Build Quality and Ease of Use
Start with the lens and move backward and you’ll like the sturdy build. The rounded edges look nice and the finish of the surface is excellent. Move on to the control panel and you’ll be slightly disappointed. Like the case with most digital cameras, the glossy LCD display is a fingerprint magnet. The inclusion of a screen protector and a tiny microfibre cloth would have been nice. Secondly, the jog dial is plasticky and can get annoying. On several occasions we found it rotated too easily while using the d-pad.
A simple control panel with just a few buttons and a jog dial
As for the user interface, it’s very intuitive. You can navigate the menus and change settings by just using the jog dial, D-pad and menu button. Out of the two shortcuts present on the D-pad, one is ‘Info’ that toggles display of information such as the number of shots remaining, live histogram and shooting parameters. The other is ‘Delete’ which works in playback mode. The other three directional keys are only meant for navigation while in shooting mode. In many other digital cameras, you have one-touch access to self-timer, EV, Macro and Flash. Here, you have to navigate, which isn’t too comforting while you’re busy shooting.
One big issue with this camera is the sluggishness of the user interface. In the process of animating certain elements and showing real time previews, Olympus has bungled up the UI. Real time preview is useful and most cameras do that in live view. Here, for certain things such as white balance, EV and Magic Filters, stamp size previews are displayed in a carousel – it’s jittery, tiny and frustrating to select. Rapid key presses don’t speed up scrolling and there’s a slight lag when you get out of the carousel interface. We feel this fancy interface for preview is completely unnecessary – it could have been simpler and snappy.
The grip of the SZ-14 is satisfactory. Your fingers curl around the bulge on the right side, and there’s a tiny thumb grip. You’ll find this inadequate if you have large hands. Even if your hands are smaller, you’ll find it uncomfortable when your fingers begin to sweat. That’s because the surface for grip is plain and tends to become slippery. A textured finish would have been of a little help here.
The SZ-14 initialises in no time. From the time you press the power button, it takes just 2 seconds to get ready to shoot. While the shutter release is held half way down, the humming of the image stabilisation motor can be heard clearly. It’s not a flaw – the IS mechanism works extremely well. If you have steady hands, with IS activated you can get blur-free shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/6 sec, provided the subject is motionless.
The noise is extremely well-controlled at ISO speeds up to 200. Graininess starts creeping in from ISO 400, but it’s very much acceptable. At ISO 800 and 1600, both luminance and colour noise are very apparent. These values should be used as a last resort in very low lighting. With noise removal applied to remove colour noise, the images look decent but at a lower resolution.
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