Olympus 1030 SW Review – Part 2

Super Macro ice shot

You can find part 1 of this review in my Olympus 1030 SW review post.

I have now had a few weeks to play with the Olympus u 1030 SW point and shoot digital camera I recently bought. To sum it up in a few short words I would have to say easy to use, mostly sharp, clear and definitely bulletproof. I took the approach of just being a general user of the camera, I tried to put my SLR brain aside and look at this as any untrained general user of the camera would. Thats said I also tried to pick it apart as much as I could and throw some difficult shooting situations at it to really see what it can do.

Macro Ice shot

Apart from getting my wife to take mountains of happy snaps all around home and out and about, my first big test of the camera was when I went to the Snow for the opening of the ski season. I had grand plans to take heaps of test pictures with it while in the snow, but I had too much fun partying and taking photos was the last thing on my mind. I did manage to get a few macro and super macro shots though. The first big test for it was when I accidentally left it in the car overnight. The temperature got down to -7°c and everything was covered in ice in the morning – including the camera. I wasnt too concerned as it was mainly on the LCD which was left screen up on the seat, so I fired it up and it turned straight on and started taking pictures so I was really impressed with that. My mates Nikon Coolpix didnt fair so good and had troubles turning on, so I couldn’t take a picture of the ice for you. After about an hour, the Nikon thawed out enough and was fine.

Overall the Olympus 1030 is a very capable camera. In full auto mode it looks after everything for you from flash to ISO and in most situations I couldnt find any major flaws. Mixed white balance scenes confuses the sensor a bit, but any camera will do that, and it chose the dominant white balance every time which you would expect it to do. If you need more manual white balance control it is available through the camera menu when in P mode as well as manual ISO control too. For the purposes of this review I mainly used the camera in auto or scene modes as that is what the majority of people will want to do.

Auto ISO can be a bit annoying as noise is a real problem when light levels start to drop. The ISO compensation introduces a nasty amount of noise and colour aberations at anything above 400, and is even worse if you have shadow adjust turned on. I don’t think this is something that really goes against that camera as noise is a problem for my Nikon D200 SLR at anything above 800, so comparitively for a much smaller sensor and lense of a much lesser quality it doesn’t do too bad. I haven’t come across a compact camera yet that manages noise well at elevated ISO’s.

Hugh Jackman filming wolverine on Blacksmiths BeachI have noticed though that Jpeg compression may be a bit harsh in some conditions. I first noticed it in the images from the Hugh Jackman Wolverine photos I took. The day was overcast but very glary, but it was also a low contrast scene. I was using normal jpeg compression so why it made the image soft and washed out the detail so much I dont know. If I had have noticed it on the day I may have tried fine compression to see if that fixed it. I havent been able to recreate it since. In most situation the images are great, producing sharp images with accurate saturation. Indoors can be hit and miss in auto mode with funny White balance selections, but the majority of the time it is fine. I would expect that as well, especially in a house like ours where we have a mixture of light sources from tungstent to flourescent and any number of combinations of the two. Using the scene modes can improve the images quality dramatically and give you a little bit more control with out having to know what it is doing in the background.

Closeup cat wide angle olympus 1030With my big fingers I sometimes have troubles with the small buttons and dials on compact point and shoot cameras, I have had no dramas with the olympus 1030 sw. Buttons are laid out well and fairly logical to my thinking. It can take a little bit of time to find all the functions at first but once you know what does what in which mode everything is pretty well accessible at the touch of a button. The immediate access to macro and flash controls, either side of the OK button, is brilliant for my style of shooting. It gives fast control for modes that sometimes you need immediate and fast access to. I love that you dont have to ferret around in the menus looking for commonly used controls, as the menus in the Olympus can be confusing at times as they vary wildly between shooting modes and arent always that easy to understand.

Overall I think the Olympus 1030sw is a brilliant compact camera. It is easy to use, fast to learn and powerful enough for those who want a little extra control over their images. In auto mode I almost cant fault the cameras selections, but the minor things that bug me, like noise at high ISO, would not even be noticed by the majority of users. Although a little dearer than an equivalent model probably with better features, it is a tough and ideal choice for families with small children, divers or snorkellers, surfers, adventurers and tradespeople who need a camera that will take the abuse and not fail at a crucial moment. I highly recommend the Olympus 1030 SW as tough, almost bulletproof camera.

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  1. I think the noise problem is pretty indicative of compact point and shoot cameras. We have had similar experiences with our Canon Ixus 75, but for daylight point and click situations it’s pretty awesome.

    Those images are pretty tack sharp, you do any post on them or are they resized and from camera?

  2. I am really happy with the majority of the photos it produces, there are just some situations that produce substandard images. Only those of us that look at photos on a pixel by pixel basis will really notice whats going on.

    No post processing on the images. just a straight resize for the web. The levels could do with a minor tweak but for the purposes of this article I just posted them straight out of the camera.

    Levels wise it is fairly accurate with good shadow detail and not too many blown highlights if you watch your settings. There is plenty of room to tweak if you need a bit of extra punch from the photos.

  3. I really want to buy that camera, but first i wanna preffer to have some pictures in high resolution, too see how good is it for me. So, could you send me some pictures to my e-mail adress ?

    Best whishes


    Argentinaa –

  4. hey im just wondering wats the best set up for night shots. struggling with a good set up they all come out blurry. thanks

  5. Yoda to tell the truth I havent used the olympus that much at night but as a start I would suggest that first and foremost use a tripod that will help to reduce most of your blur. Secondly you could try one of the scene modes. There are some night ones there that might help improve your night photography.

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