure mode. The explanations aren’t sheer enlightenment, but they may help some people. For example, the Behind Glass mode comes with this illumination: "For shooting object through glass." It shows this phrase next to a picture of store items in a window with a big poster that reads "SALE."
**Manual Control Options There are a few manual controls on this camera, but nothing to please photographers who are truly hungry to adjust the shutter speed and aperture themselves. Focus***Auto Focus – The Olympus 1030SW has a contrast detection system that focuses from 19.7 inches to infinity normally. Autofocus modes are in the Recording menu and include Face Detect, ESP, and Spot. The Spot mode is the fastest, while the Face Detect is the slowest. The face detection system can recognize three faces but doesn’t track them well. I watched the green bracket frame a face on the LCD, but when the man leaned forward slightly, the bracket disappeared. This technology is behind the curve when other manufacturers are offering more faces (Canon recognizes 35 at a time) at more angles (Fujifilm can track 360 degrees). The autofocus worked just fine most of the time, but seemed a little soft in movies. This is a pre-production model, though, so we can’t slam it just yet. The Macro focus mode can be turned on by pushing the bottom of the multi-selector. It focuses from 3.9 inches to infinity when zoomed out and 11.8 inches to infinity when zoomed in. There is also a "Super Macro" mode for shooting subjects within very close proximity to the camera: 0.79 to 19.7 inches. This can be activated with or without the help of the LED illuminator on the front. Because the flash is not effective that close to the camera, Olympus installed this LED to help light close subjects. It lights them, but looks similar to the lighting used in the Blair Witch Project. *Manual Focus – *There is no manual focus on the Olympus Stylus 1030SW. *ISO**The Olympus Stylus 1030SW has ISO options that appear in the Function and Recording menus. There is only one automatic mode; most cameras offer another higher ISO-minded automatic mode. The 1030SW also has a full range of manual options: ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600. All of these can be used at full resolution. **White Balance The white balance is available in the same menus as the ISO options. Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, and Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, and Fluorescent 3 options are shown with live views. There is no Manual mode, which is always what I prefer but may not be what the 1030SW’s target audience will use. ****Exposure The Olympus Stylus 1030SW offers program auto exposure at best. The exposure compensation can be adjusted by pushing the top portion of the multi-selector. Four preview images appear on the screen at once. Each image is a third-stop EV from the other, and more images can be seen when you scroll to the right. The typical +/- 2 EV range is available. ****Metering Metering options are not vast on this digital camera. The Metering mode can be changed in both menus under the heading "ESP/Spot" (there’s an icon for spot). And the choices are … ESP and Spot. Most digital cameras also have a Center-Weighted option, but this Stylus goes for extremely basic controls. Shutter Speed Shutter speeds are automatically selected by the camera and depend on the chosen exposure mode and the current available lighting, as well as other functions on the camera such as ISO and flash. The shutter speeds range from 1/2-1/1000 of a second in every mode except the Night Scene mode, where shutter speeds can slow down to four seconds. This range is shorter than what most compact digital cameras offer. Most have a faster 1/2000 of a second shutter speed option. The Olympus 1030SW comes with a TruePic III image processor that activates a noise reduction system any time the shutter speed slows down to a half-second or longer. Aperture **The aperture is automatically controlled by the camera and has a maximum of f/3.5 when the lens is zoomed out. This is the same max aperture as previous waterproof Stylus cameras, but the 1030SW’s longer 3.6x optical zoom lens has a slightly narrower aperture when zoomed in. Its f/5.1 isn’t much different from its predecessors’ f/5.
**Picture Quality****/ Size Options**The Olympus Stylus 1030SW brings high resolution to its feature set with its 10.1-megapixel 1/2.35-inch CCD. Previous waterproof Stylus cameras haven’t offered this much. The 790SW and 770SW both have 7.1 megapixels. The newer Olympus Stylus 850SW that was announced alongside the 1030SW comes with 8 megapixels. The 1030SW records JPEG images in the following image sizes: 3648 x 2736, 2560 x 1920, 2304 x 1728, 2048 x 1536, 1920 x 1080 (16:9), 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, and 640 x 480. Images can be trimmed in the Playback mode to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels. Picture Effects ModeThere aren’t any cool effects in the recording modes, but the Playback mode is full of them. You can change the color of an image to black & white, sepia, vivid, or muted. You can add dozens of frames and labels to make cards in the camera that can then be printed directly. You can also create calendar pages with several layouts in the Playback menu.** **
Connectivity / Extras
**Connectivity***Software*All Olympus digital cameras come with Olympus Master Software on a CD-ROM. It includes basic organizational and editing software, along with a program to stitch large panoramas together. *Jacks, ports, plugs*Under a tightly sealed and locked door on the right side is a single port that has many functions. The DC-in, AV, and USB cables all fit into this jack. A rubber seal around the door keeps water from creeping into the jack. *Direct Print Options*The direct printing features on the pre-production model didn’t work, but the options are in the initial screen of the playback menu. There is also a print icon on the button to the upper right of the multi-selector indicating its ability to transfer images to PictBridge printers. *Battery*The 1030SW comes with a small battery that is tightly sealed in its compartment under the right side. It has a tight latch to lock it in and a rubber ring around the compartment door to keep water and dust out. The LI-50B lithium-ion battery has a lifetime of 260 shots per charge, which is more than the 220 shots the 790SW got from its LI-42B battery. The battery indicator on the camera flashes for about a half-hour before