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Olympus 770SW Review

Discussion in 'The Olympus Outlet' started by Snorkelingdotinfo, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. Peter Guy

    Peter Guy Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Olympia, WA
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    I bought my wife the 720 for Christmas after she had flooded a camera. What I think is neat about these cameras is that they should be able to withstand a partial flood of the housing -- something my Canon S80 didn't do.

    And Nemrod, I agree with you that Nikon/Canon/? should come out with a Nikonos type digital -- I'd buy it in a heartbeat. BTW, I still have my 1967 Nikonos (but I haven't used it in years).
     
  2. Mverick

    Mverick Manta Ray

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    [​IMG]
    Well, until they get the Pixel count up. A nikonos on film will always look better when printed then a digital. 35mm film is around 54mp. And, that's what the designers have always said.

    But I'd like one too. Even in a 10mp range.

    But, Nikons small point and shoots images aren't up to the task. Cannon is in the lead on those. Once you go SLR. It depends on your needs.. And, go with a Hassy MF with the Underwater case. You can enlarge the image to the size of the wall. WITHOUT modification in a computer program.

    I still refuse to buy a High End digital till they get to 40mp. Canon is half way there. They'll end up around 150. Then, film will be dead. Till then. It still has it's place.

    I did photography for years. I like Large format's. 8x10 negs. Digital has years before they can touch that. LOL For tack sharp.

    I just checked out the 770. Love that it's waterproof. In a housing no more worries about a tablespoon of water ruining your camera. But, The pics are blurry. No dice for me. Very Cool little thing though... And I love the little ones to carry for the snapshot of something you'd of never gotten. And, the video's are sweet too. Still taking a 5060 with me. And little sd1000. That thing is tiny and has great pics.

    Oh, still have my Nikonos. Also, a Nikon F4 in Aquatica and a 8008 in a subal. Those I don't want to upgrade every year. If I get a D70 I'd of wanted a D200 and a d300 and a d3. LOL... Cheaper this way. But, frustrating. LOL...
     
  3. dgalvan123

    dgalvan123 Guest

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
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    For those still interested in the Olympus 770 Stylus SW: Circuit City has them on sale right now for $279.99 ($70 cheaper than the typical retail price of $349.99). I had BestBuy giftcards from Christmas, so I printed out the Circuit City price (search for the Olympus 770 on Circuit City.com) and brought the printout into Best Buy. They were happy to price match against their competitor, even though Best Buy's price in-store was listed at $350!

    As for my decision to buy the 770. . . I agonized over it for a bit. I am not a professional photographer by any means, nor am I rich (starving graduate student right now), but diving is my main hobby and I enjoy taking snapshots whenever I am doing it recreationally. Up to now, I've been using an Olympus D580 zoom in an underwater housing. It has served me well over the 3.5 years I've had it, but at 4 MP and with limited video options and very slow shutter delay (by today's standards), it was time to upgrade. Since my wife and I used that same camera for all our land snapshots, the upgrade was motivated mainly by a desire to get a camera with higher resolution and less shutter delay. I met a marine biologist on a scientific dive who had the 770, and said that she'd dove with it to 45 ft routinely without a housing and never had a problem. I was surprised to look at my dive log and realize how many shore dives I do that don't get deeper than 30 - 35 ft. La Jolla cove and Marine Room are some of my favorite weekend dives, and you don't need to go deeper than that to see some beautiful life. I do still intend to get the PT-035 housing for all the deeper dives (BTW, you can find that housing online, at B&H, for example, for $200 instead of the Olympus-advertised $300).

