Olympus Mju 770 SW

      Photo Review 8

      In summary

      A shockproof, waterproof digicam that will suit adventurous snapshooters.In the new Mju 770 SW, Olympus has brought photographers its toughest model to date. Underwater rated to 10 metres, the 770 SW goes twice as deep as last year’s 725 SW model and adds a ‘Crushproof’ rating against loads of up to 100kg as well as being ‘Freezeproof’ to -10 °C. Like its predecessor, it can also withstand drops of up to 1.5 metres. Otherwise, many of the features of the new model are identical to the 725 SW. . . [more]

      Full review


      In the new Mju 770 SW, Olympus has brought photographers its toughest model to date. Underwater rated to 10 metres, the 770 SW goes twice as deep as last year’s
      model and adds a ‘Crushproof’ rating against loads of up to 100kg as well as being ‘Freezeproof’ to -10 °C. Like its predecessor, it can also withstand drops of up to 1.5 metres. Otherwise, many of the features of the new model are identical to the 725 SW.


      The lens is the same 3x optical zoom, which is equivalent to 38-114mm on a 35mm camera. It’s tucked into the top corner of the front panel, where it’s still much too easy to include a fingertip – or the brim of a hat – in shots (see sample image below). Lens speed at the Wide position is slightly slower than the 725 SW, with a maximum aperture of f/3.5 but it’s a little faster for Tele.


      The position of the lens makes it easy to include a fingertip (or hat brim) in the picture unintentionally.

      The image sensor is also the same 7.1-megapixel CCD as in the 725 SW model but the 2.5-inch LCD on the rear panel now offers almost twice the resolution of the earlier model, providing a much clearer view of shots in playback mode, especially when playback zoom is used. Bright Capture technology improves the view in dim lighting. The camera’s metal body resembles that of the 725 SW, with only a few stylistic differences. Colour options are the same: silver and royal blue.
      An interesting addition is a ‘Manometer’, which measures atmospheric pressure and which you can activate to show the altitude or depth when the camera is being used. This information is recorded in the image metadata when shots are taken. Distance units can be set in metres or feet. A warning message is displayed when you dive close to 10 metres (the camera’s limit) to reduce the risk of water entering the camera.
      The 770 SW’s battery is the same little LI-42B lithium-ion rechargeable battery that was used in the previous camera. It takes about five hours to charge but should be good for around 300 shots, which is a significant improvement on the 100-shot rating for the 725 SW. The AF system has also been carried over from the previous model. It’s not particularly fast and tends to hunt in dim lighting because no AF illuminator is provided.
      Another feature that remains unchanged is the camera’s menu system, which still requires far too much toggling to change settings. This is inexcusable in a point-and-shoot camera, especially one with such a limited range of adjustments. However, pressing the OK/Func. button on the arrow pad calls up a menu bar on the left of the LCD that provides quick access to white balance, ISO, drive and metering settings – as long as you’re in P mode.


      The main menu page separates the pages for adjusting image size and quality from other camera adjustments.

      A tiny button above the arrow pad lets you toggle between full-auto, anti-shake and Scene modes (of which there are 25, including four underwater modes). The Scene modes are supported by the standard Olympus illustration and information displays, making them easy to understand. The menu also has pages for Set-up, Demo, Scene and Silent Mode. Inexplicably, the Demo mode showed only two pages: a picture of the camera and a text page listing its sensor resolution.


      Text explanations are provided for the scene pre-sets.


      Illustrated menus are useful for novice photographers.


      The Underwater Macro mode provides a pictorial guide but no data on how close the camera will focus.
      Top video resolution is VGA (640 x 480 pixels) but the frame rate is only 15 frames/second, which is jerky. QVGA and QQVGA video can also be recorded at the same frame rate. Clip lengths are limited by available memory. The internal memory can only hold 16 seconds of VGA video so a high-capacity card is required to use this function. Only digital zoom can be used when recording video but you can pre-set a specific focal length before starting to record.
      In-camera editing functions include Red-eye Fix and a Calendar display. Layout Composition lets you insert selected pictures in one of 12 frame templates stored in the camera. A similar number of text ‘labels’ are provided for superimposing messages on shots via the Title Composition function. Images can also be converted to B&W or sepia via the Edit mode. As with other Olympus digicams, Panorama capture is only supported on Olympus branded xD-Picture cards. An underwater housing is available for scuba divers who want to shoot at depths beyond 10 metres.

