on 30 April 2012
I had this camera for almost a month now and I have to say, it is worth every penny. It is a lot to say about SZ31 and there is quite a bit of information available in the product description so I'll try to give you some highlights and avoid duplication as much as possible.
In the box one will find the battery for the camera (Li-50BA), a camera charger UK standard, a camera charger European standard, an USB cable (CB-USB8) for connecting camera to a computer for charging or for uploading pictures, an AV cable (CB-AVC3) for TV connection, a hand strap (greenish rather than black - perhaps the only thing that it is not quite right)), a basic manual in 29 languages, a stylus to set the LCD screen and a CD which contains the Olympus manual and Olympus Viewer 2 which is the picture management software provided by Olympus. It does not come with a memory card which is needed from the very beginning as the internal memory of the camera cannot store more than, I think 6 pictures in full size - this is common with cameras these days.
Memory cards that can be used: SD/SDHC/SDXC or Eye-Fi cards. It is not compatible with Endless Eye-Fi.
The charging time is 3.5 hours and the date stamp is not available for panoramic and 3D pictures. It does not take pictures in RAW format. The default format for pictures is JPEG and for recordings is MOV.
The minimum requirements to install the software that comes with the camera, are, XP for Windows and Mac OS x v10.4.11 for Macintosh; Intel core Solo/Duo 1.5GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 1MB hard drive space available, 1024 x 768 pixels screen. The camera can be used with older computers running Windows XP Home edition and Mac OS x 10.3 as mass storage - it means one cannot use the software for pictures management. The software is not really necessary as camera info on each setting appears on the screen whenever the dial is moved to try a new setting, so only the basic manual is needed at the beginning. However, having installed the software I found it so easy to use that for the first time ever I decided to organise all the photos I've taken for the last 20 years and I actually did it over a weekend. This is truly a user friendly camera with an excellent, easy to use software.
With the 24x zoom, I took very good pictures, of some buildings that are 15 minutes walk away from me, without compromising the resolution. The SZ 31 doesn't struggle at all when zooming and using the digital zoom during the day - the dual engine (True Pic V processors) does help. I think during the night, if zooming (and not using the Hand Held Starlight mode) it is necessary to use a tripod. The best night shoots I took are in SCN, Starlight mode and Night scene mode when I could keep the camera without shaking it.
The few bad pictures I took are only the ones where my hands were really shaky, it was night and the camera was not set on Hand Held starlight. The rest of the pictures (including macro, panoramic and using the zoom) are crystal clear, the HD recording is perfect, there is no noise from zooming in and out whilst recording, and although one can hear the shooting noise in the camera when shooting whilst recording, this cannot be heard when playing back the recording on a computer. It has even a wind noise reduction setting which I didn't use as I felt it was not necessary. The full HD video recording is at 60 fps. SZ31 has a standard HDMI connection and it takes 60 fps / 75 frames in 3 MP mode, 15 fps / 120 frames in 3 MP mode, 10 fps / 12 frames in full image size and 2.5 fps / 200 frames in full image size.
When I initially looked at the Magic filters, I thought I should just try them out of curiosity, being convinced I will not use them (I like to use PhotoShop) but I was so wrong! I like all of them and I am using them all the time these days, particularly when recording - one gets both, the real recording and the magic filter one. The camera may not play back accurately a recording with a magic filter (I am referring to the drawing filter) but once the recording is played in a computer, it is perfect.
The flash is absolutely amazing, it covers about 9 m, it does not turn on unless you want it to and it does not distort the image - I took some pictures of my living room at night with the lights turned off and the pictures were spectacular - they looked like they were taken during the day and they had shadows where they were supposed to be if daytime and if the sun was where my flash was. The pictures are impressively good even when the flash is not on and the room has low light.
