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Olympus SH-25MR Digital Camera Review

olympus20120501aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker

 

What it lacks in rigidity and robustness as compared to its ‘Tough’ Olympus cousins, the SH-25MR more than makes up for in its sophistication, ease-of-use and genuinely diverse ability.

This is a compact camera perfectly designed for the modern amateur photographer who wants it all: 16-megapixels, HD video, 12.5 x optical zoom (supported by a massive 25x ‘super res’ zoom), a 3-inch touch screen, GPS functionality, dozens of ‘scene’ and ‘magic’ modes, point-and-shoot simplicity, reliable image quality etc. etc. etc. And, they want it all neatly packaged into a classy little unit complete with an affordable price tag.

Frankly, it’s a lot to ask. Fortunately, Olympus has come through with the goods and they call it the SH-25MR, which retails for less than $400.00.

 

Appearance & Functionality


As John Mayer might rightly suggest, the SH-25MR is bigger than its body gives it credit for weighing in at some 208g with approximate dimensions of 11cm x 6cm x 3cm. This unit remains compact enough to make it a good travel companion - as well as for everyday use - and yet in terms of what it can achieve with very little effort or technical knowledge on the user’s behalf, there is nothing ‘everyday’ about the SH-25MR.

Its physical design and appearance is one of sophisticated simplicity though it may have been nice to see more of the external buttons slightly raised from the body for greater definition and a more effective ‘blind’ feel. Without looking, it can be difficult to decipher which button controls what function or indeed, if it is a button at all.

olympus20120501ab.jpgAn enjoyable grip mound on the camera’s front is the only ergonomic design element present but for the most part the SH-25MR rests well in-hand regardless.

The dedicated record button (marked with a red ‘record’ circle) sits to the immediate left of where the controlling thumb rests for speedy access and below this, the user has access to the ‘okay’ button and four-way directional round along with the ‘playback’ and ‘menu’ buttons.

The mini mode dial is pleasantly clicky and well placed adjacent to the shutter and zoom toggle on the camera’s top left-hand side in immediate reach of the user’s controlling index finger.

Unlike the mode dial, the SH-25MR’s flash unit is quite poorly positioned on the far left-hand side of the unit’s top where the supporting hand’s index finger tends to want to rest in order to properly support the unit when in use. This means that often the index finger and the flash must jostle for position, though it’s fair to say the aggressively springy pop-up flash generally wins out.

Modes on offer include iAuto, Program, Scene, Beauty, Magic, Panorama, Multi-Record and Photo/Clip and when selected, each presents another set of selectable options and variants to help the user gain even greater control over the image/s about to be produced.   


Aside from the occasional sluggish reaction of the SH-25MR’s LCD to physical touch, general operation is quite efficient. Cycling through modes and options is physically easy be it via the mode dial or the internal menu system and the direction pad suffers no discernable lag allowing users to cycle through available options as quickly as they can physically trigger their thumb.

 

Image Quality / Lens Quality


The SH-25MR houses a quality and expansive triple-tiered lens that extends some 4cm from the unit’s body when at full 12x optical zoom. It covers an impressive focal range of 24-300mm and the ‘super res’ zoom function (that can be turned on or off as desired) digitally doubles the range of the available zoom to a full 25x.

olympus20120501ac.jpgParticularly outdoors and when under ample lighting conditions the SH-25MR produces some stunningly sharp and crisp results. On the odd occasion this crispness can start to lean towards in-camera over processing however this may well be something that goes unnoticed to the untrained eye.

An impressive ISO range of 80-6400 is available and while at the lower end image quality is beautifully clean and unmarred, noticeable noise does begin to appear around the ISO 800 mark although most users may not begin to see the true effects of noise up until ISO 3200 and 6400 where a detectable colour shift also begins to creep in.

The pop-up flash tends to expose well and generally colours are both accurate and vivid (but not hyper-saturated in the same way some compact cameras seem to produce as a default.)

The extensive list of 17 scene modes covers what seems to be every conceivable subject/shooting situation amateur photographers will come across including: Portrait, Landscape, Hand-held Starlight, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Self-Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach/Snow, Pet Mode (Cat), Pet Mode (Dog), 3D Photo and Backlight HDR.

A dedicated ‘panorama’ function is accessible via the mode dial and offers user’s three different options for helping produce a finished product: ‘Auto’ creates in-camera panos from a simple horizontal sweep of the camera, ‘Manual’ helps user’s take and align three separate images which are then automatically stitched for you as you wait, where ‘PC’ allows for individual and guided image taking for future manual stitching in appropriate software.

The namesake ‘MR’ mode allows for three different types of multi-recording, which cleverly enables the SH-25MR to complete multiple pairs of tasks simultaneously. ‘Multi-Framing’ saves two different photos or movies (one standard and one cropped/zoomed) at once, ‘Multi-File’ allows for a lower resolution photo or movie to be captured alongside a full resolution version (where the former is for web use and the latter for print or HD viewing) and ‘MAGIC and Original’ saves both an unedited file and one affected by a magic filter, which encourages users to constantly experiment with the magic modes without fear of adversely affecting the original shot. 

