PInterface Olympus Stylus 710 Review
Brad Soo - July 1st, 2006

Olympus' answer to increasingly small cameras is to make their line of compact cameras even more compact. And here it is. The Stylus 710 has 7 megapixels, a 2.5 inch LCD, 3x optical zoom and a weatherproof body. However, it has no manual controls and targets casual shooters who want to look stylish. Let's see how this camera fares in the review.

The Olympus Stylus 710 is also known as the Olympus 700 outside of the USA.

Olympus Stylus-series comparison

And here is a comparison chart of the recent Olympus Stylus series:

 

Olympus
Stylus 710

Olympus
Stylus 720SW

Olympus
Stylus 810

Original retail/
current price*

$349/$239

$399/$329

$429/$349

Resolution

7.1 megapixels

7.1 megapixels

8.0 megapixels

CCD sensor size

1/2.3 inch

1/2.3 inch

1/1.8 inch

Lens focal length

3X (37-111 mm)

3X (38-114 mm)

3X (35-105 mm)

Lens aperture

f3.4 - f5.7

f3.5 - f5.0

f2.8 - f4.7

LCD size

2.5 inch
(115k pixels)

2.5 inch
(115k pixels)

2.5 inch
(230k pixels)

Super macro mode

8 cm

7 cm

10 cm

Shooting modes

28 modes

28 modes

24 modes

Continuous (3 MP)

3.7 FPS

3.7 FPS

4.2 FPS

Movie mode

VGA/15 FPS

VGA/15 FPS

VGA/30 FPS

ISO range

64 - 1600

64 - 1600

64 - 3200

Max. flash range

4.0/2.4 m

3.8/2.6 m

5.2/3.2 m

Internal memory

19 MB

19 MB

28 MB

Battery life

180 shots

180 shots

250 shots

Body rating

Weatherproof

Waterproof

Weatherproof

*As of June 1st, 2006

Size and Weight

The Stylus 710 is a fairly compact camera. Take a look:

(173.3)  90.4 x 56.5 x 26.4 mm (165 g) - Canon PowerShot SD700 IS Digital ELPH
(171.2)  89.0 x 58.5 x 23.7 mm (130 g) - Casio Exilim Z850
(177.2)  92.7 x 56.7 x 27.8 mm (155 g) - Fujifilm FinePix F30
(183.6)  96.0 x 62.0 x 25.6 mm (130 g) - HP Photosmart R967
(163.6)  92.0 x 50.0 x 21.6 mm (120 g) - Kodak EasyShare V603
(184.0)  92.0 x 61.0 x 31.0 mm (170 g) - Nikon Coolpix P3
(171.1)  94.8 x 55.9 x 20.4 mm (103 g) - Olympus Stylus 710
(169.5)  91.0 x 58.7 x 19.8 mm (149 g) - Olympus Stylus 720SW
(175.9)  97.0 x 56.2 x 22.7 mm (145 g) - Olympus Stylus 810
(170.2)  94.0 x 50.8 x 25.4 mm (132 g) - Panasonic Lumix FX01
(166.0)  88.5 x 54.5 x 23.0 mm (125 g) - Pentax Optio A10
(174.8)  95.0 x 56.5 x 23.3 mm (139 g) - Sony Cyber-shot T30
(179.6)  94.2 x 60.6 x 24.8 mm (161 g) - Sony Cyber-shot W100

The Olympus Stylus 710 is one of the smaller compact cameras out there and the lightest.

Open up the Box

Open up that box and in it you'll find these:

  • Rechargeable LI-42B lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM
  • User's manual

Storage and Power

You'd wanna get at least a 512 MB xD-Picture card for the Stylus 710 which comes with only 19 MB of internal memory. While the Stylus 710 doesn't benefit from high-speed cards, getting a Type-H xD-Picture card can speed things up when transferring photos. Thankfully, the prices of xD-Picture cards are dipping enough to make them affordable.