Out of all settings, I personally prefer to use the Programme mode as this allows to set manually the camera and in my opinion it gives better results, even when compared with the Intelligent Auto mode. I'm sure I didn't cover all what this camera can do and what other people may want to know but given that there is no review for SZ31 on Amazon, I felt I should write a few words even if early days to at least give an idea of how this camera is. In time I may come back to complete this review.
on 25 December 2013
Serious: As you'd expect, it's programmable mode lets you adjust the ISO (from 80 to 6400), the white balance, and other things. It even has one of those graphs showing in real-time what your photo will look like (the one at the bottom of the editing options on Windows Photo Editor). I'd also put the build quality in this category - metal body, very sleek, tough, quality feel. And the zoom - the 24x zoom makes the lens extend very far out, but even at full zoom the lens remains sturdy and picture quality remains excellent. May I also inform you that in video mode, the audio is recorded in STEREO at over 1000kbps at 32khz! That's lossless range!
Fun: Definitely the choice of scenes. There's 12 different ones in the 'Magic' mode, and there's a separate 'Beauty' one where you can spend hours perfecting faces (I never use this personally), and then there's the separate 'Scene' modes where you can choose from 'Portrait', 'Landscape', 'Handheld Starlit', 'Night', etc etc. There's about 15 different ones here - there's even a 'Cuisine' one which vividly reproduces colours of the food presumably. Oh and pet lovers would like the 'Cat' and 'Dog' options which takes a snap automatically when your pet of choice comes into view.
Dramatic: There's actually a scene on the 'Magic' mode which says 'Dramatic' and it's number 12. It is breathtaking. You take a picture of the sky or the landscape - even a car - and it looks like someone's spent hours on photoshop to make it look so, well, dramatic. High contrast levels as you'd expect but it looks amazing. Apart from this, there's the video. Of course there's 1080p video recording, even at 60fps (uses lots of memory), but there's also SLOW MOTION! Yes, it can shoot at 240FPS! However, it's at the lowest resolution video of 320 x 240, the video is dark (because of the fast shutter speed) and there's no sound. However, it's amazing! There also 120FPS with 480p and 60FPS with 720p HD. It really looks excellent. Another: awesome flash. It pops up and is very very bright (lights up my whole back garden).
Some slight annoyances:
Video: You CAN hear the tuk-tuk-tuk of the lens in video mode as it refocuses if viewing on the computer with WMP. Also, if you're using its stereo mic up close, it sometimes fluctuates from clear sound to muffled sound, but I think it's from detecting how near you are to it.
Photos: Don't expect super amazing quality of photos just because you're snapping in 16MP. In fact, most photos look virtually the same in 5MP mode. I think these massive MP cameras are just there as a marketing strategy - it's more down to the quality of the sensor. Many 3* reviewers point out that the quality is "not as good as my old Olympus camera". Times have changed. All cameras are now like this. You want better quality? Dig deeper and buy a D-SLR.
Having said this, I think the quality is brilliant. I would recommend a quick 'Auto Fix' using Windows Photo Gallery for any photos with bland colours. Makes a big difference.
Price: The price must come into play here. It's currently £180. A month ago it was £150. For Black Friday it was £105 (total utter steal). Firstly, I'm not impressed at all with this price fluctuation in such a short space of time. Even if stock is low, it should not go up so much. It's easily and more £180-worth of camera, but with competition and as we all want a little bargain, £150 - £160 is a good region to go for it. It's launch price was £300.
PS: BIG Recommendation - Check out the photos people have taken in the product images on its page with the camera. And for higher resolution photos which I have personally taken in December 2013, check out my blog: kinmelbay.blogspot.com
on 21 January 2013
I purchased this camera after spending weeks and weeks on researching the right one and trawling through all sorts of customer reviews on various websites (which review/ compare cameras). I have been a Canon buyer historically and was fairly sceptical about crossing the brand line and buying an Olympus and so ended up doing more research than normal. I am saying this because I know other buyers may be going through similar sentiments and it can be tricky to convince yourself (esp when buying a £100+ camera).
