Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
The Olympus SH-21 was announced in January 2012 and is a compact camera with a 12.5x optical zoom lens and 16 megapixel sensor. It is available in red, black and gold with an RRP of £189.00.
If you want to make picture taking as easy as possible you can switch the camera to iAUTO mode, with P mode giving the user more control over their images. There are also a range of scene modes including: portrait, beauty, landscape, night scene, night portrait, sport, indoor, self portrait, sunset, fireworks, cuisine, documents, beach & snow, pet mode (cat/dog) and backlight HDR. The SH-21 can also shoot 3D pictures.
To add some creativity to your pictures there are a range of magic filters, which include: pop art, pin hole, fish eye, drawing, soft focus, punk, sparkle, watercolour, reflection and miniature. To shoot panoramic images, the SH-21 has a Smart Panorama mode, which shoots with a sweeping method rather than stitching a number of images together. Another mode found on the dial is Hand-held Starlight Mode, allowing you to take photos in dark conditions without a tripod. Other modes include AF Tracking, Live Guide and Photo with Movie Clip.
Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD with Multi-motion Movie IS to help reduce camera shake.
- 12.5x super-wide optical zoom (35mm equiv: 24-300mm)
- 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
- 1080p Full HD Movie and HDMI Control
- Multi-motion Movie IS
- 3.0 inch 460,000 dot touch panel LCD screen
- Dual Image Stabilisation
- Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
- HDR Backlight Adjustment
- Hand-held Starlight Mode
- Advanced Face Detection and SAT
- iAuto and AF Tracking
- Live Guide
- 3D Photo Shooting Mode
- Beauty Mode
- Pet Detection Mode
- Smart Panorama
- High-Speed Continuous Shooting
- Photo with Movie Clip
- Scene Modes
- Eye-Fi Card compatibility
- Photo surfing and [ib] software
On the rear is a 3 inch LCD touch screen, which is bright and clear in most lighting conditions. Despite the touch screen, the SH-21 also has all the buttons you would expect to see on a compact camera. The d-pad rotates meaning you can cycle through the menu options, there is a dedicated movie record button and a mode dial on the top of the camera. The buttons are easy to press with the menu system being clear and easy to navigate.
We tested the SH-21's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot to shot time, continuous shooting etc and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.
|Shutter Reponse||0.2 seconds|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.3 seconds|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.4 seconds|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||1.95 seconds|
|Shot to Shot (without flash)||1.9 seconds|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||2.1 seconds|
|Sequential 1 (16 megapixels)||1.5 fps|
|Sequential 2 (16 megapixels)||5 fps|
|High-speed (5 megapixels)||15 fps|
|Auto split shooting (5 megapixels)||14.3 fps|
The battery doesn't have a CIPA rating, but it has only been charged once during testing and is capable of taking plenty of shots on one charge.
Olympus SH-21 Lens test images
Wide-angle | 1/400 sec | f/3.0 | 4.2 mm | ISO 100
Full optical zoom | 1/100 sec | f/5.9 | 52.5 mm | ISO 100
Digital zoom | 1/100 sec | f/5.9 | 52.5 mm | ISO 100
Macro | 1/4 sec | f/4.0 | 7.4 mm | ISO 100
Images aren't affected by noise at ISO 100 but it does start to effect images at ISO 200. Noise steadily increases but remain sharp through ISO 400, with a slight softening appearing at ISO 800. Again there is more noise causing a softer image at ISO 1600 but a decent image is still taken, with noise becoming really significant at ISO 3200. 16 megapixel sensor cameras have a tendency to suffer from large amounts of noise at lower ISO settings but the SH-21 goes against this with colour reproduction remaining strong throughout.
Olympus SH-21 ISO test images
ISO 100 | 1/6 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm
ISO 200 | 1/13 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm
ISO 400 | 1/25 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm
ISO 800 | 1/50 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm
ISO 1600 | 1/80 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm
ISO 3200 | 1/200 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm
The following images have been taken using some of the scene modes available. Landscape mode gives a great boost to the blues and green. Portrait pictures have pleasant skin tones and no red-eye but the camera struggled to focus on the subject's eyes, so it was tough to get a perfectly sharp portrait shot.
