Olympus 720 SW Review

 
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Olympus Stylus 720 SW Optics


Lens

Zoom
Good 3x optical zoom range, with pretty good overall performance.

38mm
114mm
5x Digital Zoom

The Stylus 720 SW zooms over the equivalent of a 38-114mm range, a fairly standard zoom range for this class of digital camera. Results are pretty good overall, though details are slightly soft and there's some noticeable blurring in the corners at both wide angle and telephoto focal lengths. The 5x digital zoom takes it out to 15x total, although with the loss of image quality that invariably accompanies digital zoom.

Macro
An average macro area in normal mode, but a really tiny area in Super mode. Flash throttles down fairly well, though coverage is uneven.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash Super Macro Mode

The Stylus 720 SW's macro setting turned in about an average performance in its normal mode, capturing a minimum area of 3.44 x 2.58 inches (87 x 66 millimeters). Detail was strong and resolution high, with moderate softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) In its Super Macro mode, the minimum area is impressively small (1.62 x 1.21 inches / 41 x 31 millimeters), still with good detail. The flash throttles down almost enough, but its light doesn't reach the left corners of the frame, and its light is too bright on the brooch and large coin. Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the Olympus 720 SW.

Distortion
Higher than average barrel distortion, fairly low pincushion.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel--usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion--usually at telephoto). The Stylus 720 SW's 0.9% barrel distortion at wide angle is a little higher than average among the cameras we've tested, and somewhat noticeable in a few images. At the telephoto end, the 720 SW's 0.1% pincushion is fairly low.

Barrel distortion at 38mm is 0.9%
Pincushion at 114mm is 0.1%

Chromatic aberration
High at wide angle, fairly strong effect on images at edges, quite low at telephoto.

Wide Angle:
High and bright, top left @ 200%
Wide Angle:
High and bright, top right @ 200%
Telephoto:
Quite low, top left @200%
Telephoto:
Quite low, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is definitely on the high side at wide angle, showing about 7-8 pixels of very bright coloration on either side of the target lines, but decreases to very low levels at telephoto focal lengths. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Some softness in the corners of most shots, though the strongest effect in the lower left corner, and in all cases the softness is restricted to the extreme corners.

Wide: quite soft in the lower left corner. Wide: much sharper at center.
Tele: very soft in the lower left corner. Tele: also sharper at center.

The Stylus 720 SW produced quite soft corners in many shots, though the lower left corner at telephoto had the strongest effect. The good news though, is that the softness didn't extend very far in to the frame, so it may not be a significant issue for many users.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

38mm eq., LCD monitor 114mm eq., LCD monitor

The Stylus 720 SW's the LCD monitor showed a little more than 99% frame accuracy at both lens settings, very good by any standard.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Olympus Stylus 720 SW Photo Gallery.

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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