The Olympus MJU 720SW offers something different to the majority of digital cameras. It is waterproof to a depth of 3m and is also shockproof from heights up to 1.5m. This makes the MJU 720SW one of the very few digital cameras you can use in water or at the beach without the need to buy a special waterproof case.
The camera has seven megapixels and a three times optical zoom lens. It is fairly straight forward and has all the features you would normally associate with a standard point and shoot camera.
91 x 58.7 x 19.8mm
I would describe the image quality of the MJU 720SW as good rather than exceptional. There is not really anything that stands out as exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. In many ways though the MJU 720SW does appear to offer better quality than a number of other cameras in the MJU series that I have reviewed.
Starting by taking a look at the outdoor photos I can see that focusing levels are about average. I have tested many digital cameras that provide sharper images, but at the same time the MJU 720SW performs fairly well and the pictures retain a level of sharpness right up to the edge. Skies can be slightly speckled, but otherwise I found colours to be strong. This is backed up by the dedicated test for colours. This shows plenty of depth with the colours being well balanced.
The second outdoor shot is my least favourite of the test photos. This is taken without using any zoom at all. There is a darker area to the left of the photo that catches many cameras out, but in this case the MJU 720SW really struggles to illuminate the area at all. Although I feel this is a fairly standard landscape type shot focusing is at its weakest here.
The third outdoor shot with full zoom in use produces a better effort. This is a sharper image. Out plus point when comparing this camera to some other MJU cameras I have tested is that there is no sign of the purple tinge that can be added to blue areas of pictures.
One photo where I think the camera does very well is the outdoor portrait. In my view this picture is about spot on. Many cameras have a tendency to over expose areas of the face where the natural light falls. In this case there are no problems at all. This makes for a well balanced photo with a degree of warmth added to the skin tones.
Indoors the camera is not as strong. Both the indoor portrait and also the photo of beer bottles taken in very lowlight are not focused quite as sharply as I would like to see. There is also a touch of red eye in the portrait shot.
One photo that works well is the macro shot. The photo is bright, clear and sharp. Although I would not recommend the MJU 720SW purely on the basis of its close up abilities it is a very useful bonus.
My test picture taken at ISO 400 is just below average. It is worth using this setting when there is no other way to get a picture, but many cameras perform better in this area.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
I was able to take a single photo in 0.53 seconds and five photos in 12.69 seconds. These are not perfect times and I would have liked to have been able to take a single photo a fair bit quicker than this.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The 3x optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 38 - 114mm in 35mm format. The maximum aperture of the lens is f3.5 (wide) - f5.0 (tele). There is also a 5x digital zoom feature available. A macro mode caters for close up shots. The minimum focusing distance is 7cm.
For composing images there is a 2.5 inch LCD screen. The screen is made up of around 115,000 pixels. The MJU 720SW does not have a viewfinder.
To help you take the best possible shots are a wide range of scene modes. By using a scene mode you indicate to the camera the type of photo you are about to take and it will then use what it considers to be the best settings for the shot. The scene modes available are Portrait, Landscape with Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Museum, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Document, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Beach and Snow, Underwater Wide1, Underwater Wide2, Underwater Macro and Underwater Snapshot.
The built in flash unit has a maximum range of 3.8m. This falls to around 2.6m when the zoom lens is in use. The flash modes you can use are Auto (automatic activation in low and backlight), red-eye reduction, fill-in (forced activation), off (no flash).
As you get to know the camera there are a number of more advanced features available as well. These include light metering (digital ESP metering, spot metering), exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV with 1/3 EV steps), ISO equivalents (Auto 64, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 - ISO 2500 is available for some scene modes) and white balance (Tungsten, overcast, sunlight, fluorescent light 1,2,3.)
A histogram is available to help you with the exposure and there is also a digital image stabilisation mode. Shutter speeds are set automatically by the camera in the range 4 to 1/1000 seconds.
There are two types of continuous or sequence shooting. Standard mode allows you to shoot at a rate of 1.1 frames per second for up to eight frames. In high speed mode you can take up to 12 shots at a rate of 3.7 frames per second. These are maximum speeds.
The camera has a panorama assist mode. This helps you stitch together panoramic type shots. In order to use this feature you need to use an Olympus own brand memory card.
After a picture has been taken there are a number of editing features you can use. These include resize, change to black and white, change to sepia, red eye fix and correction of brightness and saturation.
Movies with sound can be recorded up to the capacity of the memory card. The maximum resolution is 640 x 480 and the top speed is 15 frames per second.
Olympus provides all the necessary cables and software to connect the MJU 720SW to a computer, PictBridge compatible printer and television set.
A self timer is available for when you would like to appear in the picture yourself.
Ease of Use
Although the menu system is not perfect the MJU 720SW is pretty easy to find your way around. Key controls for zoom, flash, picture review and deleting unwanted pictures are all found on the back of the camera. There is also help text available to guide you through the menu options.
You can pick up a Olympus MJU 720SW for around £220. This compares to around £150 for a Pentax Optio W10 and £220 for a Pentax Optio W20.
Although waterproof in a similar way to the MJU 720SW the two Pentax models are not shockproof. If you are looking for a waterproof model I would suggest this is the one to go for.
I like the look and style of the MJU 720SW. On the front of the camera is a slight grain effect that helps to make it look different to all the other digital cameras out there. It is a compact size and will fit happily into a pocket. It comes in three colours silver, polar blue and dusky pink.
Its dimensions are 91 x 58.7 x 19.8 mm and it weighs 149g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied to the camera by a rechargeable lithium ion battery (LI-42B). Olympus supplies both a battery and charger with the MJU 720SW as standard.
19.1MB of memory are built into the camera. I was able to take 14 shots using HQ mode before the memory became full. This is enough to give the camera a quick test, but after that you will need to pick up a high capacity memory card. It is compatible with xD cards.
Click here to save money on xD cards.
Points I like:
Style and colour choice
Where it is not so hot:
In terms of features and picture quality the Olympus MJU 720SW is a pretty standard digital camera. The fact that it is waterproof to a depth of 3m and shockproof from a height of 1.5m makes it stand out from the rest. If these features are important to you then I cannot think of many drawbacks of this camera and it more or less has the field to itself.
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