For a portable device, the average digital camera is rather fragile. It doesn’t like to be too hot or too cold, it doesn’t like to get wet, and if you should drop it onto a concrete floor Well you’ll be making a trip back to the electronics store.
And if that happens to you, I suggest you consider the Olympus Stylus 770 SW as a replacement. This 7.1 megapixel digital camera is effectively a ruggedized version of their popular 760 model. Naturally, beefing it up to make it shock proof, freeze proof, waterproof (to 33 feet) and crush proof has resulted in it gaining a little weight, but at 5.5 ounces it’s still hardly massive.
The 770 has all the same features and capabilities as its sibling 760, so you get a wide variety of functions, including the all important self-timer. Picture quality is good, but perhaps not great. If you’re really particular about how colors are reproduced you might not be entirely happy with this camera as they can seem just a little flat. Optically though, images come out great with very little distortion and the lens gives up to 3x zoom. There’s also up to 5x of digital zoom available. Some people don’t care for digital zoom, but when you’ve this many megapixels to play with I think it works pretty well.
The display on the back works well too in most conditions, which is good because there’s no viewfinder. Large LCD displays tend to eat up batteries, and this has a rechargeable rather than using regular replaceable batteries. If you’re someone who shoots a lot of pictures and sorts them out afterwards it might be worth investing in a spare battery to carry with you. You’ll also need to get the biggest xD memory card you can find, because the camera’s on-board memory is only enough for two or three snaps.
The Stylus 770 SW is claimed to be waterproof down to 33 feet, so you can take it with you when you go snorkeling. A particularly neat feature is the integrated pressure gauge which shows your depth or altitude on the screen. I don’t know how many other digital cameras offer that capability!
If you’re someone who likes to shoot videos for Youtube, this camera can handle that for you. In addition to an AVI movie mode there’s a built-in microphone, so you get sound too. I don’t know how well that works underwater though!
When it first went on sale this camera was nearly $400, which is steep for 7.1 megapixels, but when you consider how much more robust it is, and how your friends will love the underwater snaps you took, maybe it’s isn’t such bad value.