- Light Weight
- Easy to handle
- Easy settings
- Magic filters are interesting
- Good looks/ finish
- Nice pictures (based on what I have clicked so far; have not transferred anything to the PC/ printed yet)
- The 24x optical zoom does seem to be handy as you can focus on objects a long way away; cannot yet comment on what that does to the pictures though (have a suspicion that it may not be perfect for printing even with the image stabiliser; should not be a problem unless trying to print photos related to sports/ wild life)
- No memory card or spare battery provided as part of the standard package (so I ordered a 32GB Fuji Class 10 card along with the camera; also ordered a spare Battery in line with some of the previous reviews); glad that I ordered these straight away as I can now start taking these on our travels; the in built camera memory could only store 6 pics
- Need to order/ use an existing camera case straight away to prevent it from getting damaged (esp if you have young kids)
I am writing this review as someone with an avid interest in photography (but not a professional). So some of the finer features w.r.t. wide angle, CMOS sensor (1/2.3), higher noise on higher ISO's etc have not been tested by me and in reality may not make too much of a difference over the life of the camera.
I compared this against the Canon SX 260 and at one point was almost looking to go for it(my Canon loyalties coming to the fore I guess) but in the end some of the nagetives on that (flash being at the top left and price) convinced me to go for the SZ 31MR.
Based on the usage so far, I have no reason to regret my decision. Hope you find the review useful.
on 5 June 2012
Like many do, I deliberated for some weeks as to which camera to buy. My prime requirement was that I wanted to be able to carry it around without resorting to a camera bag so DSLRs and Bridge Cameras were out of the running (even though some of their features were tempting). I also wanted it to take good quality pictures in Auto or Scene mode because catching the moment was more important to me than spending time deciding upon aperture, ISO, exposure time, etc. My budget was in the £200 to £250 range.
After looking at the offerings from Panasonic (TZ30), Canon (SX240) and Sony (HX20), I stumbled upon the new Olympus SZ31-MR and was intrigued by the sophistication of the electronics (eg, the dual image processor, the latest type of CMOS sensor and the 920k touch screen), the wide 25mm lens which zooms all the way to 600mm and the fact that it was bang up to date with the latest features (eg, movies from full 1080p through to 120 & 240 frames per second, sweep & manual panorama and HDR mode where it takes three exposures to create a balanced composite picture when there are extremes of light and dark in the scene).
The paucity of independent reviews worried me but I found one at letsgodigital which really impressed me and there was also a very experienced photographer on dpreview's Olympic Talk Forum whose enthusiasm for his new SZ-31 (and the quality of his pictures with the camera) was quite infectious.
I downloaded the 80 page manual from the Olympus site and that confirmed to me that this camera was the one for me.
I've only had the camera for a week but took quite a few pictures at our village Diamond Jubilee street party (all on Auto) and they look excellent. I added the Olympus TRHLC-120 leather case to my order and this was a very good decision as the SZ-31 sits nicely out of the way on my trouser belt but is available within a few seconds when needed.
If you must have RAW mode and want full manual control of your camera, then the SZ-31MR is not for you. However, if your requirements are the same as mine, I think that you really should give it serious consideration.
I've just had a closer look at the P mode. You can easily amend the flash (auto, red-eye, fill-in, off) if the flash is raised, macro (off, on and super-macro), self-timer (off, 2 secs and 12 secs), exposure compensation (-2 to +2 in .3 steps), white balance (auto, sunny, cloudy, incandescent, florescent, manual setting 1 and 2), ISO (auto, higher auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400), number of shots per press of the shutter button (one, continuous at 2.5 frames per second, continuous at 10 frames per second, continuous at 15 frames per second, continuous at 60 frames per second at 3MP or lower and "auto split shooting" which takes up to 16 photos at regular intervals while the shutter button is pressed) and finally the image size (nine settings, from 16 megapixels down).
