Olympus SZ-31MR Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

16 Megapixels    24x Zoom

Dimensions: 106.3 x 69.2 x 39.7mm    Weight: 244g

Good Points: Ease of use, size to zoom ratio, stereo sound, fast burst mode

Bad Points: No manual exposure controls


Olympus SZ-31MR Shutter Lag Rating par Ease of Use par Camera Name Rating

Overview

The Olympus SZ-31MR is a relatively small digital camera with a lot of zoom power (24x). It has 16 megapixels. It is aimed at someone who is looking for a lot of zoom power in a camera that is small enough to carry around easily.

Other key features include High Definition Movies, stereo sound a burst mode that can shoot at up to 10 frames per second and a metal body.

Compared with other digital cameras with this amount of zoom the SZ-31MR has the following:

Plus Points

  • High resolution LCD screen
  • Full High Definition Movies
  • Stereo sound
  • Metal body
  • USB battery charging
  • 10 frames per second
  • Compatible with Eye-Fi memory cards
  • Image Stabilisation for movies as well as stills
  • Take a still photo while shooting a movie
  • Set focus point by touching screen

Negative Points

  • No manual exposure controls

Why Buy the Olympus SZ-31MR

The SZ-MR31 offers a few different features to other digital cameras offering longer lenses in a smaller body.

Features

Megapixels and Zoom

The SZ-31MR has 16 megapixels and a 24x zoom lens. The lens has a focal length equivalent to 25 - 600mm in 35mm format. You can also use a feature called Super Resolution Zoom. This increases the amount of zoom available to 48x, but does decrease the quality of your photos. The decrease in quality should not matter for sharing photos on the Internet or for small prints, but anything larger and you may start to notice it.

Memory Cards

Images can be recorded on SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. The SZ-31MR is also compatible with Eye-Fi memory cards. These give you Wi-Fi compatibility with other devices.

Batteries

A lithium ion battery provides power. For recharging you have the option of plugging into a wall socket or connecting the SZ-31MR to a computer via a USB terminal.

Movie Mode

You can shoot Full High Definition Movies. Stereo sound can be recorded with a movie clip.

Multi Recording

Multi recording means you can take still pictures while shooting a movie. The MR in the camera name stands for Multi Recording.

LCD Screen

The LCD screen is 3 inches in size. The screen is made up of 921,000 dots. This is a much higher resolution than the standard 230,000 dots that most LCD screens have.

Scene Modes

Olympus have equipped the SZ-31MR with 17 scene modes. These are: Portrait, Landscape, Hand-held Starlight, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Pet (cat), Pet (dog), 3D and Backlight HDR.

Macro Mode

For close up photos you can focus from 3cm away from your subject.

High Speed Shooting

This camera is capable of shooting at a rate of 10 frames per second at the full resolution of 16 megapixels. It can capture up to 12 shots in a burst. There is also a lower speed mode that can record up to 200 shots at a speed of 2.5 frames per second.

Image Stabilisation

Image Stabilisation has been built in to help minimise any unwanted blur in your photos. This works in movie mode too.

Touch Screen Auto Focus

You can set the position in the scene you want the camera to focus on by touching the screen.

Image Quality

Picture Quality Summary

The SZ-31MR is up against some impressive digital cameras in this category. Picture quality is good on the whole. The only disappointment came during the second test when the lens is zoomed right out to photograph a wide scene.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 1

Most of the challenges thrown up this this test are handled well. Overall sharpness levels are very good with just a slight fall off on the right hand side. Noise levels are controlled well in areas of light shade. The camera does its best to handle the strong sunlight that is shining down on the boats and manages to show some detail in the lightest areas.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 2

This is the test where the camera struggles. It finds focusing difficult. You may not be able to see this looking at the test shots on screen. So as long as you are sharing photos on the Internet or making small prints this is unlikely to be a big deal to you. The loss of sharpness is likely to become more apparent when you make larger prints. Therefore, you may find yourself restricted in print sizes when you take pictures with the zoom not being used.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 3

With the zoom fully extended the camera performs much better. Sharpness levels are back to where they should be. There is a touch of purple fringing. This is where a thin purple line is added to the edges of some subjects. Unless you are looking at full size images it is not to the level where you are likely to notice it.

Outdoor Building

As with the first test photo this shot is pin sharp across most of the shot. Again there is a very slight fall off as you move towards the right hand edge of the photo.

Outdoor Portrait

The SZ-31MR produces a fairly standard outdoor portrait. The important points are that focusing is sharp and there is some colour in the skin tones. A bit of extra warmth would help even more.

