Reviews and Problems with Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom
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Camera Test: Olympus SP-550UZ
16 December 2008
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),...
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.
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...
Conclusion: Olympus is to be congratulated for taking the mega zoom category up a level to 18x—and it appears this will be the most powerful model in 2007. Where Olympus continues to fall short is beefing up its processing so its cameras can move quickly rather than forcing photographers to wait for it to save...
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.
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 manu...
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...
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: The banner feature for Olympus’ new prosumer model is 18x optical zoom-an incredible engineering feat for a point-and-shoot camera. While the freedom to go from wide (28mm) to super-telephoto (504mm) is swell, this camera also includes dozens of other remarkable extras.
Pros: Huge zoom and good wide-angle coverage. RAW mode. Bright, informative optical viewfinder. Effective shake-reduction. Good detail at low ISO. Camera seems to say, “I’m a capable, skilled photographer” not “I’m a photo n00b. Please mug me and take my stuff.”
Cons: xD media only. Auto-focus can get confused on what it should be focusing on. No hot shoe for external flash. Olympus Master software (required to process RAW files) has clunky, obtuse UI.
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 renditi...
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 b...