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Old Apr 18, 2007, 12:00 PM   #1
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I have to admit, those examples look a little iffy to me, too.
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Old Apr 18, 2007, 12:14 PM   #2
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Maybe a lesson in reviewer speak is in order. Good is less than very good which is less than great. That said, when I downloaded a couple of the sample pictures and examined them at 100% the noise seemed typical for a 7MP P&S but the images seemed "soft" to me with little more pixalization than cameras on Steve's Best list. That being the difference between good and great. However none of the "better" camera could go 33' underwater, are dustproofor withstand a 5' drop. You pay your money and take your choice, which factors are most important to getting a picture?
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Old Apr 18, 2007, 6:28 PM   #3
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Yes, I looked at that picture. I also looked the building since that was more comparable to sample pictures for other cameras. The building picture stands up more like the samples from other camera. Maybe Steve will have explanation for the garden picture.
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Old May 15, 2007, 4:13 PM   #4
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I agree Steeve should have probably qualified that one a bit. That one shot is ugly, I'm not sure what happened there. It looks like camera shake, but it's at 1/400 sec. But in general these look a bit lacking in detail. The portrait shots with the dog for example are losing alot of detail.

On the whole, they don't look any better to me than the earlier 720SW. That was a model on which many reviewers qualified their comments with regard to image quality.

An example:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PROD...W/OS720SWA.HTM

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While thankfully this doesn't badly affect printed images, noise and its suppression are way too evident at the lowest ISO and highest resolution.
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mentioned at the outset that Olympus has produced some impressive, ground breaking cameras and built a loyal base. I also mentioned that the 720 SW only had to meet the quality I experienced with the Olympus Stylus Verve or Canon PowerShot A520. Looking back at the images from those cameras and comparing them to what I get from the 720 SW, I'm afraid it's closer than I'd like. Put in the simplest terms: the color is muted and color detail is mushy at best, even at the lowest ISO. Colors on the Macbeth chart not only appear faded next to the sharply oversaturated Verve, it looks like each color was put into a blender and poured back into each square as a pulpy mess. Admittedly, the Verve's sharpness isn't much better, but the vibrant color ads a snap back to the picture. The Canon's colors are more tame, and image sharpness in color areas is considerably better.

I don't get it. Olympus is capable of making excellent digital cameras. Witness the C-7000, C-8080, and E-500 to name a few. But the image quality coming from the 720 SW doesn't meet the standard.
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Olympus seems to be using the high resolution to make up for image noise in solid colors. You can find defects in any image if you zoom them to 100 percent on a computer monitor. Print is where it really matters, though, so that's why we look at the actual printed output.

My remaining concern is that the color is less saturated. You can tweak this in a photo editing program easily enough, and guys like me are wont to do that anyway. But if you're not one of those folks, know that you'll end up with somewhat muted color. I think those who've experienced other 7 megapixel cameras will be disappointed with the output of the 720 SW.
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I'm disappointed that I have to make excuses for the Olympus Stylus 720 SW. I'd like to say the images are as stunning as the camera. But this is a case where the camera is an excellent hardware design with somewhat mediocre image quality. But our printer tests show clearly that what I see onscreen doesn't really make a huge difference in printed output.
I think most of that probably applies to the 770SW as well. In that sense, maybe it's "good" for a 7MP model that can take pictures up to 30 feet underwater, and in temperatures as low as -10 celsius, and that can withstand 220 pounds of pressure. And maybe image quality is fine for prints lss than 8" x 10".

But it looks to me like your not getting more detail there than you would with a typical 5 MP model. Maybe you aren't supposed to view the images at 100%, but if they need to be downsized to a 4MP or 5MP equivalent size to look good, even in good light, then is there any advantage to the extra megapixels? I imagine they could as easily put a cleaner 5MP or 6MP sensor in there, except that it wouldn't sell as well. Still, that may be typical of a "consumer" 7MP camera.

Most reviewers do seem to have a fairly generous grading curve though. At dpreview, it seems like "above average" is the lowest grade given out. In Steve's reviews, it seems the best models get an "excellent" for image quality, and more ordinary models get a "very good".

Here's a similar shot from the Canon SD750, a model which got a "Very good" for example:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...s/img_0064.jpg

That's an improvement, but on the whole I didn't think that gallery looked much better than the one for the 770SW. I don't think many of these 7MP consumer digicams are really that great.

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Old May 15, 2007, 4:35 PM   #5
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I'm wondering ifthe computationsfor the 720SW/770SW optics were adjusted for the underwater environment compared to the normal "in air" environment. It was said that Nikon Nikonos (I think that's the spelling) optics werecomputed for underwater usage.
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Old May 15, 2007, 8:03 PM   #6
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Good point. I don't think Steve tested this one underwater, but I think he was impressed by how well the 720SW did in his bathtub test:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_...s/p4270106.jpg

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