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Olympus refocuses with new compact point and shoots

olympus compactOlympus has announced a slew of new cameras, ranging in make and model from a high-end super-zooom to an entry-level point and shoot. Conspicuously missing from Olympus additions? No new entries to its micro four-thirds PEN series, arguably the manufacturers’ most popular products. But Olympus has been adding to this lineup fast and furiously, and now it’s taking a step back to focus on its other segments. 

While these new cameras run the gamete, some manage to stand out from the rest: the SZ-12, the SP-62OUZ, and the VR-340. Here’s a quick introduction (we’ll have some hands-on time with Olympus new additions within the week). 


sz12The SZ-12 is a compact super-zoom with a 24x optical wide-angle zoom lens. That, along with a 14-megapixel sensor, are packed into a remarkably slim body that will easily fit in your pocket. Olympus hasn’t really a been a force when it comes to these entry-level, digicam devices, so we’re happy that the manufacturer isn’t just throwing out cheap-throwaway point-and-shoots. Its long-zoom and sturdy black-on-black chassis give it more credibility than the flimsier devices that have flooded this market. It will cost $200 and be available in March. 

Key specs: 

  • 14-megapixel resolution 
  • 24x optical wide-angle zoom lens (25-60mm equivalent)
  • HD 720p video 
  • Dual Image Stabilization 
  • 3-inch, 460K dots LCD display
  • Eye-Fi card compatibility 


sp-620uzThe SP-62OUZ is another zoom, this one with a 21x optical zoom. While it might have telephoto-capabilities in common with the SZ-12, the body makes all the difference. This camera is not pocket-friendly, instead with a defined grip jutting out from its face. It’s a bit of a befuddling camera, with its bigger, more serious-looking body, and then the addition of a somewhat novelty feature, 3D shooting. It’s available later this month for $200. 

Key specs: 

  • 21x optical zoom lens (25-525mm equivalent)
  • 16-megapixel CCD sensor 
  • 3D image capture
  • Dual Image Stabilization
  • 3-inch LCD display
  • Eye-Fi card compatibility


vr-340Olympus has also introduced a more traditional point and shoot with the VR-340. This super-wide compact has a 16-megapixel sensor and improved ISO sensitivity for shooting in low light. Of course it also includes a host of in-camera edits via Olympus’ Magic Art filters. Olympus calls it a “cosmetic toolbox” — and rightly so. It’s filled out with tools to add eyeliner  and lift cheekbones. Will this be used? Yes. Is it taking the in-camera image alteration thing a little far? Definitely. But the $150 compact is clearly made for a certain demographic–entry-level, younger users–and the feature is right on target for them. Still, when it comes to compacts, Canon is generally king, and much of its new lineup will directly compete with Olympus’. 

Key specs:

  • 10x super wide optical zoom lens (24-240mm equivalent) 
  • 16-megapixel sensor
  • AF Illuminator 
  • One-touch video record button 
  • 3-inch LCD display 
  • Up to ISO 3200

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