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Olympus 720 SW Digital Camera Review



Digital Camera Review by: Michael Gazzola


On first contact with this camera you instantly know that the very stylish 720 SW is a strong camera made for more than just carrying around in a handbag and keeping in cotton wool.

The stylish metal casing, which surrounds the entire body, can withstand a drop from 5 feet with its inbuilt shock protection. Furthermore, if your watching your kids at a sporting event, drop the camera in mud you can simply hose the mud off. That’s right – it is totally waterproof without the need for a separate waterproof outer casing.

The camera can also go swimming with you at the beach or in a swimming pool and capture all the action around you without a care in the world. It would also be great for snorkelling however there is a 3m depth maximum – which is deeper than most swimming pools and local safety beach areas.

Start-up time on the camera is less than a second so by the time you push the power button and point the camera in the direction you want to shoot, it will be ready to go. There is next to no shutter lag, with 720 SW shooting quicker once the button is pressed than a film camera capturing an image.

There is a big 2.5 inch LCD screen that is super bright in all shooting conditions – bright in both daylight or dark night situations where it can be hard to frame a group of people up.

Olympus have put a 7.1 mega-pixel capture into this camera so you can easily print up images larger than A3. But if you don’t want to fill your memory card too quickly or plan to only keep your prints at the regular 4x6 inch or 5x7 inch print size there are 9 size options you can choose from ranging from the highest setting of 3072x2394 pixels to the lowest file size capture of 640x480 pixels.

There is onboard memory of 19 MB, so like most digital cameras you’ll have to purchase a memory card. The Olympus 720 SW uses the smaller xD-Picture Card with options available from 16MB – 1GB.

Like almost all new digital cameras these days Olympus too has included a wide variety of ‘scene’ options which you can easily select – depending on what you are photographing. There are 24 situations plus a movie option. However, I would have liked to see a B&W option and a Sepia tone option. This though is not a problem really, as you can easily apply a B&W or Sepia effect in most photo software programs on your computer.

In a trial run for every day photo situations this Olympus camera passed with flying colours. When shooting in just a plain old ‘Auto’ setting, in a low light situation the right amount of flash light was applied every time. In daylight, but late evening, the flash worked beautifully there too. But the toughest test we applied was photographing a black dog in daylight, in a shaded area shooting from small distance through a white metal sun lit fence creating glare… and the image produced was not only exposed correctly on the dog but absolutely pin sharp at the point it was set to focus. Full marks.

Colour reproduction of skin tones and general primary colours were accurate too which complements the sharp picture taking this camera is capable of.

There is a broad range of ISO settings available too with this camera from a fine 64 ISO to the more grainy 1600 ISO, which will not only help make the battery last longer but also allow you to capture those very dark night shots which would have otherwise been missed.

With testing of the ‘film’ speeds (ISO) we found that from 64 – 400 ISO the images produced were very good and very much printable. Naturally at 64 ISO the grain was very fine and smooth. 100 and 200 speeds also produced nice images with a little more grain evident again at 400 ISO. After this grain is seen quite easily at 800, and more again at 1600 which should only be used when there really is not enough light or when the photographer is using it for a creative effect.
The zoom range on the camera is not the largest on the market be very sufficient and efficient with a quick response for zooming in and out. And considering that the zoom is in-built it is quite remarkable what Olympus have achieved. Having the zoom built internally is not only handy for reducing the chance of bumping the lens but is also protected should the camera slip from the photographers hands and hit the ground. A nice touch too is the steel cover which slides out to cover the lens when not in use – adding further to the safety features.

So overall there is much to like about this camera as it has everything most happy snappers need, will satisfy those looking for a strong hardy camera that can go anywhere including a dip in the pool or a swim at the beach – and look stylish for the fashion conscious!


Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Value for money 4.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $599
Effective Pixels 7.1 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 9 Sizes
Aspect Ratio No,
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 38mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 114mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 5x
Resolution Settings From 640 x 480 to 3072 x 2394
Shooting Modes 24 Scene options
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 7cm to infinity
Aperture Range F3.5 - F5.0
Aperture Priority No
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 7cm - 50cm
Shutter Speeds 4 seconds - 1/1000
Shutter Priority No
ISO 64, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 2.5 inch TFT LCD colour monitor
Viewfinder No
Flash 3 mode options plus auto
Hot Shoe No
White balance 3 options, 3 custom and Auto
Self Timer Yes
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes. AV out
Storage Type SD/MMC Cards
Storage Included [Mb] Onboard memory, 32Mb
Image / Audio Formats Jpeg and QuickTime Motion
Connectivity USB
Power Source 3.7V DC / AC Recharge Pk Inc.
Battery Options Rechargable battery
Dimensions 91mm x 58.7mm x 19.8mm
Weight 153g without battery or card


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About Olympus


In Greek mythology, Mt.Olympus is the home of the twelve supreme gods and goddesses. Olympus was named after this mountain to reflect its strong aspiration to create high quality, world famous products.

"Olympus" has been used as a trademark since the time of Takachiho Seisakusho, the predecessor of Olympus Corporation.

In Japanese mythology, it is said that eight million gods and goddesses live in Takamagahara, the peak of Mt.Takachiho. The name "Olympus" was selected as the trademark because Mt.Olympus, like Mt.Takachiho, was the home of gods and goddesses. This trademark is also imbued with the aspiration of Olympus to illuminate the world with its optical devices, just like Takamagahara brought light to the world.

Takachiho Seisakusho was renamed Takachiho Optical Co., Ltd. in 1942 when optical products became the mainstay of the company. In 1947, the name was changed again to Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. in an attempt to enhance its corporate image.

And in 2003, the company made a fresh start as Olympus Corporation, to show its willingness to establish a dynamic corporate brand by unifying the corporate name and the well-known brand.

In recent years, Olympus Corporation has focused on "Opto-Digital Technology" as its core competence, technological strengths that competitors cannot easily imitate, to maximize corporate value and to become one of the top optical instrument manufactures.

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