On the plus side, the 1030 provides easy access to settings through its dedicated controls and function button, a good thing since I've never been crazy about Olympus' virtual menu system. Since the 1030 SW is strictly point-and-shoot, you probably won't be fiddling with too many adjustments, but when you do, the function button will provide quick and easy access to settings you're most likely to change: white balance, ISO, drive mode, metering, and image quality.
The 1030 SW offers the requisite Auto, Program AE, and Movie modes along with a variety of scene modes, including special underwater options. However, the camera is tricked out with a couple of cool features. Live preview allows you to see how different settings--white balance, for example--will affect the photo you're about to shoot. And beginners will appreciate the 1030 SW's onboard Guide. Just choose from one of more than a dozen shooting situations or tasks (such as backlight or brightening a subject) and the Guide will offer options and automatically set the camera for whatever selection you make. It's a good learning tool, too.
Although performance is improved over the 790SW, speed isn't one of the 1030 SW's big selling points. Although start-up time is a respectable 1 second, it takes close to two seconds between shots without flash and more than double that with the flash. At only 0.8 second, the burst mode won't keep up with action. But autofocus is fairly responsive and its shot lag of 0.5 second under optimal conditions and 0.6 second in dim, is minimal.
While colors reproduce accurately, the camera's bright exposures can sometimes make them look a bit washed out. Although test shots show good detail, the photos tend to be soft. In fact, the 1030 SW isn't going to score many points for sharp focus. Overall, the photos look pretty pleasing, though.
Let's face it; other cameras will deliver better image quality, a broader feature set, and faster performance at the same price or less. But you're not going to find another camera that's as tough as the Olympus Stylus 1030 SW.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Flash shot-to-shot time||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim light)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)