Olympus Stylus SZ-15 Review

January 24, 2014 | Matt Grayson | |

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#1 Randal

Here is what I took away after drilling right in to the parts that are important to me.


1. Optical zoom, 24x - Very good. Common these days though.

2. Sound recording, WAV - Conceivably useful addition now and then, like for saying where a picture was taken assuming the software permits attaching to an image.

3. Internal memory, 39MB. Very considerate of Olympus to include, though mostly useful for when testing cameras in the store. Afterward, one generally has a card inside all the time. Okay, there could be a moment when the right need arises while images are being uploaded.

4. Panorama function - Common, and appreciated.

5. Lens cover - Useful.

6. Decent looking - That counts.

The failings:

1. No convenient AA batteries
2. No high-speed video capture
3. No viewfinder
4. No articulating LCD monitor
5. No manual settings

6. Cost cutting on mechanical buttons - As noted in the site review, there are too few of them, necessitating a doubling of functions.

Plus a significant issue for those into the reading glasses part of life: They are too small and without color-coding. Meaning, glasses must be put on just to see what is there. True story.

Ever since Canon made popular the articulating screen, I have been addicted and really look sparingly at anything minus at least a tilting option, especially if lacking a good viewfinder.

Yes, I know we are dealing at the compact level, so one must be willing to surrender some if not most of the desired qualities. We then end up mixing and matching features against price against size.

The problem here is that pretty much all of them are absent the Olympus SZ-15. Other than a 24x zoom, which is available all over anyway, none of the luxury stops have been checked. Still, the price is fairly reasonable compared to Panasonic high-zoom compacts.

Even the paltry Canon A1400 has a viewfinder, albeit a crap of one that, weirdly enough, matches the crap viewfinder on the nearly professional G series of theirs. The point being that one is demonstrably do-able at the compact size.

Also I am taking into account how manufacturers are finally getting with the program recently and presenting a bunch more cool things in a unit small enough for the pocket. Take the Nikon P7800 (7x zoom), their S6600 (12x zoom) or the Olympus Stylus 1 (10.7x zoom).

True, more money. But for an extra $100 or $300 or so, how many opportunities to get it right is one willing to sacrifice?

Okay, so a static monitor with no other way to view the prospective image, no AA batteries for that cheery convenience of having a spare set waiting that cost $1.50 each even with rechargeable NiMH that charge in less than an hour in any of countless chargers.

No slow-motion capability (the outcome of high-speed capture.

No manual settings.

So I guess at this price point give me last year’s Canon Powershot SX160 instead. A little larger and cranking down to but 16x zoom, it offers the AA power plus manual settings, larger buttons and known by me to be fabulous nighttime capture even at the 100 ISO setting. The Canon SX170 terminated AA battery power, same zoom, a little smaller body. To me, that killed the thing altogether, even with manual settings.  Go with the Panasonic ZS whatever beforehand.

All of that to say, at the lower tier of only somewhat more money, if tilting screen is a priority (and they are wayyyy useful), then the S6600 with its 12x zoom is the way. Figure on $280. If manual settings are more important, plus AA batteries and 16x zoom but a fixed monitor is a better blend, the SX160 is about $120 while they last in stores.

One problem with the Nikon S6600 is consistent reviews reporting soft pictures. Otherwise, I would have one with me now. As it is, I am likely to purchase one anyway just to make sure the reviewers have fiddled with all the settings before passing judgement. Send it back if there is no way to capture sharp pics. A compact with 12x and fully articulating monitor is a really compelling object.

Why is a titling or revolving monitor so important? At the most obvious level, rather than holding a camera out in front of me looking like a creature in Dawn of the Dead and alerting everyone in eyesight that hey, a guy is taking pictures, I get to hold it against my torso and quietly look down because the monitor can look up at me while the lens points forward. Other than that, pictures near the ground, behind a crowd (holding overhead) and of course capturing video of myself or images taken while standing with friends. A big plus.

8:14 pm - Friday, January 24, 2014

#2 Jim Hodge

That’s the first time I’ve ever noticed a difference between fine and normal with in camera JPG compression. Something for me to think about as I never bother with fine settings, due in large to your many examples.

10:22 am - Saturday, January 25, 2014

#3 fotoartysta

Totally bad image quality - not 4 :-)
4 points - image quality is.. great compact cameras like ...canon g15 , nikon s7700 , and same cameras with cmos sensor
this olympus is image quality max 2 total bad quality max 2 pointa AND AVERAGE conslusion not recomend
any 1 picture is not good sharpness
- fatally sharpness anc colors

11:55 am - Saturday, January 25, 2014

#4 Matt Grayson

You’re missing the point with the ratings. I can’t consciously compare a £125 camera with a Canon G series. It’s not fair as there hasn’t been anywhere near the amount of money put into the technology.
The image quality is a 4 for that price range. It’s easy to think of it the way that you do and I used to. But I don’t now and that’s why I’m paid the big bucks. ;O) haha

1:28 pm - Monday, March 10, 2014

#5 Lennea

Thank you very much for this detailed review.  I have one of these ordered and it’s on its way.  My needs are for a simple point and shoot camera to take pictures while vacationing and such and for the price this seemed an excellent choice.  My last camera I paid $500 for 10 years ago did a poor job taking nature type pictures on my last trip and I feel very optimistic this one will do much better for wicked cheap.

4:19 pm - Friday, October 10, 2014

#6 James

Have to agree with Matt’s comment - you have to compare camera’s of a similar price bracket. I picked this camera up at the end of run price of £85, and at that cost it gains another star IMO.
It’s all very fine comparing it to camera’s twice the price, but those are for a different demographic. This camera is suited for those who want to spend £150 or less on a camera. Those wanting to spend more, shouldn’t consider it.

8:17 am - Sunday, April 19, 2015

#7 Eileen

Have a love/hate opinion of this camera . Wanted one to take on walks through nature areas . Have gotten some good small animal pictures and spring /fall pictures . But it is SO SLOW to process the image before another picture can be
taken . Can this be speeded up ?
Camera was inexpensive < $100 Cdn and will do but I want to upgrade before I retire . Considering a Panasonic.

2:39 pm - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#8 Eileen Herbert

I forgot to mention my other ‘hate’ - the bottom door where the battery and SD card are located will suddenly pop open. Have never had this happen on any other camera .

2:44 pm - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Entry Tags

hd video, review, hd, 3 inch LCD, compact, test, wide-angle, 16 megapixel, 720p, olympus, travel-zoom, travel, travel zoom, 25mm, 24x zoom, sz15, sz-15, Olympus SZ-15 Review, sz 15

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