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Olympus SZ-31MR iHS Overview

Posted: 02/08/2012

Do you like the idea of packing light when you're leaving on a weekend trip, but you're scared you'll miss that unexpected shot if you don't bring absolutely every lens you own? Perhaps you've been stuck in the nosebleed seats at the ball game, wishing you could tell which of those distant specks apart. It's problems like these that Olympus aims to solve with the bewilderingly-named SZ-31MR iHS.

It's styling is reminiscent of an SLR, but there's no interchangeable lens here, just a mammoth 24x optical zoom. Focal lengths range from a 25mm wide angle to a see-the-whites-of-their-eyes 600mm telephoto. Maximum aperture starts from f/3.0 at wide angle, but falls to a rather dim f/6.9 by the telephoto position, but that fact is mitigated somewhat by the use of a backside illuminated CMOS sensor and true mechanical image stabilization. The latter tries to reduce blur from camera shake, by jiggling the sensor about to counteract your movements. The sensor's BSI technology, meanwhile, means it gathers more light than a standard unit would, collecting more of what makes it through the lens.

The sensor, incidentally, has a resolution of 16 megapixels. That's plenty for even relatively large print sizes, with generous cropping. And as a CMOS chip, you won't have to wait around an eternity to capture another shot--the SZ-31MR can shoot full-res frames at a very handy ten frames per second, great for those of us whose reflexes prevent us from judging the perfect moment to trip the shutter. (Just rattle off a burst, keep the good frame, and discard the rest.)

The SZ31 doesn't just capture stills, either. It's speed also shines through in a Full HD (1080p; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) high-definition video mode, as well.

Whether you're shooting stills or movies, you'll be framing at arm's length on the SZ-31's 3.0-inch LCD panel, which has a high 920,000 dot resolution. It also doubles as an input device, courtesy of a touch-sensitive overlay, providing a quick and intuitive way to make settings changes.

Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including both the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, and the higher-speed UHS types. Power comes from a proprietary lithium ion rechargeable battery pack. Connectivity options include USB data, HDMI Type-D high-def and composite standard-def video outputs, and a DC power input.

Available in silver or black, the Olympus SZ-31MR ships from late April 2012, priced at around US$400.