Thankfully, this camera performs reasonably well under the hood. Shutter lag was 0.8 second in our tests, though it feels shorter while you're shooting. It took about 3.1 seconds to power up the camera and take a shot and less than 3 seconds between shots; flash adds another second. Sequential shooting is sluggish at the highest resolution: just 1.6fps, capped at 4 shots. At 3.8fps for an effectively unlimited number of shots, high-speed burst is better, though it requires dropping to 3-megapixel resolution.
Clearly, the Olympus Stylus 720 SW was designed for the open road, as reflected in the shots it takes. Quality is best under daylight, exhibiting natural color and very good detail. Indoors, picture quality is acceptable but prone to noticeable amounts of visual noise; as is common, noise increases with the ISO, which is user-selectable up to ISO 1,600 and tops out at ISO 2,500 in low-light scene modes. Those willing to apply noise-removal filters after the fact will be pleased by the wide ISO range, but some images taken at the widest lens setting (equivalent to 38mm, which isn't that much) revealed noticeable barrel distortion.
The Olympus Stylus 720 SW's combination of resolution and waterproof durability are, to date, unparalleled for a camera of this size and class. For adventurous types, those benefits will probably outweigh issues with usability and middling indoor image quality.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)