Olympus Stylus 790 SW 7.1 MP Digital Camera - Blue Reviews
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Olympus Stylus 790 SW 7.1 MP Digital Camera - Blue

18 ratings (16 Epinions reviews)
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Waterproof and sturdy, but picture quality suffers

Mar 31, 2009 (Updated Mar 31, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: OK

  • Ease of Use:
  • Battery Life:
  • Photo Quality:
  • Shutter Lag

Pros:Rugged — holds up to wind, rain, snow and very cold weather.

Cons:Horrible, disappointing photo quality (color, contrast and, particularly, clarity).

The Bottom Line: It's durable for quick shots you want to e-mail, but for lasting memories, it'll produce disappointing, grainy shots.


I was envious when my husband bought his new Olympus Stylus 790 SW; it was smaller than my Canon point and shoot, had more mexapixels (7.1) and, best of all, it was waterproof. But then I relied on the camera when we renewed our vows at the top of a mountain in wintery conditions, and when I developed the photos, I was so incredibly disappointed, it led me to write a review here.
My husband originally bought it because when he goes fishing — in winter or summer — he likes to take pictures of the fish. Not being a fisherwoman, it seemed like his photos of the fish looked just fine. The catch: I ONLY saw them on the computer or 2.5 inch LCD screen that's on the camera. When viewed through those modalities the photos looked fine — decent color, sharpness, etc.

The camera also works great for my husband because he has dropped his phone in the water while trying to take photos of the caught fish before he releases them. Now, when his Olympus camera falls in the water, it's no big deal. He hasn't had problems with leaks or the camera not freezing up on him, like I've heard other people have had with this camera (and for that reason, we're both afraid to take it underwater — even though it's supposedly built to take pictures in 10 feet of water or deeper) when we scuba dive. So, unfortunately, I'm not willing to risk the $300 we spent on the camera in order to give you a my experience there.

I began using his camera just because it was smaller, and it held up great to the snowy conditions we always ski powder in. My mistake: I took family Christmas skiing photos AND our wedding renewal photos BEFORE printing any of them out. 

The day of our wedding renewal on the top of Loveland Ski Area, I was dressed in full garb — veil, dress, bouquet, the whole nine yards. It was snowy and cold, and during the ceremony and afterward, skiing, I was so happy I brought the Olympus, because it didn't freeze in the nasty weather, compared to my mom's Canon point and shoot, which froze up immediately and didn't capture any photos that day.
So, there I was, smug that I was capturing all of these amazing scenes on the Olympus. It performed well, even taking video of us skiing down.

As far as ease of use goes, the power button is a little tricky to press with gloves on, but other functions are easily managed due to adequate size. The LCD screen is big enough to make sure people's eyes weren't closed during the shot, though, like all LCD screens, it's tricky to see in daylight.

And that's really one thing, besides horrible picture quality, that drives me crazy about this camera: I'm a traditional kind of photographer who likes to frame my scenes using an eyepiece, but the Olympus has no eyepiece. It's really a problem when the sun is shining; you just have no idea what you're getting as you point the camera and shoot.
But back to my major disappointment: Even in a 4x6 size — which I expect a 7.1 megapixel to be able pull off no problem — my photos were poorly colored and contrasted. And the worst part: They were incredibly grainy. I'm talking ridiculously grainy, with or without using the digital zoom function (which, when used, makes photos even more fuzzy/grainy). I see no way of blowing up the photos to a nice 8x10, which was my goal.

I even compared the photos to pictures taken at the bottom of the mountain in the same light conditions with a 4 megapixel point and shoot, and to those taken with a high-end SRL. Both were worlds apart in sharpness and contrast, compared to my Olympus.

The other disadvantage of this camera (as if that's not enough; to me, picture quality is the most important thing) is the battery life. Though it got me through a 4-hour ski wedding, while using the video function (which isn't that great either) once, the battery was close to empty by the end of the day.

The small flash doesn't do much to illuminate or fill-flash a scene; most of my flash photos just resulted in red eye, since most people look at the camera — and almost right at the flash since the camera is just about the size of a deck of cards (a smidge longer).

The anti shake function is adequate, but, then again, if you get fuzzy photos when people are simply standing, what does it really matter?

I'm especially disappointed, because Olympus is known for its quality lenses. But, apparently, they're not in this camera.

Overall, this camera is good for people who don't care much about photo quality, but who want a rugged camera that will stand up to rain, wind, snow and cold. My husband's thrilled with his fish photos that he e-mails. Me, I'll never use this camera again.


Recommend this product? No


Amount Paid (US$): 300
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Easy Enough for Anyone to Use


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