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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Components

 **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. 

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Sections

  1. Physical Tour
  2. Components
  3. Design / Layout
  4. Modes
  5. Control Options
  6. Image Parameters
  7. Connectivity / Extras
  8. Overall Impressions
  9. Conclusion

What's Your Take?

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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