Olympus Tough 720SW review: Olympus Tough 720SW

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The Good 7.1 Megapixel Camera. Smart design. Waterproof up to 3m. Shockproof up to 1.5m.

The Bad Slow shutter speed. Auto flash can overfill. Zoom buttons are a bit small. Limited video capabilities.

The Bottom Line If you're after a camera that can survive the knocks, splashes and general messy nature of everyday life -- especially everyday family life -- then the Olympus Tough 720SW is a very sensible buy.

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The 720SW is, from the outside, a nice and shiny, fairly compact digital camera with a large LCD on the rear of the camera. It's only if you were to crack it open -- and we wouldn't advise you do that, as it'll void the warranty -- that you'll find what makes the camera truly special. The insides of the camera are all housed in a shock-absorbent and waterproof gel that gives the camera a remarkable level of physical sturdiness that's not normally associated with consumer level cameras.

Normally, in order to make any product robust, the designers have had to skimp on the visual details -- Panasonic's line of undoubtedly strong Toughbooks are the classic example of a design that not even its mother could love -- but in the case of the 720SW, that's not true. As mentioned, externally it looks just like any camera out there, although out of necessity a number of components -- most notably the zoom lens -- are more encased than you'd expect on a normal camera. Our review sample was encased in a silver body, although there is also a "Polar" Blue casing as well.

The rear of the camera body houses the 2.5-inch LCD display screen. There's no true optical viewfinder on the camera itself, which some snappers might find irksome. Camera controls have been kept simple, and like many compact cameras, they're also on the small side, which could be problematic for those with chunky fingers.

The camera within the casing is a 7.1 Megapixel model with a 3x optical zoom. The smallish zoom is an understandable enough compromise when you realise that the entire zoom casing has to be contained within the 91mm x 58.7mm x 19.8mm camera body. It's also got a 5x digital zoom function and 25 preset shooting modes, including quite a few built with the camera's waterproof casing in mind. How many cameras do you know that have an underwater macro mode?

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