The Olympus SZ-14 packs plenty of zoom power (24x) into a relatively compact body. Compared to other models with a long zoom lens the SZ-14 is relatively easy to use. Looking at its price it is also one of the cheapest digital cameras to offer such a long lens together with features such as High Definition movies.
Compared with other digital cameras at this price point the SZ-14 has the following:
If you are looking for a digital camera with plenty of zoom power, but you do not want to use more advanced manual exposure controls then the SZ-14 is likely to be of interest to you. This is one of the simpler digital cameras with a longer lens.
Megapixels and Zoom
The SZ-14 has 14 megapixels and a 24x zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 25 - 600mm in 35mm format. This gives you great flexibility and allows you to cover all but the most extreme photo opportunities with one camera.
The SZ-14 is compatible with SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards - note UHS speed cards are not supported. In addition you can also use Eye-Fi memory cards. These cards allow you to transfer images to a computer using Wi-Fi.
A lithium ion battery is used to provide power to the SZ-14. One advantage this camera has over many others is the fact that you can recharge the battery by connecting the camera up to a USB computer terminal. A cable is supplied with the camera to enable you to do this.
The SZ-14 is capable of shooting High Definition movies. To shoot High Definition movies you need to use SDHC or SDXC memory cards of Class 6 or higher. Movie image stabilisation is available to help minimise any blur in your video clips.
The LCD screen is 3 inches in size. The screen has a higher resolution than most digital cameras with a resolution of 460,000 pixels.
There are 16 predefined shooting modes. These are Portrait, Beauty, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Pet (cat) and Pet (dog).
In super macro mode the camera can focus from 3cm away from your subject.
3D Photo Mode
There is a mode you can use to create 3D photos. These can be played back on 3D televisions.
Picture Quality Summary
Picture quality lacks the clarity that you will find from many digital cameras in this category. The big question is what size of print are you planning to make? If you keep print size down you are unlikely to see much difference between the SZ-14 and other models.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
Starting with a plus point, the SZ-14 has managed to bring out plenty of detail in the lighter areas of the shot. In the past I have seen some Olympus digital cameras add a purple tinge to blue lines and that is the case here too.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
As with many digital cameras this shot is much sharper in the centre. Away from the centre the sharpness of the picture reduces. Vertical lines fall in slightly near the edges of the shot.
The lens also suffers quite heavily from purple fringing. This is where a purple line is added to the edge of objects where they are caught by the sun. Although this is another issue that you will only notice with larger prints it is more of a problem with this camera than with most others.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
This photo has a hazy look. This again suggests you will need to keep print sizes small to get crisp looking photos. It is not easy to explain why this has happened. It may be that when the lens is zoomed right in not enough light is captured and noise starts to cause problems.
With the lens only partially zoomed in the SZ-14 performs much better. There is a fall off in focusing as you move out to the edges of the shot, but overall the level of definition showing in the photo is much improved on the photo where the zoom lens is fully extended.
All digital cameras find it much easier to produce sharp, clear photos when the subject is closer in. That is the case here with the SZ-14 finding itself much more at home with a standard outdoor portrait in good light.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
This is one of the most successful test shots taken by the SZ-14. The camera emits just the right amount of light. This ensures there is enough light to remove any shadows, but does not wash colour from the shot. In fact there is plenty of colour showing in the skin tones.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
The definition and clarity of the shot do not quite match that when flash is used. You are likely to need plenty of light if you wish to take indoor photos without using flash.
Better quality macro shots are one of the advantages of stepping up to a higher quality digital camera. In this test the SZ-14 does very well. It manages to isolate the main subject. It achieves this by defocusing the background. This leaves you with an impressive close up shot.
There is no longer a great deal of difference in the colours produced by the various brands of digital camera. The colours on display here are well balanced and easy on the eye.
When photographing more distant subjects photos can certainly look hazy when larger prints are made. This is especially true when using the full capacity of the zoom lens.
Nikon Coolpix S9300 Rating 86/100
For a camera that is small enough to take anywhere the Nikon Coolpix S9300 has a lot of features packed into it. If you are planning to take a holiday GPS tracking will tell you where you were when a picture was taken. The length of the zoom lens also gives you plenty of scope when it comes to picture opportunities. Although there is plenty of completion in this category the picture quality on offer here combined with the features makes this camera very attractive indeed. Recommended.
Read Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review
Canon Powershot SX260 HS Rating 86/100
The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is one of the very best digital cameras in this category. In fact if you are happy to miss out on features such as 3D photography and 360 degree panoramas it is very hard to beat. It has a great set of features packed into its relatively compact body size and picture quality helps to make it stand out from the competition. Although it is one of the more expensive cameras in this field it still offers good value for money.
Read Review: Canon Powershot SX260 HS Review
Panasonic DMC SZ1 Rating 84/100
If you are looking for a simple, pocket camera that gives you some extra zoom and takes high quality snapshots the Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a very good choice. Compared to other cameras with similar features available at around the same price this camera has the edge when it comes to picture quality. It takes sharp, colourful photos and offers excellent value for money. Recommended.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC SZ1 Review
Review Date: April 2012
The Olympus SZ-14 is likely to appeal to you if you are looking for lots of lens power without paying out for one of the top of the range cameras in this sector. By dropping some of the more advanced features Olympus have kept the price down. There is no getting away from the fact that picture quality could be better. How much of an issue that will be to you depends on the size of prints you wish to make. Other than that the SZ-14 is also one of the more straight forward super zoom digital cameras.
Ease of Use:
Value for Money:
106.5 x 68.7 x 39.5mm
SD / SDHC / SDXC
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:
Although a lot smaller than a Digital SLR the SZ-14 is larger than a pocket camera. This gives you a lot more room to take a good hold of the camera. On the front there is a grip area. This helps further when it comes to holding the camera steady when you are taking a photo.
The flash unit pops up on top of the camera. This positioning adds distance between the flash unit and the lens. This can help to reduce any red eye problems in your portrait shots.
LCD Screen Quality
Whilst the resolution of the screen is twice that of more standard screens you are unlikely to notice a massive difference in viewing. One plus point about the screen is that you can see your current settings running down the side of it. This makes it very easy to change your settings.
Turn on Time and Shutter Delay
The SZ-14 produced a set of times that were a little faster than average. A single photo was timed at 0.3 seconds. Five photos took 13.39 seconds. Using flash only slows the camera slightly. A single shot with flash took 0.43 seconds while five shots took 15.03 seconds. Turn on time was a shade faster than standard at 2.49 seconds.
Design and Build Quality
The SZ-14 looks different to the majority of digital cameras. As you might expect the lens unit dominates the front of the camera with the flash unit sitting above it. The camera fits the hand well. Build quality is standard.
On the top of the camera is the on / off button, shutter button and zoom ring. On the back is a button for controlling movie making. This is followed by further buttons to review photos, access the menu and for showing help text. There is also a dial to speed up the selection of settings and a button to confirm your selection.