The Olympus SP-500 UZ is a medium compact
10x ultra zoom digital camera in a handsome all-black
finish. It sports an extra large 2.5-in. LCD screen.
Startup and shot-to-shot times are average at
about 2 sec. Autofocus is pretty fast and precise
at wide-angle even in low-light situations; at
the long end of the telephoto, it takes about
2 sec. to lock focus. Optional wide-angle and
telephoto lenses can be attached to increase the
reach even more.
Colours: overall black
with silver and chrome accents
Looks: modern, solid
Controls spaced well
Medium Compact: because of its thickness,
best carried hung around the neck or
Dimensions: 105.5W x 74.5H x 71D mm
4.15W x 2.93H x 2.8D in.
Weight: 285g / 10.05 oz. without battery
and media card
Takes 4 AA Alkaline batteries
SPEED OF OPERATION
Average startup with lens extending
about 22 mm (0.9 in.) and LCD turning
on in about 2 sec.
Shot to shot time in about 2 sec.
or more depending on light level and
Included in the box are 4 AA Alkaline batteries.
We recommend that you purchase 4 AA NiMH rechargeable
batteries and a battery charger.
The top of the camera has the Power Button and
the Shutter Release Button, the Zoom Lever around
the shutter release button, the AE Lock button
(customizable), and the Mode Dial. All the other
controls are found on the back.
The flash is of the pop-up kind and needs to
be manually popped up. Beginners who rely on the
camera to fire the flash automatically will need
to remember to pop up the flash first; every one
else will be so happy they have full control over
when the flash fires. The flash power is excellent
and even has a smart feature that increases the
shutter speed in tandem with the focal length
so as to provide a shutter speed fast enough to
avoid camera shake.
The back is well organized: there is an extra
large 2.5 in. LCD monitor, and the controls are
on the right side, adequately well spaced out.
There is enough space for the thumb to rest and
hold the camera firmly. The handling is comfortable
You can record movies with sound at HQ (320 x
240) at 30fps, limited only by the size of your
memory card. You'll be able to store approx. 15
sec. of movie in the Internal Memory, or approx.
3 min. 10 sec. on a 128MB xD-Picture Card. If
sound is set ON, you cannot zoom during movie
recording; if sound is OFF, you can zoom during
movie recording. A Movement Compensation ("Anti-Blur")
feature helps reduce camera shake during movie
No xD-Picture Card comes with the camera but
there is 10MB of internal memory.
xD-Picture Card Storage
320x240 movie 30fps
320x240 movie 15fps
As the above table shows, at SHQ, only 63 images
can be saved on a 256MB xD-Picture Card. We recomend
that you purchase either a 512MB or 1GB card,
depending on the number of images you normally
shoot in one session.
BY CONTROL BUTTONS (clockwise starting from
the EVF/LCD button)
DISP./GUIDE (Info, Grid, Histogram,
Off / displays a short help in MENU)
QUICK VIEW (press shutter release
button to instantly return to Shooting
Flash (Off, On only when flash is
manually popped up) / Also the Erase
button in Playback/Quick View
4 Way Arrows
Normal: Focus, exposure and white
balance are locked at the first frame.
1.2 frames per second up to 13-15
frames in HQ mode or 5-8 frames in
SHQ mode (the sequential shooting
speed varies depending on the record
HI: Pictures can be taken at a faster
speed than normal sequential shooting.
1.75 frames per second up to 3 frames.
AF: Adjusts the focus 1 frame at a
time. The shooting speed is slower than
for normal sequential shooting.
BKT: Takes pictures sequentially
while changing the exposure for each
frame. The focus and white balance
are locked at the first frame.
+/-0.3EV, +/-0.7EV, +/- 1EV, 1/3EV
steps; 3 or 5 frames
You select a Sequential Shooting mode
on the Camera tab of the Mode Menu,
but only if Noise Reduction is OFF.
Exposure compensation is always ON
and is directly dialed in by using the
LEFT/RIGHT ARROW key in PAS modes.
A live Histogram can be displayed
on screen in shooting mode by repeatedly
pressing the DISP button until the Histogram
displays. You can also display the Histogram
in Playback mode.
