Customer Reviews: Olympus SZ-12 14MP Digital Camera with 24x Wide-Angle Zoom (Red) (Old Model)
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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.
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on June 19, 2012
It's absolutely remarkable how far digital cameras have come. And how much camera you can get for the money these days. And that's precisely the problem camera makers face today: it's hard to make a profit as prices drop ever lower. And, adding insult to injury, almost all of today's smartphones already have increasingly competent high res still/video cameras built in.

That's why we're seeing the traditional camera makers get into specialties and niches that the smartphone cameras can't touch (yet). Things like tough cameras that can go underwater, or, as is the case with the SZ-12 from Olympus, a very long optical zoom. Most inexpensive cameras have 3X to 5X optical zooms. The SZ-12 has 24X. That means you can get really close to far-away objects, and unlike digital zoom that multiplies the reach of most digital cameras, optical zoom results in much better and sharper pictures. And the SZ-12's rather sophisticated image stabilization works remarkably well.

The SZ-12 has other nice features, like a bright and sharp 3-inch LCD display and it can take not only those high-res 14-megapixel pictures, but also very respectable 720p HD video. That's not quite the 1080p that takes full advantage of today's large HDTVs, but you usually can hardly tell the difference between 720p and 1080p.

In terms of features, the SZ-12 has pretty much everything that some of the much more expensive Olympus cameras have (like the $350 Tough TG-810 or so). The controls are simple and easy to figure out. While the camera is described as "stunningly sleek and stylish," the SZ-12 is really an inch and a half thick, and a full 3.5 inches with the lens fully motored out. It's still very handy, though, and the film camera-like bulge on the right side makes for a good grip.

While the SZ-12 looks like it's solid metal, it's really plastic and actually feels a bit, dare I say it, on the cheapish side. And a couple of other blemishes: the battery doesn't last as long as I'd like, and the camera tends to oversaturate color.

Overall, the Olympus SZ-12 offers an awful lot for not much money, and the good greatly outweighs the few issues. I'd buy this one again.
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on November 22, 2012
Folks really push Nikon and Canon so I was a little worried about getting Olympus. (My wife liked it) I have had an Olympus dslr in the past and I can't say anything bad about it. Anyway, it is a good little camera.

24X zoom: great to have that ability but if you don't know how to use a camera pushed to 24x zoom, then don't bash the camera for it. You are not going to get great results if there isn't a bunch of light at 24x.

iauto: when you first turn the camera on, it defaults to P (program) mode which gives you full control over the settings. switch over to iauto and let the software do that for you. If you are buying this camera, you probably are looking for a point and shoot. I read a review where someone complained about bad shots and I think that might be why. The camera will stay there until you change it again.

Flash: the flash has to be flipped out manually but this isn't a bad thing. I kind of like it that way. beats trying to find it on a menu when you really want to turn off/on the flash. Just get in the habit of flipping that little switch as it is powering on and you are set.

Magic filters: kind of dumb but you have them if you want them. would be great if they were apple iPad filter quality.

Video: there is a button for that.... great idea! no fumbling through menus. The quality is good.

Display: the pictures seem a little bleached out on the little back screen but when you get them imported into picasa or some other photo management system, they look great.

14MP: I played around with the other MP settings on the camera and I really couldn't see any difference between 8 or 14 MP. Granted, all I was doing was zooming in. I wasn't printing any picture.

quick: The camera seems quick unless there is low light. in low light, the pictures take longer to shoot because the shutter has to stay open longer to gather enough light. this makes for smeary pics if you have a moving target.. This isn't specific to Olympus, just a note I wanted to throw out there.


We have had the camera for about a week now and I don't have any complaints. A great deal of the technology in Olympus's DSLR's I have found to be available on this camera. you have to get used to their interface but that is to be expected. I will update this review if we have any problems with the camera.
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on December 27, 2012
Nice compact size and I love the finger grip on the front on the right hand side. I have taken about 40 pic's with it indoors and outdoors. The pic's are very,very good and being a passenger in my roomates truck taking pic's going down the road,it stops the movement very well. I've seen a few other reviews on here that say their pic's don't turn out good and their blurry and I'm pretty sure it's just a case of not having it set on the right settings. I have taken pic's for over 30 years and the first good camera I had was the old time 35mm Film SLR Cannon AE1 Camera with interchangable lenses back in 1980 and it's all about learning the right settings for the conditions. This is an awesome little camera ! The zoom is great !

