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Olympus announces SZ-31MR iHS high-end compact superzoom

By dpreview staff on Feb 8, 2012 at 02:00 GMT

Olympus has launched the SZ-31MR iHS, a 24x superzoom featuring the company's iHS intelligent high-sensitivity / high-speed technology. This stems from its use of a 16MP back-lit CMOS sensor that allows high-speed capture and 1080p Full HD video capture. The camera features a 25-600mm equivalent zoom lens and twin TruePic V processors and a high-res 920k dot touchscreen.

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Press Release:


Olympus SZ-31MR

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., February 7, 2012 The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS camera packs incredible power and performance into a single, compact and lightweight body thanks to new enhancements to the popular Long Zoom line. Like its predecessor, the SZ-31MR iHS incorporates revolutionary Multi-Recording functionality that simultaneously captures 1080p HD Video and 16-Megapixel still images without missing a frame. But the innovative Olympus SZ-31MR iHS goes further by combining an outstanding 24x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom Lens (25-600 mm zoom equivalent in 35-mm format) with a new touch panel LCD and powerful new iHS (Intelligent, High-Sensitivity and High-Speed) technologies that capture excellent images and videos in the most challenging backlit and low light conditions.

New iHS technology achieves consistently sharp and vivid images in any situation. iHS draws on the camera’s 16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and two separate TruePic V image processors, originally developed for DSLR cameras, to dramatically improve low-light performance, speed up camera response time, enhance scene and subject recognition and double zoom magnification without sacrificing image quality. Combined with High-Speed Sequential Shooting (10 frames-per-second) and high-speed autofocus, iHS reduces picture noise and enhances resolution and color gradation despite fast-moving subjects, night scenes and other tricky shots.

Thanks to the ingenious Multi-Recording feature that enables users to combine various photo and video recording modes simultaneously, you’ll never have to choose between capturing 1080p Full HD Videos or still images again. A simple tap on the LCD screen captures a photo while you’re recording video – all without interrupting your movie making.

The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS brings you close to your subjects with its lens, and while you can’t physically touch them from afar, the camera‘s touch-sensitive, 3.0-inch 920,000-dot LCD display helps you effortlessly capture and display images, change camera focus, shutter speed and zoom, or navigate the Live Guide controls by simply touching the screen. Whether you’re trying to capture your child’s first time at bat from a distant bleacher seat or zooming in on a delicate wildlife subject unaware of your presence, the action will feel so close, you can almost touch it.

Multi Motion Movie IS (Image Stabilization for video) and Dual Image Stabilization (for still images) all but eliminate blur, even when you’re moving and shooting at the same time. Hand-Held Starlight Mode enables you to shoot blur-free, beautiful night scenes while holding the camera in your hands and without a tripod.

Twelve Magic Art Filters power your creativity by adding a whole range of special effects to both your images and videos directly in the camera. The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS offers three new Magic Art Filters. Reflection takes the image and duplicates it across a horizontal or vertical plane of symmetry creating powerful illusions, Fragmented turns an image into a photo composed of multiple tiles, similar to puzzle pieces, and Dramatic partially changes the contrast of the image for a vividly surreal look.

When you’re back from your adventures, enjoy Full HD Video and HDMI control in broadcast-quality 1080p when played back on an HDTV. The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS also makes photo slideshows even more entertaining by incorporating music and transition effects.

U.S. Pricing and Availability

The Olympus SZ-31MR iHS will be available in late April and ships with a Strap, USB Cable, USB-to-AC Adapter (F-2AC), Lithium-Ion Battery (LI-50B), Quick Start Guide, A/V Cable, Instruction Manual on CD-ROM, a software CD-ROM including [ib] (Windows) and OLYMPUS Viewer 2 (Win/Mac), and a Warranty Card.

