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Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Olympus SZ-10, a super zoom digital camera available for less than �150.00.

| Olympus SZ-10 in Compact Cameras

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review: Lens extended
Lens extended

Announced in February, the Olympus SZ-10 is part of the Super Zoom range of cameras from Olympus and is available in silver and black with an RRP of £199.99.

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review: Front

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Features

The SZ-10 features a massive 18x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 28 - 504mm, ideal for shooting both landscapes and close-up sporting events. The camera also has a 14 megapixel sensor and iAuto mode to help take pictures as easily as possible.

The SZ-10 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 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-10 can also shoot panoramic images which are then stitched together in-camera.

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review: Top

Key Features

  • 18x wide optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 28 - 504mm)
  • 14 megapixel sensor
  • 3 inch TFT LCD screen
  • Dual Image Stabilisation
  • 720p HD Movie and HDMI Control
  • Eye-Fi Card compatibility
  • 3D photo shooting mode
  • Magic Filters
  • Panoramas
  • iAuto
  • ISO 64 - 1600
  • 1cm minimum focus distance

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review: Rear

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Handling

The SZ-10 is built from plastic and benefits from rubber grips on the front where you place your right fingers, and one on the back for your 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.

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. Focus speed it good as well is start-up time, it is ready to go within a couple of seconds of switching on. In continuous shooting the SZ-10 shoots full sized images at about 0.9fps, switching to High-speed 1 yielded 4.9 fps and High-speed 2 gave 10 fps although the image size is limited to 5 and 3 megapixels respectively.

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review: Battery

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Performance

Whether shooting wide or with the full 18x zoom, the SZ-10 retains a good amount of detail throughout the images although there is a touch of purple fringing on occasion. Colour reproduction is also good and macro photos look fantastic, aided by the minimum focus distance of just 1cm.

Olympus SZ-10 Lens test images

At ISO 64 there is a touch of noise in places and more so at ISO 100. It becomes steadily worse at ISO 200 and at ISO 400, images produced are starting to lose sharpness. ISO 800 produces soft looking images and at ISO 1600, there is a significant loss of detail and sharpness thanks to noise. ISO 800 and 1600 images are likely to be better for web use rather than large prints.

Olympus SZ-10 ISO test images

Even in dull, overcast conditions, the SZ-10 is able to take landscape shots with good colour and sport mode is able to capture the water in the air. Although the subject looks a little red, the camera takes good portraits without any red-eye.

Olympus SZ-10 Scene modes

Below are some images using the full 18x optical zoom lens. The first image was taken using High-speed shooting to capture the batsmens movements. The other images were taken using iAuto mode.

Olympus SZ-10 Sample Photos

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review: Panoramic 2 | 1/2000 sec | f/9.3 | 5.0 mm | ISO 640
Panoramic | 1/2000 sec | f/9.3 | 5.0 mm | ISO 640

There were no white-balance issues during testing. Under our studio lights the camera coped well with the AWB just having a slight orange cast in the image under the incandescent lights, with the incandescent preset giving the best image. The AWB has worked perfectly under the fluorescent lights, which a magenta cast in the image when using the fluorescent preset.

Olympus SZ-10 White-balance test images

There are eight creative digital filters which can be applied during shooting, seven of which can be used during video recording.

Olympus SZ-10 Digital filters

Video Mode

The Olympus SZ-10 shoots videos at 720p HD but doesn't allow the use of optical zoom during recording, when sound recording is also active, which is a shame, but you can use digital zoom. The magic filters available during video recording are Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish Eye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk and Watercolour.

Value For Money

The Olympus SZ-10 is available for around £148.99. Other cameras with an 18x optical zoom lens are the Nikon Coolpix S9100 (12.1 megapixels, £224.99), Fujifilm FinePix S2950 (14 megapixels, £136.99) and the Samsung WB700 (14.2 megapixels, £170.00) The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 (14.1 megapixel, £248.99) and Leica V-Lux 30 (14.1 megapixels, £549.99) both have 16x optical zoom but cost more, especially the Leica.

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Verdict

Using the SZ-10 is a good experience, with easy to use menus and rubber grips to help hold the camera steady. Image quality is good, although noise does significantly effect images after ISO 400, but the 10 fps shooting means you can take some pleasing pictures of fast moving objects, even though image size is limited to 3 megapixels. If you like taking close-up pictures, you won't be disappointed as Super Macro mode means you can shoot from just 1cm away. You can shoot 720p HD videos, with the use of Magic Filters, but it is frustrating to have a camera with so much zoom, yet it isn't available for movie recording when you are also recording sound.

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Digital Camera Review:
The Olympus SZ-10 is an easy to use camera, with good image quality, at a very reasonable price.

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Pros

Rubber grips on front and back
Minimum focus distance of just 1cm
High-speed shooting at 10 fps
Good detail in images

Olympus SZ-10 Super Zoom Cons

Lots of noise in images after ISO 400
No optical zoom with sound in videos


Olympus SZ-10 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.1 - f/4.4
35mm equivalent28mm - 504mm
Optical Zoom18x
Image Sensor
Pixels14Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4288
Pixels (H)3216
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
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 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPSNo Data
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLI-50B
Battery Life (CIPA rating)No Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsLI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery, F-2AC AC Adapter, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Handstrap, Instruction Manual, World Wide Warranty Card, Image Management Software

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Photographs taken using the Olympus SZ-10

Candle lightNot a wood pigeonOne in the eyeKestrelBloomFairy talesReflections 2ReflectionsHeads uproundy wayWater falls

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BendTheLight Avatar
6 Aug 2011 11:55AM
I won one of these in a competition. i took it on holiday, and while it won't replace my dSLR, it is a great carry-anywhere camera.

I struggled with zooming in significantly, but at closer shots and normal shots it was great! And the macro modes were great, too.

Here is a link to a set of images taken with it.

Olympus SZ10 photos
tomfrom66 Avatar
1 Sep 2011 12:46PM
This camera was a bit too light for me to keep a firm grip on when shooting.

Pity, it has good spec, and I have always liked Olympus cameras.

The lack of sound on video never bothered me, but it come with the marque.
BendTheLight Avatar
1 Sep 2011 2:54PM
There IS sound on the video...You just had to turn it up with the dial when it was playing...
Fairy Avatar
Fairy 11 2 Australia
18 Apr 2012 11:35AM
hey there bend the light, wanting to get a good first camera and read up on this one alot do you think this is a good choice of camera? Or did you find to many problems with it?

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