240 shots - Canon PowerShot SD700 IS Digital ELPH
440 shots - Casio Exilim Z850
580 shots - Fujifilm FinePix F30
200 shots - HP Photosmart R927
150 shots - Kodak EasyShare V603
200 shots - Nikon Coolpix P3
180 shots - Olympus Stylus 710
180 shots - Olympus Stylus 720SW
250 shots - Olympus Stylus 810
320 shots - Panasonic Lumix FX01
150 shots - Pentax Optio A10
420 shots - Sony Cyber-shot T30
360 shots - Sony Cyber-shot W100

The Olympus Stylus 710 has a below average battery life rating of 180 shots per charge (CIPA Standard). Be sure to get an extra battery if you're shoot often.

 

Extras

The Stylus 710 has three accessories: an AC adapter, a waterproof resistance case (3 m) and a real waterproof case (40 m).

Camera Tour

The Olympus Stylus 710's body is made mostly of metal and weatherproof. Olympus also mentions that the Stylus 710 is scratch resistant.

The entire camera is weatherproof means it can survive in rain, snow, sand and other elements but cannot be dipped into water.

The Olympus Stylus 710 has a self-timer lamp and flash on the top left. The flash is about average, having a range of up to 4 m at wide-angle and 2.4 m at telephoto.

The Olympus lens on the Stylus 710 is equivalent to 37 - 111 mm but is very slow with an aperture range of f3.4 - f5.7 - that's worse than internal lens cameras as well! Near the outside rim of the lens is a microphone.

The Olympus Stylus 710 features a 2.5 inch LCD which has only 115,000 pixels. While the resolution is low, it doesn't look as bad as it is. The LCD brightens in low-light and just okay outdoors.

The zoom controller is located on the top right of the Stylus 710. And then there's the mode dial:

  • Movie mode
  • Guide - A help system which also acts like an assistant - giving advice and changing settings if you want
  • Scene position - 24 scene modes at your disposal; Portrait, landscape, landscape + portrait, night, night + portrait, sport, indoor, candle, self portrait, available light portrait, sunset, fireworks, museum, cuisine, behind glass, documents, auction, shoot & select 1, shoot & select 2, beach, snow, underwater wide, underwater macro)
  • Digital image stabilization - Boosts ISO in an attempt to get faster shutter speeds
  • Shooting mode
  • Playback mode

The MENU, print, DISPlay/help and delete photo buttons around the 5-way controller are pretty self explanatory. Now, I wanna talk about the 5-way controller which has these functions:

  • Up - Exposure compensation (2 in 1/3 increments)
  • Down - Self-timer (On/off)
  • Left - Focus (Auto, macro, super-macro)
  • Right - Flash mode (Auto, auto with red-eye reduction, on, off)

Pressing the center button is to confirm a setting or bring up the FUNCtion menu. While the FUNCtion menu isn't exactly like Canon's... it does the job:

  • Shooting (Auto/program - program unlocks the other settings below)
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, warm fluorescent, neutral fluorescent and cool fluorescent)
  • ISO sensitivity (ISO 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600)
  • Drive (Single shot, continuous, continuous high-speed)
  • Metering method (ESP multi-pattern, spot)

I'll talk about those continuous shooting modes later on in the review.

There's only two things up here; a power button and shutter button. As you can see, Olympus is taking a radical approach when it comes to making the depth of the Stylus 710. The camera becomes slimmer towards the left. At the bottom, there's a battery/xD-Picture card slotand tripod mount.

Shooting

The Olympus Stylus 810 has 8 image size options ranging from 7 megapixels down to VGA - You can choose between SHQ and HQ for 7 megapixels but there's no way to select compression for image resolutions.

The Olympus Stylus 710 is just point-and-shoot so there's nothing much else to change:

  • 6 white balance presets (no custom option)
  • ISO (64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600)
  • Auto focus (ESP, spot)
  • Metering method (Multi, spot)
  • Panorama

The Olympus Stylus 710 has a disappointing 20 cm macro mode. It also has an 8 cm super macro mode which is not very super at all! Other cameras can go much closer - even as close as 1 cm.

Recording

The Olympus Stylus 710 has movie mode which records at VGA resolution with sound, but at a sub-standard 15 FPS till the memory card fills up. Exposure is automatically adjusted while recording but focus and zoom cannot be used. Overall movie quality was good.