      Outdoor pictures taken with the test camera were bright and contrasty but indoor shots showed a much better dynamic range, reflecting the camera’s underwater capabilities. Imatest showed reproduction of most hues was accurate, except for slight shifts in orange and red. Saturation was relatively low for a digicam. Resolution was slightly below expectations for a 7-megapixel camera and Imatest showed a severe decline at ISO settings over 800.
      Imatest also confirmed subjective assessments of the edge softening we observed in many test shots. (See sample images below.) Lateral chromatic aberration was moderate and we found slight coloured fringing in outdoor pictures. Long exposures in dim lighting showed obvious colour noise, although the Nightproof LCD made it relatively easy to set up shots. Compression artefacts were visible in digital zoom shots (which were also slightly soft) and when smaller image sizes were selected.
      Shots taken with the Macro and Super Macro modes showed plenty of detail and vibrant colours. The flash required an ISO setting of 400 before it could illuminate an average-sized room. White balance performance was typical of many digicams, although the tungsten pre-set provided full correction with incandescent lighting.
      We had little success with the underwater modes, partly because we were unable to find clear enough water to take good pictures but also because the camera gives no indication of how close it will focus under water. The Underwater Macro setting produced blurry shots at camera-to-subject distances from 7cm (the Macro limit) to about a metre, even though the flash fired with each shot and the camera was held against an immobile support to prevent camera shake. No water entered the camera during our tests.
      Video performance was very ordinary, thanks to a slow frame rate of 15 frames/second, which looked jerky. The quality of the clips was unexceptional for both VGA and QVGA resolution but the audio quality was relatively poor.
      It took approximately 2 seconds to power-up the test camera and we measured an average capture lag of 0.7 seconds, which reduced to a consistent 0.1 second with pre-focusing. Shot-to-shot times averaged around 2.5 seconds without flash and 4-5 seconds with. In continuous mode, shots were recorded at 0.8 second intervals with the standard setting and at 0.25 second intervals in the High-speed mode (which reduces the image size to a maximum of 2048 x 1536 pixels). The standard continuous mode can also be used with flash, where the camera records one shot every 1.5 seconds. It took 20 seconds to store a burst of 10 shots and a similar time to format a memory card.





      ISO 100


      ISO 1600


      Colour noise in long exposure




      Digital zoom


      Centre sharpness


      Corner sharpness


      Reference image


      Extended brightness range





      Image sensor: 1/2.3-inch type CCD with 7.4 million photosites (7.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 6.7-20.1 mm f/3.5-5.0 zoom (38-114mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 3x optical, up to 5x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies ““ AVI Motion JPEG
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3072 x 2304, 2560 x 1920, 2304 x 1728, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480; Movies ““ VGA, QVGA, QQVGA at 15 fps with sound
      Shutter speed range: ½ to 1/1000 sec. (to 4 sec. in Night Scene mode)
      Image Stabilisation: ISO boost
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: TTL iESP AF with contrast detection; range ““ 50 cm to infinity; macro to 7 cm
      Exposure metering/control: ESP metering; Program AE plus 24 scene modes
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Sunlight, Tungsten, Overcast, Fluorescent (x3)
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Red-Eye reduction, Fill-in, Off; range ““ up to 3.8 m (wide) or 2.6 m (tele)
      Sequence shooting: 1.1 fps at 7MP to card capacity or 3.5 fps at 3M for 12 frames
      Storage Media: 18 MB internal memory plus xD Picture Card expansion slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 2.5-inch HyperCrystal LCD with Bright Capture technology (230,000 pixels)
      Power supply: LI-42B Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery (CIPA rating up to 220 shots/charge)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 91.8 x 59.2 x 20.6 mm
      Weight: 155 g (without battery and card)






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