Customer Reviews: Olympus Stylus 550 WP 10MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom and 2.5-Inch LCD (Blue)
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on June 29, 2009
I bought this for an upcoming trip to take snorkeling, but first wanted to test it out. So I went to a pool party for a 4 year old, and gave the camera to my 6 year old neice and told her to do whatever she wanted with it. I posted 2 pics above for you to see. I figured it a good score just for still working after a 6 year old dropped it into the pool twice, and once even got a nice big scratch on the side, but still works great. The pics aren't perfect, a little washed out, but the only reason I bought this camera was to take it underwater, and the price. I'm sure if you spent more money for the canon it might take better pics, but these will do just fine for me. So if you are looking for a basic underwater camera that takes decent pics, more for photo albums than publishing, this camera is probably for you. The kids LOVED it, and if my 6 year old neice can work it underwater, everyone else should have no trouble.
The only Con I have is that the battery was almost completely drained after about an hour and a half underwater. Don't know if it uses up more power somehow underwater, but that is my only concern. Haven't tested it long enough to know if that is normal or not yet.
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on March 24, 2009
I very recently bought the new Fuji Z33 WP camera, but since I am unhappy with the high levels of image noise, I will be returning it and looking for a replacement. The other top camera on my list was the Olympus 550WP. I went to a major electronics store yesterday and had the opportunity to play with the 550WP. The salesman even let me put my microSD card into the camera to save some test shots to view on my computer at home.

The image quality does not make me excited to buy this camera. The pictures show a significant amount of noise, even when I forced the ISO down to 100. Every shot without a flash looks pale and slightly hazy. With a flash, the image quality improved, but there is still an unreasonable amount of image noise. The best shots were taken of objects about 10 feet away. This was a good distance to prevent the flash from washing out the subject, but still providing an adequate amount of light to get a decent picture. Even those shots seemed to lack sharpness. They were OK, but I guess I expected more. I understand that there are trade-offs in image quality when buying a waterproof camera, but I had hoped that they wouldn't be this bad.

Besides image quality, my only other complaint was the couple of seconds delay between shots. The screen goes blank, so you can't even compose your next shot while you wait. The noticible delay upon startup and between shots was a deal-breaker for me when deciding if the image quality was acceptable.

On a positive note, the size and shape of the camera is pleasing and it feels well-built and sturdy. It is not too heavy, and I didn't feel like I needed to be overly protective of it. It's not ultra-thin, but it could easily fit into a pocket. Also, I really liked the menu graphics. The menu structure seems very similar to that of the Olympus weatherproof cameras from the last couple of years, but the icons on the 550WP are in color and are much brighter. This may seem trivial, but it definitely makes for a flashier interface than the couple of models just prior to the 550WP. I also tried out the Tough Series 8000 and noticed that it shares the very cool, updated menu graphics with the 550WP.

I wanted to like this camera and it was my top choice to replace the Fuji Z33, but I was not satisfied enough with the test shots I took to spend my money on it. The slightly older and mixed-reviewed Olympus 850SW that I tested on the same visit responded much more quickly on startup, on auto-focusing, and in recovering between shots. It felt fast in all areas and the pictures were much better than the Oly 550WP and the Fuji Z33 WP. The image quality on the 850SW wasn't perfect either, but I was much more excited about its performance than the two newer cameras. Since it has been out for a little longer than the 550WP and Z33, the 850SW can be found for a similar price. Without spending the extra $100 to step up to the next level of image quality and performance, I think my money is going to the Oly 850SW instead of the Oly 550WP or the Fuji Z33.
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on May 24, 2010
I purchased this underwater Olympus because I already had the unique batteries and memory cards for my weatherproof Olympus 760. I also liked the size and appearance. However, after a few uses on a trip, it "froze up" to the point where it could not be turned off. None of the buttons worked, and the only solution was to remove the battery while it was still turned on. This happened repeatedly so I returned the camera to the local camera store. They sent it back to Olympus, who replaced the circuit board. Great. Took it on another vacation, but this time, I took both this Olympus and my old Olympus. That was a good thing because the 550WP frequently overheated and froze up. I could temporarily resolve the problem by removing the battery, cooling it down, and reinserting the battery for a few more pictures. I decided to use it mostly for underwater (snorkeling) pictures. It worked well in the water, except, because it is slow on the shutter (much slower than the 3 years older Olympus.) That's a major flaw, because the fish were much faster than the shutter, and I got many pictures of just coral, sand, or grass. When it does take pictures on land, especially in landscape mode (which highlights the blues and greens), it works very well. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this camera because of its unreliability. Next time, I think I'll get a point-and-shoot with a viewfinder (so I can see what I'm photographing in bright sunlight) and an underwater case.
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on January 30, 2010
I do love this camera for a variety of reasons, but the one thing that really irks me about it is the time between when you press the button and when it takes the picture- it's annoyingly long...
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on February 8, 2010
We use this camera in wet, industrial environments. Previously, I'd buy cheap products that would last a couple of months. This camera stands up to the abuse our guys give it. We're very pleased.
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on May 23, 2009
The first Olympus digital camera I owned was the Camedia C-2 Zoom, launched in 2002. This was an extremely popular camera, not least because of its superb cost performance. Sales far exceeded expectations, causing Olympus' purchasing departments some trouble in keeping pace with demand for materials and parts. In my experience, the camera's popularity was well deserved. It was on the strength of this experience that I decided, in 2009, to buy the very latest Olympus ì-550WP. On the surface of it, this was a tough little package that combined the best features of earlier Olympus cameras at a modest (for Olympus) price.