Sport mode has been used to capture the fast moving wind turbine. The hand held starlight mode has made it possible to take a sharp picture in dark conditions at a fairly low ISO setting.
Olympus SH-21 Sample Photos
Landscape | 1/400 sec | f/3.0 | 4.2 mm | ISO 80
Landscape with building | 1/320 sec | f/3.9 | 6.6 mm | ISO 80
Portrait | 1/50 sec | f/5.3 | 17.1 mm | ISO 400
Sport | 1/500 sec | f/5.9 | 29.4 mm | ISO 320
Hand held starlight | 1/4 sec | f/3.7 | 5.9 mm | ISO 200
Documents | 1/40 sec | f/4.4 | 9.1 mm | ISO 400
Rather than stitching a number of images together, the SH-21 takes panoramic images using a sweeping method. There is some areas where you can see ghosting but the camera does an impressive job overall.
Panorama | 1/400 sec | f/3.0 | 4.2 mm | ISO 80
Under the incandescent lighting the AWB preset has struggled, giving a strong orange cast, with the incandescent preset taking the better image. Under the fluorescent lights the AWB preset copes better than the fluorescent preset, with the latter giving a magenta cast in the image.
Olympus SH-21 White-balance test images
AWB preset - incandescent lighting | 1/15 sec | f/4.0 | 7.4 mm | ISO 100
Incandescent preset - incandescent lighting | 1/15 sec | f/4.0 | 7.4 mm | ISO 100
AWB preset - fluorescent lighting | 1/4 sec | f/4.0 | 7.4 mm | ISO 100
Fluorescent preset - fluorescent lighting | 1/4 sec | f/4.0 | 7.4 mm | ISO 100
Below are a range sample images taken using the magic filters.
Olympus SH-21 Digital filters
Pop art | 1/13 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Pin hole | 1/13 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Fish eye | 1/13 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Drawing | 1/13 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Soft focus | 1/13 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Punk | 1/13 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Sparkle | 1/10 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Watercolor | 1/10 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Reflection | 1/10 sec | f/5.5 | 19.6 mm | ISO 400
Video ModeBelow is a video taken a full 1080p HD, optical zoom can be used during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel.
Value For MoneyThe Olympus SH-21 is currently priced at £189.00. Other cameras with a similar specification (16 megapixel sensor and 10 - 14x optical zoom) are the Olympus VR-340 (10x optical zoom) at £129.00, Nikon Coolpix S8200 (14x optical zoom) at £199.95 and Sony Cyber-shot HX7V at £209. Also available are the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 (12.1 megapixel sensor and 12x optical zoom) at £164.00, Canon PowerShot SX150 IS (14.1 megapixel sensor and 12x optical zoom) at £164.00, Canon PowerShot SX220 HS (12.1 megapixel sensor and 14x optical zoom) at £199.00 and Canon IXUS 1100 HS (12.1 megapixel sensor and 12x optical zoom) at £304.00.
|The Olympus SH-21 is a versatile compact camera, packed with features and available at a fair price.
Olympus SH-21 ProsFull 1080p HD video recording
Minimum focusing distance of 1cm
Touch screen and plenty of buttons
Large optical zoom in compact body
High-speed shooting at 5 fps (16 megapixel image)
Rubber grip on front
Easy to use
Decent image quality up to ISO 1600
Olympus SH-21 ConsHard to get a sharp portrait image
Detail in images could be better for 16 megapixel sensor
Images blurry in corners
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Olympus SH-21 Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/3 - f/5.9|
|35mm equivalent||24mm - 300mm|
|CCD pixels||16Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Size||1/2.3 inch|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Screen resolution||460,000 dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/2000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||4sec|
|ISO sensitivity||80 - 3200|
|Video FPS||No Data|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery|
|CIPA Rating||No Data|
|Box Contents||LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery, F-2AC AC Adapter, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Hand Strap, Instruction Manual, World Wide Warranty Card, [ib] Image Management Software|