Indoor Portrait With Flash

Lighting levels produced by the camera are more or less perfect. Enough light is produced to reach the corners of the shot, while the lighting is also subtle enough to ensure colour shows in the face.

Indoor Portrait Without Flash

This is a fair effort. You should be able to use the SZ-31MR indoors without flash as long as lighting levels are quite good. This means you will probably need to be relatively near a window on a bright day.

Macro

Focusing on the main subject is very sharp indeed. Sharpness in the remainder of the picture falls away to help your main subject stand out.

Colours

The colours produced by the SZ-31MR have a bit more snap to them than those taken with some cheaper Olympus digital cameras. Although the colours are more vivid this is not overdone and the colours have a natural look to them.

Noise

Noise is controlled well. It is only likely to show in your photos when lighting levels drop.

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Panasonic DMC FZ48 Rating 87/100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ48 is very hard to beat. It is up against some stiff competition, but the combination of features, image quality and pricing makes it the outstanding model in its category. When it comes to picture quality it has few weaknesses and its length of lens means it can cope with more or less any photo opportunity.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FZ48 Review

Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Rating 86/100

The Fuji Finepix HS30EXR does offer a number of differences to rival Super Zoom or Bridge digital cameras. The main difference is the twisting lens barrel, but there are other handling aspects that make it that bit closer to a Digital SLR experience. In terms of features Fuji have packed in just about everything they can think of. Picture quality compares well against rival cameras and shutter response times are also impressive. This makes this camera a very attractive proposition if you are looking for a fully featured camera with a great deal of zoom power.

Read Review: Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Review

Canon Powershot SX40 HS Rating 85/100

Your decision to buy the Canon Powershot SX40 HS is likely to be based on whether or not you prefer the simplicity and lower price of a digital camera with a fixed lens or whether you prefer the ultimate flexibility of a Digital SLR. If you prefer a camera where one lens covers just about all photo opportunities then the Powershot SX40 HS is hard to beat. There are no real issues with picture quality and it has a set of features that few other models can match. Recommended.

Read Review: Canon Powershot SX40 HS Review

Related Pages

Olympus SZ-31MR Specification

Olympus SZ-31MR Sample Images

Digital Camera Reviews

Olympus Digital Cameras

Review Date

Review Date: August 2012

Verdict

The Olympus SZ-MR31 is up against some pretty stiff competition in this category. It appears to be a good camera, but it does not really stand out, especially at the price. It is most likely to appeal to you if you are looking for a camera with extra lens power, but is quite easy to use.

Ratings

Ease of Use:
Features:
Movie Mode:
Build Quality:
Colours:

8
8
9
8
8

Photo Quality:
Style:
Indoors:
Macro:
Value for Money:

Total:

8
8
8
8
8

81

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:
Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

16
24x
3 inches
106.3 x 69.2 x 39.7mm
244g
3cm
Yes
No
Lithium Ion
SD / SDHC / SDXC

Shutter Lag Times

Single Shot:
Five Shots:
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:

0.32 seconds
7.59 seconds
0.38 seconds
7.69 seconds
2.79 seconds

Shutter Lag Table

Handling

General Handling

Compared with smaller, pocket sized cameras the extra room makes a difference when it comes to holding the camera. Olympus have included a grip area on the front. The larger size and the grip mean you can take a good hold and steady the camera for each shot you take. There is plenty of room on the back to place your thumb.

Flash Positioning

The flash unit pops up on top of the camera. This keeps it out the way of any fingers that could block out light.

LCD Screen Quality

The higher resolution of the screen helps to add a bit if extra clarity compared to more basic digital cameras.

Turn on Time and Shutter Delay

Shutter delay times are good. Even if you do not switch the camera into burst mode it is pretty responsive if you want to fire off a short burst of photos. Another plus point is that there is very little difference in response times when flash is turned on.

Design and Build Quality

This camera has a matt finish and has a solid feel in the hand. The grip area on the front gives it the look of a mini sized Digital SLR. It feels like the build quality is good.

Camera Controls

On the top of the camera are the on / off button, the shutter button, zoom ring, main control dial and a switch to make the flash unit pop up.

The back of the camera has buttons to shoot a movie, review images, access the menu system and confirm a setting.

Product Shots

Front View

Olympus SZ-31MR Front View

Back View

Olympus SZ-31MR Back View

Top View

Olympus SZ-31MR Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

menu 3 menu 4