The Olympus Stylus 725 SW digital camera is an update to the existing Stylus 720 SW model, which was announced at the Spring 2006 Photo Marketing Association tradeshow. As with the rest of the Stylus line (known as Mju in Europe), the Olympus 720 and 725 designs are based around a weatherproof body that ensures wherever you go – in rain, sleet or snow – your camera will go right along with you. The “SW” in the name of both models hints at two more unusual features though – these cameras are rather impressively both shock- and water-proofed.
It is in this area that the one significant difference between the Olympus 725 SW and the original 720 SW model can be found. Where the ‘720 was waterproof to a depth of three meters, the Olympus 725 is waterproof to an even greater depth of five meters. As with the original camera, the Olympus 725SW is also shockproof to the MIL-STD-810F standard as well – meaning that the camera can withstand drops of up to 5 feet from any angle without harm.
Despite its array of waterproof seals and shock absorption technology, the 725 SW remains pocket-friendly and relatively lightweight. Other features look to be unchanged from the original model. The ‘725 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 115,000 pixels. As is common on many digicams these days, this LCD is the sole method of framing images, as the Stylus 725 SW forgoes any form of optical viewfinder.
Autofocus is via contrast detection, and ISO sensitivity ranges from 64 to 1600 equivalent and can be controlled automatically or manually. The Olympus Stylus 725 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 725 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 noise and/or 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 725 offers automatic or preset white balance control courtesy of six presets, but no custom white balance mode. The 725 SW also includes a four mode internal flash, and offers beginner-friendly control over images courtesy of a rather generous 24 scene modes.
As well as still images, the camera can also capture movies at VGA or lower resolution, at a rate of 15 frames per second with clip length limited only by available storage space and battery life. The 725 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 19MB of built-in memory. It also offers video and USB computer connectivity. Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion battery, of either Li-40B or Li-42B type.