You can tell from the above information that I've not yet looked at movie taking. That's not my priority at the moment!
on 10 May 2012
I was looking for a smaller camera which had good functionality and ease of use plus longer than average zoom for general walkabout and family usage. This one came up trumps and took the gamble despite the absence of any professional reviews on the web as of yet. Its amazingly built-lovely to handle and superb easy to operate menu system with many add ons for manipulation if you like this sort of thing. Control is great and images of good quality even under low light. The flash is excellent for a small camera and the zoom capability amazing with fairly fast AF in all modes especially motion with the ESP. I took pictures of some small birds and the feathers were well resolved. Yes I would recommend this camera.
on 10 June 2012
I have had S.L.R.s and Fuji 2800 Zoom with a 6x Optical .. all great cameras. Would this Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera - Silver (16MP, 24x Wide Optical Zoom) 3.0 inch Touch Panel LCD .... be any good ??
NO FEARS ... this camera is AWESOME. FABULOUS ... I have not tried everything but what I have used has produced pictures of exceptional quality. The 24x zoom is great, the doubler produces something 'out of this world' !! (24x zoom = 600mm in 35m value, the doubler = 1200mm) It comes with an anti-shake feature too, so you get clear pictures even if you do wobble. Indoor shots with or without the flash are very good as well.
I recommend though that you also get a second battery - ABC ABC Products® Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Li50b Li-50b for Olympus plus at least one Kingston Technology 16GB Full Size SDHC Class 10 Flash Card - I got two of these - excellent product. This Olympus camera is very light, it fits in the pocket, the lens cover is built in too, switch it on ...point and shoot. The touchscreen is very useful too. If you see what you want to shoot on the screen, touch the item on the screen and it shoots automatically.
I could go on and on but from what I have tried, I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS CAMERA WITHOUT HESITATION ..... FABULOUS, EXCELLENT ....
on 5 August 2013
Mercedes feeling regarding build quality
+very good zoom
+very good looking
+you don,t have to chose black,wich is good because the silver coulor version that I bought looked great,but more importantly it is an practical advantage since I use the camera nighttime in the wilderness and don,t want to loose it
+I like the flash function because I prefere the non automatic,old fashon mechanical button for using the flash,and the fact that it is centered and mechanicly solid.
+ stabel/steady in the hand
+I could use my old trileg for it
+takes Sd card different versions
+excellent (no problem,and fast)communication with the computor(win XP and win 2000)
+USB and Firewire
+/(-) Full HD video ,but the problem is that most computors,cant handle full HD(videos will frezee,or not work at all)
(My computors Dell Intel 2GHZ (2 different) with 512 MB DDR RAM,about 5 years old wih Win XP SP2 and SP3)
-- atachment: it only has a wriststrap and,it needs 2 atachments because a/it is to heavy and big for the wrist and b/there can be important photo situation where you need both your hands free.
--software : some of the software is a bit ridicoulus like beutyfying functions for family and friends while other important functions are missing.
--Especially 2 important functions are missing 1/ when the light is poor and you would like to take pictures very slowly,meaning setting the camera on absorbing ex the light from moon,or in sunset,sunrise e.t.c for several minutes minutes before snapping the picture.(I have a tripod)
--2/advanced programs/functions for taking panorama pictures.
--It is very difficult to take panorama pictures with this camera because the software don,t adjust very well and instead it aborts the picture.(mechanicly it is easy)
+Picturequality is very good (detailed)_
--except for that it has a tendency to loose a little bit of light and coulors
If you wan,t a compact camera,I don,t think you can get anything better for the money (It cost me about 160 GBP Totalcost if I remember correctly.
But I wish the software (in the actual camera)had been more serious and advanced,so in some aspects I wish I had gone with a mirrorless Olympus Systemcamera instead.
Important to mention is that I have not yet had the time to install any programs on the computor from the CD discs with programs to the camera from Olympus that came with the camera.
So I most certainly have not yet learnt all functions with the camera.
I hope Olympus will have upgraded software to offer on their home page so that there will be some way of reprogramming the camera to more serious photagrafing software.
