Olympus SP-810 UZ vs SZ-30MR – Best Superzoom / Travel Camera

May 27, 2012

Olympus SP-810 UZ and SZ-30MR superzoom cameras
In this comparison I will be comparing two super-zoom cameras, the Olympus SP-810UZ versus SZ-30MR. Both cameras are around the same price range and both offer long zoom range, but they certainly have their differences. Some people might have told you that you better by a camera with shorter zoom for better image quality, others might have told you how amazing it is to shoot with a 36x optical zoom. The thing is that it’s hard to decide and you should understand the basic features that makes the two cameras stand apart from each other. It’s not hard as you might think, and I’m sure that after reading this specs comparison review you will become quite familiar with the two cameras and can make a better buying decision.


Why a Super-Zoom and What are the Alternatives?

So you want a superzoom camera right? – I can totally understand why. Shooting with a super-zoom camera is a great joy, because it allows you to get very close to your subject without moving an inch. With superzoom cameras it’s easy to shoot at the zoo, a closeup shot at the clock of the Big Ben in London, candid shots of people from far away, birds, animals, etc., So to keep things simple, Super-zoom cameras are more versatile and give the photographer more flexibility when it comes to shooting both subjects in various distances from the photographer.

Is their and alternative to super-zoom point-and-shoot cameras? – Well, their are. Of course you cannot do it with your mobile phone, however, you can either purchase a DSLR or Mirrorless camera with a telephoto-zoom lens. The thing is that Interchangeable lens cameras have a much bigger sensor. Although it certainly has its advantages, that means that the both the camera and telephoto-zoom lenses will be much bigger and weight much more compared to their equivalent on small-sensor point-and-shoot cameras.

So if we compare super-zoom cameras vs the alternative, we can see that cameras like the SP-810UZ and the SZ-30MR offer better portability and they are easy to carry around, even in your personal small bag.

Here, take a look at the image below which compares the size of the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS super-zoom camera vs the Mirrorless/Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M5 (ILC camera):


Canon Sx40 HS and Olympus E-M5

Canon Sx40 HS and Olympus E-M5

The Canon SX40 HS has a 24-840 mm (35mm equiv.) zoom, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has the 45-200 mm (35mm equiv.) lens attached. The attached lens is by far has less magnification power than the Canon lens (200 mm vs 840 mm) and it’s still has a very large foot print as your can see. An equivalent 24-840mm on Micro Four Thirds would be humongous.  Micro Four Thirds camera’s sensor are also smaller than APS-C and Full Frame cameras, there equivalent lenses can be even bigger.

Take a look how large a lens can become if you want a 800mm range on a Canon DSLR camera via camera size.

Another thing that I didn’t mention is the price. The combination of a high-zoom interchangeable lens with DSLR/Mirrorless body will cost you much much more.

So their you have it. If you want a camera with a long telephoto-zoom range, you actually either pay A LOT of money and carry a very heavy and bulky equipment OR buy an affordable super-zoom compact camera. The advantages are many, including:

  1. Compact body
  2. Lightweight
  3. A wide range of focal lengths starting from wide to long telephoto range

That’s why superzoom cameras are favorites among travelers who search for a compact travel camera with a high optical zoom.

So the alternative is not actually a good optional alternative of you want a very long zoom lens. OK, now that we know our options, we can continue talking about the Olympus SP-810 UZ and the Olympus SZ-30 MR.
Let’s start with a short introduction about each camera.


Olympus SP-810UZ

Olympus SP-810 UZ

The SP-810 Ultra Zoom is the latest and best super-zoom camera’s. It’s for people who want a superzoom camera that is easy to operate, produces great image quality, can record HD videos, has a very long zoomm it works fast and had a large 3-inch LCD.

The SP-810 has a 36x wide optical zoom lens equivalent to 24 mm – 864 mm. It’s a great lens for shooting any kind of subjects from Macro shots to subjects that are far far away from the camera.  It has a 14.0 megapixels sensor, can shoot up to ISO 3200, has a 230K-dots 3-inch LCD screen, pop-up flash, and can shoot 720p HD videos at 30 fps.

Other interesting features include In-camera Panorama,  special filter effects for still and movies, Face detection and “Beauty Mode” that will make will beautify portrait images automatically.

The Oly SP-810 UZ replaces the SP-800UZ, improved over its image quality, but it doesn’t offer full manual control (ie. no M, A or S modes). It doesn’t come with manual focus nor electronic viewfinder.  Olympus made this camera to be an affordable travel camera. In order to keep the price down, Olympus had to eliminate some features.

The Olympus SP-810 UZ image quality is very good up to ISO 800, and even with ISO 1600 you can achieve very usable results.  Image looks sharp with vibrant colors. I bought this camera to my mother. She previously had an older Olympus camera (very old one) and she wasn’t satisfied with it. This camera is a whole new story and she is now very happy with everything that this camera, including the easy to use menu navigation, long zoom range, size and weight and overall camera design.

