Olympus SZ-10 Review - Digital Photography School

Olympus SZ-10 Review

And on they come! Compact maxi zoom digicams.

Olympus SZ-10.jpg

This one has an 18x optical zoom, equating to a 28-504mm lens as 35 SLR equivalent, As I’ve said before, try to fit out a DSLR with an 18x zoom and you hit a brick wall!

Olympus SZ-10-Top.jpg

The SZ-10 is nicely configured and slips easily into any pocket, thanks to its 38mm slimness. It’s only when the power button is tapped that the lens emerges, nearly doubling the body depth.

Olympus-sx-10-back.jpg

Olympus SZ-10 Features

The maximum aperture is only f3.1, shrinking to f4.4 when the tele is fully extended, so you may need to dial in a slightly higher than normal ISO setting for out and about photography. Or lug a tripod with you to use a lower ISO and benefit from less noise in the image.

Kids' ride.JPG

The CCD captures 14 megapixels of picture data and creates a maximum image size of 4288×3216 pixels, or 36x27cm as a print. Olympus continues to disappoint in the movie department with a maximum video res of 1280×720 pixels — not Full HD — but then many people are quite happy with this maximum figure, as their videos often go no further than a YouTube posting.

Menu.jpg

The 7.6cm LCD screen swallows most of the camera’s rear surface, leaving room only for a four way ‘wheel controller’, the movie record button and an extra couple of buttons. A nice touch is a textured pad at the top corner to rest your thumb while shooting.

The big news is a collection of New Magic Filters to glamourise your stills or movie work. These include Pop Art, Pin Hole, Punk, Fish-Eye lens, Soft Focus, Drawing (which converts the image into a sketch outline), Watercolor and a new one — Sparkle lights.

What makes this feature differ from Olympus highly-trumpeted Art Filters, installed in some other models, is that you get an on screen preview of the effect on the intended subject before you press the shutter.

In addition is a collection of scene modes which are really shooting enablers and can be selected to optimise the camera when shooting sports, low light indoors, portraits etc. There’s even a face recognition mode for pets!

And then there’s 3D! Using the MPO format, the camera can be set up to shoot auto, leaving the camera to shoot the left and right image pair… or in manual, where you actually trigger the second image. 3D viewing is on a compatible TV.

pano 2.JPG

Allied with this feature is panoramic mode, with the camera taking the necessary segments as you pan across or up/down the scene. Following on Sony’s lead, the SZ-10 stitches the separate images into a whole panorama… but the implementation is very elegant, with a tiny on-screen pointer helping you line up the series. Brilliant!

The SZ-10 talks to Eye-Fi SD cards, adding Wi-Fi capability so you can auto upload images to your computer — or direct to the Internet — as you take them.

The camera uses a dual stabiliser arrangement: a mechanical shift of the sensor plus digital stabilisation. I’m not so sure of the latter as I believe it employs magnification of the sensor image to steady the picture.

Movie Mode

The auto focus can be set up to track and keep the picture sharp in movie mode, so I could quite happily move around and capture steady video.

A welcome feature is a canceling option to ensure sound is not recorded while shooting.

One odd item: you must cancel the sound recording option if you want to use the optical zoom while shooting video. Thought I’d mention it!

And no, sorry, you can’t shoot stills while recording video.

ISO Tests

Olympus SZ-10 ISO 64.JPG

Olympus SZ-10 ISO 400.JPG

Olympus SZ-10 ISO 800.JPG

Olympus SZ-10 ISO 1600.JPG

Quality and noise levels hold up to ISO 800, with only ISO 1600 showing signs of deterioration.

Startup

In spite of the longish zoom the camera was ready for its first shot just two seconds after startup, then it took about a second ’tween shots.

Distortion

In terms of distortion, the SZ-10’s zoom performed very well with little sign of any distortion at either end of the zoom.

Olympus SZ-10 Verdict

Again, I found the buttons on the SZ-10’s rear surface very hard to read, except in bright light: small and dullish.

Diamonds.JPG

Quality: about average. OK for casual snapshooters.
Why you’d buy it: the 18x zoom is mighty appealing in such a small camera.
Why you wouldn’t: you want to zoom and record sound.

Olympus SZ-10 Specifications

Image Sensor: 14 million effective pixels.
Sensor Size: 11mm CCD.
Metering: Digital ESP, spot.
Lens: f3.1-4.4/5.0-90mm (28-504mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speeds: 4 secs to 1/2000 sec.
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC plus 59MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4288×3216 to 640×480. Movies: 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240.
File Formats: JPEG, Motion JPEG.
ISO Sensitivity: 100 to 1600.
Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI, DC.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 105.9×67.3×37.9 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 215 g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Olympus SZ-10 at Amazon (currently discounted by 21%).