    Diving wasn't the only reason I wanted the 770, however. I try to take advantage of available outdoor adventures whenever I get a chance to travel. I'll be in New Zealand next month, and I'm looking forward to taking the 770 to the Waitomo caverns: rappelling into the caverns wearing a wetsuit, floating down the underground river and looking up at the glowworms on the ceiling. Also, there is a dolphin-swim outing in Kaikoura where a company takes you out on the boat and drops you into a pod of hundreds of dolphins. I could of course take a camera in a housing on these outings, but I imagine it will be much more convenient and less bulky to just have the small 770 camera itself. The fact that it's built to withstand drops and "crushes" up to 220 lbs will give me peace of mind when I'm using it in wet, potentially jarring situations. It will also be nice to have a camera that I can easily take out ocean-kayaking for a morning without having to prep the bulky housing.

    I'll also be in Antarctica for a couple weeks coming up (not for diving). I don't know how significant it is that the 770 claims to be "freeze proof" down to 14 deg F, since I've heard that people can generally use their digital cameras in below zero temperatures without a problem (other than low battery performance) as long as they keep the camera close to their warm bodies . . but I guess I'll find out.

    My decision was stuck for a while between the 790 and the 770, especially since I saw reviews saying the 790 had better image quality. But in the end I decided to go for peace of mind and get the more rugged model. I didn't like the idea of taking the 790 snorkelling, only to be worrying about whether or not I could free-dive down to that coral outcrop because I wasn't sure if it was 15' or 10'. With 33' of water proof guarantee, I get a much bigger safety margin. There is a price difference, with the 790 being ~$40 cheaper in most cases, but the low circuit city price on the 770 was enough to convince me it was worth it to spring for the rugged one.

    Anyway, I got the camera today and read through the manual. It actually has a pretty nice host of features, though it does take a bit of time to get through the manual and menu system and discover them. I was worried about low-light land shots (city skyline at night, for example), since I'd had bad experiences with the older Olympus for those, but technology has improved a good deal in the last 3.5 years, apparently, and it just takes some thoughtful use of the image stabilization, ISO adjustment, and built-in-scene modes to get some halfway decent shots. I'll post some pictures from my trip when I get back in late January, and let you know how the camera fared.
     
  4. dgalvan123

    dgalvan123 Guest

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
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    So I'm back from my trip.

    Check out some of pics I took in New Zealand. I did two dives at the Poor Knights Islands off the north island there. The 770 is only rated to 10 meters without a housing, and since the first dive we'd be down around 25 meters, I only took it on the second dive. I took it down as deep as 13.3 meters (around 45 feet, whereas it's rated to 33 ft) with no problem. When you get down to about 8 meters, a red text message flashes on the screen "warning: depth", but doesn't prevent you from taking a picture. It was neat to be able to take it down without a housing, but I think I'll get a housing for it in the future so I won't have to worry about the depth.

    As far as its performance: the 770 does pretty well for a compact digital camera. It's no SLR, but the majority of my underwater and regular above water pictures turned out pretty good. There were certainly times I wish I had more than a 3x zoom, and there were also times when the camera seemed to have trouble autofocusing on the right thing, but I didn't think those problems were any worse for this camera than for other compact digicams I've used. re-taking the picture with a boosted iso level really helps in low light conditions, and the display interface is pretty easy to get used to.

    Under water, obviously the clearer the water and the closer you get to the subject, the better. I found the underwater macro to be fantastic for close up shots of nudibranchs and eels. The other two modes made for underwater shots: underwater wide 1 (for wide angle shots like coral reefs) and 2 (for fish swimming by) were ok, but the seemed about the same as just leaving the camera on the automatic "P" mode with the flash turned off. Again, to improve the quality or reduce blurriness of low-light pictures, increasing the iso manually worked best for me. And boosting the iso is easier and quicker on the camera's interface than switching modes, which requires like 5 or 6 button presses.

