Expert Review of Olympus SZ 30MR
Well, any person who is even slightly active in the world of imaging knows by now that the camera market at present is probably the most competitive it has ever been. These days manufacturers are releasing cameras with 30x, 35x even 40x zoom lenses, in times like these a camera with “ONLY” 24x zoom seems really modest, but only until you learn that the device is so small that it can easily fit into your jeans pocket. As of now, Olympus SZ-30MR has successfully accomplished this achievement which, if nothing else catches attention of everyone. As such, Olympus SZ-30 MR is a pocketable 16-megapixel digital camera with 24x zoom, image stabilisation,1080p Full HD movies with stereo sound, a 3-inch LCD screen, and an fascinating multi-record (MR) mode which allows the user to take two high definition videos or two photos simultaneously (wow!). The camera contains eight Magic filters, which include Sparkle and Watercolour options, a Pet Detection mode, Smart Panoramas and 3D recording options. The camera is available in black or silver.
Design and Build Quality
The exact dimensions of this device measure 106.3 mm x 68.7 mm x 39.5 mm which is obviously very small given that it is a superzoom camera, the camera weighs a reasonable 225 grams. Olympus SZ 30 MR comes with a really moderate chunky handgrip that unfortunately has a little slippery finish. Latex textured girp, even though it is smaller is preferred more here. That being said, this handgrip on Olympus SZ-30 MR is most definitely aided by a thumb rest on the rear panel on the device which provides a means of purchase for the fingers. The shutter release is found in its usual location atop the hand-grip, surrounded by the zoom lever. The other top-mounted controls include the recessed on/off button and a shooting mode dial. When u take a sneak peak at its dial one thing becomes instantaneously clear, Olympus SZ-30 MR is essentially a Point and Shoot device which has no manual exposure mode to offer and to the left of it, when viewed from the top and back is the pop up flash which is raised manually.
Focus and Face Detection
Olympus SZ-30MR works on TTL iESP autofocus which also features contrast detection as an addition. Also working on this device is the AF illuminator which helps the working in dark conditions. Olympus SZ-30MR provides the user with a wide array of Focussing mode including Face Detection AF, Spot AF and AF tracking. The focussing distance varies from a minimum of 0.1 m to a maximum of infinity in wide mode and minimum 0.4m to maximum infinity in tele mode.
Lens and Image Stabilization
When you look at this camera for the very first time it is really hard to believe that Olympus has packed such a powerful zoom into such a small device. When the camera is switch off, the lens is totally retracted which makes Olympus SZ 30 MR look like your every day Point and Shoot. Once you power on the camera, the big lens extends in a total of 3 seconds, this is a commendable achievement given the focal length this device is offering. Sporting a range of 4.5-108mm or 25-600mm, this lens fancies a fairly fast maximum aperture of f/3.0 at the wide end but a comparatively slow f/6.9 at full telephoto. This leads to certain behaviour in times of focus, when the lens is fully zoomed out, auto-focus attainment is actually real quick for a compact device, but the same is comparatively slower in the 600mm equivalent end.
Screen and Menus
The rear of Olympus SZ-30 MR is dominated totally by a huge three inch rear screen which has a tremendous display, and offers a resolution of 460,000 dots. In actuality however this does not really prove to be that sharp and detailed as the specs lead you to believe and even more annoyingly, it is really difficult to see the screen in bright light which is definitely a huge shame as there is really no way to frame the shots. Viewing angle of this device is poor, especially when the pictures are taken above head. To the right of this screen, we find a cluster of controls including a one-touch movie record button, Playback, Menu and Help buttons and a combined wheel controller / navigation pad with a centred OK button.
What powers the device totally is a proprietary Li-Ion battery that has to be charged in-camera pretty much like a phone battery. Olympus provides the user of Olympus SZ-30 MR with a transformer and a USB cable such that it is really easy to charge the battery by plugging the cable directly into the adaptor or a USB port which is available in your PC or a laptop. I am not really a huge fan of the idea of in-camera charging as this totally rules out the option of a spare battery while the other one is being charged at home. The camera's own USB port/multi-connector - as well as the Type D HDMI socket - is sheltered behind a narrow and extremely fragile-looking plastic cover that we fully expect to be the first part to break off the camera after a few weeks of use.
The movie shooting capacity of Olympus SZ-30MR has already been brushed up, but these do deserve a closer look. At its very best Olympus SP 30 MR can shoot videos at Full HD 1080p video quality which allows the user to use the optical zoom while filming. Image stabilisation is available, but as you can see from our sample clip, it does not prevent you from shooting shaky footage if using the camera hand-held at the 600mm equivalent setting.
Olympus SZ 30MR works on a 16 Megapixel 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor which also features Backlight.
24x optical zoom, in a camera that fits in your pocket!
Full HD video multi-recording
High speed shooting
Built-in help/camera manual
Tripod may be needed for full zoom
Images are quite soft in corners
A rubber grip at the front and back would help
Shadow adjustment technology can give images a strange look - would prefer a true HDR mode