Regrettably, from the moment I had it out of the box, this camera presented me with a long string of snags that, had I anticipated them, would have caused me to think twice.

Beginning with the battery/recharger (which in many cameras is conveniently combined into one), the mains plug worked only in some power sockets, not in others. The battery went flat faster than expected -- and to make matters worse, the charge indicator went from full to flat in the blink of an eye. This meant that my camera required two hours' recharging, and was unexpectedly out of action at the very moment I intended to put it to its first serious use. Part of the problem, perhaps, was that I had not realised, when accessing the flash card inside the camera through the camera cable, that there was a drain on the battery. Yet nowhere was I warned about this. Many digital cameras do not discharge when plugged in. I decided to use the "power save" feature to give me better prospects next time round -- yet this kept blanking out the display while I was framing a picture. And every time, the camera wiped out the settings I was working with. So I went to buy a back-up battery -- which cost me more than a tenth of the (not too cheap) camera.

I registered the Olympus software over the Internet, as requested, and Olympus confirmed the registration. Very soon, however, an ineradicable message came up on my screen, insisting on further registration for some plug-ins. This process hogged my Internet connection, which from my location in Africa was not a luxury easily to be afforded. As my broadband usage shot up profligately, I cut off the connection. On returning to the Olympus software, however, Olympus once more requested registration -- and the plug-ins I could not find. It was the Panorama feature that interested me the most. I clicked on the Panorama icon -- yet an unrelated Olympus pop-up appeared, obscuring the screen. When I tested the Panorama feature, it did not stitch well at all. The manual didn't say as much, but apparently this feature should only be used at certain distances. Yet even the correct distances didn't necessarily yield good results. Apparently a panoramic view should be taken in bright light in order to stitch without banding -- again no mention was made of this was made in the manual. One would think that the software could have addressed such problems.

These were only the beginning of my problems with the Olympus ì-550WP -- but let me pause first to highlight some of its strengths and attractions. The Olympus ì-550WP is undoubtedly very pocketable. It is a pleasure to carry around. And it is attractive -- one might say "cute". It is also waterproof to three metres or ten feet (but more of this in a moment). It does take some nice panoramic pictures, if distance and lighting are appropriate. The zoom works well, if jerkily. Also, it offers a macro feature and a super-macro feature (as close as 7 centimeters or 2.8 inches), which have performed well. The movie mode has also performed well. The camera has recorded smoothly and without any "skipping", as some digital cameras do. I also like its easy white-balance, ISO, and resolution settings. The camera also has an "intelligent" setting which generally works well -- but I have sometimes found it to be hit and miss (as the manual says it may be in some situations), so that I would rather rely on my own judgement.

