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Underwater photography

Vacations are the number two subject (after family events)  for most amateur photographers and as the holiday season is nearing, we're getting ready to shoot our image burst of far away & exotic places. Underwater photography has long been the domain of professional photographers and ditto gear, but since the introduction of the compact digital camera it has become within the reach of almost everyone. Some manufactures offer special underwater housings, but the Olympus 770 SW is one of the latest cameras that you can take for a dive as-is...
Read more about these innovations at Olympus PursuitThe Olympus Stylus 770 SW is the third generation of Olympus' shock and waterproof digital cameras, and can be taken for dive up to 33 feet (or 10 meters). The first model 720 SW could be taken for a dive up to 10 feet (or 3 meters) and the 725 SW  to 16 feet (or 5 meters). Below you'll find an article on the making of the Olympus 720SW and the innovations used in building this camera.

Highlights of the waterproof Olympus 720SW

Ever since the introduction of the µ-10 DIGITAL, the Olympus µ series has featured all-weather construction that provides the equivalent of JIS Class 4 protection against rain and water splashes. And while that's an attractive feature in itself, the µ 720SW takes things even further by offering the equivalent of JIS Class 8 protection, which means the camera can be used underwater at depths up to 3 meters. Achieving this goal wasn't easy, however, because it required a significantly higher level of water protection for the camera's speaker and microphone, control buttons, and internal components.

Speaker and microphone waterproofing
Like many other µ series cameras, the µ 720SW is equipped with a speaker and microphone that enable it to offer still-image sound annotation and movie recording with sound. But speakers and microphones are notoriously difficult to waterproof because some degree of permeability is necessary for them to function properly. After extensive research and testing, this problem was solved on the µ 720SW by using a special sheet that provides waterproof protection while allowing sound waves to pass through.

Control button waterproofing
When a camera is used underwater, the weight of the water causes pressure to be continuously applied to control buttons, in some cases with enough force to actually activate the button. On the µ 720SW, this problem was solved by optimally balancing the pressure required to activate the button against the button mechanism's ability to resist pressure. As a result, buttons are easy to operate, yet offer sufficient resistance to prevent accidental activation when shooting underwater.

Internal component waterproofing
Silicone seals are used to protect sensitive internal components from water damage. Although similar to the seals used on µ series all-weather cameras, they are thicker and have been rigorously tested to ensure adequate protection against seepage when the camera is used underwater.
Waterproofing test procedures
The camera and a pressure sensor are sealed inside a test chamber. Water is then gradually added, and the chamber is pressurized to duplicate the conditions the camera will be subjected to at various depths. After one hour has elapsed, the camera is removed from the chamber, tested to see that it operates normally, and disassembled to see if there is any water inside.

Additional information: Read more about these innovations at Olympus Pursuit
July 10, 2007
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