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Olympus SZ-10 14mp Digital Camera Review - The Best Point and Shoot Camera Ever!
If you are looking for the ultimate in point and shoot digital cameras, then look no further than the Olympus SZ-10 digital camera.
I needed a camera that could was good at taking close-ups, but have never learned the ins and outs of what makes a great camera. I didn't even know that close-ups are known as macro photography!
I also wanted that camera to be able to take great long distance shots, normal shots and having a video facility was also a big plus.
Being short of money, I had to find a camera that could do everything I wanted it to do without breaking the bank.
I finally chose the Olympus SZ-10, because I'd owned a great Olympus camera years ago, and knew the name was good for photography.
What an excellent choice I made. As I ordered it online, I had no idea how perfectly this camera would fit in my hand until it arrived.
With a curved hand grip, the Olympus SZ-10 fits perfectly in my smallish hands, leading to steadier holding when taking photographs.
Not that my hand needs to be that steady, with built-in image stabilization, my hand needs to be seriously shaky to take a photo that is anything less than perfect.
Features of the Olympus SZ10 digital camera
- powerful 18 x wide optical zoom lens
- photos are taken with a detailed 14 megapixels
- videos record in crisp and clear 720p HD format
- takes automatically stitched panorama views
- can shoot in 3D mode - no use to me without a 3D TV, but a nice feature anyway
- is Eye-Fi card compatible - I have not bought an Eye-Fi card to check it out.
- comes with rechargeable battery which can be re-charged directly from computer via the USB cable, or the mains supply.
- has an extra big screen on the back.
- compatible with high capacity memory cards.
- Loads of automatic advanced features like automatic face recognition, automatic tracking of subjects, pet face recognition as well as low light excellence.
Ease of Use of the Olympus SZ-10
I need a camera that is easy to use, because too many buttons just turns me off. I hate anything that is complicated and take a learning curve to use properly.
I have still not mastered all of the functions of this super little camera, because it would mean looking up the extensive manual that comes with it.
However, the Olympus SZ-10 is simplicity itself to use straight out of the box, as shown on the photos here that I took the first day I got it.
I was trying out the different filters offered.
I am happy to share them with you
The different automatic filters of the Olympus SZ10Click thumbnail to view full-size
Macro photos taken with the Olympus SZ-10Click thumbnail to view full-size
One of the options in the on-screen settings is a giant P.
Choose that, and the digital camera automatically zooms in on whatever you point it at.
Now, everything has to be automatic - completely point and shoot mode because I am technically-challenged when it comes to cameras - and the big screen helps you choose the best angle to photograph something close-up.
The automatic focus sometime locks itself onto something else on the screen, and your target then goes out of focus.
You just have to keep refocussing by half-depressing the button until you can see your target clearly.
I have never, ever been able to take such clear close-ups before.
Pet Mode - CatClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Pet Mode
There is a dog and a cat mode, and luckily I had both animals in my house to check them out.
This seems an odd function to me, but basically what happens is that if you set the camera to either dog or cat mode, and take a photo of whichever animal you'd set it to, then the camera will take photos of said animal every time it's face is in view.
All you have to do is point the camera in the general direction!
This is a super function for those of you with pets you like to photograph. We all know how difficult it can be to get animals to 'pose for the camera'. Now, you don't need to worry, as the smart camera just keeps taking great photos time and after time.
I took one photo of this cat using the Pet Mode - Cat, and then kept the camera pointed in its direction. It just kept re-focussing and taking photos without me having to do anything at all!
This is a stray, and I had to use zoom to bring it closer.
Photographs taken outdoors after dark
What a difference a filter makes!
Low light conditions
If you want to take photos of the landscape at dusk, or even after darkness has fallen, you can set the camera to either sunset, night portrait or night scene.
There is an in-built flash which you have to flick up to use, but most times I forget because this camera takes quite amazing photos in low light conditions.
It is unbelievable how well it seems to draw light from somewhere to make a dark scene seem like daylight.
I have a couple of amazing photos taken after dark where I could barely see my hands in front of my face, yet the camera lights things up like it is daylight, even into the distance.
Similarly, I have photos taken of the moon, or of lightning, where all remains dark except the subject.
The Olympus SZ-10 packs a punch into the technology!
For such a small, compact camera that I carry around with me everywhere, you really will not need any other camera, no matter what you want to capture.
The only thing I can say about night photography is that you really need to have either a tripod or somewhere you can sit the camera down on to stay steady while the photo is processing.
As camera movement is almost impossible to avoid when you depress the button to take the photo, there is a really handy time delay button easily accessed under the control button. You can delay the photo for 2 or 12 seconds, which gives you plenty time to move yourself into the photo if you so wish.
Photograph of swans
Then there was the day I was down on the beach when the swans came along. Luckily I had my camera with me.
I'm always a bit nervous around swans, but this pair seem to be placid. Maybe it would have been a different story if they had signets with them.
Photo of flowers
These Virginian Stock flowers are very small, but beautifully formed!
I love being able to take photos of them in their glory, close-up.
The glorious morning glory in full bloom. I just had to walk up to it, set the camera to 'macro', and obtain the loveliest photo.
The waves breaking on a beach (no sound)
Olympus SZ-10 zoom test
On screen camera menu settings
14M, 8M, 5M, 3M
Auto, On, Off
Face/iESP, Spot, AF Tracking
720p, VGA, QVGA
IS Movie Mode
Then there is the videos...
While I have a video camera, a Panasonic HC-X900, it has its special features, but my Olympus SZ10 has its own too.
I can take this camera anywhere, and not only capture the most amazing photos, but the most incredibly detailed videos too.
Learning to use a video camera to its best advantage is a case of trial and error.
Most video cameras have to pan scenes really slowly, and the Olympus SZ-10 is no different.
Home video makers like to zoom in and out of subjects, even though this is apparently a big no-no in professional circles.
After all, you do not see TV cameras zoom in and out. You will see different angles of something being shown, but that tends to be because they have more than one camera!
I like zooming in and out!
BUT, this is the major downside to the the incredibly cheap Olympus SZ10. If you want to zoom in on something that is happening some distance away, you need to turn the sound off.
That's easy to do. As you hold the camera, your thumb can easily reach the menu button, to change the video setting sounds.
On the Olympus SZ10, all the settings are on-screen, as opposed to being on a button. It is just a case of getting used to it. The learning curve is easy.
If you do not turn off the sound, your video will go out of focus.
This minor problem was solved with the next version up of this camera, but expect to pay $100 plus for the privilege.
I'm fine with it.
I know to either start a video while the zoom mode is on and I am focussed on the subject, else switch the sound off.
Video of a baby bird having a bath
Final Analysis of the Olympus SZ-10 14mp digital camera review
This has got to the best affordable all-rounder digital camera on the market today. You get near-professional quality photographs every time.
The ability to make some amazing videos is an added advantage. The videos they take are far and away better than most video cameras in higher price ranges.
No matter whether you want to take macros, distance, fast movements or family photos, this little camera has it all.
It's not the smallest camera on the market, but it still fits easily into my bag or jacket pocket for when I am out and about.
It's not like a camera phone where you can pull it out and video everything that is happening, while kidding on you are reading texts.
It is a camera. It looks like a camera. This is probably the best camera you could buy, no matter if you just want memories, or need certain shots for web applications.