Reviews and Problems with Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom
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Olympus SP-550 UZ
16 January 2008
Conclusion: With a whopping 18X optical-zoom lens and image stabilization, there's a lot to like about the Olympus SP-550 UZ, but a few features need to be enhanced for it to become king of the superzooms.
Pros: Enormous zoom range, which starts with a true wide-angle view. Mechanical and digital image stabilization. Some innovative ISO and burst-mode functions. Helpful guide mode.
Cons: Some issues with video capabilities. Some controls could be better designed, especially the zoom level. No articulating LCD. Mediocre boot time. A bit pricey.
Excerpt: Olympus describes as shortly as being far and wide, the world’s most powerful ultra zoom, which is quite true ( 100x total zoom capability ). This camera comes with Dual Image Stabilization (Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization keeps your shot steady by compensating for camera shake (ideal for shooting in low light and zooming), and Digital Image Stabilization freezes the action with high ISO sensitivity and fast shutter speeds) , with high-speed sequential shooting and new...
Conclusion: You have to be careful when reviewing cameras that you take a realistic view of how the typical buyer will actually use it, and what they can realistically expect it to do. I say this because the SP-550UZ gave us one of the most time-consuming, frustrating lab tests we've ever done. Why?
Pros: Amazing 18x zoom range, Truly versatile 28-504mm range, with real wideangle, Comprehensive and extensive feature set, Effective Image Stabilization system (good for two stops), Decent resolution, Good, though by no means class-leading results at lower ISO settings, Generally natural color rendition (slightly anemic reds aside), Raw mode (with JPEG duplicate options), Superb battery life, Excellent handling & build quality, Decent electronic viewfinder, Nice screen - g...
Cons: Images lack biting crispness, some loss of fine detail to noise reduction, Some corner softness at long end of zoom, Distortion throughout the zoom range, Focus slow at long end of zoom and in low light, Occasional focus errors (where the camera says it's in focus and it isn't), Full resolution burst mode unimpressive, Purple fringing and chromatic aberration (fairly mild, but visible), Slow file writing (xD-Picture Card), Poor artificial light Auto White Balance and ...
Summary: The Olympus SP-550 UZ shakes up the ultra zoom category with an 18x optical zoom that starts at a beautiful 28mm wide-angle coverage to the longest telephoto available so far at 504mm. No longer playing catch up to its competitors, the SP-550 UZ now includes CCD-shift image stabilization to help eliminate camera shake when using long focal lengths. This camera is packed with features
that should appeal to the serious amateur photographer.
Excerpt: Several years ago, if you wanted an ultra zoom camera,
there was only one name to know: Olympus. One of their cameras even developed
a sort of cult following: the C-2100UZ. Sadly, the cameras that followed weren't
nearly as interesting, with their biggest flaw being a lack of image stabilization.
Since then, the ultra zoom market has been taken over by the likes of Canon,
Panasonic, and Sony.
Pros: Incredible 28 - 504 mm zoom range in a relatively small body, Very good photo quality (in most situations), Optical image stabilization, Well-built body feels solid in the hand (despite plastic construction), Large LCD display is visible in low light situations (though see issue below), Full manual controls, Can store four sets of camera settings to a spot on the mode dial, AF-assist lamp; slow, but accurate low light focusing, Two live histograms to choose from, VGA ...
Cons: Olympus Master software produces terribly RAW to JPEG conversions; Mac version was quite buggy as well, Poor color accuracy using custom white balance, Slow shot-to-shot times when shooting in RAW format, LCD/EVF tend to "blow out" (bloom) when shooting brightly lit subjects, Sluggish focusing at telephoto end of lens and in low light, High ISO settings basically useless, Fastest continuous shooting modes require much lower resolutions; regular continuous mode is weak...
Excerpt: We’ve all heard the jokes and seen the cute ads about how bigger is better. Since this is a decidedly G-rated site, our discussion of the biggest one out there has to do with mega-zoom digital cameras. In this case it’s the 7.1-megapixel Olympus SP-550UZ, a compact point-and-shoot digicam with an 18x optical zoom that’s equivalent to a very wide 28mm to a whopping 504mm in 35mm terms.
Pros: 7.1-megapixel camera with potent 18x optical zoom; Dual Image Stabilization
Excerpt: The Olympus SP-550 UZ certainly made a splash when it was announced since it was the first and only (so far) Point and Shoot digital camera with an 18x optical zoom, wide angle lens. It also features dual image stabilization, a 15fps continuous shooting mode, 7.1 megapixel resolution and a 2.5 inch LCD.
Summary: The Olympus SP-550UZ is certainly a very impressive camera in many respects. Most obviously its massive 18x optical zoom range is quite remarkable to use in practice. Unlike the vast majority of super-zoom compacts, the ability to zoom-out to a decent wide-angle equivalent of 28mm could be enough to sell it to many people. But it’s when you start zooming in that the camera continues to surprise even after regular use: it just keeps getting closer and closer.
Pros: Massive 18x optical range with wide angle., Effective built-in image stabilisation., Great build quality and ergonomics., Closest focusing distance of just 1cm.
Cons: Some coloured fringing when zoomed-in., General softness throughout range., Quite leisurely startup and shutdown speed., Screen doesn't flip-out.