Top critical review
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It's okay, but has issues.
on May 29, 2012
I have to admit, that I wanted to like this camera. It was to replace my old and now, not working, Olympus SW720- a precursor to the "tough" cameras. That camera went through a lot and kept working, till the screen went white for no apparent reason, but I digress...
This camera is thin & light. It has a 4x zoom (longer than my old cam). It shoots HD video (not SD like my old cam). It doesn't have a lens cover to jam up on sand, like my old cam. More resolution. Panny's "intelligent resolution" to ensure sharper looking images and "intelligent exposure" to brighten some darker areas. I looked forward to using it.
But the image quality was not up to what I expected. Even bright daylight photos, with a forced flash to fill dark detail, when you look at the photos at 100%- the images just get muddy and undefined, they lack the detail I'd expect. In darker situations, image quality deteriorates pretty quickly. I tried forcing the ISO to 100. I tried letting the camera pick everything. I tried dropping the frame size in case it was "interpolating" to a higher resolution. Nothing helped. At best, some images are "nice" but none are great. Some suck. Several wee missed because the camera wasn't focused. I mean- on the beach, there's my boy, and the whole shot is out of focus. What did it focus on? I have no idea.
The video is rough and heavily compressed. Audio is "eh." Audio in my old camera was bad too. I guess that's the nature of being an underwater camera. But why is the microphone on TOP of the camera when the lens is capturing something in FRONT of the camera.
Battery lasted one day of occasional shooting, with more photos on the beach, but maybe 50 - 70 shots (I shoot a lot in a row when the kids are doing something interesting) total before I had to recharge the wafer-thin little battery. I admit the camera is thin, easily pocketable. Convenient. But that extra thinness also made it a bit harder to grip while my hands were wet. I'd prefer something chunkier. Then it could have a bigger battery.
I tried to shoot a couple panoramas with the camera. It stitches and crops the image in the camera and, no matter what I did, the panos are very small. Maybe that's just how they are- lower resolution than actual stills. A lot lower resolution. Plus, exposure changes throughout the shot made it look weird. But I was impressed at how well it handled houses that would be "bent" because of the wide angle curve of the lens. Sony's in-camera pano mode has fared worse in this regard, but Sony delivers higher resolution stills and the exposure is locked through the pano. Also, Sony reliably gave me a pano each time (even if the pano sucked). The Panny would error out about half the time because I was going too slow, too fast, whatever. I don't know. As I didn't buy this underwater camera for panos, I don't hold that against the score of the camera.
Lastly, there's two places you really expect to use an underwater camera- the pool & the beach. It was fine in the pool and the wrist lanyard was very good. But at the beach, when you get some sand on your hands because, well, it's THE BEACH... the sand gets under the shutter trigger and, again, I was missing photo opportunities because I couldn't press the damm shutter button. The video button still worked, but why would they not expect that SAND might be present at the most common areas on the planet where there's water- the beach.
Some vigorous sloshing in the sea while pressing the shutter button worked the sand free and I was able to take more pictures.
- small, lightweight, thin
- waterproof, submersible
- shoots HD video, big stills
- can force the flash, can compensate the exposure, set spot focus/exposure, manually set ISO
- has some scene modes that help a little with dark shots
- high resolution is lost when you actually look at the stills
- video is grainy
- a little too thin for my hands
- debris can get under the shutter button preventing you from taking a picture
- sometimes focuses on... nothing
I really wasn't expecting DSLR-like quality, but I wanted better, and I wanted reliability, not missed shots. So I returned it.