finally dying; this is a nice change from most cameras that die without warning. Olympus claims the new battery even charges 2.5x faster than the old battery, a welcome change for those on the move. *Memory*Like other Olympus digital cameras, the Stylus 1030SW can only accept xD-Picture cards up to 2 GB. This is skimpy compared to the 8 GB compatibility other digital cameras are offering. The camera can also accept microSD cards if you own an adapter that fits it into the larger slot. The 1030SW has 14.7 MB of internal memory, which allows you to take three shots at full-resolution. **Other features***Waterproof* – The Olympus Stylus 1030SW is among only a handful of completely waterproof digital cameras. Pentax has a few, but the 1030SW is the flagship of Olympus' four-model series. The 1030SW can swim to depths of 33 feet, like the 770SW that it replaces. The Olympus booth had an aquarium on the PMA show floor where curious folks like me could dunk the camera and take pictures of fake coral. I dunked the camera and snapped a few pictures and was pleasantly surprised that my images were in focus. There were great details like tiny water bubbles on the branches of fake coral that were visible when I magnified my images. And when I took the 1030SW out, it kept working. That’s more than can be said of most cameras. *Shockproof* – Previous cameras in this lineup can be dropped from five feet, but the 1030SW increases that distance to 6.6 feet with a little more shock absorption springs and gadgets. Olympus’ booth reps had a blast dropping this camera onto their hard counter, picking it up, and showing off how it still worked just fine and dandily. Indeed, as a mother of a toddler this feature looks quite valuable to me. *Crushproof* – This tough camera fits nicely in a back pocket and won’t even break if you sit down, unless you are heavier than 220 pounds. That’s the amount the camera can handle, making it a fine candidate to pack along in your messy backpack on your climbing trip. The Olympus booth rep demonstrated this feature by smashing the camera against the table; he even said one woman stood on the camera with her heels. And it still worked. *Freezeproof* – The camera still functions in temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius), while most cameras will stop functioning as soon as the temp dips below freezing. Indeed, the Olympus 1030SW is one of very few compact digital cameras that will work in such extreme conditions, making it the only option for mountain climbers, skiers, and others who battle the cold. For that matter, it does pretty well in the heat too – it works up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And because it’s waterproof, it can work in humid environments, too. This camera truly is all-weather. *Panorama Mode* – The Olympus 1030SW has a Panorama mode that allows you to take up to 10 pictures in a row to be stitched within the included software later. The catch is that this feature only works if you use an Olympus-branded xD-Picture card. The Panorama mode is located in the initial menu screen that appears when the menu button is pushed. *Manometer* – This feature is located in the Setup menu. Once set up, it records the altitude whether it is below the water or up in the mountains. *LED illuminator* – The all-purpose 1030SW adds yet another perk with its little flashlight function. The LED can be used to light the dark water world for pictures or to find the keyhole for your car at night. *Shadow Adjustment* – This feature can bring out details in overly dark or overly bright areas in the image when turned on. It can be turned on with the button to the lower right of the multi-selector.
**Value**The Olympus Stylus 1030SW now sits as the flagship of the waterproof series and as such, is also the most expensive. Its $399 price tag puts it above the $349 770SW and $299 790SW and 850SW. The 1030SW is the most expensive waterproof on the market – the rival Pentax W30 sells for $299 – but it is the most versatile and can go the deepest, too. The Pentax W30 can go underwater to depths of 10 feet and isn’t shock, crush, or freezeproof. The 1030SW does have many of the same great features from the 770SW, but flaunts more resolution, a bigger LCD, and a slightly longer lens. Is it worth it? It depends on what matters to you. I wouldn’t buy the 1030SW for its resolution; the 770SW’s 7.1 megapixels is plenty. But the longer lens and bigger LCD might attract some consumers. **Who It’s For***Point-and-Shooters* – This camera will be great for point-and-shooters who are constantly on the move and venture into extreme conditions. *Budget Consumers* – The $399 price tag dashes any hopes for the budget consumer. *Gadget Freaks* – This isn’t the Holy Grail for gadgeteers, but is pretty close with its shockproof, waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, freezeproof status and perks like a flashlight and manometer. *Manual Control Freaks* – There aren’t many manual controls on this digital camera, so these consumers will look elsewhere. *Pros/ Serious Hobbyists* – Perhaps professional climbers or divers will look into this camera, but its imaging and performance capabilities have yet to be evaluated.
**Conclusion**The 10.1-megapixel Olympus Stylus 1030SW now lets casual divers record higher resolution images of fish and underwater fauna. This digital camera is the toughest on the market – even tougher than the 770SW. It can be smashed, dunked, frozen, and dropped and the warranty will still be valid. You won’t get that from any other digital camera. As far as the camera’s inner features go, the 1030SW is solid, but won’t satisfy you if you want manual control. It is brief with controls and instead opts for lots of automated features and a long list of Scene modes. Still, it’s an easy-to-use point-and-shoot. We’ve been wowed before by Olympus’ waterproof cameras, only to be disappointed by its poor performance in our imaging lab back at the office. We can’t judge this part of the Olympus Stylus 1030SW on the show floor; we have to wait until March or April to put it to the test. We hope it overcomes its predecessors’ poor marks. The Olympus 1030SW is so unique that it hardly has any competition with its sturdy body. If you need a sturdy, waterproof digital camera, this might be the one for you. If you want a standard point-and-shoot, the $399 price might be a too much. The real verdict will come when we get this camera into our imaging lab.
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