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Olympus SZ-31MR iHS Digital Camera Review$399.99
The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS is a competent, feature-rich travel-zoom, but too few improvements have been made since the SZ-30 to earn our complete recommendation. Given this model's problems with sharpness, distortion, and noise reduction, we think $400 is too much for the resulting image quality.
Noise is a separate issue, but as for sharpness and chromatic aberration, it's no secret why this is happening. If you frequent the site you'll have seen this written a million times: longer zoom usually leads to worse image quality. Squeezing 24x into a compact body like this one stretches the lens to its very limit. Sharpness suffers, fringing is common, and images become less convincing. Like so many other travel zooms, it seems like SZ-31 has fallen into the zoom ratio trap.
These drawbacks are especially tragic because there are many benefits of SZ-31 ownership. Handling is mostly very comfortable, save for the poorly placed video button, and burst mode is very flexible, despite the long buffer delay afterward. Color accuracy is also very strong, and we have to admit, some of Olympus' digital filters are a lot of fun.
If optical zoom is your top priority, immediately followed by portability, than the SZ-31 is your best bet. But if, like us, you value image quality most, you'll find much better options on the market for less than this camera's asking price.