Most extreme-zoom cameras are a little bulky, but reviewers say the svelte Olympus SZ-30MR slips easily into a coat pocket or purse -- even with its impressive 24x zoom lens. With that lens retracted, the Olympus measures about an inch and a half thick and about 8 ounces, with so many thoughtful touches -- a comfortable hand grip, eyelet wrist strap, a pretty sheen to the body -- that Imaging-Resource.com says it deserves a design award. The shiny body can cause reflections in glass windows in your shots, though.
The Olympus SZ-30MR can shoot full HD video, and the zoom works while shooting. A good image stabilizer keeps things fairly steady, and a speedy burst rate (7 frames per second full-resolution, or 15 fps lower resolution) can capture fast action. One minor drawback is that it doesn't offer much manual control, and common controls tend to be buried several clicks within the menu. A more serious problem in some tests is the image quality from the 16-megapixel sensor: It's OK for small prints, but over-eager noise suppression kills up-close detail in tests at Imaging-Resource.com and PhotographyBlog.com.
We found the most thorough, critical reviews of the Olympus SZ-30MR at two professional photography sites, Imaging-Resource.com and PhotographyBlog.com. Steves-Digicams.com usually doesn't pull any punches, either, but testers here find little to criticize with the Olympus. ConsumerReports.org and its British counterpart, Which? magazine, both include the Olympus SZ-30MR in their objective comparison tests of digital cameras. Several owners have already posted reviews of this new camera at Amazon.com.
Despite its exquisite design and other good points, the Olympus SZ-30MR's image quality is disappointing enough to keep it from being recommended here. However, if you don't crop or make big prints, testers say, you probably won't notice most of the problems.
Review: Olympus SZ-30MR, Mike Pasini, Stephanie Boozer, Shawn Barnett and Zig Weidelich, Sept. 20, 2011
The Olympus SZ-30MR packs a terrific zoom into an unbelievably tiny body, Zoltan Arva-Toth concludes. Heavy-handed noise reduction causes image quality problems, but they're not really visible unless you look closely or print large.
Review: Olympus SZ-30MR Review, Zoltan Arva-Toth, Aug. 9, 2011
Testers here have very few complaints about the Olympus SZ-30MR. Even image quality -- which other sources find fault with -- looks basically "pleasing," editors here say.
Review: Olympus SZ-30MR Review, Editors of Steves-Digicams.com, Sept. 8, 2011
The Olympus SZ-30MR is one of 27 ultra-zoom cameras tested here. Editors judge image and video quality, ease of use, versatility and more before picking the best buys.
Review: Digital Cameras, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
5. Which? magazine
This British consumer publication tests 285 digital cameras, including the Olympus SZ-30MR and some other current U.S. ultra-zoom cameras. Cameras are scored on 13 measures of photo and video quality and usability, and then editors rank them from best to worst.
Review: Digital Cameras, Editors of Which? magazine
About half of the dozen or so owners who review the Olympus SZ-30MR here give it a perfect 5 stars, but a few complain that photos are shaky, fuzzy or not colored correctly.
Review: Olympus SZ30 16 MP Digital Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com