Olympus SZ-20 review

We look under the hood of Olympus's latest super-zoom

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On the whole, and taking into consideration its relatively avoidable price tag – the SZ-20 does a stellar job of metering and correctly exposing throughout the range of shooting modes with only a few exceptions.

When shooting in the Panorama mode we found it was best to wait for even light to flood the vista before recording to ensure a well-exposed result, as shooting in changing or strong light upset the meter and the images produced (or parts of the image) were often grossly over or underexposed. That said shooting in auto, Program and the majority of scene modes provided strong results illustrating correct colour values, strong definition of detail and well exposed scenes. As mentioned colour values were particularly impressive, with the camera's white balance turning in a strong performance.

SZ 20 in silver

Photographing scenes exhibiting a higher level of contrast failed to produce evidence of purple fringing and certainly nothing worse than its rivals offer. Chromatic aberrations and vignetting also failed to be an issue and on the whole the compact's image stabilisation performed adequately well. The AF system refused to throw up any major problems, however in macro mode photographers need to be at least 10cm from their subject which may disappoint those intent on photographing insects and the like.

Details and colour representation remain unadulterated through the sensitivity scale up to ISO 400, and at this level only the subtlest of tale-tell noise signs begin to factor into the scene. At ISO 800 edges become only slightly less defined with details gently softening, and at ISO 1600 we see a graduated extension of the problem. That said the image quality at this level is arguably still usable and in a sense is a great deal more attractive than that produced by many of its peers. At ISO 3200 details are considerably more blurred, however we are greatly impressed to note that the images aren't plagued with coloured pixels and that the colour values remain strong and lifelike.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16 Megapixel
Wide AngleNo
Product FamilySZ
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationDigital, Optical
Optical Zoom12.5x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameOlympus
FeaturesFace Detection, Continuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)186 g
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.16 mm x 4.62 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height64 mm
Width102.4 mm
Depth30.4 mm
Product SeriesSZ
Focal Length4.20 mm to 52.50 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelSZ-20
Product NameSZ-20 Compact Camera
Exposure Control

Program AE

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberN4305992
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

Enhanced performance beyond the still image. Like every SZ Series compact, the SZ-20 is packed with Olympus technology that's seriously state-of-the-art, like the backlit CMOS sensor for low-noise shots in poor light and an impressive 12.5x super wide optical zoom. With 1080p Full HD Movie recording and 16 Megapixels, it's the must-have model for anyone who wants to live and shoot 24/7 - in perfect, pixel-rich quality, no compromises required. What's more the SZ-20 features a whole raft of innovations - from Smart Panorama, 3D still photo shooting, Eye-Fi card compatibility for automatic wireless uploading of images to a website or PC to a choice of eight Magic Filters, seven of which work with both Full HD movies and stills. For a camera in this category, that's yet another unique feature.

Package Contents
  • SZ-20 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
  • CD-ROM
Limited Warranty2 Year