Olympus SZ-30MR SuperZoom - Near Professional Quality Digital Camera

Olympus SZ-30 MR

Looking at this camera, the very first thing that grabs my eye is how thin it is. It looks like a traditional SLR that has been squashed. The SZ-30MR is not a true single lens reflex (SLR), but rather the new class of cameras called Super Zoom (SZ) that fall somewhere between the point-and-shoot and DSLRs.

Some of the best features of the SZ-30MR are:

  • Video record to 1080p
  • Multiple record of two video streams simultaneously
  • Multiple record of still and video streams simultaneously
  • Twenty-four times optical zoom
  • True low-light image capture
  • High burst rate of nine frames per second

Though the multiple video capture sounds odd, what Olympus has done is allow the camera to capture the same video stream twice while applying a special filter to one and leaving the other raw. This same feature allows the consumer to capture still and video imaging simultaneously.

Due to the extremely sensitive and large image chip the camera can also take near professional quality pictures at extremely low light levels.

Olympus SZ 30 MR Specifics

First the SZ in the name is Super Zoom. The MR is Multiple Record.

Image Sensor
First and foremost this camera has a very large high resolution image capture chip. This is roughly the same image capture resolution of much more expensive cameras like the Nikon D7000 or the Canon EOS 60D both of which are DSLRs.

Optical Zoom
Olympus, like so many other digital camera companies, learned long ago that digital zoom has its limitations. For that reason the SZ 30MR has twenty-four power optical zoom. This gives the camera an effective focal length of four point five (4.5mm) to one hundred eight (108mm) millimeters. Quite a range for a camera of this cost.

Image Composition
Image composition is accomplished through the large three inch diameter display on the back of the camera. The display resolution is four hundred sixty thousand dots (which is about average); there is no additional viewfinder.

Video Recording
The SZ-30MR can capture video at a full 1080p high definition standard. What's most interesting is the camera's ability to record two high definition video streams simultanously while applying an artistic filter to one and leaving the other in its raw format.

Frames per second is not published by Olympus, but it has to be at least twenty-four frames per second and could be as high as thirty fp/s.

Dual Image Stabilization
Like the Olympus Stylus TOUGH 810, the SZ-30MR uses dual image stabilization technology. The image sensor can move to ensure image stability and when the shutter is tripped the camera automatically selects the fastest shutter speed and ISO to reduce blur.

Multiple Recording
Dual image types (video and still) or two video streams can be recorded simultaneously. This is accomplished with both the sixteen megapixel sensor and the built in image processing software TruePic™ III plus.

The SZ 30MR can even capture wide-angle and telephoto movies at the same time at full 1080p or one video stream at HD video and the other in VGA. Additionally, "Magic Filter" can be applied to one stream while the other is recorded in un-enhanced format.

Smart Panorama
As with the Stylus TOUGH 810, the SZ-30MR can record multiple images and stitch them together to give a seamless panoramic image. This is accomplished by selecting this feature from the menu, pressing the shutter button, and panning the camera slowly across the desired scene. The camera software automatically stitches the images together.

3D Photos
The SZ-30MR uses a similar technique to capture three dimensional images. Once again, a menu selection starts the process. Once the shutter button is pressed the camera will record two images within a certain time interval. The images are then combined to produce a three dimensional image.

Additional Features Found in Most Cameras
The SZ-30MR also has auto-focus with tracking, face detection, and post photo effects filters.

Pricing
Pricing has not been announced though the Olympus site has a suggested retail price of $399.99, a link for your email address accompanies this pricing. Olympus has finally announced that the SZ-30MR is available. Though Olympus has the camera marked at a retail price of $400, it will be cheaper at places such as Amazon and Buy dot com.

A recent search of amazon.com shows a price of $299.99.

I will say that if they can meet this price-point it will be one of the cheapest cameras available with this many features and this high a resolution.

For a full list of specifications see the table below.

