There’s a big problem with waterproof, shockproof all-weather cameras like the new Olympus mju 770 SW. On days like today, when it’s pouring with rain, blowing a minor gale and the wind-chill is freezing the nether regions off any brass monkeys foolish enough to venture outside, as a photographer you’ve got a perfect excuse for staying indoors with a hot cup of cocoa and relaxing in front of a blazing TV, or spending a few hours levelling up your Night Elf thief. Take most cameras out in weather like this and you’ll be calling your insurance company as soon as you get back.
But with the 770 SW you’ve got no excuse at all. It shrugs off the worst of the British climate. Rain, sleet, snow, hail and even cats and dogs are, as the saying goes, water off a duck’s back. So thanks Olympus. Because of you I’m now sitting here dripping onto my keyboard, because I’ve just been out taking sample shots with a camera that makes Sir Ranulf Fiennes look like a stay-at-home wuss.
All of the Olympus mju Digital range of compact cameras have been at least weatherproof, but the 770 SW takes it to new heights – or should that be depths? It is the first digital compact camera to be waterproof to a depth of 10 metres, shockproof against falls from 1.5 metres, freeze-proof down to minus 10 degrees centigrade and crush-proof against a weight of 100kg. This comfortably beats the previous record-holder, the mju 725 SW which I reviewed in December.
While this sounds terribly impressive, it should be considered in perspective. 10 metres underwater is going beyond snorkelling and into SCUBA diving depths, and I think it’s fair to say that the 770 SW, for all its tough-guy credentials, is not really designed to replace a proper diving camera. There are purpose-built underwater cases available for a number of popular compact digital cameras that are waterproof down to 40m, and include things like flash diffusers, large buttons that can be operated while wearing gloves, and neutral buoyancy so they don’t sink like a stone if you let go of them. The 770 SW has none of these things. While it is ideal for watersports activities such as sailing, jet-skiing or even surfing, and other adventure sports such as skiing or mountaineering, and is certainly able to survive in conditions that would destroy any other camera, it does have its limits.