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Olympus SZ-14 Compact Digital Camera Review

Olympus SZ-14 Compact Digital Camera Review - The Olympus SZ-14 is a compact, super-zoom digital compact camera with a 24x optical zoom lens. Daniel Bell reviews.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Olympus SZ-14
Price : £97
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Olympus SZ-14

The Olympus SZ-14 was released in January 2012 alongside the SZ-11 to expand the Olympus SZ range of cameras and combines a 24x optical zoom lens in a compact body. It is available in red, black and silver for £194.00.
Olympus SZ-14

Olympus SZ-14 Features

The SZ-14 features a massive 24x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 25 - 600mm, ideal for shooting both landscapes and close-ups. The camera also has a 14 megapixel sensor and iAuto mode to help take pictures as easily as possible.

The SZ-14 can take panoramic images, 3D photos and has a range of magic filters which make it easy to add creativity to your picture taking. Videos can be shot at 720p HD with Multi-motion Movie Image Stabilisation and allows the magic filters to be applied when shooting movies.

Close-up macro images are possible with a minimum focus distance of just 1cm in Super Macro mode. The SZ-14 can also shoot panoramic images which are then stitched together in-camera.

Olympus SZ-14

Key Features

  • 14 megapixel sensor
  • 24x wide optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 25-600mm)
  • 720p HD movie recording and HDMI Control
  • Multi-motion Movie IS
  • 3.0 inch 460,000 dot colour LCD screen
  • Dual Image Stabilisation
  • Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
  • Advanced Face Detection and SAT
  • iAuto and AF Tracking
  • 3D Photo Shooting Mode
  • Beauty Mode
  • Pet Detection Mode
  • In-Camera Panorama
  • Scene Modes
  • Eye-Fi Card compatibility
  • USB-Battery Charge
  • Metal body
Olympus SZ-14

Olympus SZ-14 Handling

The SZ-14 will fit in most pockets, despite hosting a 24x optical zoom lens. Most of the camera is made from metal, with the rear black part made from plastic. On the front of the camera there is a section which acts as a hand grip, although it isn't rubberised as some cameras are in the SZ range but there is a rubber grip on the back for your right hand thumb.

The menus are easy to navigate with most of the picture settings changed via a menu which appears down the right hand side of the screen. Here you can change the flash, focus mode, self-timer, exposure compensation, white-balance, ISO and number of frames taken. The buttons don't present any problems and the dial on the back works as both a D-pad as well as rotating to cycle through menu options. Other buttons found are dedicated movie record, playback, menu, help, on/off, shutter release and zoom rocker. From the widest to the longest the lens takes around 2 seconds.

Olympus haven't provided a CIPA rating for the camera's battery but it was charged before testing and was not needed to be recharged. We tested the camera'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.

Shutter Response   0.1 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.4 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.75 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   1.8 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   5.9 seconds
Sequential shooting
  0.8 fps
High-speed 1
  5.3 fps
High-speed 2
  10.0 fps

Sequential shooting takes pictures at 16 megapixels, with High-speed 1 and High-speed 2 restricted to 5 and 3 megapixels respectively.

Olympus SZ-14

Olympus SZ-14 Performance

The SZ-14 takes pictures with decent colour reproduction that are well exposed. When viewing the images full size details lacks in shadows and highlights with clear softening in the corners and purple fringing appearing occasionally. With a minimum focusing distance of 3cm the camera is capable of taking an impressive close-up shot.

Olympus SZ-14 Lens test images


Noise doesn't affect image quality at the lower ISO levels of 80 and 100. ISO 200 sees an appearance of noise which is minimal, with noise at ISO 400 causing the images to lose a touch of sharpness. ISO 800 and ISO 1600 have a significant level of noise, with images at ISO 800 maintaining some sharpness and much softer images produced at ISO 1600, which are best resized for use on the web.

Olympus SZ-14 ISO test images


The first two images below have been taken using landscape mode, with good blues and greens produced. Portrait mode takes pictures with pleasant skin tones but when using the flash there is some red-eye. There are also further examples using night scene, sport (to freeze to motion of the water) and documents. The camera also shoots panoramics, which are stitched together in camera.

Olympus SZ-14 Scene modes


Panorama | 1/400 sec | f/8.7 | 4.5 mm | ISO 640
Panorama | 1/400 sec | f/8.7 | 4.5 mm | ISO 640

Generally the auto white-balance does a perfectly acceptable job although under the incandescent lights in our studio the AWB images has a slight magenta tint whereas the incandescent preset performs perfectly. The AWB does the best job over the fluorescent preset under the studio's fluorescent lights.

Olympus SZ-14 White-balance test images


The SP620-UZ has eleven magic filters: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Watercolour, Reflection, Miniature and Fragmented with examples below.

Olympus SZ-14 Digital filters


Video Mode

Below is a short example video shot at 720p HD. The camera can record with use of the optical zoom, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Page.



Value For Money

The Olympus SZ-14 is currently priced at £194.00. The market for ultra-zoom cameras is increasing with competition for all budgets. Other cameras to consider are the Fujfilm FinePix S4200 at £164.00, Olympus SP-620UZ at £169.00, Pentax Optio VS20 at £199.00, Nikon Coolpix L310 at £199.00, Olympus SZ-30MR at £209.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 at £234.00, Canon PowerShot SX240 HS at £299.00, Olympus SZ-31MR at £299.00, Fujifilm FinePix F770 EXR at £329.00, Canon PowerShot SX260 HS at £329.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 at £329.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 at £379.00 and Leica V-Lux 3 at £689.00.

Olympus SZ-14 Verdict

The Olympus SZ-14 boasts a remarkable amount of optical zoom for a camera which you can carry around in your pocket. Negatives of note are the lack of rubber grip on the front of the camera which is found on other SZ models, movies are restricted to 720p HD and noise is significant at ISO 800 and 1600. Despite this, the SZ-14 has decent image quality and is available for a very reasonable price.

The Olympus SZ-14 is a pocketable compact camera with decent image quality and a fair price tag.

Olympus SZ-14 Pros

24x optical zoom lens
Compact metal body
Magic filters are unique to Olympus
Fast high-speed shooting modes
Decent image quality
In-camera panoramic stitching

Olympus SZ-14 Cons

Video recording is limited to 720p HD
Lots of noise at ISO 800 and 1600
No rubber grip on front of camera

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
SPECIFICATION

Olympus SZ-14 Specifications

ManufacturerOlympus
Lens
Max Aperturef/3 - f/6.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 600mm
Optical Zoom24x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels14Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4288
Pixels (H)3216
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)6.16mm
Sensor Size (height)4.62mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460,000
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus3cm
Focusing modes
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/700sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Spot
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity80 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting0.89fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 720p
Video FPSNo Data
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLI-50B
CIPA RatingNo Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsLI-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
Dimensions
Weight216g
Width106.5mm
Height68.7mm
Depth39.5mm

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