The mju 770 SW is currently available for around £237, which is a lot of money for a seven-megapixel 3x zoom compact. Its price is comparable with the top end of 7MP digital compacts, cameras like the Canon Digital IXUS 850 IS (£264), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 (£240), Nikon Coolpix S500 (£230) and Fuji FinePix F31fd (£200), but of course none of these other cameras have the mju’s indestructibility. Perhaps the closest match is the new Pentax Optio W30, which is also 7.1 megapixels and waterproof. However the W30 can only survive at depths of three metres, and isn’t designed to be shock-proof or cold-resistant. It also isn’t available for another few weeks, so it’s not really offering much competition yet.
In previous reviews of some of the recent models in the Olympus mju range I’ve criticised problems with poor image quality, over-complicated controls and poor battery life, but I’m happy to report that some of these at least have been improved for this new model. Battery life is now around 300 shots on a full charge, which is a massive improvement over the 100-shot performance of the mju 725 SW. The battery is still the same relatively small 740mAh Li-ion rechargeable used in the previous camera, so the improvement must come from more efficient circuitry.
Other major improvements include the LCD monitor, which is still 2.5in but increased from 115k to 230k pixels, which makes it much sharper. Start-up time is much the same at around 1.5 seconds, but shot-to-shot time has changed. In standard continuous mode it can now manage six shots in just over six seconds before the buffer fills up and it has to pause for about one and a half seconds to write to the card, while in high-speed mode, with the picture quality reduced automatically to 2048 x 1536, it can shoot at 3.5 frames a second until the card is full. As an additional bonus it can shoot continuously with the flash firing on every shot, at a rate of one shot every one and a half seconds, which is very impressive.