For those who are looking for a pocket aim and shoot camera the Olympus 725 SW might be just the right snapper for you. I really liked the overall design of this camera. Although for me this isn't usually one of the most important things when making a purchase, the metal casing does feel nice and comfortable when taking shots. My model came in a sleek brushed cherry red and silver finish, but you can also buy the same model in Deep Blue or Titanium Grey.
The results of the shots were bright with good colour variation and contrast. At 7.1 million pixels, you are sure to get pictures with exceptionally sharp detail. Bright Capture Technology is employed to deliver exceptional performance in low light. With an ISO range of up to 1600, the higher sensitivity enables faster shutter speeds that help to eliminate image blur, especially at night. The camera has 24 special scene modes. Apart from the usual such as Sports, Landscape and Macro modes there are also various underwater modes. These pre-defined settings are designed to help you get the best shot with the minimum of fuss.
The camera is supposed to be waterproof at up to 5m but how many people who buy it are actually going to use it underwater? I think the main point here is that it should survive in highly humid or soggy conditions which will be a great advantage to many when travelling in damp climates. The camera can be used for scuba-diving but only in conjunction with the optional underwater case which doesn't come cheap at £150. This model is also supposed to be resistant against falls of up to 1.5m; although it's unlikely I'll be putting this feature to the test. Nevertheless this inbuilt robustness is sure to satisfy the needs of active photographers. The camera does not come with a case, but I suppose it doesn't need one if it' supposed to be shock proof.
The camera's high level of protection extends to the cameras bright 1:3.5-5.0, 3x optical zoom lens (same as a 38-114mm on a 35mm camera). This specially constructed lens uses a folded optical light path that allows the lens to be permanently contained inside the camera's metal body. This removes the need to have the lens stick out from the body. This lack of a protruding lens certainly gives a more robust feel to the camera.
You can also record movies with sound (in 640x480 pixel quality). The duration of the movie is only limited by the amount of memory available. This can be either the camera's internal memory or you can use an optional XD-Picture Card of up to 1GB. You will need the memory card because 19mb internal memory won't get you very far. You can usually pick up a picture card for around £20. An extra battery will also come in handy as the battery is quite small. You should get about a 150 pictures although I've not fully tested this. The movies are good but obviously limited in terms of overall quality given the size of the lens. The versatility of this feature is also reduced by the short battery life.
The large 6.4cm LCD screen does make it easy for you to frame your pictures before shooting. The screen is very bright with a contrast level 4x brighter than conventional most LCD's, something that is an advantage in subdued lighting.
Some Negative Points
The buttons on the camera are a bit small.
Every time you switch the camera on it opens in the default Portrait picture mode. This is a bit of pain if you are always taking landscapes because any background will always appear in soft focus. You have to press the record mode button twice in order to move to the last used setting or one of the other modes.
This is a great camera with lots of functions and useful features. It's great for those who simply want a highly portable camera that takes excellent shots. Originally priced at around £300 I made my made my purchase for £220 at Amazon.
Waterproof and shockproof
7.1 million pixels
Bright Capture Technology for better low light photography.
Large 6.4cm/2.5" LCD with 115,000 pixels
Bright 3x optical zoom 1:3.5-5.0, with optical folded light-path
24 scene modes plus Auto
Movie function with sound (640x480 pixels, 15fps)
Macro and Super Macro mode for shots from as little as 7cm
Editing functions (e.g. Red-eye Fix, Calendar Composition, Layout Composition, Title Composition)
Internal memory plus xD-Picture Card slot
Supplied with Olympus Master Software, Neoprene Case and LI-42B battery plus LI-40C charger
Optional underwater case PT-033 (waterproof up to 40m)