Olympus SH-21 review

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

Olympus SH-21
Can 16MP and Full HD video recording make up for a noisy startup?

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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.