Underwater, under pressure, this camera will take the strain
Digital cameras are liable to fail when they attempt to be jacks-of-all-trades.
Olympus’s new seven-megapixel 790 SW has a 3x zoom lens and is supposed to be drop-proof from 1.5m and waterproof to 3m. So could it be the camera to buck the trend?
The first signs are good: there’s nothing about the shiny metal front of the camera, which feels reassuringly weighty in the palm, to suggest that compromises made to bring this camera to market for around £200.
Sensitivity in low light (of up to ISO1600) is impressive and you get TV-quality video with sound. It’s also available in a range of colours, including the vibrant orange one that we looked at.
However, the back of the Olympus Mju 790 SW contains a smallish 2.5in screen with which to compose and review photos, as well as small and obviously plastic controls, which are a disappointment.
Still, the penny-sized mode dial with which the user can select their shooting options does have a firmness to it that means you won’t accidentally slip past the chosen setting when using it with wet fingers.
Underlining its rough-and-tumble credentials, several underwater modes are offered alongside the standard portrait and landscape options, and face detection is included to make it direct its focus and exposure toward the people in your shots.
The images produced by the Mju 790 SW are all about colour - and good, vibrant colour at that - though detail is a little soft overall, even when shooting at just the lowest sensitivity rating, which should in theory show the best results. Though this can be sharpened using image-editing software on the computer, the results straight out of the camera fall below what we would expect.
As likely to appeal to those who regularly hit the slopes of Aspen as much as those who simply want to splash about with the kids in Majorca, the Mju 790 SW's impressive features and very fair price tag mean it’s hard to level too much criticism at it. If tip-top image quality is your primary concern, however, there are better alternatives.
Vista compatible: Yes
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Good points Mainly metal build Rechargeable battery supplied Easy to use and responsive Capable of vibrant colours Bad points Poor images by default No memory card Unimpressive menus Price premium for ‘death proof’ qualities Overall The Mju 790 SW looks cute, but its soft shots are a problem.
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