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Digital photography is a very fast-moving field of technology, and you don't stay ahead in such an environment by standing still. Olympus' answer is to update its product line with huge launches at least twice a year. For example in August 2007 it announced nine new digital cameras, including today's review subject, the mju 790 SW. Since the launch of the original 3.1MP mju 300 Digital and 3.9MP mju 400 Digital in January 2003, there have been no fewer than 22 models in the mju range, and they have proved to be very successful. Their combination of stylish good looks, good performance, high picture quality and rugged all-weather durability have made them very popular with travellers, sports enthusiasts and anyone with an eye for quality.
The 790 SW is a 7.1-megapixel compact camera with a corner-mounted internal 3x zoom lens and a 2.5-inch monitor. It is one of four new models in the mju range, but is the only one of those to bear the 'SW' suffix, indicating that it is not just weatherproof but fully waterproof and shockproof. I've reviewed several mju SW cameras before, such as the 720 SW, 725SW and most recently the 770 SW, and I have personally verified both their water and shock resistance. However, despite their impressive resilience, I was not massively impressed by their picture quality. Hopefully the 790 SW can improve on this record.
The 790 SW looks rather different to the previous SW models. The almost military styling of the 770 and 725 has been softened, and the new camera looks a lot more like a conventional pocket compact. The case is still made almost entirely of metal, and the build quality is of course exemplary, but it doesn't look or feel anywhere near as tough as the almost indestructible 770 SW. Weighing in at 136g it is almost 20g lighter, however it is a couple of millimetres larger, measuring 93.6 x 60.9 x 21.3 mm although that is still very slim by any standard. It feels quite light for its size, but it is by no means delicate. The lens is well recessed and protected by a metal cover when not in use, the LCD screen has a scratch-resistant coating, and the main part of the camera body is finished with a hard-wearing lacquer. The 790 is available in five colours; black, silver, orange, blue and the eye-catching (to put it mildly) metallic lime green of my review sample.