Expert Review of Olympus SZ-14 Point & Shoot Digital Camera Black
Travel zooms are one of the major successes in today’s budget Point and Shoot camera world, the reason being obviously their ability to combine a pocket able body with a high-count zoom in order to give the highly desirable combination that appeals to any enthusiast. After many of the leading camera manufacturers in the world, Olympus, one of the frontrunners in the business brings in Olympus SZ 14, which is a very portable 14megapixel device, obviously as mentioned earlier, in the travel zoom range and offers a good 24x optical zoom bundled alongside the focal range measuring 25mm to 600mm in 35mm equivalent terms. The processing engine is by far the most advanced True Pic III + and that is embedded with a sensor shift image stabilisation. “Advanced Face Detection” and “Shadow Adjustment” technologies, a range of Magic Filters, in-camera panorama stitching, 3D photo shooting, 720p HD videos with “Multi-motion Movie IS” and Eye-Fi memory card compatibility are some other features that are also seen being sported in the device. Olympus SZ 14 succeeds its very own Olympus SZ 20 and Olympus SZ 30 models that were launched a year prior, and fancied 12.5x and 24x optical zoom respectively. Now, it is understood that the reviewed device is the new superzoom in the block, and pretty much the newest addition in what is called the company’s traveller series of cameras.
Unlike Olympus SZ 30, a drawback here is the lack of a GPS antenna, which will definitely repel some part of the interested mob but somehow, the device makes it up for that with the same 24x optical zoom plus a very reasonable price tag. This is really unbelievable, 14 effective megapixels from a 14MP 1/2.3 inch CCD sensor with 24x zoom lens for the price of a standard 5x point and zoom is sort of hard to believe, but Olympus has for some reason priced this really highly aggressively. Even if there are 2 million extra pixels and 11.5x more zoom than Olympus SZ 20, the cost is the same.
Design and Build Quality
There hasn’t really been many changes in terms of design and the build quality attached to it, in fact, it takes time to differentiate Olympus SZ-14 from Olympus SZ-20- still the device looks much like a bridge camera whose dimensions have been diminished somehow, although towards the positive there definitely has been a bit more stylistic carving which fits in and gives rise to a better and more aesthetically beautiful streamlined appearance. Take an example, the stereo microphones on the front plate now sit really close to the lens barrel, so such so that they seem like they are almost hidden from the grasps. At a single push, it will very well slide in the pocket of you jeans (given that your jeans are not too tight!), a travel zoom it is, and hence it is portable. The exact dimensions of the device measure 106.5mm x 68.7mm x 39.5mm, and weighs a really highly comfortable 216grams with Li-Ion batteries that are rechargeable and comes with a SD card choice. It is available in the color combinations as varying as Silver, Black, and Red. The camera actually feels a little plastic-like to touch despite the metal build provided to it, which only adds to the durability and the ease of use of Olympus SZ 14.
Focus and Face Detection
Just a little click on the shutter button and Olympus SZ-14 is just surprisingly quick to bring forth the exposure and focus on the device, there is a green AF point which is very neatly highlighted on the screen obviously accompanied by a beep within the time that it takes to blink for the user. Olympus SZ-14 inherits the latest TruePic III + processor, that been said, you have to wait a good 4seconds all the time while there is a maximum resolution.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Being a superzoom it is clear that the Olympus SZ 14 is bound to rock the Lens and Image stabilisation category and keep the impressive broad dual image stabilized focal range aside, which actually drags the farther to a close and squeeze the expansive landscape right into the frame. The lens of Olympus SZ 14 features at 35mm equivalent, the wide-angle end measuring a decent 25mm and at the telephoto end, the lens extends to a huge 600mm. Well, Olympus yet again turns to its USP of Magic filters with this device. In Olympus SZ 14, these digital effects make up number 11 in total and hence add up to the recently added fragmented filter which can lend shots at the tiled, collage type effects, and most of these effects are available when the device I is on the shooting mode and not only on the stills.
Screen and Menus
The flash on Olympus SZ 14 is of the variety of pop up type and helps to avoid the bane in the name of the red eye feature, with that, is a manual level that is squirreled right away at the lens barrel side with which you have to raise it. There is a flash bulb on the camera which sits right on the side of the lens rather than being with it, this further leads to making the appearance of the camera that of the bridge type model which has been totally slimmed down. The pictures and videos on this device are tremendously poised and the big 3-inch back plate LCD that is actually the only viewing means thanks to the unavailability of optical or electronic viewfinder somehow covers the entire rear of the camera. Well for a camera of this price range, again Olympus SZ-14 gives a really better than average resolution which measures a good 460,000 dots.
The batteries that powers Olympus SZ 14 are the dedicated Li-Ion batteries, the camera on the device manages to record both the videos and images on the disc. Both the cards and the batteries share a common compartment on the bottom portion of the camera. The approximate given for the camera to last on a full charge, is 220 images, this however, is a variable that can vary depending about your usage of the flash and zoom. These batteries are rechargeable.
Adding to the exciting new features of Olympus SZ 14 is the latest multi-motion movie IS functionality from the camera, this is aimed directly at reducing the blur effects of the device faced by the videographer while recording, which means actually jogging the camera. As we mentioned the price at which it is launched, which so many in built features, we don’t really get the high end Full HD 1080p video recording feature, and we are not disappointed, for we didn’t expect it either, although we do get the HD 720p video recording 1280 x 720 pixels at 30fps. For better connectivity options, we also have a HDMI output that is lurking right under the plastic side flap of the camera to hook up the camera to a flat panel TV, typically however, I personally do not believe HDMI connectivity does any good in a camera. Now another surprising feature in the given price is that you can actually use the zoom feature in the video recording and that is done without sound cutting when in the motion mode too. Agreed that there is a little mechanical buzz recorded, but frankly, enough of it is really negligible to be unobtrusive.
As has been said time and again, the sensor is pretty much the heart of a camera and Olympus SZ-14 portrays a bit expected modest 1/2.3 inch CCD sensor which is good for 14megapixels, this takes an unbelievably sharp and detailed images at the maximum resolution of 4032 x 3024pixels. This sensor is a transducer that is used to convert all the optical images captured into electronic signals, these electronic signals are further used for the processing purposes.
· Powerful 24x (25mm - 600mm) zoom lens
· Dedicated movie record button
· Accurate exposures
· Records high-definition video
· Zoom operates during video recording
· Fast high-speed burst modes
· Controls are small but well placed
· Sensor-shift anti-shake
· Helpful guide system with dedicated button
· Auto focus could be better
· Photos in low light tend to be blurry
· Thumb wheel navigation can be clumsy
· Slow burst mode at full resolution