Olympus SZ-15 Review

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Review posted 11/12/2013

Quick Take
Pros
  • Optical zoom lens as large as 24x rarely found in this price range
  • Camera body is small enough to carry in a pocket
  • Nice to have a large zoom lens in a small camera body
  • SZ-15 moves through its full zoom range very quickly
  • Popup flash angle works pretty well for low light photos
  • Magic special effect modes are fun to use
  • Menu structure is pretty easy to use
  • Camera has very few buttons and is easy to use
  • Autofocus mechanism works pretty quickly at wide angle shooting, minimizing shutter lag problems
  • LCD doesn't suffer from significant problems with glare
  • Small right-hand grip works pretty well for shooting one-handed in wide angle shots
  • Good looking camera design
  • Battery life is pretty good
Cons
  • Image quality could be better
  • Large sharp prints aren't really possible with this camera
  • Tiny CCD image sensor struggles in low light without a flash
  • Shot to shot delays are too long and are frustrating to deal with
  • Tough to hold small camera steady when shooting at maximum zoom range, leading to some blur from camera shake
  • No full 1080p HD video mode available
  • Overall movie options are below average
  • Burst mode is very slow at full resolution
  • Limited number of advanced shooting features
  • ISO is limited to a maximum of 1600
Bottom Line
The Olympus SZ-15 isn't going to impress you with its responsiveness or with its image quality. Some sluggish situations will leave you a bit frustrated with this model from time to time. However, because so few other large zoom cameras have such a small body size in this price point, the SZ-15 is worth considering as a niche camera that fulfills a particular need you may have as a photographer. Just don't expect to make large prints because of image quality issues. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
SZ-15_RED_RIGHT.jpg
Earlier this year, Olympus announced two new members of its Stylus SZ-series; the SZ-16 iHS and the SZ-15. While very similar, the SZ-15 costs about $30 less than the SZ-16 iHS because it lacks a CMOS image sensor, Hand-held Starlight Mode, the TruePix VI image processor, and Mulit-Motion Image Stabilization (which help shooting stills in low light conditions and/or video in all conditions). 

But fret not, friends, the SZ-15 still offers some appealing features.

These include 16-megapixels of resolution, 720p HD video recording, the well regarded TruePix III+ Image Processor, 11 Magic Filters, Beauty Make-up Mode, and Smart Panorama. Beauty Make-up mode allows users to apply blush, eye shadow, and other make-ups to any photo you like. And Smart Panorama captures stunning 360-degree panoramas. All that with a 35mm zoom equivalent of 25-600mm!

Olympus SZ-15 Features
  • 16MP CCD image sensor
  • 24x optical zoom
    • 25mm wide angle
  • TruePix III+ Image Processor
  • Dual Image Stabilization
  • 720p HD Video Recording
  • 3.0-inch LCD display
  • 11 Magic Filters
  • Beauty Make-up Mode
  • Smart Panorama

Available in red, silver, or black, the Olympus SZ-15 has a MSRP of $199.99. Click our Buy button to see the most current online pricing.

What's in the box?:
  • SZ-15 camera body
  • LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery (3.7V, 925mAh)
  • F-2AC AC Adapter
  • USB Cable CB-USB8
  • Strap
  • Set-Up Manual & Instruction CD
  • Quick Start Guide

Additional Product Views
SZ-15_BLK_RIGHT.jpg
SZ-15_SLV_RIGHT.jpg
SZ-15_RED_BACK.jpg
SZ-15_SLV_TOP.jpg

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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Combo Kit Wasabi Trends Battery (2pack) and charger for Olympus LI-50B and Olympus Stylus 1010, 1020, 1030, 9000, 9010, SP-720UZ iHS, SP-800UZ, SP-810UZ, SZ-10, SZ-11, SZ-12, SZ-15, SZ-16 iHS, SZ-20, SZ-30MR, SZ-31MR iHS, Tough 6000, 6020, 8000, 8010, TG-610, TG-620 iHS, TG-630 iHS, TG-805, TG-810, TG-820 iHS, TG-830 iHS, VH-410, VH-515, VR-340, VR-350, VR-370, XZ-1, XZ-10 (Fully Decoded) Combo Kit Wasabi Trends Battery (2pack) and charger for Olympus LI-50B and Olympus Stylus 1010, 1020, 1030, 9000, 9010, SP-720UZ iHS, SP-800UZ, SP-810UZ, SZ-10, SZ-11, SZ-12, SZ-15, SZ-16 iHS, SZ-20, SZ-30MR, SZ-31MR iHS, Tough 6000, 6020, 8000, 8010, TG-610, TG-620 iHS, TG-630 iHS, TG-805, TG-810, TG-820 iHS, TG-830 iHS, VH-410, VH-515, VR-340, VR-350, VR-370, XZ-1, XZ-10 (Fully Decoded) $119.99
2-Pack LI-50B High-Capacity Replacement Batteries with Rapid Travel Charger for Olympus SZ-14 SZ-15 SZ-16 Tough TG-610 Tough TG-620 - UltraPro BONUS INCLUDED: Camera Cleaning Kit, Camera Screen Protector, Mini Travel Tripod 2-Pack LI-50B High-Capacity Replacement Batteries with Rapid Travel Charger for Olympus SZ-14 SZ-15 SZ-16 Tough TG-610 Tough TG-620 - UltraPro BONUS INCLUDED: Camera Cleaning Kit, Camera Screen Protector, Mini Travel Tripod $59.99