Reviews and Problems with Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom
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Olympus SP-550 UZ Review
6 October 2007
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...
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...
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...
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.
Summary: Olympus's super-zooms have come of age, with a stabilised 18x lens that's fast, sharp and stable. Image quality is still a step below a DSLR, but the combinatin of 7MP resolution, compact size and full manual controls makes the SP-550UZ a tempting propostion.
Summary: The Olympus SP-550UZ is a great camera that will suit people after a little more zoom in their life. The images could have used some minor improvements, but the huge zoom and fantastic design make this a worthwhile choice for some buyers.
Pros: 18x optical zoom, Great design, Low chromatic aberration, ISO 5000
Cons: Pictures a little soft, Colour could use some improvement, Regular burst mode sluggish