Performance

The Olympus Stylus 710 starts up in two seconds. Focusing speed had times ranging from 1/4 to 1/2 second but the camera took quite long and sometimes couldn't even lock focus in low-light. The Stylus 710's zoom lens moves from wide to telephoto in 1.6 seconds.

Shutter lag is noticeable only at slower shutter speeds (1/30 second and above). The Stylus 710 takes one shot every 1.2 seconds - that's very quick! The downside to that is after a few shots, the camera will take a bit longer due to the limited buffer. Flash recharge time took 5 seconds.

There are two continuous shooting modes on the Stylus 710. At full 7 megapixels, the Stylus 710 takes 3 shots at 1 FPS while it takes 10 shots at a whopping 4 FPS in high-speed mode. The catch is high-speed mode lowers the resolution down to 3 megapixels.

Image Quality

Let's have a look at the Stylus 710's image quality!


ISO 64 (f5.7, 1/125 sec)


ISO 100 (f5.7, 1/200 sec)


ISO 200 (f5.7, 1/400 sec)


ISO 400 (f5.7, 1/800 sec)


ISO 800 (f16, 1/160 sec)


ISO 1600 (f16, 1/250 sec)

From the start, the Stylus 710 seems to be over-sharpening but noise levels are low till ISO 400. At ISO 800, image quality is getting muddy and at ISO 1600, I don't think photos are useable. There's a bit of chromatic aberration (color fringing) in those crops.

I didn't find barrel or pincushion distortion to be a problem but overall photos are soft, especially at the edges. Also, the Stylus 710 attempts to sharpen photos, causing a muddy cast over them. The image quality of the Olympus Stylus 710 is below average.

Photo gallery

All the photos in the Olympus Stylus 710 gallery.

Playback

In playback, the Olympus Stylus 710 can playback stills and movies as well as do all this: Print marking, slideshow, simple photo edit, voice memo, protect image, rotate, downsize and create calendar. There's also brightness and saturation adjustment along with the ability to add a monochrome filter to your photos.

There's an album feature which uses the memory card (!) to store the albums. Whack the images off the card, and you're whacking off the albums as well - best use the internal memory!

The Stylus 710 shows you pretty much everything except exposure information. But at least there's a histogram.

 

Conclusion

The Stylus 710 has 7 megapixels in a stylish and somewhat sturdy all-weather body which resists scratches. Though it has nice things like a large LCD with good visibility, there always seems to be a downside to every positive thing on the Stylus 710. In this case, the LCD has low resolution.

The Stylus 710 is a fast performer but its buffer fills up quickly. And while it has over 20 scene modes, that doesn't replace the functionality of manual controls. The Stylus 710 has a fancy built-in help and guide system but let's just face it, even beginners will be turned away based on the cons of this camera.

To summarize things up (since you should've been reading from top to bottom), the Stylus 710's continuous shooting, macro and movie modes did not impress me at all. I didn't find the slow lens and digital image stabilization amusing either.

No recommendation from me - Overall, I am disappointed with the Olympus Stylus 710. Almost everything was below average, including image quality (which makes soft, muddy photos). There are better cameras in the market and the Stylus 710 is not it.

Camera rating upon 10 (more about this): [Category: Ultra-compact]

  • 8.5 - Body/Exterior
  • 7.0 - Bundle, batteries and memory
  • 4.5 - Lens
  • 5.0 - Feature set
  • 6.0 - Controls and operation
  • 5.5 - Performance
  • 5.0 - Image quality
  • 5.9 - Overall rating

What's hot:

  • 7 megapixels in an all-weather body
  • Large LCD with good visibility
  • Fast performance - until the buffer fills
  • A great big collection of scene modes
  • Camera guide and help

What's not:

  • No manual controls
  • Slow lens (Aperture range one of the worst I've ever seen)
  • Low resolution LCD
  • Sub-standard low-light focusing
  • Slow (for "normal" mode) and limited continuous shooting
  • No real optical image stabilization
  • Not-even-close 8 cm macro mode
  • Below average image quality; mainly soft photos
  • VGA movie mode but at sluggish 15 FPS; no zoom, focus when recording

Recommended Accessories

  • 512 MB xD-Picture card
  • Extra rechargeable LI-42B lithium-ion battery

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