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

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.

Modes

 **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. 

Resize 640 x 480, 320 x 240
Crop Choose from 7 crops
Color Edit Black & white, Sepia, Vivid, Muted
Frame Birth announcement, Suitcase frame, Polka dots, Heart, Frame on clock, Airmail, Circle on blue, Pink lacey rectangle, Vertical heart, Pink rectangle, Sixties cutout, Vertical invite, Angel wings
Label Congratulations, Thank You, Happy Birthday, Good Luck, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, Best Wishes, Missing You, Love, Smile
Calendar 9 layouts to choose from
 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." 

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.

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?

All Comments
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.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below