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Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Olympus SZ-31MR, a travel-zoom compact digital camera, with 24x zoom and 16 megapixel sensor.

| Olympus SZ-31MR in Compact Cameras
Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review: Olympus Sz-31mr 5

The Olympus SZ-31MR is a digital compact camera, designed for travellers, with a 24x optical zoom lens and 16 megapixel sensor. It is available in silver and black for £264.95.

Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review: Olympus Sz-31mr 3

Olympus SZ-31MR Features

The SZ-31MR has a 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and 2 image processors to improve performance in low-light, speed up the camera response and enhance scene and subject recognition. There is a 24x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 25-600mm, as well as Super-resolution zoom.

Shooting modes available are iAuto, 17 scene modes (including Handheld Starlight, 3D Photo and Pet Detection), Beauty, Panorama, Magic Filters and Multi-recording. There are also various high-speed continuous shooting modes.

Videos are recorded at full 1080p HD, with optical zoom available and Movie IS to reduce shake. The SZ-31MR can also take pictures at the same time as movie recording, as well as take a photo with a movie clip.

Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review: Olympus Sz-31mr 6

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
  • 24x optical zoom (35mm equiv: 25-600mm)
  • Dual Image Stabilisation
  • 3.0 inch 920,000 dot touch panel LCD screen
  • Smart Panorama
  • 1080 full HD movie recording and HDMI Control
  • ISO 80-6400
  • 3cm minimum focusing distance
  • Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
  • HDR Backlight Adjustment
  • Available in brown and black
Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review: Olympus Sz-31mr 7

Olympus SZ-31MR Handling

The most noticeable feature on the body of the camera is the chunky grip which makes it very easy to hold the camera, with a rubber grip for your right hand thumb on the back. If you've used a recent Olympus compact camera, you'll be used to the familiar menu layout, with basic shooting options, such as ISO, self-timer, white-balance etc. down the right hand side of the screen.

You can set the focus point of the camera using the touchscreen, with Live Guide also available which allows you to change colour saturation, brightness, and image colour (warm to cold). There aren't many other buttons on the camera, with a rotating d-pad and a dedicated movie record button on the rear and mode dial on the top.

The LCD screen is bright and clear to see in most lighting conditions. Olympus haven't provided a CIPA rating for the battery, but during testing we were able to take over 400 shots. We tested the cameras 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 Response   0.125 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.35 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.5 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.4 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   1.8 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.0 seconds
Sequential shooting 1
  2.1 fps
Sequential shooting 2   7.3 fps
High-speed 1
  16.7 fps
High-speed 2
  60 fps

Both sequential shooting modes record at full 16 megapixel resolution, with the high-speed modes recording at 3 megapixels, although the camera takes a little time to process the pictures.

Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review: Olympus Sz-31mr 8

Olympus SZ-31MR Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.

Olympus SZ-31MR Sample Photos

Sample Photos - In landscape mode, the camera is capable of excellent colour reproduction, with superb blues and greens. Portraits are free of red-eye when using the flash but skin-tones aren't the best. Sport mode has been used to gain a fast shutter speed to capture the water drops. The last example was taken using pet detection mode, which automatically activates the shutter when a pets face is detected.

Olympus SZ-31MR Lens test images

Lens Performance - The SZ-31MR delivers well exposed images, with excellent colour reproduction and purple fringing barely noticeable. Detail is good in the centre of the images, but they are much softer in the corners. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 3cm, which allows you to get close enough to take a decent macro shot with plenty of detail.

Olympus SZ-31MR ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Images are free of noise at ISO 80, with a very slight amount appearing at ISO 100, with a little more at ISO 200, then ISO 400. ISO 800 causes images to become slightly softer with small amounts of detail being lost. This loss of detail and sharpness continues through ISO 1600 and IS 3200. There is lots of detail lost at ISO 6400, with a very soft image produced. This highest ISO setting is best avoided, unless your images are to be resized for sharing on the web.

Olympus SZ-31MR White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent studio lights, the AWB preset has a slight orange cast, with the incandescent preset taking the better image. This is reversed under the fluorescent lights, with the AWB preset taking a good image, with the fluorescent preset having a very slight cast.

Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review: 180 Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/3.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 80
180 Panorama | 1/800 sec | f/3.0 | 4.5 mm | ISO 80

Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review: 360 Panorama | 1/500 sec | f/8.7 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100
360 Panorama | 1/500 sec | f/8.7 | 4.5 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - The SZ-31MR takes good panoramas, although if you view them at full size you can see some ghosting on occassion where the images haven't aligned perfectly.

Olympus SZ-31MR Other sample images

Olympus SZ-31MR Digital filters

Digital Filters - As you'd expect to see on an Olympus compact, there are a range of magic filters available to take some creative pictures, the dramatic filter is particularly impressive, particularly on a cloudy day.

Video - Below is a video shot at full 1080p HD with stereo sound. Optical zoom is available during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page.

Value For Money

The Olympus SZ-31MR is available for £264.95. Other cameras with a similar feature set include the Pentax Optio VS20 (£164, 20x zoom, 16 megapixels), Nikon Coolpix L310 (£199, 21x zoom, 14 megapixels), Canon PowerShot SX260 HS (£266, 20x zoom, 12.1 megapixels), Fujifilm FinePix F770 EXR (£279, 20x zoom 16 megapixels), Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 (£300, 20x zoom, 14 megapixels) and Sony Cybershot HX20V (£379, 20x zoom, 18.2 megapixels).

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Olympus SZ-31MR Verdict

There are a few cameras on the market with a similar zoom level, but not as many that are as small the SZ-31MR. It is an ideal option if you are looking for a compact camera to take on your holidays. Images have excellent colour reproduction, except it doesn't cope well at taking portrait shots. It has a decent battery life, fast high-speed shooting and full 1080p HD video recording as well as a number of other useful features.

  Olympus SZ-31MR Digital Compact Camera Review:
  The Olympus SZ-31MR packs plenty of zoom into a compact body, making it and ideal camera for travel photography.

Olympus SZ-31MR Pros

Lots of zoom in compact body
Easy to grip
Full 1080p video recording
Decent battery life
Fast high-speed shooting
Focus point can be set via the touch screen
Excellent colour reproduction

Olympus SZ-31MR Cons

Images are soft in corners and edges
Portraits aren't the best
No rubber grip on the front


Olympus SZ-31MR Specifications

Max Aperturef/3 - f/6.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 600mm
Optical Zoom24x
Image Sensor
Pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution920,000
Touch ScreenYes
Min Focus3cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1700sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Spot
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity80 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPSNo Data
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)No Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsLI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery, LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Hand Strap, Image Management Software

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Photographs taken using the Olympus SZ-31MR

Countryside At DawnMolly and Cara playing,Cows At DawnTHE BOATMACTHE SLURRY TANKER SELFIELAND ROVER DEFENDER CABFAMILYJumping dog, floating girlTHE CEMETERYCome into my parlourTHE LAST OF CARA

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