But back to my troubles. These have been various, and I shall survey them (not all of them) quickly. Photography in bright light is good, but in subdued light without flash (often required in my profession) the Olympus clearly under-performs. Photos in subdued light are markedly more grainy than those taken with other digital cameras using similar settings. With this in mind, the 10 megapixel resolution of the camera seems academic. Cameras with half the resolution may outperform the Olympus ì-550WP. Bright lights (not least the sun) prove to be a problem, too. The camera repeatedly produces "shadow" images of overhead lights in strange places, or blue smudges from the sun, where this is well out of the "field of vision". The layout of the face of the camera presents problems. Consider, for instance, how a person would hold this camera without obscuring the flash, or closing the microphone. Even if the owner should learn the trick, this is by no means guaranteed for anyone else who might use it -- for instance, someone taking a photo of the owner. The anti-red-eye flash feature does not necessarily avoid red-eye. Finally, although it works, I am not much impressed with the underwater feature. After using the camera in water, it is difficult to clear the lens of water droplets, which tend to reappear every time one closes and opens the external "steel door" shutter.

I would have liked to speak well of my new Olympus camera, after my early experiences with the Olympus Camedia C-2 Zoom. All in all, perhaps the greatest strength of the Olympus ì-550WP would be as an "outdoors" camera used, for example, for beach sports, scuba diving, or sunny surrounds (but bear in mind those "shadow" images). It would also perform well in many situations where a flash is judiciously used. But it begins to reveal its weaknesses particularly in more subdued light without flash (dusky evenings or indoor shots), or for sporadic use in the wet.
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on August 16, 2009
I was headed to the Grand Canyon for a rafting & photo trip. I needed a camera that was waterproof, and found at the Olympus 550wp. It was priced right so I ordered it. It performed like a champion. On the raft we was soaked with in the first minute, as though we were scuba diving. The camera worked all through out the trip. You can see images of the pictures I took on my web site: [...]
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on March 13, 2010
So I bought this camera after I already have a nikon d3000. I surf daily and decided to check this thing out. What your paying is a deal thy definatly worth it. I take a wave, thn on the way swimming back take shots of other people getting barreled! Pic quality is good enough. The only thing that I suggest is if you decide to get it, when using in water buy the glass cleaner rain-x to clean the front lens so not as much water spots slow you down. Overall I can't even tell you how many cool pics I have got with this thing!
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on July 20, 2011
I bought this camera thinking I was getting a good underwater camera. The first time I used it I just took a few regular pictures at my house, nothing underwater. Then when I tried to get the pictures to download to my computer the camera froze up. It kept saying "unplug the USB cable' I unplugged the cable but nothing happened. I have tried everything to get my camera to work. I took out the battery, and the memory card waited ten minutes reinserted them and the camera still freezes up. I have gone on line and found that there are MANY people experiencing the same problem for which there apparently is NO FIX. So if you want to throw away your money go ahead and buy this camera, but it is totally useless.
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on January 8, 2011
I purchased an Olympus Stylus - 550 WP supposedly waterproof camera in the middle of July 2009.
Unfortunately, the camera was anything but waterproof. In March of 2010 when I went to the beach, I'm in our hotel pool, acting as the photog, because I know that my camera is the only waterproof camera. I made note of the instructions' warning -- the camera is completely waterproof up to "10 feet deep" in water. While I'm taking photos in 3 or 4 feet deep water (mind you, this is a hotel swimming pool, no more than 6 deep at the most), my WATERPROOF camera malfunctions. Camera was a $150 WASTE.

From this point on, the camera never worked well again. The device immediately prompted me to remove the camera's memory card and to "Clean card" or to "Format Card". I cleaned the card with a cloth as the Olympus help text suggested. Still, the camera could barely power on, focus and take more than one or two pics without prompting me with the same messages.

In July 2010, I went back to the beach and the camera was completely not functional. I emailed Olympus support and was told then to clean the SD card (duh...) and that my card could be ruined, but the camera was fine. I have used the same memory card and Olympus card reader and they have both worked fine in other cameras, camera phones, computers, printers, photo kiosks, etc. The possibility of a warranty swap was never mentioned and since I was told to "clean the card" as was instructed, I focused more on the SD cards than on getting a new camera through my warranty. The support response was only smoke and mirrors to distract me from the real problem.

The camera was not as advertised, which is a bigger disappointment than the broken camera. I would never jump in a pool with a non-waterproof camera, because I understand what the outcome would be. On the contrary, I used this very camera at the beach and in the pool, because I was lead to believe that I could do so, as long as we were swimming above 10 feet. Thats obviously the difference between skydiving with a fully-functional parachute vs. with a broken one. Who would purposely do that? I wouldn't have, unless I was told that I could, which technically, I was.
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