UpDate : Well finally got outside and the one thing I have noticed about the zoom is that anywhere past 20x when taking pictures of birds,rabbits ect it come's out blurry. When you look at the picture it looks ok,but when you zoom in you can see the blur. This was a major disapointment to me as I love to take animal pictures. :( ..... I tried all different setting and no matter what the blur is still there. However, if you just like regular shots and don't go past 20x then it's not bad...................................................So needless to say I'm going to be getting a different camera. Have seen good reviews on the Nikon Coolpix L820 16 MP Digital Camera with 30x Zoom. It's a fairly small camera which is what I'm looking for, so going to be getting one to see.
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on March 29, 2012
I just got this camera a few days ago. I didn't buy it online...ran across it in Walmart of all places....and it was $10 cheaper. Most stores don't even stock this camera yet. I was looking for a small pocket camera that I could carry around w/ me. This camera is a gem! I love the filters on it.....the reflection and sparkle are great. But it is a great camera in general. I've had Olympus cameras in the past and been happy with them. I wasn't sure what I wanted, but what I didn't want was to spend too much.....this camera packs so much in for the it, you won't regret it.
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on June 6, 2012
I just took this camera to England and Scotland and it was perfect!! Took some wonderful pictures with it! The Zoom is AMAZING!! Can take good pictures of things far away! Very good size as well. Not too bulky and it fit in my camera case and was easy to carry around. The picture quality was great as well! Would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good camera with a high zoom and affordable price. The only thing I wish it did was take better pictures of things moving, it came out a bit blurry.
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on January 29, 2013
My Impressions of the Olympus SZ 12 Digital Camera.

I have been looking to update my Digital Camera for some time and after quite a bit of research I opted for the Olympus SZ 12. Probably the factors that drew me to it were the small form factor, relatively low cost, and large zoom.

After a few weeks of trial and error I threw the camera in a suitcase and flew off to Maui to document a ceremony and do a little whale watching. Yep, fly or die, I will soon know if the purchase was prudent.

The short answer is that this is a good little camera, with just a few things standing between good and great.

One of my first compromises was the lack of a range finder, contrary to what they would like you to believe, those LCD's are hard to see when you get out into the bright sunlight. Not impossable but difficult was my conclusion.

I also compromised on my AA battery requirement. The Li 50B battery that came with the camera does not have particularly good life (50 or 60 pictures maybe). If you purchase one of these cameras then you should also pickup the external charger and batteries for $14.95.

Do not get taken in by the impressive zoom (24X). There is no way you are going to be able to hand hold this camera and get a good clear shot when shooting at 24X! You will however get a shot, just do not expect a lot. The Auto Focus is also very marginal when you get out at long distances.

Like the great majority of digital cameras It struggles a lot when you attempt to take pictures in low light conditions without the flash. However the flash pictures are very good.

In the automatic mode this little camera does a pretty good job of getting the correct exposure for most situations. There are an impressive number of filtered settings that are easy to use and work pretty well. Outdoors it does a pretty good job of rendering colors and produces very good results.

Ergonomically this small camera has probably one of the best designs I have ever seen. I spent some time trying to open the small rubber cover on the back of the camera until I realized it was meant to be a grip rest for my thumb. The shape of the case facilitates one hand operation.

I would recommend downloading the user manual that comes on the CD and give it a good through read. There is a lot of features in this little camera and a cruse through the manual would be helpful.

So if you are not Ansel Adams and you are looking for a good little grab shot camera you might give this camera a good long look.
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on July 6, 2012
An excelent camera for the price. Great Pictures. Buy an extra battery because you can use 2 of them in one day
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on August 12, 2012
I just got the camera and am surprised with the options in this little Jen. I had a Nikon for more $ which died just after the warranty expired. To repair it was more than to replace it - which is why I got this camera. It is a nice size - will still fit in jacket pocket and the zoom is fantastic. If you are looking for a light weight (plastic shell) camera with lots of options and excellent zoom - this is it.
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on March 22, 2013
Love the 24x wide angle zoom. the image stabilization is adequate. Size is convenient. There is some software glitch that causes it to freeze periodically. the viewscreen is still active, so you can't tell it is frozen until you try to change something or shoot a picture. Pop the battery out to reboot it. All is well.
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