Olympus Stylus 1030 SW Digital Camera Review
As you would expect from its death-defying specs, this is a solidly built all-metal camera, with a significant heft in your hand. The 3.74" width and 2.4" height are in line with what we expect from a compact camera – only the 0.84" depth feels bit thick. Overall, though, being able to confront the elements without bundling your camera in some ungainly plastic housing is well worth a slightly chunkier body than your typical point-and-shoot.
With visible screw heads reinforcing its tough-gear image, the front of the 1030 SW features a glossy panel (available in silver, green or black) inset in a brushed metal body. At the far left is a shiny metal band and, to the right, the word OLYMPUS embossed vertically into silver brushed metal. Above the word are two small holes for a stereo microphone. To the right, as the glossy panel begins, there’s a thin raised silver bar that lines up with your middle finger while holding the camera. Above and below this bar are two of the visible screws. The words STYLUS 1030 SW and, below that, in smaller letters, SHOCK + WATERPROOF, are printed vertically in silver ink. Above these words is the small horizontal flash and, next to that, the LED illuminator, which serves both as an auto focus assist lamp and a self-timer indicator. The lens is located at the top right, behind a lens cover that automatically raises and lowers when power is turned on and off. Below this, again in silver ink printed vertically, is the legend 10.1 MEGAPIXELS.
The rugged construction of the 1030 SW
is reflected in its design.
The back of the 1030 SW gets pretty busy on the right side, but it starts simply enough, with two small raised dots top and bottom to give the LCD screen some clearance when the camera is laid flat. The LCD screen measures 2.7 inches, with a 230,000-dot resolution. Underneath the screen, printed in white on the brushed silver metal, is OLYMPUS HyperCrystal LCD.
The area to the right of the screen fairly bristles with buttons and other controls. At top are the zoom lens controls, with a raised metal dot between them for no particular reason. During playback the W button does double duty as the thumbnail display control, while the T controls on-screen magnification. The mode dial below these buttons clicks into eight positions, some indicated by icons, others with text labels. These are, moving clockwise, AUTO, Program (the camera icon), Anti-shake (the wavering hand icon), SCN (scene modes), GUIDE (on-screen text shooting guide), Movie mode (the camera icon), Favorites playback (the star icon) and Play (the standard VCR-style icon). To the left of the wheel is a small lamp that flashes when the memory card is being accessed.
In the bottom right quadrant is a four-way controller, with four small silver buttons tucked into the four corners. In addition to maneuvering through on-screen menus, each directional wing of the four-way controllers has a secondary control function while shooting: exposure compensation (top), self-timer (bottom), flash (right) and macro mode (left). As for the four inset buttons, they control (clockwise, from top left) menu, review/direct print, backlight compensation/erase, and display/help/LED illuminator.
All the controls are clustered on the right.
Left Side* (5.00) *The left side doesn't do much, beyond reminding you in white lettering on a polished metal backdrop that the camera has a 3.6X OPTICAL WIDE ZOOM lens. Once again, the panel is highlighted by two tiny Philips-head screws you'd best leave alone.
Not much to see here, but you could use the
reflective surface as a mirror.
At the top is a firmly latched cover concealing the multi-connector, a proprietary cable port used for the supplied USB and AV cables. The latch itself is stiff enough to prevent accidental opening but doesn't fight back unreasonably when pushed down with a fingernail. Inside the drop-down cover is a rubber gasket providing additional protection against water invading the electrical connector.
Below the door is a protruding silver loop for connecting the supplied wrist strap. The strap end is thin, the loop is large and wide open, so making the connection is simple.
The lower third of the right side is taken up by a small speaker, flanked by two screws top and bottom.
The top door snaps shut **tightly,*
reinforced with a rubber gasket.
The top of the camera is simple and attractive, with nicely rounded edges front and back and an inset black panel for the two controls: the round power button and the rounded rectangle shutter. The shutter lacks the clear two-step progression found on many other cameras, where you feel a slight click when you hit the half-depressed state and then the full shutter release. Here you know you've hit the halfway point when you hear an annoying beep – we'd rather silence the sound and work by feel.
On the right side of the top is the legend OLYMPUS AF WIDE ZOOM 5.0-18.2mm 1:3.5-5.1. The top of the lens housing juts out a few millimeters in front. And flanking the left and right side, predictably, are two screws, with a third inset into the black panel.
*The different button sizes and shapes make it
easy to distiguish between them by touch.*
The camera can stand securely on the wide, flat bottom. At the left is a label with the camera model name and serial number. Slightly off-center toward the left is a tripod socket, made entirely out of plastic and frighteningly fragile if you’re actually planning to use a tripod with any frequency. There’s a visible screw above the tripod socket. Next is the latch for the battery and xD card slot cover. The latch release requires a fingernail to catch it, but when it snaps shut it does so with authority (good thing, since it’s expected to protect the camera innards to a 30-foot depth). Inside the door is a black rubber gasket to ensure a waterproof seal.
*The plastic tripod socket feels flimsy.