The market for travel compact cameras is expanding, with most manufacturers launching their iteration of the camera that features an incredibly powerful zoom on a compact body. Olympus is a well-known brand, as far as cameras are concerned and to battle this increasingly popular segment, they have launched the SX-30MR. This camera features a 24x zoom, multi-recording capabilities, 3D capabilities and others. Let’s see how it stacks up against the competition.

The handgrip allows one to handle the camera easily

The handgrip allows one to handle the camera easily

Design and Build Quality
First thing that surprised us was the incredibly slim form factor of the Olympus SZ-30MR. Though travel compacts are relatively slim, this camera has the thinnest depth we have seen thus far. It comes in two colours – silver and black, and the piece we received was in silver. The design of this camera is really stylish and it can definitely appeal to either genders, irrespective of the age group. The front of the camera features the lens along with the AF assist and a switch that deploys the flash. The Olympus branding is embossed on the lid of the pop-up flash. The other noticeable feature on the front of the camera is the large hand grip. This is the only aspect of this camera, which gives it some amount of bulk.

The rear of the camera has a black finish and it features the 3-inch screen, which flushes along the body. Next to it are controls for the camera, which include a 4-way jog dial that doubles up as a scroll wheel, a designated video recording button and other regular controls found on cameras. Olympus has done well to keep the layout of the controls at the back minimum. The top of the camera features the mode dial along with the on/ off button and the shutter release button that is located between the zoom rocker.

24x zoom fitted on compact body

24x zoom fitted on compact body

The flash, when deployed feels sturdy and the spring does not feel too loose or rigid, which is a good thing. Connectivity options are found in a slim bay on the side of the camera. Olympus has fitted a proprietary USB port and an HDMI micro connector type D in this bay. The flap of the bay is made of plastic and flushes nicely along the body of the camera. The battery bay located underneath the camera houses the battery along with the memory card. The flap of this bay is made of plastic and has a locking mechanism to ensure that the battery does not pop out accidentally. Overall, the design of the camera is really good and with its slim depth, it certainly has an appealing look. One can easily use the camera with a right hand, because of its lightweight, which is approximately 226g. The little rubberized strip at the back also assists in the handling of the camera.

Features
The Olympus SZ-30MR is loaded with interesting attributes. The headlining feature of this camera is the 24x optical zoom with an equivalent focal length of 25 – 600mm. Travel compacts having high zoom capabilities is normal, but having such a high optical zoom on such a tiny body is a very unique feature. The camera features a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor and shoots images at a resolution of up to 4608 x 3456. This is fairly sufficient for printing images on large format papers.

The interface of this camera is quite plain, it is a lot better than most cameras in the market, but looking at their PEN series of cameras, the interface looks simple in design without the JPEG at the back. The camera is really easy to use and someone who is using a digital camera for the first time can learn to operate it within a matter of minutes. The dial at the top assists to a very large extent and with the scroll wheel, one can easily switch between options. An interesting bit about the interface is that while viewing pictures quickly using the scroll wheel, the images get displayed in a variant of one knows as an image carousel. The images or videos line up as a moving image gallery and the images are placed one above the other. This is a pretty neat animation, which Olympus has used to preview images on screen quickly.

The mode dial allows one to easily switch the different settings

The mode dial allows one to easily switch the different settings

The camera is devoid of manual or semi manual functions such as designated modes for shutter priority, aperture priority or a manual mode. Those wanting to play around with the settings may see this as a shortcoming. The iAuto mode is more than sufficient for capturing images in most light settings, so people, who do not want to play around and just capture images on the fly, can capture images beautifully with this simple setting. A slight amount of tweaking is possible through the camera’s Program Auto mode.

SZ-30MR includes an interesting option, i.e. the ability to save two pictures and two videos simultaneously with its multi-recording capabilities. The camera also has a 3D mode, a Magic mode with 8 filters, a panorama mode and the ability to record videos in full HD 1080p. The feature list of this camera is pretty good and one can certainly have some fun with it.

Performance
The camera is extremely light in weight, so handling it is easy. There is good amount of spacing between the buttons, so one can capture images or videos easily with one hand. The hand grip assists a lot in this functionality.

ISO Sensitivity Test

ISO Sensitivity Test

ISO Sensitivity
In the above image, we can see that at the SZ-30MR’s slowest ISO, the images appeared really crisp and there was no noise, whatsoever. From ISO 100 onwards, a slight amount of noise set in and we could make out a slight amount of de-saturation. At a faster ISO sensitivity of ISO 800, we noticed that the image still appeared to not have that much of image noise, but from ISO 1600 onwards, the noise levels rose.

Zoom Test

Zoom Test

Zoom Test
While using full zoom, which is 24x, there was a lot of blur in the shots indoors. We found this to be quite irritating as the main USP of this camera is its zoom. This issue was noticed only when the lens was fully deployed. When the zoom of the SZ-30MR was set to 75 percent, there was no blur noticed in the images captured. However, in outdoor images, when using the zoom at 24x, the images appeared crisp and there was no blur noticed, whatsoever.

Macro images captured well

Macro images captured well

Performance Continued
Outdoor images shot well and we faced no issues at all. All colours appeared accurate and there was no desaturation noticed. While capturing images indoors, we noticed that images appeared to be a bit vibrant and those who like this feature from their cameras will certainly enjoy it. There was a very minimum amount of grain noticed in the indoor images. The camera records videos at full HD 1080p and the video captured well, but the only issue we faced was that there was a slight transition issue noticed, while moving from a dark area to a well-lit one. However, this was very minor and lasted for less than a second. The flash of the camera is pretty powerful and can light up an area of approximately 15 feet. Olympus bundles a 925mAh lithium ion battery and after 3 days of considerable usage, the battery died out after around 200 shots.

Looks really stylish in silver

Looks really stylish in silver

Verdict
The Olympus SZ-30MR sells in India at a price of Rs. 22,000. The camera is a great when it comes to the design and build quality. It does pretty well in outdoor performance, too. Its compact size allows one to carry it around more easily, as compared to DSLRs or superzooms. The only thing missing from this camera is the ability to play around with settings such as aperture priority or shutter priority. If one is a photography enthusiast, they may probably find the lack of these features crippling. If this is not a concern, one can really enjoy the features of this point and shoot. This camera is ideal for those who are into hiking or trekking allowing them to shoot great images, which are at a distance without much of a hassle.

Publish date: November 28, 2011 4:52 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 9:02 pm

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