Olympus Stylus 1030 SW


Digital cameras lead rough lives. While desktop PCs end up coddled in offices and homes, laptops get gingerly whisked from place to place in padded cases, and cell phones are left behind on the most extreme adventures due to reception, cameras routinely end up in mess after mess. After all, that’s where the best shots are. Whether it’s the bow of a boat crashing through surf, a rainy jungle, or just a rowdy party with less-than-sober guests, cameras always seem to come out whenever the conditions are least appropriate for delicate digital devices.

Fortunately, manufacturers have caught on to the environmental gauntlets their products continually get run through, and now offer cameras especially suited to spills, dunks and grime. The Stylus 1030 SW is the latest in Olympus’ line of shock and waterproof resistant cameras, and the most fully featured to date. With a 10.1-megapixel sensor rolled into a durable case, Olympus has suited it up to take high-resolution shots just about anywhere shy of an active volcano.

Olympus Stylus 1030 SW
Image Courtesy of Olympus

First on the 1030 SW’s long list of durability claims: it’s impervious to falls from 6.6 feet and under. So unless you happen to be of pro basketball player height, or prone to taking pictures from the edge of extreme drops, the 1030 SW has you covered. Along the same lines, it’s also crushproof up to 220 pounds, so it should be able to take a foot while it’s down and come up alive.

For those who bring their cameras to the shore, the 1030 SW has also been beefed up to handle water, and not just in accidents. Unlike other cameras that earn a “water resistant” title by surviving brief dunks, the 1030 SW is actually fully waterproof to 33 feet, meaning it can go along on swims and snorkeling trips without incident. Of course, if you’re on a boat in the open ocean, the classic lanyard around the wrist might still be a good idea unless you’re a particularly talented diver.

Finally, the camera’s least impressive spec: it’s freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides being a feat that most other cameras seem to handle just fine, handling a mere 14 degrees Fahrenheit is truly nothing to brag about anywhere north of the 45th parallel.

Putting aside its strengths as a device that that can be dropped, stepped on, submerged and frozen, as a camera, the 1030 SW also sports some impressive specs. This includes a 10.1 megapixel CCD sensor, 3.6x optical zoom (and an additional 5x digital zoom), movie-shooting capability, 29 shooting modes, digital image stabilization, and face detection. Olympus’ HyperCrystal II LCD has also been designed to allow visibility in direct sunlight, where many of the camera’s owners are likely to be using it. And for extra neat-o factor, the camera’s built-in pressure sensor (known as a manometer) will tell you exactly how high up or deep underwater you were when a picture was snapped, and record it for bragging points during your vacation slideshows.

Although the 1030 SW has not yet been introduced in retail stores (it will debut in early March), Olympus has already announced it will carry a $399 price tag when it shows up. While that’s a pretty petty more than similar point-and-shoot cameras with the same resolution, the Olympus’ underwater capability alone justifies the expense if you plan on using it, since standalone enclosures can run over $150 easily. So, whether you’re a klutz or a born risk taker, you may want to further investigate the Stylus 1030 SW to save yourself from another painful camera casualty. More information is available at Olympus’s Web site.

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