If you are searching for a versatile and affordable ultra-zoom camera with very high image quality, the SP-810 won’t disappoint.

Olympus Sp-810UZ Zoom Tests:


Amazing isn’t it?


Olympus SZ-30MR

Olympus SZ-30MR superzoom camera

For almost the same price you can get the SZ-30MR instead. The SZ-30MR is really a magnificent super-zoom camera. It features a 25-600 mm 24x zoom lens, which is less than the SP810UZ, but still a very nice range. The SZ-30MR is also much more compact, same width but 1cm shorter and 3.4cm narrower. So it’s certainly what we can call a compact superzoom camera (can even fit to a jeans pocket)

Instead of getting the high zoom range of the SP810UZ, you get other advanced features instead, including: 7 fps continuous shooting (limited up to 5 images in a row / can shoot at 1.7 fps up to 18 images), higher 16mp resolution, 1080p Full HD video recording with stereo sound, 3-inch 460K-dots LCD, faster 1/17000 sec max. shutter speed and all in a much more compact and light body (226 g vs 413 g).

I personally really like the design of the SZ-30, it’s really a beautiful camera.


As you can see in the introduction video, the camera offers “Multi-Framing mode” to record a video of  a subject in both tele and wide angle and also the “Multi-File Mode” to record both Small-size videoa nd Full HD movies at the same time (no need to do it in photo editing software), so it’s easier and faster to upload videos to Vimeo, YouTube or Facebook.


Olympus SZ-30MR Zoom Sample



SP-810UZ vs SZ-30MR – Side by Side Comparison

Now let’s take a look at a side by side comparison table that will give us a good overall looks over the differences between those two cameras.

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Olympus SP-810UZ Pros and Cons:


  1. Longer zoom range (36x vs 24x)
  2. Wider angler (24 mm vs 25 mm)
  3. Shorter focus range (30 cm vs 60 mm)
  4. High image quality
  5. Good battery life
  6. 3D images
  7. Ease-of-use and very useful Automatic mode
  8. Fast 1/2000 sec maximum shutter speed (vs 1/17000 sec)
  9. Dual image-stabilization (fights against blur)
  10. Very effective image stabilization


  1. Lower resolution LCD (230K vs 460K)
  2. Relatively Bigger and heavier
  3. No manual controls (M, A or S)
  4. No Full HD 1080p videos and no stereo sound (only 720p HD)
  5. Slow continuous shooting, faster in lower resolutions


Olympus-SZ-30MR Pros and Cons:


  1. Amazingly compact super-zoom camera! (24x zoom that can fit to your pocket!)
  2. Higher resolution LCD (460K vs 230K)
  3. 1080p Full HD video recording with stereo sound
  4. Fast continuous shooting
  5. 3D Images
  6. Lightweight
  7. Very effective image stabilization
  8. Multi-Record functionality
  9. Good image


  1. Relatively slower maximum shutter speed (1/1700 vs 1/12000 sec)
  2. Relatively low battery life (220 vs 350 shots)
  3. No semi-manual modes like aperture or shutter priority

Which one is the Best Travel Camera?

Both the SZ-30MR and the SP-810UZ are great travel cameras for amateur photographers. The SZ-30MR really surprised me because I’ve never seen such a long-zoom camera in such a compact body. For those who want to travel light and care about portability, the SZ-30MR is an excellent choice. You give up some zoom range but instead you get a more compact and lightweight camera. Image quality of both cameras are very good, although it’s recommended to shoot below ISO800 for optimal results, but you can bump up the ISO and can some good images for small prints as well.

It is really up to the things that matter most to you. If you don’t care about the size, you should get the 810UZ and you get higher-zoom, good battery life an a bit wider (24mm) angle. However you lose the ability to shoot 10080p (only 720p) and you don’t get the fast continuous shooting pleasure of the SZ30MR.

I personally really like the compactness of the SZ-30MR, which makes it the perfect superzoom travel camera in my opinion. Even though it can’t reach as long as the 810UZ, still 600mm is pretty damn good.

A Travel camera should be light, compact and have a long zoom range that starts from a wide-angle up to a usable long range. so taking that into consideration, I think that the SZ30MR might be a better choice in that regard. That doesn’t cancel the SP810UZ as a travel camera, not at all, it’s just that I think that many travelers might prefer to travel light and carry a camera in their pocket of their jacket or jeans, rather than carrying a dedicated small bag for it.  Again, do your own math and decide which one fits your own needs. Hope that helps..

Olympus is not the only one who has superzoom cameras. I also recommend reading the following reviews:

Nikon P510 vs Canon SX40HS vs Sony HS200V
Canon SX40 HS vs Sony HX100V

However, if you already shrank your choice to Olympus cameras, I highly recommend the SZ-30MR and SP-810UZ for everyone!

Buy Olympus SZ-30MR on B&H Photo
Buy Olympus SP-810UZ on B&H photo

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