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The menu is nice and bright and easily read, with a well designed interface, as well as secondary function menu for the most useful features such as ISO, white balance and so on. The four-way D-pad also allows quick access to the flash, self timer, macro and exposure compensation features. The macro mode by the way has three options, standard macro down to 10cm, super macro down to 2cm and super macro with LED. This provides a constant light on the subject to make focusing easier and remove unwanted shadows on the subject, although I found it a little harsh. Still it's a useful and unusual tool.

The build of the camera is its selling point and there's no denying it's toughness. I dropped the camera and it survived, placed it in my washing up bowl and freezer, all without detrimental effects. Sadly my budget didn't stretch to trips to the Himalayas and the Caribbean to really put it to the test.

Images from the Olympus mju 1030 SW, don't quite match up to more generic cameras, with some lens problems coming from the folded optical array. There's a tendency to lose definition at the edges of the frame, and some minor fringing, though nothing too serious.

Noise is more of a problem, especially at sensitivities higher than ISO 400. Certainly by ISO 1600, although nice to have that high ISO, the images are frankly terrible, so I'd recommend using lower settings whenever possible. For this reason it would be nice to have the option of a physical image stabilisation system rather than resort to high ISO and its accompanying noise.


For those possessed of an adventurous spirit, such as skiers, gap year backpackers or snorkelling enthusiasts, the Olympus mju 1030 SW could be the answer to their dreams. The build of this camera is fantastic and a remarkable feat of engineering in what is usually a delicate electronic instrument.

The image quality lets it down a little, but compromises must be made somewhere, and I imagine this is an area sacrificed for the convenience of robustness. That said, if you are climbing a mountain, for example, it's better to have a tough camera that takes average pictures than a perfect camera that's broken.

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Andrew Katz

August 5, 2008, 7:50 pm

Good review. I bought the camera on the strength of it, and I am very impressed. I've just been on holiday in the Caribbean, and the camera performed pretty much faultlessly. I took some great pictures snorkelling, and it's good to have a camera you can slob around with on the beach and not worry about sand getting into the works. It's also pretty much kid-proof. The only two negative comments are (1) I ran out of battery power one day: I think I must have left it switched on by accident, and didn't have the power saving mode enabled. Once I enabled power saving mode, it was fine; and (2) it may be fussy about third party memory cards. The supplied XD card worked fine, as did a Veho 4GB micro SD card which I popped in the supplied XD-micro SD adapter. A Kingston 4GB micro SD card was not so happy, however, and I kept on getting "contacts dirty" errors. I wouldn't hold this against the camera, though. The bottom line is that, for beach-holiday snapping, it's pretty much unbeatable. Even torch mode was invaluable when I needed to pick my way across an unlit beach in the dark.

Andrew Hicks

January 6, 2009, 6:31 pm

Great litle camera so far but the video recording time was bugging me as its only 10 secs in VGA 30fps. Then I got this from customer services when asked why 10secs:


There are no technical reasons but law restriction.

The reason for the limited video length in our newly released cameras are the criteria for customs classification, reinterpreted since November by EU.

The Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature Section of the EU Customs Code Committee now resolved on following criteria for customs classification:

Cameras that comply with following relating criteria are no longer free of duty:

• video recording capability of minimum 30 minutes for one sequence

• resolution of 800 x 600 pixels or more

• frame rate of 23 fps or more.

Cameras with these 3 features will be classified under Code 8525 80 91 in the future and subjected to customs duty. The tax rate here is 12,9% (and it would surely affect prices)


Anyone know if this applies to all countries, possiblity of getting it to last longer by putting another countries software on the camera.

Geoff Richards

January 6, 2009, 9:29 pm

It would appear they are attempting to define a "video camera" from a "digital camera", and charge duty on the former. The curious thing is you say 30 seconds, not 30 minutes, and VGA is 640 x 480 pixels, which is less than 800 x 600...

Is it ALL three features, or just any one out of three?


February 6, 2009, 5:40 pm

This firmware update allows full 640x480 30fps to the capacity of the card

as long as you buy olympus cards of course.

Can't decide between this camera and the new m tough-6000 which is only shockproof not crushproof but has more features.


August 10, 2009, 2:31 pm

Great heavy duty camera, was perfect in the water too....... Seems to have a defect though. I used it in the water for the 4th or 5th time after purchasing the black one 8 months ago and the paint was literally pealing off in the water as if it were a sticker. Camera was never left in the sun and i washed it under tap water after each use at the beach. PLEASE LET ME KNOW if there is anyone else out there with the same defect with there sw 1030.


September 11, 2009, 12:29 am

i got this camera because my work takes me outdoors. bittersweet affair for me with this camera.

Peeling is normal. i got my 1030 panel replaced under warranty so you better do it soon. pls choose the silver panel otherwse the painted ones will peel again.

i rate this camera 5/10. takes terrible images in low light conditions, stiff trigger button that causes blur pictures unless u use anti handshake (which results in high noise especially when in low light). silly engineers never included a memory when choosing scenery or in anti handshake.... you always need to reprogram to your preferences including flash conditions when you have changed the modes via the dial or power off. very irritating.

my ancient nikon 5200 takes better pictures than this camera. to improve further, rugged cameras should have optical viewfinder. why? what if you shatter the viewing screen?

whats worthy? waterproof, shock resistance, led light in macro (good as flashlight or lighting up other people's shooting), macro,

better to try panasonic version which is a collaboration with olympus. i reckon it takes better pictures.

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