Having to stop shooting high definition movies to a take a still image is somewhat frustrating, and can lead to a rather disjointed digital record of an otherwise enjoyable or important moment. There is no such restriction with the SZ-30MR super-zoom from Olympus. Thanks to a dual image processor, users will be able to record full HD movies and snap a full resolution image at the same time. The camera also benefits from fast burst shooting, dual image stabilization and tracking autofocus.

Within the 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.6-inch (106.3 x 68.7 x 39.5mm) frame of the SZ-30MR super-zoom sits a dual TruePic III+ image processing engine, which was originally developed for digital SLR cameras. It's this that gives the compact camera the power to simultaneously record full 1080p movies and capture full resolution images. It also gives users the ability to record two different movies at the same time, a close up and a wide angle perhaps, or original and filtered.

The SZ-30MR has a 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, up to ISO3200 sensitivity, both mechanical sensor shift and digital image stabilization and a 25 - 600mm equivalent, 24x optical zoom lens. There's up to nine frames per second continuous shooting at full resolution, tracking autofocus, and something called Shadow Adjustment Technology. This is said to compensate for extreme contrast between dark shadowed areas and bright sunlit areas, revealing the same contrast as seen with the naked eye.

Users also get access to 30 shooting modes, including Intelligent Auto (which takes care of image settings for you depending on different shooting conditions), a 3D mode (which, like the Tough TG-810, takes two images from slightly different perspectives to create one stereoscopic MPO image), Beauty Mode (which smooths out wrinkles and softens shadows) and smart panorama.

There's a 3-inch, 460,000 dot LCD display to the rear for framing and previewing shots, in-camera playback, and access to settings and help guides. USB 2.0 connectivity is joined by HDMI, which allows users to view HD recordings on big screen televisions. Images and video are recorded to SD/SDHC/SDXC media and the camera is also Eye-Fi compatible.

The SZ-30MR will be available from April for US$399.99 and will be shipped with OLYMPUS [ib] and Olympus Viewer 2 software.

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