    I didn't have the occasion to test the "shockproof" claim, and I don't intend to purposefully drop the camera, so that claim will have to remain untested by me. But I did use the camera in Antarctica at temperatures around 0 deg F (colder with wind chill), and it seemed to work just fine. I did notice that if I was holding it out in those temperatures for a long time (say, a minute or more) the low battery indicator would come on. But then after keeping the camera in my warm pocket for a while, the battery would appear back at a fuller charge. I think that's just due to chemical batteries being less effective at low temperatures, which is a problem across the board. Anyway, the low temps didn't hinder my picture taking ability at all, but I'm not convinced there would have been more problems with non "freezeproof" cameras either.

    I've posted some of my pictures from New Zealand on flickr, and the Antarctica ones should be up sometime this weekend.

    New Zealand - a photoset on Flickr
     
  5. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    The reason they are on sale just for your info, there is a new SW, it is the 1030SW. It is a 10 MP unit that has a few improvements over the 770SW including even better shock resistance, the same 33 foot depth capability but still no real manual control. It also has a wider angle, 28MM (35MM equiv) than the 38MM (35equiv) of the 770SW. That is OK, the 770SW is not being dropped but just moved down a rung. There is also a 850SW I think it is with 10 foot rating and 10MP. To bad they don't all use the same darn housing. BUT, I will soldier on with the 770SW until the 1170SW comes out with manual control, 15MP and a little sharper optics--it is coming---just a guess --if not from Oly then someone sooner or later. (NOTE: the 790, 850 and 1030 do use the same PT041 housing, the 770 is the PT035 housing but I bet all of them use the same Inon port adapter for AD lenses)

    I posted this pic in another thread but finally after 9 months of boat and kayak use the 770SW finally gets all it's toys just in time to get a 1030SW! Nah.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Google Image Result for http://www.scubadiverinfo.com/images/olympus_770_back_small.jpg

    One thing for sure with any of the new breed of live in the real world electronics, a little leak in the housing is a non event.

    N
     
  6. amajamar

    amajamar Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Middleborough, Massachusetts, USA
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    dgalvn123,

    Wow, I am impressed with the overall quality of the images! I just purchased the 770SW as a replacement for my lost 720SW, and now I am looking forward to getting it underwater!

    I am heading to Aruba in two weeks and may or may not get it wet there, as I have a Canon A620 as my primary dive camera and I am not sure what depths we'll be diving at. I was planning on using the 770SW as the primary "dry" camera. Although it is really tempting to give it a whirl at shallower dives!

    The general exposure and color saturation looked very nice to me!

    How do you find the focus lock and shutter lag underwater? Was it acceptable?

    BTW- I really like your general composition skills! Your shots are very pleasing to look at!

    Thanks for a great report!
     
  7. dgalvan123

    dgalvan123 Guest

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location:
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    Interesting news about the 1030 SW! On the Olympus website, the estimated retail price of the 1030 is only $50 higher than the 770! Wouldn't you know it: as soon as I buy one thing, the next better model comes out! :biggrin2: The 10 MP vs. 7 is a significant boost, and the decision to go slightly wider angle on the fully zoomed out position is a good idea. I neglected to mention before, but I did sometimes notice that the 770 could stand to get a little wider angle for panoramic shots, though really you'd have to split hairs or have another camera with slightly wider angle capability to notice.

    Nemrod your setup looks pretty nice! Have you been pleased with the results with that rig? I thought it was a little strange that Olympus put the 1030 (clearly a successor to the 770) in a different housing from its predecessor, but put the 850 (successor to the 790) in the same housing as its predecessor. I noticed the 1030 has a mode-selection wheel, though, and I'm sure that's why. The 770 is the only one of those 4 that does not have that wheel. I do think it would be nice to have that wheel, as just switching to movie mode on the 770 takes anywhere from 3 to > 10 button presses (depending on how far from the movie mode your last-selected mode was), and it would be great to have a wheel that puts you in movie mode in just a couple clicks.

    Ah well, there's always a newer model coming along. Just a bummer it came out a month and change after I got the 770.

