Olympus SH-21 review

A compact camera with a 12.5x wide zoom lens and a 16MP backlit CMOS sensor

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Those looking for a compact, lightweight and inexpensive camera for taking on their travels could do a lot worse than the Olympus SH-21. It delivers good noise performance at high ISO sensitivities, a useful zoom range and a lightweight compact body that will easily fit into a jacket pocket or handbag.

We liked

For the price, you get a lot of camera for your money. Full HD video, a useful 12.5x zoom range, touch screen interface and a variety of automatic shooting modes should be enough to satisfy the needs of most casual holiday snappers.

We disliked

The lack of manual control options may put off more experienced photographers. The mirror-like screen coating and non-standard USB connection for charging may be enough to dissuade purchases from more casual photographers also.

Final verdict

Although experienced photographers may bemoan the lack of manual options, there are plenty of features on the Olympus SH-21 to keep casual snappers entertained, including a comprehensive range of automatic scene modes and 'Magic' creative modes.

Although the touchscreen interface may be the ideal feature for the iPhone generation, the mirror-like surface applied to the screen can obscure your view, making it difficult to compose images in bright conditions.

For a camera aimed at those who travel, the use of a non-standard USB connection for charging seems more than a little odd. If the supplied cable goes missing, you may find it difficult to pick up a spare while chasing elephants in Kenya, or a suntan in Benidorm.

Despite its flaws, the Olympus SH-21 represents a good choice for those looking for a convenient superzoom compact, especially at the relatively low price point of around £185. For the price you get a good range of features, including Full HD video recording with stereo sound and a very capable 16MP sensor.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedEye-Fi Card, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical, Digital
Optical Zoom12.5x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameOlympus
FeaturesSelf-timer, Pet Detection, Face Detection, Continuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)184 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.16 mm x 4.62 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height59.4 mm
Width105.4 mm
Depth30.6 mm
Focal Length4.20 mm to 52.50 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
External FlashNo
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelSH-21
Product NameSH-21 Compact Camera
Exposure Control

Program Automatic

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberV107010GE000
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

Rich colours, low picture noise, excellent contrast - the SH-21 is all about tremendous picture quality. The ultra-slim design ensures it never looks out of place at more sophisticated occasions and when you want to be sure to capture a one-off event like a wedding, it's good to know your camera has a 16-Megapixel Backlit CMOS sensor with the high sensitivity to perform in dim-lit interiors. For wide-angle shots, you can call on a high-grade super-wide 24-300mm lens and there's a 12.5x optical zoom for razor-sharp close-ups.

Package Contents
  • SH-21 Compact Camera
  • LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery
  • F-2AC AC Adapter
  • CB-USB6 USB Cable
  • CB-AVC3 Audio/Video Cable
  • Hand Strap
  • Instruction Manual
  • World Wide Warranty Card
  • Software Media
Limited Warranty2 Year