Estimated Street Price: $399.99 (Available in Silver and Black)

For a complete list of specifications, visit the Olympus website:

Olympus SZ-31MR iHS specifications

MSRPEstimated Street price: $399.99
Body type
Body typeCompact
Max resolution4608 x 3456
Other resolutions3264 x 2448, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480
Image ratio w:h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeBSI-CMOS
ProcessorDual TruePic V
ISOAuto, High Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
White balance presets4
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
Uncompressed formatNo
File format
  • JPEG (Exif 2.3)
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)25–600 mm
Optical zoom24×
Maximum apertureF3.0 - F6.9
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusNo
Normal focus range60 cm (23.62)
Macro focus range1 cm (0.39)
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3
Screen dots920,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typeHypercrystal III TFT Color LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed4 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/1700 sec
Exposure modes
  • Intelligent Auto
  • Program Auto
Scene modes
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Hand-Held Starlight
  • Night Scene
  • Night + Portrait
  • Sport
  • Indoor
  • Self Portrait
  • Sunset
  • Fireworks
  • Cuisine
  • Documents
  • Beach & Snow
  • Pet (Cat)
  • Pet (Dog)
  • 3D,
  • Backlight HDR
Built-in flashYes
Flash range9.30 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Fill-in
Continuous drive7 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 12 sec, pet auto shutter)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 180 (30fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Storage included59 MB
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Type D)
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-ion rechargeable LI-50B battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)200
Weight (inc. batteries)226 g (0.50 lb / 7.97 oz)
Dimensions106 x 69 x 40 mm (4.17 x 2.72 x 1.57)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo

Additional images

I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums


Total comments: 25
Henry Falkner
By Henry Falkner (Sep 10, 2012)

I own the SZ-30MR, and that is what I use 99% of the time. - I also keep a few older Stylus cameras as well as the SP-570 UZ.

What I could do with is unlimited stills during video-taking, instead of just two. But the SZ-31MR-iHS remains unavailable in New Zealand.

The SZ-31MR iHS also has a few extra frame rates in the videos.

Alfie Smith
By Alfie Smith (Feb 12, 2012)

16Mp??? then NO !

By astronut80920 (Feb 12, 2012)

I have an SP500-UZ and like it. I liked Olympus cameras up to that model. Unfortunately, what I see in the new models coming out dissapoint me. I shoot in RAW and none of the new Olymuus models support that. The shutter speed could be higher. Does no lens mount mean I can't mount my filters in front of the lens? No manual focus is hard to take and the fact that it doesn't have an eye level viewfinder turn me away. I have bought mt last Olympus Ultra zoom camera.

By Greynerd (Feb 10, 2012)

The problem with these silly mega pixel cameras is that they are less capable in automatic mode than the supposedly more manual larger sensor cameras. In bright light the full auto is incapapable of judging the exposure as it has the impossible decision whether to blow the highlights or hide the shadows. In P mode I found you have to invaraibly drop the EVF 2/3 of a stop to get a useable picture. The sensor size is not the problem it is the bizzarely high sensor resolution which will just be smeared out by the JPEG engine. It is a pity that camera manufacturers can quote resolution purely on a single hardware component when the image quality is of course nowhere near the stated number. It is massively cynical and dishonest marketing by these manufacturers. Canon are really to be commended for admitting these pixel densities are of no advantage.

It is disappointing that Olympus still persist in putting such a fine lens in front of such a poor imaging engine.

1 upvote
By Delacosta (Feb 9, 2012)

This seems to be the SZ-30MR again. Olympus have even forgotten to relable it (as can be seen in the top view image of it)! Or maybe it was the folks at DPR who couldn't tell them apart either. Can anyone?

By Macist (Feb 8, 2012)

No GPS = not interested.

Not for traveling, at least (but why else would I look for a compact supersoom?)

For travel, the Panasonic ZS20 and the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS would be much better bets.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By fire3000 (Feb 8, 2012)

I own the Olympus SZ30MR. Its main advantages are a 24X zoom in a body small enough to fit in a pocket, decent image quality even in low light, easy to use menus, and a super macro mode that is like using a ten power stereo microscope. I use it to take pix of items I sell online and I take it on mountain trail hikes. I plan to buy a second larger camera to supplement this one, not replace it.

Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Feb 8, 2012)

Wow, really? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

One more "superzoom" with the notorious, tiny 1/2.3-inch sensor and a whopping 16 million pixels all crammed onto it. God-awful slow lens, too.

What's to like here -- the 400 DOLLAR price?

C'mon, Oly, you can do better -- can't ya'?

