The 7010 shares similar specs to the 1020, with a wide 7x optical zoom lens, dual image stabilization system, 2.7" HyperCrystal II LCD screen, and Olympus' TruePic III imaging processor. The 7010 adds more resolution at 12-megapixels, and a wider 28-196mm (equivalent) zoom range as well as Olympus' new magic filters and beauty shot mode.
A simple point-n-shoot camera, the 7010 boasts plenty of in-camera features that will help you capture better photos, including face detection, shadow adjustment, and perfect fix technologies, along with 23 different automatic exposure modes; including an intelligent Auto exposure option.
The 7010 is a stylish little camera, that is compact enough to be tucked away in the smallest of pockets or handbags. Although small, I had no problem using this camera with my large hands, and the enlarged area around the lens offers a nice resting place for you fingers. The controls on the camera for the most part are positioned well, however I did find myself accidentally pushing the buttons above and below the 4-way often: it would have been nice if they could have spaced them out a bit more. All of the buttons are well marked and easy to read. Unlike most digicams, the majority of the controls light up to help you better see them in marginal lighting. The onscreen menu system is similar to past models, and was very easy to navigate.
The 7010 continues to use the same 2.7" LCD screen found on past models. They changed the name from HyperCrystal II to III, however we saw no evidence on any new upgrades wo the display, as it offers the same frame coverage and 230k pixels of resolution. The LCD is the only viewfinder on the camera, and luckily it does offer a nice clear picture. Outdoors it is bright enough for easy viewing in harsh light, and gains up well indoors, with minimal "graininess".
Our shooting performance results from the 7010 show it to be a robust camera. The camera was able to capture its first image in just 1.5 seconds after pressing the power button. The shutter lag is almost instantaneous when the camera is pre-focused and a quick 2/10 of a second when allowing it to focus. When shooting in single shot mode, the shot to shot delay averages just over 2 seconds between frames without the flash and 3 - 4 seconds with it. The camera also features three continuous shooting modes. The first "burst" mode shoots in full 12-megapixel resolution and was able to record 3 images in 2 seconds, before the buffer filled. It also works with the flash. The other continuous modes are Hi-Speed1 and Hi-Speed2. Each mode captured about 20 3M photos before the buffer was filled, with Hi-S1 taking 2.4 seconds, and Hi-S2 taking only 1.7 seconds to capture all 20 frames. Our tests were completed using an Olympus M+ 2GB xD memory card, Program shooting mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Results may vary depending on lighting conditions, battery power, memory card etc.
The Stylus 7010's image quality is decent at best for a 12-megapixel consumer digicam. The majority of our outdoor photos show good exposure, however there is a good amount of edge softness visible. Color saturation is pleasing, showing true to life colors in all of our photos. Indoors the flash did well as long as you are not shooting from across the room. We achieved the best results when shooting no more than 5-6 feet away, using the zoom to tightly frame the subject. The 7010 also seemed to produce an above average amount of noise throughout the ISO sentivity range, with even the lowest ISO 64 setting showing traces over the entire image: mostly in lower contrast areas. This is a bit disappointing, especially considering all of the appelaing features the 7010 has to offer.
The 7x optical zoom lens affords more photo opportunities than your typical 3-5x zoom, with a 35mm equivalent of 28-196mm. Because the lens starts at a nice wide 28mm equivalent focal length, you will have a better chance at capturing nice indoor snapshots of friends and family. The telephoto capabilities of this camera won't zoom across a football field, however you will be able to bring distant subjects closer as well as tightly frame portrait subjects. On the wide end of the
zoom, you will see some barrel distortion as well as edge softness throughout the zoom range.
Video quality from the 7010 was not much to get excited about. The camera records at standard definition resolutions of 640x480 and 320x240 with a frame rate of 15 or 30fps. Our video samples were a bit overexposed, with many blown out highlights. The audio quality is ok, however the mic is very sensitive and picks up just about every sound around you, even those that you don't really hear at the time of recording.
Battery life was better than Olympus claims (170 shots per charge), with the tiny 3.7v 740mAh battery pack allowing us to capture about 183 samples, including a few short video clips. Even though we beat their ratings, this is still very low battery life for a camera in this price range. Luckily, you can charge one pack in the included AC charger, while you are using another in the camera; we Highly recommend you pick up an extra pack.
Bottom Line - the Olympus Stylus 7010 is a bit of a mixed bag. While the specification list looks very appealing, with 12-megapixels, a wide 7x zoom, and plenty of exposure options, the average image quality results, increase imager noise, and poor battery life bring this camera down. With a street price of US$199 or less, this camera does offers some nice features for the price, however I feel you will achieve higher quality photos by looking at some of the other offerings in the sub $200 category.
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