Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick Look at Olympus LS-20M Linear PCM Recorder

A couple of days ago I got wind that Olympus announced a new camcorder. I thought this odd because they have stuck to producing digital still cameras for the longest time. I'm looking around the inter-joint and all I see are press release posts surrounded by ads.


Eventually I head for the Olympus web site digital camera section. Not there. I'm baffled but it hit me. Olympus does make audio recorders. That is where I found it. Yes, it is a new recorder with a video that is located in the audio section.

Olympus LS-20M recorder
The LS-20M is a dual microphone recorder that also handles 1080p video. From the looks of the site they seem to want to market it as a Flip camcorder replacement.

I see it more as a possible alternative device to the Zoom Q3 for journalists, reporters or those that need good audio and reference videos.

There is also the musician market that also wants a portable device for their music videos or demos. In fact, looking at the special effects that this rascal can do I feel certain we are about to flooded with a lot more whiz bang videos with very little effort.

I beg of you, lay off the special effects.

Ok, let's look under the hood.

Recording Format: Good news for Mac users, it records in the .mov format. This can mean reduced headaches about getting cooperation from iMovie or the soon to be affordable Final Cut X.

PC Users, you know the drill. Can't open .mov with Windows Movie Maker or Live Movie Maker. You will need to convert the .mov to .avi with the beloved and time tested MPEG Streamclip.

Audio records in the .wav and .mp3 so you can have it either way it floats your boat. There are twin mics on the camcorder and there is an external microphone and earphone jack. Should you want more there are mic accessories that can extend your audio range.

Records on SD/SDHC memory cards and they are nice enough to fork over a 2GB card. 1080 30fps with best audio will record 15 minutes on a 2GB card. I'm figuring about 45 minutes on a 8GB memory card.

At 720 30fps you get an hour on a 8GB. Should you need to throw back to 640x480 you'll get a whopping 3 hours on an 8GB card. And that is with the audio cranked at the highest audio level. Dial the audio back to tolerable and the battery will kick before the memory card will. Intriguing.

The image sensor is really small otherwise they would not refer to in in fractions. 1/4 inch CMOS, 5.32 Mega Pixel. Outside should be fine and indoors you will need extra lighting.

Not much more to tell. There are few demo videos but until it is released and somebody ponies up $299 we won't know if it has the juice or not. I did find a product demonstration video from Olympus on YouTube so if you are interested pop your peepers at the video. It is 12 minutes.

So yeah, I'm kinda keeping track of the newbies coming to market. For those that need really good audio and HD video this might be what you are seeking. Or not. Time will tell.


  1. I've owned this for a month now and have done a stellar recording of an in studio rehearsal, and just yesterday a full 720p recording(for easy youtube upload) and it is the finest thing I've seen out there for this kind of application. I went to my guitar salesman at Guitar Center in Roseville, MN to get the famous Q3 Zoom. He mentioned the poor craftsmanship of it, and I noticed the shell is kinda chinsy, not to mention the Zoom doesn't have a tripod screw-in. So after noticing the Olympus does I found it to be to my liking.
    Love it!
    HypNoXIOUs will probably use this for a long time to keep up on our shows, rehearsals and here and theres.
    Pwajdeur Swanstrom with

  2. Good to know. I don't understand why Olympus doesn't advertize more but there you go; never underestimate a company's desire not to sell a good product.

    There is a built-in market for all kinds of folks but I don't get the sense they have done any kind of introductions to journalists, musicians or educators.


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