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Olympus SZ-31MR iHS Digital Camera Review$399.99
Lens & Sensor
The same lens found on the SZ-30 makes the jump to the SZ-31. This is a 24x zoom barrel, and that's incredibly long for a pocket-friendly travel zoom. The hardware telescopes far away from the rest of the body, and although it doesn't collapse completely to flat, it protrudes no further than the right hand grip when not in use. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the lens also achieves a remarkably wide angle at the closest focal length, making this a highly versatile camera by design.
Zoom is adjusted via the small lever surrounding the shutter release, but it's difficult to fine tune. Control is far more precise at low zoom magnifications, and becomes exponentially coarse as you zoom in.
Olympus upgraded to a touchscreen for this model, and the implementation is exactly what we like to see. Too often, whole interfaces are built around a touchscreen, and this leads to imprecise, slow control. The SZ-31 makes few changes to the SZ-30's interface, but simply includes the touchscreen for optional functionality like touch shutter, touch focus, etc. Other manufacturers take note, this is the way to integrate a touchscreen.
Our only gripe is the screen's sensitivity, which is too low. On rare occasions that we did decide to take advantage of the panel, we usually had to make two or three attempts before getting the reaction we were expecting.
All connectivity options are housed underneath a vertical plastic cover on the right side of the body. There's a proprietary USB port which is used for connectivity with a PC, composite video output, and to charge the battery (charging from a computer is possible, in addition to the wall socket adapter). Below that is a microHDMI port for streaming content to an HDTV.