I give the camera 8.75 point out of 10 Total.
on 15 July 2012
I bought this camera after weeks of looking at cameras, I wanted one that did more than just point and shoot. I had looked at dozens of reviews on every make I could find and had settled to buy a Nikon when Amazon sent me information on the olympus SZ -31mr. I could only find one review, but it was very positive. I have had it now for about 4 weeks and I'm getting to love it more and more. Fot a start it looks lovely, it is a dark silver with black shutter and back and a raised ridge on right for gripping when shooting. I am no expert and am talking purely on an amatuer level but it has so many clever features which I am just learning. In addition to the normal focus addjustments, it has settings for night/portrait,night scene, starlight,landscape, portrait, backlight, 3d photo,pet mode, beach and snow, fireworks, cuisine, indoor, sport and more. On the magic setting you can choose from punk, sparkle, soft focus, reflection which will give you a double image and a clever feature which can turn the subject into a pencil drawing or even a water colour. If you like recording then while you are filming you can also capture the moment by taking a photo. It has so many features I havn't been able to list or used yet, but as i said I'm no expert but a friend of mine who is into cameras says its a really nice camera and I agree. So glad I bought it.
on 8 July 2012
Well , having purchased a returnable (thank god) SLR camera ,( which I thought I wanted) , I decided , after fairly thorough research to try the SZ-31-MR, and compare them against each other.
I am so glad I did, the bridge camera is going back.
This camera, after about a week , has proved to be everything I wanted, without the bulk of a bigger model.
I am learning more as I go , but can see that this camera has been well thought out and presented in a clean looking easy on the eye, onscreen format.
I CONSIDER MYSELF QUITE CREATIVE , AND FOUND PAST 5X/10X ZOOM CAMERAS FRUSTRATING ,often wanting more power , FLEXIBILITY , zoom, and choice of settings.
Automatic , beauty, magic, movie settings are all there , as you would expect.
This is not an ultraslim camera, but with a 24X ZOOM , that's fine with me, if anything , it's smaller than I expected ,but the build quality is very good.
24 x optical zoom was important, as was 16MP +the ease of use.
I found, just playing around with it has taught me lots,(instructions mainly on a disc,but I'll get round to those in more detail , in time,) scene mode choices (and pretty much everything is as you would want it), are explained clearly and simply on screen in each mode. Clever.
The touch screen option , which can be turned on or off , is handy , and appears to be the main difference between this model and the SZ-30.it comes with a small 'pen' which on paper you would might think , oh , I'll lose that , but it cleverly fits on the wrist strap ( which is slim and unobtrusive) and is only a couple of inches long , good design. You can just pop it on and forget it -that's if you even need it., as the touchscreen works with a finger too.
The flash you can choose to come on and off , which I prefer, unlike some compact models, which have it pop up as as standard.
I have already used the 'sports' mode to take some shots with movement, and used both the macro and super macro setting , which has resulted in some fab razor sharp shots , which will enlarge beautifully, so, so far so good.
The charger is small and easy to use ,the battery is charged whilst in the camera , rather than having to remove the battery to charge it in a wall unit. Better.
The grip is good and the balance feels good in the hand,
I would say , that like many cameras these days , there is no viewfinder , so consider that when making your decision , but that's fairly easy to get used to.
I chose the silver model ,which is more of an anthracite rather than silvery grey , which I liked better than black.
I am very pleased I made this choice, my last Olympus was good , this is GREAT!!!
