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Olympus SZ-30MR review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £233
inc VAT

Olympus has maxed out the specifications, particularly with the 24x zoom, but it also gets the basics right with nippy performance, commendable image quality and superb videos


1/2.3in 16.0-megapixel sensor, 24.0x zoom (25-600mm equivalent), 226g

It’s strangely heartening to have our pessimistic preconceptions proved wrong. We regularly complain about the excessively high megapixel ratings of modern compact cameras, which add little more detail and lots more noise to photos. This year’s move from 14- to 16-megapixels made our hearts sink. And then along comes this the SZ-30MR, which packs 16 megapixels into its tiny 1/2.3in sensor and even squeezes a massive 24x zoom into its pocket-sized shell. With such extravagant specifications, our expectations for this model were rock bottom.

We shouldn’t have been so cynical. The SZ-30MR’s photos were impressively clean and detailed in bright conditions and exhibited surprisingly little noise in darker environments. Meanwhile, the extraordinary feat of miniaturisation to fit a 24x zoom lens into a pocket-sized camera comes with remarkably little compromise in terms of optical performance.

Olympus SZ-30MR

The design is handsome yet practical, with a moulded handgrip that feels extremely secure. We like the manual lever to release the pop-up flash, which ensures that it’ll only fire when it’s actively called for. The mode dial lacks manual exposure options, but the assortment of scene modes, panorama stitching, creative filters and 3D photography (achieved by slowly panning the camera to capture a stereoscopic image) should prove more popular with most people. The lack of a manual white balance mode is more regrettable, though.

Olympus SZ-30MR top

The 3in, 460,000-pixel screen is sharp and bright. A navigation pad that doubles as a wheel sits alongside, and provides quick access to a selection of icons running down the edge of the screen. It’s a reasonably quick system, although it’d be quicker if Olympus dispensed with the animations.

Olympus SZ-30MR back

Shot-to-shot performance was quick at 1.8 seconds. Telephoto shots were slower, though, as the focus sometimes hunted for a second or two before locking onto its target. Continuous mode didn’t live up to Olympus’s 7fps claim in our tests, but 5.8fps for five shots is still impressive. However, the digital lens-distortion correction that’s applied at other times was disabled to deliver this performance, so wide-angle shots suffered from heavy barrel distortion. An alternative continuous mode avoided this problem and captured at 1.5fps for 12 frames. Yet another mode ran at 5 megapixels and 15fps for 70 frames.

Turn to page 2 for image quality discussion and example shots …

Pages: 1 2

Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 16.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 460,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 24.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 25-600mm
Image stabilisation optical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution 4,608×3,456
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; MP4 (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 60MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 200 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, micro HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 226g
Size 69x106x39mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £233

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range f/3 (wide), f/6.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 4 presets
Additional image controls shadow adjust
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 3cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer

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