Olympus µ 720SW – Rugged Digital Camera Review - Olympus µ 720SW Review

I’m glad that it did, because the 720SW is a very handsome camera and it would have been a shame to break it. It looks a lot more rugged than the previous models in the mju range. I don’t want to sound sexist, but even though it is available in pink and pale blue, it looks very masculine. It has lots of exposed bolt heads and functional-looking panels, and is finished in a combination of brushed steel and chrome. If it was available in matt olive green it would look like a piece of military hardware. I suspect that most of this is purely for decoration, and that the camera would be just as tough if it had the smooth curves of the mju 500, but I have to admit that it looks good.

In keeping with its tough exterior, the controls are smoothed off and partly recessed, which makes them a bit fiddly to operate. Considering that skiers and snowboarders are part of the 720SW’s target audience, it’s worth noting that it’s impossible to operate the camera while wearing gloves.

The camera’s performance is mostly adequate, but with a few problems. It starts up in about 1.5 seconds, and in high-speed continuous mode it can fire off 12 shots in just under five seconds before it needs to pause for a couple of seconds to purge the image buffer, although in this mode it is limited to 2,048 x 1,536 (3MP). At full resolution (3,072 x 2,304) and maximum quality it can manage just three shots in three seconds before pausing. A 128MB xD-Picture card is enough to store 36 shots, although it also has 19MB of internal memory, enough for another five frames.

The 2.5in LCD monitor is nice and bright, although it is also very reflective and hard to see in bright sunlight. With a resolution of 115,000 pixels it is of no more than average sharpness.

One major disappointment is the movie mode. The de facto standard these days is 640 x 480 and 30fps, but the 720SW can only manage 15fps, so your holiday movies are going to look very jerky.

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