 

LCD Screen / Viewfinder


olympus20120501ad.jpgA lovely 3-inch LCD boasting some 460,000 dots of resolution graces the back of the SH-25MR and allows for some touch screen operation – although it is cleverly kept to a minimum so only the most basic controls and adjustments such as focus point selection, saturation, brightness and colour temperature ought be utilised by touch.

As a result, users won’t find themselves overwhelmed with an extensive list of options and sub-menus to physically tap through, which proves a welcome relief given the only mild sensitivity of the touch screen as a whole.

No viewfinder is present on the SH-25MR but given the quality display offered by the LCD it’s safe to say neither an optical or electrical viewfinder is missed.

 

Video


Olympus boastfully suggests this particular unit offers the best quality movie recording available in a pocket-sized camera (as at December, 2011 at least.) Given the rapid rate of advances in technology this may or may not remain the case but regardless, it’s easy to see that the claim would have at some point (if not still) been completely justified.

The SH-25MR records full high definition clips at 1080p and with the help of Multi-motion Movie Image Stabilisation eliminates almost all motion blur generated from hand-held shooting.

Users can continue to shoot stills whilst recording video, which is a neat little function particularly when you can’t decide which of the two is your priority; with the SH-25MR you can actually have both.

 

  

 

 

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Conclusion

 
The SH-25MR from Olympus is a handsome, appropriately priced unit best suited to those who enjoy the general convenience and benefits of compact camera but are looking for a little more bang for their buck in terms of features - and certainly the SH-25MR has a very long list of those.

On the whole, it’s a reliable little unit that sits in the upper-end of the point-and-shoot stratosphere and is unlikely to disappoint tech savvy photography amateurs who want more from their happy snaps without having to delve into the advanced compact or indeed DSLR range of cameras.

 

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card 

Tamrac Pro Compact Digital / 5689 Camera Bag 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Olympus SH-25MR 

 


Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Video quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
4 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price
$399.95
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 16 Mega pixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3" CCD sensor
Image Sizes 9
Lens 24mm - 300mm, Wide(W) F3.0; Tele(T) F5.9
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills 16M    4608 x 3456
8M      3264 x 2448
5M      2560 x 1920
3M      2048 x 1536
2M      1600 x 1200
1M      1280 x 960
VGA     640 x 480
16:9    4608 x 2592
          1920 x 1080
Resolution Settings: Video 1080 60P Recording time: 29min 
720P Recording time: 29min
GPS Yes
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority No
Shutter Priority
No
Shutter Speeds 1/4 - 1/2000 s / < 4 s (Night scene)
ISO AUTO / High AUTO ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
LCD Monitor 3.0 Inch, LCD - Touch Panel, 460,000 pixels
Viewfinder -
Flash Yes
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Auto, Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten, Flourescent 1
Self Timer 12 and 2 seconds
Stills Format/s
JPEG
Video Format/s MPEG-4 AVC/H.2.64
Video Recording Time/s Maximum file size is 4GB
Storage Type - External SD/SDHC/SDXC
Storage Type - Internal
43MB
Connectivity USB 2.0 High Speed, HDMI (CB-HD1 Type D); AV cable (CB-AVC3)
Power Source In-camera via USB, optional LI-50C external charger
Battery Options LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery
Battery Life Approx. 220 shots
Dimensions 109.2 mm (W) x 61.8mm (H) x 30.6mm (D)
Weight 208g (including battery and memory card)
















 


 

 
 

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About Olympus

 

In Greek mythology, Mt.Olympus is the home of the twelve supreme gods and goddesses. Olympus was named after this mountain to reflect its strong aspiration to create high quality, world famous products.

"Olympus" has been used as a trademark since the time of Takachiho Seisakusho, the predecessor of Olympus Corporation.

In Japanese mythology, it is said that eight million gods and goddesses live in Takamagahara, the peak of Mt.Takachiho. The name "Olympus" was selected as the trademark because Mt.Olympus, like Mt.Takachiho, was the home of gods and goddesses. This trademark is also imbued with the aspiration of Olympus to illuminate the world with its optical devices, just like Takamagahara brought light to the world.

Takachiho Seisakusho was renamed Takachiho Optical Co., Ltd. in 1942 when optical products became the mainstay of the company. In 1947, the name was changed again to Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. in an attempt to enhance its corporate image.

And in 2003, the company made a fresh start as Olympus Corporation, to show its willingness to establish a dynamic corporate brand by unifying the corporate name and the well-known brand.

In recent years, Olympus Corporation has focused on "Opto-Digital Technology" as its core competence, technological strengths that competitors cannot easily imitate, to maximize corporate value and to become one of the top optical instrument manufactures.

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