N.B. An earlier reviewer says this camera doesn't have a timer - it actually does......if that is something that matters in your selection.
on 26 June 2012
Photography has been a hobby of mine for some 40 years and I have a Nikon D3100 and a Canon EOS 600D, which are both brilliant cameras. However, I felt at my age and stage that lugging around lots of camera equipment to family or similar ilk events was a little over the top. I therefore looked around for a good quality compact or bridge that would give results that were as close as possible to the Nikon and Canon. A very tall order, or so I thought. Leafing through the myriad of camera reviews I came across one for the Olympus SZ-31MR which seemed to have overly glowing reviews, but also pointed me to the Which top ten Compacts review in which its earlier cousin the SZ-30 came top. Long and short, I thought I would give it a go and went down to my local camera shop to check out the look and feel. Tip: never buy a camera online from reviews only. It might have the spec you think you want, but when you get it delivered and open the box it may be too small, too fiddly, disappointing picture quality, or have an overly complex menu system, to name but a few features that are important (you will obviously have others).
Unboxing the 31MR I was impressed by the first look and feel of the camera, not too small or large and everything seemed to be in a well thought out place. The screen is a good size and the quality is excellent. The screen has a touch facility, but I haven't really tested that other than to calibrate it. The cameras menu settings (date, picture quality etc.) are fairly standard and easy to set without having to refere to the manual. The picture settings are changed via a wheel at the top of the camera. Each settings effect category is then selected by a PS3 style rotation button on the back. When you select a category, say panoramic, the system offers you a short pictorial and text help screen for the feature you have selected. Top marks for that. There are lots and lots of in-camera photographic effects, which is great, but be aware that when you select some of these you will wait up to 5 seconds after you press the shoot button for the camera to process the effect and therefore before you can take your next picture. For general snapping the Auto setting seems to cope well with most conditions.
The cameras internal memory is very limited, so as with most cameras in the category, you will need to buy a memory card. Remember to buy the fastest card you can, as a slow card will limit the cameras processing speeds and rapid-rate shot facility.
I didn't think I would use the in cameras photo effects facilities, but having tried a few I did get somewhat hooked, they are fun. A few effects tips, Panoramic option: This is simplicity itself, just click the shoot button and slowly move the camera in the direction of the arrow that appears on the screen. The camera will end the shot automatically. The one thing I found with this setting is that the camera seems to take its aperture and focus settings from your very first frame, this does mean that if your panning shot moves into our out of sunlight, or say differently placed room lights, the end result its that part of the picture can be over or under exposed, or in or out of focus. So think through your shot framing and available lighting first.
3D: Very gimmicky, but can be very effective if you do it right. This camera only has one lens so you have to do some work as well as the camera to get a 3D effect. You need to consider what you are going to take and frame it well, seems obvious, but with this setting its really important. Choose object(s) that are going to make up the central theme of your 3D shot, i.e the things that you want to stand out. The camera requires you to focus the frame (really important) then click the shoot button, the camera will take the first frame. You will then see a moving ball on the screen which you will need to position by slowly moving the camera until the ball is in the centre of a bullseye ring. The camera will then automatically take the second shot. At first this can be very hit and miss with out of focus frames that don't look very 3D at all, but when it works the effects can be very good. Again allow 5 seconds or so for the camera to process the shot. You will obviously need a 3D TV, projector or PC to display these images. Be aware Olympus do not supply an HDMI cable in the box and it is not a standard HDMI cable. I got mine from Amazon, the bundle included the cable, a perfectly adequate camera case and spare battery for around £12.
The camera does shoot HD video. I took a few test sessions and I have to say you do need to set the image stabilisation feature as without it the footage can look very juddery in places, but with it set, it gives very acceptable results. I own a very good Sony HD video camera so will not be using this feature other than where I forget to bring along my Sony, but video is not why I purchased the camera.
The added WoW bonus with this camera is the free picture editing software, works on Windows (yuk!) and Mac. As a free piece of software it is stunning. If you have used Paintshop Pro it is somewhat similar and has tons of editing features. It is well written and is reasonably intuitive, so you will take a few hours of use before you get halfway proficient, but for free - hey!
I don't intend to review every feature of the camera as other articles have done this far better than I can. Nevertheless, if you want a good quality camera that after a short get to know period is easy to use, very intuitive and gives excellent picture quality results, you won't go far wrong with this camera