Olympus SZ-14 review
1/2.3in 14.0-megapixel sensor, 24.0x zoom (25-600mm equivalent), 216g
A big zoom in a slim body makes for a versatile, convenient camera, and Olympus currently holds the record with this 24x zoom model. Its lens and overall shape is shared with the pricier Olympus SZ-31MR, and we're amazed to find these features in a camera that costs just £165. The 24x zoom speaks for itself, but the design is just as welcome, with a metal body and a raised handgrip that fits securely in the hand.
The SZ14's buttons are metal too, and the navigation pad doubles as a wheel for adjusting settings. Externally, the only significant difference between the two models is that the SZ-31MR has a mode dial. On the SZ-14, pressing and turning the wheel accesses the various modes, which isn’t too much of an inconvenience.
Inevitably, there are further differences that let this camera sell at such a competitive price. It can't take photos and videos simultaneously, for instance, and video recording is limited to 720p with mono sound. Unlike many budget cameras, though, it can zoom and focus while recording. Autofocus is responsive and the lens motors made a negligible impact on the soundtrack of our test footage. Optical stabilisation was much worse than on the SZ-31MR, and was wholly incapable of keeping videos steady at the telephoto end of the zoom.
It isn’t the fastest camera around, but we can live with the 1.9-second gap between shots. Continuous mode runs at a pedestrian 1fps, but alternative modes deliver 5-megapixel shots at 5.4fps or 3-megapixel shots at 10fps.