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Gear Reviews

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Olympus SZ-20 Front



from Olympus

Olympus SZ-20


Photo answers rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

If you’re looking for a perfect travel companion that’s not going to leave a hole or even a bulge in your pocket, then the 16MP Olympus SZ-20 has your name on it.

If you’re in the market for a compact camera that will sit neatly in your pocket but still offer an impressive specification and feature-packed performance, then you’ll probably be looking around the £300 price point. Not an unreasonable assumption, but the Olympus SZ-20, at just £160, could easily slip through your net. With a great resolution, long zoom and impressive set of features, this is a gem of a budget travel companion...

Considering this camera measures just 102.4x64mm with a depth of a mere 30.4mm, we were really surprised to discover that it manages to contain a 12.5x optical zoom. The zoom delivers the 35mm equivalent range of 24-300mm, which is rather impressive to say the least. The features expand well beyond the zoom though, as the SZ-20 has a backlit CMOS 16MP sensor, can shoot 7fps and has Full HD video. If that’s not enough to get you excited, then the easy to use Smart Panorama mode, along with a wealth of further creative shooting options, surely will. What’s especially interesting is that the majority of the Magic Filters that create effects like Pin Hole, Drawing and Punk (turns everything pink) can be used in both still and video capture. Another rather unusual feature is a 3D stills photo capture mode. This is designed to be played back on a compatible 3DTV and it’s achieved without the need for a 3D lens. The camera simply uses two images to create a 3D file from. The first image is ghosted onto the screen, allowing you to line up the second image in the correct place to achieve a 3D effect.

This compact is a real joy to use. The 3in LCD screen is wonderfully clear, boasting great menus and intuitive controls. The zoom control is very responsive and there’s a mechanical image stabiliser to keep things steady. The shooting modes are very creative. This is a point-and-shoot camera, but it’s packed with fun and intelligent tools. Focusing is achieved through a contrast AF system, which also provides real-time autofocus with HD video. It’s fast and responsive in both still and video capture modes. Despite the high pixel count, the images do lack detail at the long end of the zoom, yet for close-up work the detail is excellent. Exposure is very accurate and the camera achieves accurate colour reproduction. It’s best not to use the zoom when capturing video though, as the noise of the motor is recorded. Considering the budget price, the performance is actually quite good.

Final verdict
The more we used this camera, the more we liked it. The zoom is really useful and the HD video will prove very popular too, and if you like to play with creative tools in-camera there are plenty here to keep you busy. This is a point-and-shoot camera with some really cool features. The Panorama feature is so easy to use, and you get instant results. The same applies to the Magic modes, and it’s all included for just £160 – the Olympus SZ-20 is a real bargain!

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