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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus Stylus 720 SW


Olympus Stylus 720 SW Review

Review Date: Jul 28, 2006

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Olympus Stylus 720 SW


The Olympus Stylue 720 SW is a digital camera targeted to point-and-shoot photographers. It has 7.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.33 in. CCD image sensor, and a 38-114mm (35 mm equivalent) 3x internal optical zoom lens, with an aperture range of F3.5(W)–F5.0(T).

We find the overall image quality of the Olympus 720 SW to be good to very good, with low noise at ISO 64 and images retaining most of the details.

3x Optical Zoom Range
Wide-angle 38mm Tele 114mm
Wide-angle 6.7mm
(38mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 20.1mm
(114mm, 35mm equivalent)

The Olympus 720 SW provides 3x optical zoom. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 38mm and then 114mm (35mm equivalent).

Besides Auto mode and easy-to-use Scene Modes, the Olympus 720 SW also has Programmed AE (P) mode. There is no Program Shift available in P mode.

The camera also provides exposure compensation (no Auto Bracketing) and preset White Balance (no Custom/Manual WB). Shutter speed ranges from 1/2-1/1,600 sec. in all modes (4 sec. in Night scene mode). There are no other long shutter speeds.

51.8mm, P, Pattern
1/250 sec., F4.0, ISO 64

The Olympus 720 SW lens allows you to focus as close as 7cm (2.8 in.) at wide-angle in Super Macro mode. AF locks precisely and fast, even in low-light [since the AF works on detecting contrast changes, subjects with low contrast might be difficult to get a focus lock in low-light]. There is iESP AF that will focus on subjects that is not in the center of the frame, but you cannot manually select the AF Frame you want the camera to focus at.

There are two metering modes: ESP (Multi-Pattern) and Spot.

White Balance Indoors
AWB WB = Tungsten
AWB WB = Tungsten

As the above pictures show, the auto white balance is not quite accurate indoors under artificial light [I have switchd back to two ordinary tungsten bulbs]. There is no Custom/Manual WB, so I select Tungsten, which is pretty accurate. Outdoors, under natural light, the AWB works very well.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 64
ISO 64
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600  
ISO 800 ISO 1600  

The pictures at ISO 64 and 100 are underexposed because the Olympus 720 SW does not have long shutter exposures. These shots are taken at ordinary room lighting (2 tungsten bulbs) and we have not used the flash or studio lights to give you a practical idea of what ISO you would need to use to start getting properly exposed pictures indoors.

You can set the ISO on the Olympus 720 SW from 64 to 1600 (ISO 2500 in Candle and Available Light scene modes at 1024x768 pixels only). The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that images at ISO 64 is quite clean with low noise. Noise seems to be visible at all ISO levels, and above ISO 64 and ISO 100, there seems to be very aggressive noise reduction. ISO 200 is usable especially in regular-sized 4x6 in. prints. Above ISO 200, the presence of noise takes the form of coloured splotches.

Chromatic Aberrations
CA (Purple Fringing)

CA is present in everyday high contrast shots. In the high contrast shot above, the corner delimited by the red square at top left, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows some purple fringing.

Long Shutter Speed
Long Shutter Speed
38mm, Night Scene, Pattern, 4 sec., F3.5, ISO Auto (125)
Auto WB, Macro ON, Self-Timer (10 sec.), Tripod Used, 100% Crop

The Olympus 720 SW allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 4 sec. but only in Night scene mode. Generally, with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take a low-light indoors shot using the Night scene mode. The colour cast is all wrong here, but as the Olympus 720 SW Photo Gallery shows, the Olympus 720 SW can take some very nice night shots if it's not too dark yet.

In case you get the wrong impression from the limitations we mention, we bring you 60 sample images [our most ever!] in the photo gallery to showcase how much fun and easy it is to get great pictures with the Olympus 720 SW. It's a digital camera you won't want to put down and you won't want to go anywhere without it.

Overall, good to very good image quality for a 7.1MP digital camera: not quite a low-light camera, but for its intended purpose of sunny beach, boating, and rough outdoors, the Olympus 720 SW can be expected to produce sharp pictures, good image detail and colours.

The pictures in the Olympus Stylus 720 SW Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the original 3072×2304 pixels version.

Note that I used the 35mm equivalent focal length in the EXIF info.

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name.

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!


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