Olympus SZ-10 Review

August 17, 2011 | Zoltan Arva-Toth |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

A camera with a tiny, pixel-packed sensor and a large zoom ratio will always be a set of compromises, and anyone expecting top-notch image quality from such a device is bound to be disappointed. Within those constraints, though, the Olympus SZ-10 actually produces more than usable images, at least outdoors.

Noise reduction takes its toll on fine detail even at the camera's base sensitivity setting, and pictures taken in the telephoto range sometimes suffer from an overall lack of sharpness, but our photos have still turned out better than expected. Colours are vibrant without being over-saturated, and the pictures still hold enough detail to produce decent prints at normal sizes. Going up the sensitivity ladder brings more detail smearing and loss of saturation, especially from ISO 400 onward, but the output remains good enough for Web display.

One thing that the Olympus SZ-10 is definitely not optimised for is night photography, as the slowest shutter speed is limited to 4 seconds and in Night Scene mode you cannot set the ISO sensitivity manually. On a more positive note, Red-Eye Reduction for flash portraits worked well, and the camera has put up an excellent macro performance too.


The Olympus SZ-10 has six sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 64 to ISO 1600. The 100% crops below show what the quality is like at each setting.

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The 18x lens has an extremely versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.




Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little bit soft at the default sharpening setting, and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Olympus SZ-10 does not save images in raw format. The available JPEG settings are Normal and Fine.

14M Fine (100% Crop) 14M Normal (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

For a superzoom, the Olympus SZ-10 produced very little chromatic aberration. Evidently there is some clever processing going on in the background to eliminate all kinds of purple fringing - and it’s largely successful.

Example 1 (100% Crop)


The Olympus SZ-10 has a supermacro mode that lets you focus as close as 1cm from the front lens element. This allows you to fill the frame with an object that is significantly smaller than a CompactFlash memory card. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to the subject. We have included a 100% crop to show you what the quality is like.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The Olympus SZ-10 has a pop-up flash that has to be raised manually, using a switch. The available flash settings are Auto, Fill-In, Redeye Reduction and Off. The following photos of a white ceiling were taken at a subject distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (504mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (504mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some flash portraits. The flash caused quite a bit of red-eye, but engaging  the red-eye reduction function essentially solved this problem.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Olympus SZ-10 is not very well suited to night photography, as you cannot use truly slow shutter speeds. The photo below was taken in the Night Scene mode at a shutter speed of 4 seconds, sensitivity setting of ISO 250 and aperture of f/3.2, all chosen by the camera. The 100% crop demonstrates the quality you can expect.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation

The Olympus SZ-10 has a mechanical image stabilisation system of the sensor-shift variety. The following crops demonstrate how effective it is. Both were taken at 1/40th of a second at ISO 200 and a 35mm equivalent focal length of 98mm.

On (100% Crop)

Off (100% Crop)

Magic Filters

The Olympus SZ-10 has 8 so-called 'magic filters' including Drawing, Fisheye, Pinhole, Pop Art, Punk, Soft Focus, Sparkle and Watercolour.





Pop Art



Soft Focus