By Matt1645f4 (Feb 8, 2012)

Really getting very bored of 1/2.3 sensors, would someone please listen and take a leaf out of Canons book and start making large sensor compacts like the GX1, stick a 4/3 with a 28-112mm f2.8 (wide) fixed lens and you would have a winner, yes it would take some sales from the Pen range but the real enthusiasts are more likely to buy such a came as a back up than a Pen, i for one would !!!!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 27 seconds after posting
1 upvote
By Rockchan (Feb 8, 2012)

Your comment is just nonsense. This is a super zoom, it is another category to compete with Canon compact super zoom which also uses 1/2.3 sensors.

Canon also cannot put a bigger sensor in such super zoom camera.

XZ-2 may be announced at the middle of 2012.

Bernd M
By Bernd M (Feb 9, 2012)

There exist something called natural laws. As long as they are in place, it will be impossible to build a (equivalent) 600mm lens that fits in the palm of your hand. You need to consider that a lens like that for a FullFrame sensor would wight about 25 kg and occupie the most of the backseat of your car. Not to mention the price that would easily buy you a Hummer car. My only real point of criticism: Why cram 16MP on this small sensor. Make ir 6MP and it still would be enough to make some giant prints. 4 years ago most professiomal cameras had a 6MP output and nobody complained with the 30x45cm prints I made of their weddings.

By chadley_chad (Feb 8, 2012)

Stick a J1 sized sensor in and you'd sell millions - but as it is, its just another high priced, low quality P&S with a long and slow lens. Yeh, it could have a place in your collection, but you'd never take it out on its own (and cry at the results!)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
By Greynerd (Feb 8, 2012)

Delicate as well. I dropped my SZ30 1 ft onto concrete and the rear non retracting lens ring bent like tin plate. The whole optical assembly needs replacing at £143 to fix this so it is a write off. Also >12mp on 1/2.3" should be mage illegal.
Do not be seduced by the looks. It is a very handy little camera and if it was 12mp could be great but it struggles with the pixel packing.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Feb 8, 2012)

It's crippled all right, and in more ways than just one.

By Rockchan (Feb 8, 2012)

No company can put a sensor that is bigger than 1/2.3 in any superzoom at the moment. You may need to wait until somebody can put a 1/1.7 sensor before talking about J1.

By cesaregal (Feb 11, 2012)

26x Fuji X-S1 has a 2/3" CMOS sensor.

Roman Korcek
By Roman Korcek (Feb 8, 2012)

Everything else aside, this camera is beautiful.

Joe M Amadas
By Joe M Amadas (Feb 8, 2012)

it is pretty much the same camera as the SZ-30MR
Same 16MP sensor, same lens.
I had this camera for one day and took it through the paces, wrote a blog about it.
It was the worst picture quality camera I had in over 12 years and a sensor IS with that zoom range just does not work.

1 upvote
By peter42y (Feb 8, 2012)

My canon sx220hs has manual mode . Sensor is the same size.
Besides the sx220 and 230 can shoot raw.(with the canon CHDK hack )

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By dbo (Feb 8, 2012)

Somehow we're in a transition phase in tech specs point of view, but Olympus apparently does not recognize...

This camera looks nice, looks very ergonomic but as user calssam wrote - to few extras as ebthusiast compact to justify it's price.
By missing manual modes, Raw capability, 3:2 and really most disappointing - a 1/2,3" Sensor it seems a bit cheeky to call this a high end model.

1 upvote
By Metayerius (Feb 8, 2012)

Oh my God. It's almost the cutest camera in the world. Sorry for no manual modes. Damn.

1 upvote
Gerard Hoffnung
By Gerard Hoffnung (Feb 8, 2012)

My first digital camera was an Olympus C5050Z. I really enjoyed it and have a soft spot for Olympus. I could see this as a nice carry round camera or a good camera for those that might want something more than a basic point and shoot. I look forward to more info.

By caissam (Feb 8, 2012)

No 3:2 ?!
No A-/S-Mode?

NO BUY, sorry!

Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Feb 8, 2012)

No kidding?

By coastcontact (Feb 8, 2012)

While we will have to await reviews of this camera those of us wanting more control of the results will not be interested. However, this camera could easily pull many less demanding photographers from super zooms like the Panasonic FZ150 and Canon SX40 HS. That could help keep prices lower for those super zooms.

Total comments: 25