The Olympus Stylus 720 SW is without doubt
one of the best built compact digital camera available:
not only does it look tough, it is
tough, being able to sustain a fall from a height
of 5 feet, which we have verified (see User's
Experience section). This rugged camera with
excellent construction is also light and compact
enough to be easily carried in a jeans pocket
or fashion purse. Fashion? Yes, this is one camera
that suceeds in looking both tough and
elegant! The Olympus 720 SW uses the xD-Picure
Shockproofing is only one of the attractive attribute
of the Olympus 720 SW. It is also waterproof [other
Stylus models are only certified "weatherproof"]
down to a depth of 10 feet for up to 1 hour. We
have also verified that the camera can be dunked
under water [we spent 4 days at the beach and
took it swimming] without adverse effect but have
not tested the "up to 1 hour" part [after
every saltwater use, we rinsed it well and soaked
it for about 10 min. in a tub of fresh tap water].
This waterproofing is made possible by a case
that seems bolted together tight. The only openings
are the Connector Cover and Battery/xD-Picture
Card Cover, which each has a rubber "gasket"
to provide waterproof protection. The covers snap
shut securely and requires that you push down
a switch to open them, i.e. there is no chance
of accidentally opening them underwater or of
them opening up with a fall.
The Olympus 720 SW is attractive in its all-metal
clad brushed silver body with chrome accents.
There are 2 screws at the front to serve as "grip"
helpers and a metal strip for the strap eyelet
that juts out along the right side (viewed from
the back) and also helps serves as a grip [use
of the wrist strap is highly recommended]. The
lens never extends outside the body.
Startup and shot to shot times are average at
about 2 sec., and there is a shutter lag.
Colours: overall silver with chrome
Looks: tough, elegant
Comfortable to hold and operate, though
can be slippery
Controls & FUNC. menu are intuitive
Compact: fits in a jeans pocket or
small fashion purse
Dimensions: 91 x 58.7 x 19.8 mm /
3.6 x 2.3 x 0.78 in.
Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion
battery Li-42B, which takes approx. 5 hrs [according
to the manual, though it seems to take me far
less than that] to recharge fully. Olympus does
not rate the battery, and I got less than 200
shots per charge, so a spare battery is highly
The flash has a max. range of 3.8m/12.5 ft. at
wide-angle, which is adequate only for close range.
You can set the flash to Auto, Red-Eye Reduction,
On (Fill-in) or Off.
The top of the camera has the Power button and
Shutter button. Both buttons are on the small
side but Olympus designers have cleverly made
a "well" around each so they are easy
to push down. I had no trouble operating either,
though if you have particularly large fingers,
you may want to give it a try first.
The lens is at top right (viewed from the front)
and so you need to be careful your finger(s) do
not get in the way.
There is no Mode Dial but a SCN button that plays
that role. You press this button repeatedly to
switch from Auto/P (set in FUNC.) to Digital Image
Stabilization to Scene Modes.
Note that you will either be in Auto or P mode,
depending on what you selected in FUNC menu.
Digital Image Stabilization [not to be confused
by the real and better type of image stabilization
which stabilizes either the lens or the image
sensor] will select a high ISO and favours a fast
shutter speed so as to reduce or eliminate blur
caused by camera shake and/or subject movement.
There are 28 shooting modes in all: AUTO, P,
Digital Image Stabilization, 24 scene modes to
cover almost every possible situation, and Movie
(technically the "25th" scene mode,
since it is accessed under the Scene Mode menu).
There are, of course, scene modes for Beach&Snow
and Underwater photography.
If you shoot lots of movies, I would recommend
setting Movie as the default scene mode so you
can access it quickly when you press the SCN button.
You just have to select it and press OK to set
it as the default scene mode.
Almost all the shooting functions are accessible
through the new OK/FUNC. button placed in the
middle of the 4-Way Arrows.
