Olympus SZ-31MR long-zoom gets a touch more intuitive


posted Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:25 AM EDT

Olympus' SZ-31MR digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus Imaging America Inc. Click for our Olympus SZ-31MR preview!When we reviewed Olympus' SZ-30MR digital camera last year, we praised its handsome design aesthetic, and its swift performance. The followup Olympus SZ-31MR retains both features, and adds a touch-screen overlay on the LCD panel that aims to make it more intuitive to use.

The body of the SZ-31MR is just slightly tidier than that of its predecessor, thanks to the removal of one control, and the relocation of another. The Menu button is gone, it's functionality taken over by the LCD touchscreen. The flash release lever, meanwhile, jumps from the side of the lens barrel to the top of the camera body, immediately adjacent to the flash.

In most areas, the SZ-31MR's feature set is quite similar to its predecessor. It's still based around a 16 megapixel backside illuminated CMOS image sensor, and still has a 24x optical zoom lens. The LCD panel is still a relatively high-res 3.0-inch unit. Burst shooting is still possible at ten frames per second, and there's still 1080p movie capture.

There are other subtle tweaks here and there, but you have to look for them. The SZ-31MR now supports high-speed UHS-I SD cards, and there's now an incredibly swift reduced-res burst mode, offering 60 frames per second at three megapixel resolution.  Olympus has added a new Backlight HDR mode for high dynamic range shooting, as well as several new art filter effects.

Available in silver or black, the Olympus SZ-31MR ships from late April 2012, priced at around US$400. In all, it looks to be an interesting upgrade to a camera that we found to offer an interesting option for folks who didn't need vast print sizes. More details in our Olympus SZ-31MR preview.

Press Release

New Olympus SZ-31MR IHS Digital Camera Gets You So Close To The Action, You Can Almost Touch It

 iHS Technology, High-Resolution Touch LCD, and 24x Zoom Extends the Power and Performance of the Olympus Long Zoom Line

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., February 7, 2012 – The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS camera packs incredible power and performance into a single, compact and lightweight body thanks to new enhancements to the popular Long Zoom line. Like its predecessor, the SZ-31MR iHS incorporates revolutionary Multi-Recording functionality that simultaneously captures 1080p HD Video and 16-Megapixel still images without missing a frame. But the innovative Olympus SZ-31MR iHS goes further by combining an outstanding 24x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom Lens (25-600 mm zoom equivalent in 35-mm format) with a new touch panel LCD and powerful new iHS (Intelligent, High-Sensitivity and High-Speed) technologies that capture excellent images and videos in the most challenging backlit and low light conditions.

New iHS technology achieves consistently sharp and vivid images in any situation. iHS draws on the camera’s 16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and two separate TruePic V image processors, originally developed for DSLR cameras, to dramatically improve low-light performance, speed up camera response time, enhance scene and subject recognition and double zoom magnification without sacrificing image quality. Combined with High-Speed Sequential Shooting (10 frames-per-second) and high-speed autofocus, iHS reduces picture noise and enhances resolution and color gradation despite fast-moving subjects, night scenes and other tricky shots.

Thanks to the ingenious Multi-Recording feature that enables users to combine various photo and video recording modes simultaneously, you’ll never have to choose between capturing 1080p Full HD Videos or still images again. A simple tap on the LCD screen captures a photo while you’re recording video – all without interrupting your movie making.

The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS brings you close to your subjects with its lens, and while you can’t physically touch them from afar, the camera‘s touch-sensitive, 3.0-inch 920,000-dot LCD display helps you effortlessly capture and display images, change camera focus, shutter speed and zoom, or navigate the Live Guide controls by simply touching the screen. Whether you’re trying to capture your child’s first time at bat from a distant bleacher seat or zooming in on a delicate wildlife subject unaware of your presence, the action will feel so close, you can almost touch it.

Multi Motion Movie IS (Image Stabilization for video) and Dual Image Stabilization (for still images) all but eliminate blur, even when you’re moving and shooting at the same time. Hand-Held Starlight Mode enables you to shoot blur-free, beautiful night scenes while holding the camera in your hands and without a tripod.

Twelve Magic Art Filters power your creativity by adding a whole range of special effects to both your images and videos directly in the camera. The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS offers three new Magic Art Filters. Reflection takes the image and duplicates it across a horizontal or vertical plane of symmetry creating powerful illusions, Fragmented turns an image into a photo composed of multiple tiles, similar to puzzle pieces, and Dramatic partially changes the contrast of the image for a vividly surreal look.

When you’re back from your adventures, enjoy Full HD Video and HDMI control in broadcast-quality 1080p when played back on an HDTV. The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS also makes photo slideshows even more entertaining by incorporating music and transition effects.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS will be available in late April and ships with a Strap, USB Cable, USB-to-AC Adapter (F-2AC), Lithium-Ion Battery (LI-50B), Quick Start Guide, A/V Cable, Instruction Manual on CD-ROM, a software CD-ROM including [ib] (Windows) and OLYMPUS Viewer 2 (Win/Mac), and a Warranty Card.

Estimated Street Price: $399.99 (Available in Silver and Black)

For a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website: http://olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/product.asp?product=1593

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