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Olympus announces SZ-10, VR-320 compact megazooms: A lot of lens in little bodies

Olympus' latest compact megazooms could satisfy bargain hunters looking for more lens for less money.


Long lenses sell cameras these days and, well, the 14-megapixel Olympus SZ-10 has one. The camera starts at 28mm and extends to 504mm (35mm equivalent). That's an 18x zoom in body that's only 1.5 inches thick for $249.99.

To put that in context, last year's 12-megapixel Olympus SP-600UZ had a 15x, f3.5-5.4, 28-420mm-equivalent lens, was 3-inches thick, and started at the same price. The SZ-10 is smaller, has a newer TruePic III+ image processor developed from Olympus' digital SLR processors, and a larger, higher-resolution 3-inch LCD. Without testing it I can't say that the SZ-10 is a better camera, but it's off to a good start.

The SZ-10's shooting features aren't extraordinary--there are no manual or semimanual shooting modes for example--but it does offer some fun features. This includes the company's creative Magic Art Filters for spicing up your photos and videos, an easy-to-use in-camera panorama mode, and a similar 3D shooting mode for creating photos to view on a 3D TV or computer. It shoots 720p HD movies at 30 frames per second and has an HDMI output. It also supports Eye-Fi wireless SD cards for those that want to share photos and videos online without connecting to a computer. And, you get mechanical image stabilization.

The $199.99 14-megapixel VR-320 has similar shooting options, but its lens is different. It starts at an ultrawide-angle 24mm and zooms to 300mm (35mm equivalent). So, it's not as long at 12.5x, but it starts wider and the body is just more than an inch thick. It, too, has a 3-inch LCD, but it's a lower resolution. Also, there's no mention of the TruePic III+ image processor, so that may have been cut. Otherwise, it looks pretty decent for its starting price.

Both the SZ-10 and VR-320 will be out in March.

Olympus also announced the $89.99 VG-110. It's a basic 12-megapixel ultracompact with a 27mm-equivalent wide-angle lens, digital image stabilization, 2.7-inch LCD, and a VGA movie mode. The press release says it will defy my expectations, which won't be difficult to do as I expect very little at this price.

It'll be out this month in black, silver, and red versions.