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Olympus SZ-10
Author Rating
3

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • techmine

    28mm at wide angle? Come on Olympus. Brand new camera design and still compromise on wide angle lens. Not understandable.

  • dean

    you know what would be really useful in these reviews? A section at the bottom saying “If you’re interested in this type of camera, you might also want to consider: “

  • Tom Kasinski

    Cameras like these tend to appeal to people who don’t consider themselves photographers. They want a huge zoom range, they think more megapixels equates to better photos, and they don’t want a bigger camera than they need. They probably don’t do much post production work, except to store and upload their pix to facebook.

    I really question whether reviews of this type of gear are useful on this site? I would think the minimum you should be reviewing are compacts like the Olympus PEN series or maybe the Canon S95 which would appeal to photographers as a decent P&S to take along when they don’t take the whole kit.

    I admit the only reason I clicked on this review was to comment on the usefulness of this type of review.

    Am I wrong here? Do readers of this site want to see cameras like this reviewed? I think there should be a minimum standard for reviewing equipment based on sensor size. Only “serious” gear need be reviewed, and part of the review should be to categorize the type of photographer the gear would appeal to.

  • Tiffany

    I found the review on this camera to be very helpful. No I don’t consider myself a photographer, hence the reason to visit this site, “digital photography school”. Those of us who wish to learn all the ins and outs of digital photography are thankful that those who are professional and knowledgeable of the subject are kind enough to share such knowledgeable with us who don’t. Thank you for this review, and this site is bookmarked for future reference.

  • Blattwad McGorksky

    I am totally disappointed with this cam. The autofocus wont work at all indors, and outdoors it wont use the spot center but tries to jump back and forth between objects at different distances. Indoors all pic are blurry. It wont just ‘point and shoot’. It hunts back and forth then when you finally snap a pic, it come out super burred. Im taking it back

  • kevin hunt

    further to reading your review i went ahead and purchased the ZS10, your review 100% accurate , i’m delighted with my purchase. primarily for shots of my own art for my website- signed up for the newsletter also.
    Thanks, kevin

Some older comments

  • kevin hunt

    June 13, 2013 07:16 pm

    further to reading your review i went ahead and purchased the ZS10, your review 100% accurate , i'm delighted with my purchase. primarily for shots of my own art for my website- signed up for the newsletter also.
    Thanks, kevin

  • Blattwad McGorksky

    August 3, 2012 11:24 am

    I am totally disappointed with this cam. The autofocus wont work at all indors, and outdoors it wont use the spot center but tries to jump back and forth between objects at different distances. Indoors all pic are blurry. It wont just 'point and shoot'. It hunts back and forth then when you finally snap a pic, it come out super burred. Im taking it back

  • Tiffany

    January 8, 2012 12:10 pm

    I found the review on this camera to be very helpful. No I don't consider myself a photographer, hence the reason to visit this site, "digital photography school". Those of us who wish to learn all the ins and outs of digital photography are thankful that those who are professional and knowledgeable of the subject are kind enough to share such knowledgeable with us who don't. Thank you for this review, and this site is bookmarked for future reference.

  • Tom Kasinski

    August 6, 2011 01:36 am

    Cameras like these tend to appeal to people who don't consider themselves photographers. They want a huge zoom range, they think more megapixels equates to better photos, and they don't want a bigger camera than they need. They probably don't do much post production work, except to store and upload their pix to facebook.

    I really question whether reviews of this type of gear are useful on this site? I would think the minimum you should be reviewing are compacts like the Olympus PEN series or maybe the Canon S95 which would appeal to photographers as a decent P&S to take along when they don't take the whole kit.

    I admit the only reason I clicked on this review was to comment on the usefulness of this type of review.

    Am I wrong here? Do readers of this site want to see cameras like this reviewed? I think there should be a minimum standard for reviewing equipment based on sensor size. Only "serious" gear need be reviewed, and part of the review should be to categorize the type of photographer the gear would appeal to.

  • dean

    July 9, 2011 11:54 am

    you know what would be really useful in these reviews? A section at the bottom saying "If you're interested in this type of camera, you might also want to consider: "

  • techmine

    July 9, 2011 07:02 am

    28mm at wide angle? Come on Olympus. Brand new camera design and still compromise on wide angle lens. Not understandable.

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