Objects of Desire: Olympus LS-20M

July 18, 2011

By Dan Havlik

If you’ve ever tried to record a video blog post or capture an event using the HD feature on that trusty compact camera in your bag, you’ve probably noticed the audio quality of your movie stinks. Of course, you can always pop a stereo microphone onto your HD-DSLR and go a more professional route but you may prefer something that’s portable and discreet.

For that, we recommend the new Olympus LS-20M, a handheld device that takes the quality of its audio recording as seriously as its video capture. In fact, the LS-20M comes out of Olympus’s audio division and is basically a Linear PCM recorder with an HD video feature added on. Along with shooting 1080p HD, the LS-20M records pristine audio in 24 bit/96hHz Linear PCM stereo sound. With both the camera lens and microphones located on top of the unit, all you need to do is point the device at your subject and press record.

A 2-inch LCD screen on the front of the LS-20M gives you a live video feed of what you’re shooting while a 1.46-inch LCD data screen displays time, audio levels and battery life. An HD video compression feature will reduce the size of your files so they’re easy to upload to video sharing sites such as Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook.

The camera in the LS-20M has a 4.1mm (49mm in 16:9 format, 59mm in 4:3) autofocus lens with a 4x digital zoom. While that might not sound particularly impressive, it’s the ease of use and immediacy of being able to record HD and pro-level audio from a close distance that makes the LS-20M great in a pinch. And if you want to give your video clips a funky look, try one of the in-camera “Magic Movie” effects including Rock, Sketch, Pinhole and Pop.

Cost: $299
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