You can record movies with sound (until the memory
card is full) at either 640x480, 320x240 or 160x120
pixels at 15fps. You can preset optical zoom before
any movie recording, but cannot zoom during recording.
Video Storage Capacity
(h m s)
1 h 53m 17s
No card comes with the camera but there is approx.
19MB of Internal Memory. 19MB can record only
17 sec. of SHQ movie.
Print (with direct printing to any
Press the LEFT ARROW key to select
between MACRO and SUPER MACRO.
MACRO allows you to focus as close
as 20cm (7.9 in.) and SUPER MACRO
at 7cm (2.8 in.).
Select Drive from the FUNC menu.
Normal speed: 1.1 fps, up to 6 frames
in SQ mode
High speed: 3.7 fps, up to 11 frames
in HQ mode
The drive mode is kept and restored
when the camera is turned off and on
again, so remember to reset it back
to Single Frame.
Press the UP ARROW key to select Exposure
Once set, the Exposure Compensation
Indicator conveniently stays displayed
on screen until it is reset to "0"
Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (1/3 EV increments)
The screen brightness will increase
or decrease to reflect the value you
Note: the exposure compensation value
selected is retained even when the camera
is turned off (so remember to reset
to "0" after using it or the
next time you turn the camera on, your
shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
At the bottom of the camera, the tripod mount
thread is metal, which is so much better than
the easily damaged plastic threads used in most
P&S digital cameras. There is a very nice
Battery/Card door and the battery has a latch
to keep it from accidentally falling. You won't
be able to change battery or card when the camera
is on a tripod.
LCD & Menus
There is no optical viewfinder but an extra large
2.5 in. LCD monitor with an average 115,000 pixels
resolution. The LCD has a fast enough refresh
rate for a smooth display in good light, but is
just a bit choppy in low light. It can sometimes
be difficult to see in bright sunlight, but you
can adjust the brightness in MENU/SETUP. It is
one of the few LCD monitors that gains up very
well in low-light.
There is no AF-assist Illuminator so auto focusing
in low-light can sometimes be challenging.
While the FUNC. button gives access to the shooting
settings, the MENU button gives access to the
Menu and Setup settings.
MENU 1 of 2
- WB: Auto, Pre-set (Daylight, Overcast,
Tungsten, Fluorescent1, Fluorescent2, Fluorescent3)
- ISO: Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
- Drive: Single, Normal, High
- Metering: ESP, Center
- Digital Zoom: On, Off
MENU 2 of 2
- AF Mode: iESP, Spot
- Voice memo: On, Off
- Panorama: only guides, no semi-transparent
SETUP 1 of 4
- Language: English, Francais, Espanol,
- Playback ON: Allows Playback button to
display images without powering on camera
- PW ON SETUP: Display logo or not on power
SETUP 2 of 4
- (Menu Background) Color: Normal, Blue,
- Beep: Off, Low, High
- Warning Sound: Off, Low, High
- Shutter Sound: Off, 1, 2, 3 (Low, High)
- Rec View: On, Off
SETUP 3 of 4
- File Name: Reset, Auto
- Pixel Mapping
- LCD Brightness
- Dual Time: Off, On
SETUP 4 of 4
- Alarm Clock: Off, One Time, Daily (Time,
Snooze, Alarm Sound)
- Video Out: NTSC, PAL
SCENE MODE 1 of 5
- Night Scene
SCENE MODE 2 of 5
- Self Portrait
- Available Light
- P=Programmed AE, Exp. Comp.=+0.3EV, Flash
On, saving to xD-Picture Card, space left
for 292 images, SQG 3072x2304 Image Quality,
The Olympus Stylus 720 SW is easy to use
and operate. It is built as tough as it gets,
yet succeeds in being elegant as well. It lives
up to its claims to be both shock proof as well
as waterproof, making it the ideal choice for
boaters, campers, hikers, and anyone else who
values a digital camera that does not go out of
commission at the first bump. All compact digital
cameras should be built this way.