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Olympus Stylus 770 SW Digital Camera First Impressions
by Ben Stafford -  2/20/2007

Soon, we'll be posting a full review of the Olympus Stylus 770 SW, but wanted to give you some of our first impressions of the latest shockproof, wateproof camera from Olympus. The Stylus 770 SW is the successor to the Stylus 720 SW and still features 7.1 megapixel resolution, 3x optical zoom and 2.5 inch LCD. There are also some improvements and new cool features.

olympus stylus 770 sw
(view large image)

The Stylus 770 SW can be submerged up to 33 feet underwater (the 720 SW was only rated to 10 feet). A built-in manometer, which measures air or water pressure, can record your altitude or depth to the image data. The camera is also crushproof - able to withstand a pressure of 220 pounds - and it has been cold-proofed to operate in temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another pretty cool feature is the built-in LED illumination lamp. It can be used as illumination when you can't use a flash. The LED is mounted next to the flash. There is a macro mode that enables the lamp so you can capture a dark subject without over-exposing it with the flash. You can also turn on the LED manually to help out when shooting underwater or in other instances where flash effects aren't desired.

olympus stylus 770 sw
LED lamp turned on (view large image)

Overall, the features and specs are pretty attractive. The camera also looks good. It's only 0.8 inches thick, qualifying as a an ultra-slim camera and it comes in silver, bronze, and blue. Like its predecessor, the styling is all metal and has an "industrial" look, with angular lines and screws holding the package together. Hinged doors with rubber gaskets keep water out of the USB port and battery/memory media compartment. The camera is, as you would expect with a shockproof and crushproof camera, very sturdy and solid with a nice weight in your hand.

The 2.5 inch LCD has 230K pixels of resolution which provides nice detail. However, its refresh rate gives the display a jerky feel as you pan around and it's not that great in bright light conditions (like outdoors). I shot some pictures while sledding in the snow and although the sky was overcast, it was difficult seeing the LCD.

olympus stylus 770 sw
(view large image)

Shooting with the Stylus 770 SW is pretty straightforward. The speed of operation is pretty typical of other Stylus cameras. It's not the quickest, but still average to above average in overall speed of operation. Switching between capture modes (auto, image stabilization, and scene modes) is actually pretty sluggish, but the rest of the menu operations seem just fine. I was annoyed that I had disabled the flash in image stabilization mode, but when I came back later (after switching to auto mode) that the flash was re-enabled.

I'll have a full discussion of image quality and shooting performance in the full review, but so far, image results are good. I've taken some nicely detailed macro shots of tulips (see below) and some great sledding pictures of my son. I am not impressed with the camera's white balance though. While many cameras have trouble with indoor lighting, the issue that I noticed was not this exact issue. My subject (a black cast iron door surrounded by a painted white brick wall) looked great while previewing the image on the LCD. However, after capturing the shot, the white brick wall had a pretty serious yellow cast. I could adjust the white balance setting to get a good result, but I just don't understand the disparity between the white balance of the preview and the actual captured image. I will do some more experimentation while I work on the full review to see what I can find out about this behavior.


Macro shot using LED lamp (view medium image) (view large image)

Stay tuned for our full review, which we'll publish soon. If you have any questions that you'd like us to address in the review, use the Discuss link at the top and bottom of this page to submit a question. We'll do what we can to answer them.