Olympus Stylus 790SW
The Olympus Stylus 790 SW features a design ensuring wherever you go – regardless of environment – your camera will go right along with you.
The “SW” in the name hints at two of the camera’s more unusual features – both shock- and water-proofing. As with past models, the Olympus 790SW is shockproof to the MIL-STD-810F standard – meaning that the camera can withstand drops of up to 5 feet from any angle without harm. The Olympus 790 is also waterproof to a depth of three meters. Despite the array of waterproof seals and shock absorption technology needed to achieve all this, the 790 SW remains pocket-friendly and relatively lightweight.
The ‘790 includes an Olympus-branded 3x optical zoom with a 38 – 114mm equivalent focal length range and F3.5 – 5.0 maximum aperture, folded by a prism to allow the lens to be mounted at right angles to the front of the camera. This allowed the camera’s designers to protect the delicate lens components, as well as to completely seal the camera body with no need for a lens to extend out of the camera body when powered on. The lens is coupled with a 7.1 megapixel imager and 2.5″ LCD display that has 230,000 pixels. As is common on many digicams these days, this LCD is the sole method of framing images, as the Stylus 790 SW forgoes any form of optical viewfinder.
Autofocus is via contrast detection, and ISO sensitivity ranges from 80 to 1600 equivalent and can be controlled automatically or manually. The Olympus Stylus 790 SW also offers what the company calls “Digital Image Stabilization” mode – which should not be mistaken for true hardware image stabilization, where either lens elements or the image sensor are moved based on sensors that detect camera shake. The 790 SW is simply boosting ISO sensitivity to gain a faster shutter speed and using software deblurring, both of which will reduce blur at the expense of added noise and/or obscured image detail.
By default, exposures are determined with Olympus’ Digital ESP multi-pattern metering, with spot metering also available. Users can also tweak the exposure with +/-2.0EV of exposure compensation, in 1/3EV steps. Shutter speeds range from 1/1000 to 4 seconds, and the Olympus 790 offers automatic or preset white balance control courtesy of six presets, but no custom white balance mode. The 790 SW also includes a four mode internal flash, and offers beginner-friendly control over images courtesy of a rather generous 23 scene modes.
As well as still images, the camera can also capture movies at VGA or lower resolution, at a rate of 30 frames per second. The 790 SW also has a twelve second self-timer to let you get into your own pictures. The camera stores images on xD-Picture cards, or 14.7MB of built-in memory. It also offers video and USB computer connectivity. Power comes from a proprietary lithium-ion battery.
The Olympus Stylus 790 SW ships from September 2007, priced at about US$300.