Top positive review
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Superb Digital Camera Can Do it All
on October 12, 2012
My perspectives on the Olympus SZ-12 camera derive from my extensive photographic experience--mostly and formerly with 35-mm technologies (last century)--in photographing biological and scientific subjects; wild plants, vegetation communities, etc. I am an accomplished photographer of such subjects.
In summary, the Olympus SZ-12 digital camera is unsurpassed in almost every regard. It is relatively inexpensive, it is feature-packed (and the features actually function well), it is small, and the camera is easy to use. It is superbly designed. For those who wish to utilize advanced telephoto lenses (this camera has a 35-mm equivalent 600mm lens--which is a gigantic telephoto), along with wide-angle shots (this camera has a 35-mm equivalent 25mm lens, which is a wonderfully broad wide-angle, seldom found on cameras of this size and price), the lens capabilities, alone, set this camera apart.
But more important than the long telephoto lens is the camera's dual image stabilization system, which works extremely well. I am able to take clear, unblurred telephoto closeups in rather low light, and often hand-held. Of course, it's always best to use a tripod, or at least prop the arm and camera against a tree or solid object before snapping a long telephoto shot, to minimize image motion at high magnifications. But this camera allows you to grab close-in telephotos at long lens lengths with remarkable clarity. In bright overcast and sunny clear skies, hand-held full length telephotos turn out exceptionally well. Now perhaps I'm better at keeping the camera fixed and still when snapping long telephoto shots, as I'm a very good rifle marksman. Still, the image stabilization system of this camera is superb.
And it also allows the taking of normal, non-telephoto shots in lower light conditions, hand-held. The combination of wide angle to long telephoto, coupled with its superb image stabilization systems allow the taking of photos in reduced light or distant placements that few other cameras can--and no other camera matches these capabilities at the modest price of the Olympus SZ-12. The wide angle and telephoto capabilities are unmatched.
I like the camera controls layout. They are about as intuitive as possible. A real problem I've encountered on other cameras is a confusion between still photography and movie photography controls. On some other digital cameras I've used, I've inadvertently begun to shoot a video sequence, when I thought I was taking my preferred still shot. Very frustrating. Not so with this Olympus, where the video start button is clearly marked (different, bright color) and located separately from the still shot controls. Well designed. Thank you, Olympus. When I want to shoot some video, I can easily press the right key. Otherwise, I never inadvertently touch it.
All the other features and controls are similar to other digital cameras in the $200 price range. No, the camera does not shoot RAW images, only JPEG. But at 14MB, images are finely detailed. Color renditions are superb. I have not used the flash feature, so I have no comment on its functionality--but I do like the ease with which automatic flash can be turned and left off.
Frankly, this little wonder has all the capabilities of the three 35-mm single lens reflex cameras I used to use to shoot wildlife and nature photos in my business (as a biologist). Now, with a single small camera kept in a cheap little nylon case, I can shoot macro closeups without any supplemental lens, and turn in an instant and shoot a flying bald eagle two hundred yards away, bringing her right into the image. With the super-macro feature, I can quickly and easily fill a frame with a full-sized bee or wasp, several feet away. The images are quickly recorded on the card, which is instantly and easily retrieved and plugged into the photo-card shot on my computer for instant download.
For those who wish only to point and shoot, or for those more experienced with variable zoom lens and atypical photographic subjects, this camera can't be beat.