Olympus Stylus 1030 SW review

Started Jan 4, 2009 | User reviews
Doug Pardee
Doug Pardee Veteran Member • Posts: 9,920
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW review

As indestructible a camera as you'll find—more rugged than even the rest of the (current) SW line. Also pretty darned small and reasonably light.

I got mine as a "go anywhere any time" adjunct to my DSLR. It performs quite well in that role. Note: I haven't yet had the need/inclination to actually submerge it.

The 28mm wide angle is nice, although one does give up a just a hair on the long end compared with the rest of the SW line.

I use mine with Micro-SD cards along with the (provided) MASD-1 adapter. This has worked fine. Micro-SD cards are dirt-cheap and available in sizes over 2GB which xD cards aren't.


For a point-and-shoot, the automation is not very well done. Many of the complaints that I've read in the earlier reviews here are because of relying on the automation.

In particular, the camera is way too liberal in Auto-ISO, regularly delving into ISO levels that are (predictably) very noisy and trigger some unpleasant noise reduction. It boggles my mind that the camera routinely selects ISO 800 for flash photos.

Unfortunately, if you want to avoid Auto-ISO you must shoot in the Program mode (camera icon)—all of the other modes put you into Auto-ISO (three underwater scene modes do let you switch out of it).

Bottom line: if you want good image quality, you must always shoot in Program mode and select a reasonably low ISO. If you treat this camera as a point-and-shoot you'll probably be disappointed in the results.

MINOR annoyances:
• Some features (such as long exposure) are only available in Scene modes, and thus only available with Auto ISO.
• No optical viewfinder. But then, few compacts offer one these days.
• Battery level indicator only appears briefly after power on.
• Battery cannot be charged in-camera.
• Exterior is easily scuffed and scratched (there are silicone skins you can buy).
• No orientation sensor.
• The two-level Oly menu system is quirky but I got used to it.
• Menu access to face-detect autofocus is contorted. Fortunately (?) the face-detect AF doesn't seem to work well enough that you'd ever actually bother.
• Shadow Adjustment Technology works well but seriously overexposes unless you remember to dial in an Ev or so of negative Exposure Compensation.
• There are some odd choices in override priorities between conflicting options. The one that always gets me is that "fine zoom" (digital zoom limited to pixel size) disables 10Mpix resolution rather than vice-versa.
• You need an Olympus brand xD card to unlock the three panorama modes (for marketing reasons only).
• The two "in-camera" panorama modes produce much lower resolution photos than you would expect. They will combine three 10 megapixel snaps into a single 3 megapixel panorama output, and they discard the original images. And in-camera panoramas force Auto-ISO even in Program mode, with (again) ridiculously high ISO settings. My test panorama photos did show beautifully seamless merging in-camera, but I think that if I want a panorama I'll be using the "merge on PC" panorama mode in order to control the ISO and keep the resolution.
• You need an M+ (or H) xD card to record more than 10 continuous seconds in top-quality movie (VGA at 30fps) modes (speed reasons). The largest M+/H xD cards are 2GB, giving about 18 continuous minutes of recording time at VGA/30 before the card fills up. (Any 2GB or larger card—micro-SD or any variety of xD—will give 29 minutes continuous movie recording at lesser quality settings.)

That's a long list of minor annoyances, but I think that most compact cameras would have a list about as long (just different).

 Doug Pardee's gear list:Doug Pardee's gear list
Fujifilm X-T10 Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 27mm F2.8 Olympus Stylus 1030 SW Canon EOS 350D +13 more
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW
10 megapixels • 2.7 screen • 28 – 102 mm (3.6×)
Announced: Jan 22, 2008
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