    Amajamar, thanks for the comments. As for the shutter lag, I found it to quick enough on the draw to be a non-issue. Not as fast as an SLR snap, but remember that my previous camera (which I used on many dives in a housing) is an Olympus D-580 zoom, which has probably 3 times the shutter lag. IE: the 580 would sometimes take something like 1.5 seconds to actually capture the image after you hit the shutter (a real pain when you're trying to track a moving fish), while the 770 was probably less than 0.5 seconds at most. So, for me, it was heaven by comparison. I was able to get far fewer fish pics with just a tail, if you catch my meaning. Still, only maybe 30% of my wide-angle pictures of moving fish ended up looking good enough to me that I would want to show them off to friends on a TV screen. On the other hand, probably 80% of the close up shots using underwater macro mode looked good to me. That's an improvement on both counts compared to my older setup with the 580, but the other point is that the macro is where the 770 does really well. For wide angle underwater pics, there's no substitute for clear water, bright sunlight, and/or a good strobe. Fast-moving wide angle subjects (like the dusky dolphins from my dolphin swim, also in the New Zealand pics I posted earlier) end up looking a bit blurry most of the time.

    Those shutter lags, of course, vary if you mess with the exposure controls and/or turn off the flash.

    Oh, one more thing I'll mention: This is my first digital camera that doesn't have a viewfinder. . . it's LCD screen only. I can see why digicams are going this direction as it probably makes it possible to reduce the size of the camera and/or pack in more electronics, but I do miss the little window a bit. You can adjust the screen brightness, but I didn't get used to doing this on the fly yet, so when you're taking land pictures in bright sunlight, it's sometimes hard to see what you're actually getting. I'm sure I'll adjust, but I could imagine using a viewfinder maybe 10% of the time when taking land pics, and that's more than zero, so it is something I missed.
     
  8. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    I knew about the 1030SW some time ago but we got the 770SW last spring after I dumped another Fuji in the drink on my kayak and then my wife soaked her Canon P&S as a wave broke over the bow of the Whaler which also killed a Motorola Razer which was number two after I dropped mine out of my pockert into--well--never mind. I got mine on sale so I am not to hurt but it would have been nice had they shared hosuings making for an easy upgrade.

    As to the rig I pictured, I got the housing and then the arm and then the lenses and the strobe over the last few months so it has not actually been in the water. My season begins in late March so unless I dunk it in the pool I won't know 'till then. I can tell you that at least on the surface, the strobe is wonderful, the camera takes ckean P&S pics, the auto and program modes work fine, the ISO does have a good effect as does exposure compensation mode, the Inon "Clear Photo" system which blocks the light from the camera strobe and uses the preflash from the Inon strobe to cancel the camera strobe works GREAT--on the surface!!!!! Yeah, that darn mode wheel would be an improvement. I really wish they would keep a viewfinder. I also wish they would put a arpeture and shutter speed wheels on the side, move either from A and you get either semi-auto or full manual with a simulated eexposure meter on the side of the LCD screen like a real camera.

    No worries. I think the Inon strobe is probably the most sophisticated strobe for these type cameras or even high end P&S or maybe even SLR.

    Good luck.

    N
     
  9. boastud

    boastud Angel Fish

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    Nemrod, can you post a breakdown of your set-up?
     
  10. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    I can do you better than that, simply go to the Inon America home page and click on the ribbon at the top for NEWS and then go to page 2 and scroll down to where it says Inon Now Supports the PT-033 and 035. They give a break down right there and that is essentially what I ordered. I got my stuff from StudioB/Marine Camera, I think the fellows name is Tom.

    If you have not already purchased the camera then I suggest either the 850SW or the 1030SW with the new PT-041 housing, you will find the break down for that on Page 1 of the Inon News page.

    If you still cannot figure it out--send me a PM and I will fix you up. There is a link to Marine Camera under their dealer tab but I can fix you there to if you cannot find it all. I got the housing on Amazon BTW.

    Me<--computer net surfing whizz, PCs rock, Mac is for wusses.

    N
     

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