790 SW / Stylus 790 SW intro
The Olympus µ 790 SW, or Stylus 790 SW as it’s known in North America, is a 7.1 Megapixel compact camera with a 3x optical zoom lens and a 2.5in screen. Announced in August 2007, it’s the successor to the µ 770 SW (Stylus 770 SW), and like other models in the SW range, it has a unique trick up its sleeve.
The 790 SW may look like a normal compact digital camera, but it can in fact operate underwater at depths up to 3m. It’s also shock-proof to a height of 1.5m and freeze-proof down to minus 10 degrees Celsius. This is one tough camera that’s been designed to survive the elements whether you’re swimming, skiing, or simply have kids who like to throw things around.
Many compact cameras these days have optional underwater housings which can protect them to depths of 20 or even 40m, but they’re typically bulky and expensive. The 790 SW may also have such an optional housing for those who want to dive really deep, but by building-in protection down to 3m in the standard package, the 790 SW is protected for most family holidays or days out, without compromising size or price.
In terms of traditional compact features, the 790 SW also sports 23 scene presets, face detection, and ‘image stabilisation’, albeit by increasing the sensitivity rather than adjusting optics or its sensor. It’s also available in a choice of four colours – starry silver, midnight black, sunset orange or marine blue.
In our Olympus Stylus 790 SW review we’ll examine the two sides of this unique camera: first in terms of general photographic capabilities compared to the best compacts available today, and secondly as an all-round tough model which claims to survive in situations where others would simply fail. Based in New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown, we’re ideally located to put the tough Olympus through its paces and in our 790 SW video tour you’ll see how it survived an extended dip in the chilly waters of Lake Wakatipu.
So read on to find out if the 790 SW lives up to its tough image, and crucially whether it can also take a good-looking photo under more civilised conditions.
We tested a final production version of the Olympus µ 790 SW. Following our convention of using default factory and best quality JPEG settings to test cameras unless otherwise stated, the 790 SW was set to its best quality SHQ JPEG mode, Auto White Balance and ESP Metering.