Reviews and Problems with Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom
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Olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom Digital Camera Review
27 October 2007
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: 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.
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 ...
Excerpt: Camera Test: Olympus SP-550UZ225885OlympusSP-550 UZIn many ways, the Olympus SP-550UZ represents both the best and the worst of digital camera marketing. On the one hand, it's is a solidly built EVF, with an astonishing 18X optical zoom (4.68-84.24mm f/2.8-4.5, or a 28-504mm equivalent in 35mm), effective sensor-shift image stabilization, a 7.1 Megapixel CCD, a RAW shooting mode, and lots of other impressive features.
Excerpt: The just-announced 7.1 megapixel Olympus SP-550 UZ (MSRP: $499.00) is certain to get people talking long before it hits the shelves. Why? Because its lens is long, but not just long -- loooooooooong is more like it. The Olympus SP-550 UZ (UZ=Ultra Zoom) is the first digital camera to boast an 18x optical zoom, which seamlessly covers a respectably wide 28mm to an impressive 504mm at the long end (35mm equivalents). It also close focuses to 1cm in super macro mode.
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...