Olympus SZ-30MR
 
Image Sensor
16 Megapixels - CMOS
Focal Length/Lens Configuration
4.5 ~ 108mm
Zoom
24x Optical Zoom + 4x Digital Zoom
Aperture Range
f3.0 (W) / f6.9 (T)
Display
3.0" LCD 460K dots
Focus System
CCD Contrast Detection
Focus Range (from lens surface)
Normal mode: Wide: 3.9" - infinity (0.1m - infinity); Tele: 15.7" - infinity (0.4m - infinity)
 
Macro mode: Wide: 3.9" - infinity (0.1m - infinity); Tele: 15.7" - infinity (0.4m - infinity)
 
Super Macro Mode: 1.18" - infinity (0.03 - infinity)
Focus Mode
iESP Auto, Spot AF, Face Detection AF, AF Tracking
Shutter Speed
1/1700 sec. 1/4 sec. (up to 4 sec. in Night Scene mode)
ISO Sensitivity (SOS: Standard Output Sensitivity)
Auto, High Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Exposure Metering
Digital ESP Metering, Spot Metering
White Balance Control
Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten and Fluorescent
Exposure Compensation
2 EV steps in 1/3 EV steps
Image File Format
Still Image: JPEG
 
Movie: MP4
Number of Recorded Pixels
16MP (4,608 x 3456)
 
8MP (3,264 x 2,448)
 
5MP (2,560 x 1,920)
 
3MP (2,048 x 1,536)
 
2MP (1,600 x 1,200)
 
1MP (1,280 x 960)
 
VGA (640 x 480)
 
16:9 (4,288 x 2,416)
Motion Blur Suppression
Dual Image Stabilization
Shooting Modes
30 Shooting Modes;
 
Intelligent Auto, Program Auto, Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization, Smart Panorama, 3D Mode, 8 Magic Filters, Scene Modes (1. PORTRAIT, 2. BEAUTY, 3. LANDSCAPE, 4. HAND-HELD NIGHT SCENE. 5. NIGHT SCENE, 6. NIGHT+PORTRAIT, 7. SPORT, 8. INDOOR, 9. SELF PORTRAIT, 10. SUNSET, 11. FIREWORKS, 12. CUISINE, 13. DOCUMENTS, 14. BEACH & SNOW, 15. PET (Cat), 16. PET (Dog)), HD Movie
 
Magic Filter(Pop Art, Pinhole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Watercolor)
Continuous Shooting
1.7 fps / 18 images (16M)
 
7.0 fps / 5 images (16M)
 
15 fps / 70 images (5M)
Shooting Assist Functions
Histogram, Frame Assist, Voice Recording
Movie Mode
HDMI
 
1080p, 720p, 360p, 180p
 
VGA, QVGA
Image Processing
TruePic III+
Image Playback
Still Image: Single, Index Display (4x3, 6x5), Collection, Event, Event-Play, Collection-Play, Collage, Up to 10x Enlargement, Slideshow, Rotation, Protection, Histogram, Voice Playback
 
 
 
Movie: Normal, Fast-Forward, Reverse, Index Play, Frame-by-Frame, Voice Playback
Playback Edit Effects
Still Image: Beauty Fix, Resize, Cropping, Saturation
Flash Modes
Auto (for low light and backlit conditions)
 
Red-Eye Reduction
 
Fill-in
 
Off
Flash Working Range
Wide: 0.33ft (0.1m) 30.5ft (9.3m) at ISO 1600
 
Tele: 1.31ft (0.4m) 13.1ft (4.0m) at ISO 1600
Self-Timer
12/2 Seconds/ Pet auto-shutter
Removable Media Card
SD/SDHC/SDXC Card
Outer Connectors
Multi-Terminal (USB Connector, Audio/Video Output)
 
HDMI Type D
Auto-Connect USB
USB 2.0 High-Speed (USB Mass Storage)
System Requirements
Auto-Connect USB: Windows 2000/XP/VISTA/7 with USB port, Mac OS X 10.3 or later with USB port
 
Software: Windows 2000PRO/XP/VISTA/7, Mac OS X 10.3 - 10.5
Power Source
Li-ion Rechargeable Battery (LI-50B)
 
F-2AC Adapter
Dimension
4.2"W x 2.7"H x 1.6"D (106.3mm x 68.7mm x 39.5mm)
Weight
7.97oz (226g) without batteries and media card

Coda

June 15, 2011

This camera now available. Projected to go on sale in late March early April a delay was caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Though Olympus stated that the camera would sell for roughly $399.99 it is available on Amazon for $379.00.

Kudos
I'm really impressed with how light this is. It's just under half a pound at 7.8 ounces. It's also very thin compared to other super zoom cameras in this class.

Some of the most interesting features are:

  • Simultaneous image recording
  • High frame rate in burst mode; the highest so far
  • Twenty-four times optical zoom
  • Super-fast shutter speeds

Pans
Honestly I can't think of any except the fact that I am concerned about the body of the camera. I haven't had my hands on it yet, but if it's plastic and that thin I'd worry about just how durable it is. I am also a bit put off by the fact that it has not viewfinder, with all image composition taking place on the LCD display.

Disclaimer

The author was not compensated in any way, monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.

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