Once set, the Exposure Compensation
Indicator conveniently stays displayed
on screen until it is reset to "0"
Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in
1/3 EV increments)
The screen brightness will increase
or decrease to reflect the value you
Note: the exposure compensation value
selected is retained even when the camera
is turned off (so remember to reset
to "0" after using it or the
next time you turn the camera on, your
shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
The USB connector is covered by a small square
rubber flap. The bottom of the camera has a plastic
tripod socket and the battery compartment has
a safety lock to prevent accidental opening of
RIGHT SIDE (looking
from back of camera)
Memroy Card Compartment
LEFT SIDE (looking
from back of camera)
USB / AV OUT
LCD & Menus
There is an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and an
extra large 2.5 in. LCD monitor with a standard
115,000 pixels resolution.
There is a very effective AF-assist which makes
auto focus to be quite fast and precise even in
low-light situations. [Except in situations where
the AF light cannot reach a subject that is too
close to the lens, as in Super Macro mode.]
The Menu structure is the traditional Olympus
"wheel" structure with a Mode Menu and
3 customizable Shortcut Menus, which means that
all functions are accessed thru the Menu. There
is a short help available when the DISP./GUIDE
button is depressed but it would also be very
helpful if text were displayed with the icons.
Exposure Compensation is always ON -- just use
the LEFT and RIGHT arrows. Grid lines and Histogram
are available at the press of the DISP. button.
There are lots of advanced features (AF continuous
shooting, Timelapse shooting, Selective AF Target,
etc.) so a reading of the Advanced Manual (on
the CD) is highly recommended.
Advanced photographers will be glad to know that
they can save images in the RAW file format and
takes 3 frames at approx. 1.7fps. It takes about
8 sec. to save a RAW image, about 13 sec. to save
a RAW+SHQ, and about 11 sec. to save RAW+HQ. A
Histogram can also be displayed in Shooting mode.
- Standard Olympus "Wheel" Structure
Menu: Mode Menu and 3 customizable Shortcut
SETUP: SHORT CUT
- The 3 Shortcut Menus you see when you
press the MENU button can be customized
MODE MENU: CAMERA 1 of 4
- Light Metering (ESP, Spot, Center-weighted
- Macro (Off, Macro, Super Macro)
- Drive (not available when Noise Reduction
- ISO (Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400)
- Self-timer (Off, On 12 sec.)
- Backup (copies from INternal memory to
MODE MENU: SETUP 1 of 5
- Language (English, Français, Español,
- Power ON using SCENE Button (Yes, No)
- Power ON Setup (pic & sound to display
on Power ON)
- Power OFF Setup (pic & sound to display
on Power OFF)
- Record View (displays picture just taken
for about 2 sec.)
- Pixel Mapping
- LCD MOnitor Brightness
- Date / Time
- Dual Time Setup (for those who travel
frequently across time zones)
- meter / feet
MODE MENU: SETUP 4 of 5
- Video Out (NTSC, PAL)
- AF Illuminator (On, Off)
- Shortcut (on Main Menu screen)
- Histogram (On, Off, Direct)
- Frame Assist (None, Horizontal/Vertical
Grid, Diagonal Grid)
MODE MENU: SETUP 5 of 5
- Custom Button: customize the AEL button
on the top (AE Lock, AF Lock, ESP, Macro,
Drive, ISO, My Mode, Self-timer, Syncro,
Flash, Digital Zoom, Noise Reduction, AF
Mode, Focus Mode, Fulltime AF, Voice Memo,
AF Predict, Image Quality, WB)
- Battery Indicator
- Program Auto shooting mode
- Shutter Speed 2 sec.
- Aperture F3.2
- +0.7 Exposure Compensation
- ISO 64
- xD-Picture Card used
- Space for 63 more pictures
- Image Quality: SHQ (2816x2112)
- Super Macro ON
- You can display the Histogram in Recording
and Playback modes
- Cannot display both Framing Guide and
The Olympus SP-500 UZ is overall a well-built
and fun-to-use digital camera. The camera is relatively
light and compact for an ultra zoom but you'll
have to carry it slung over your shoulder or hung
around your neck (or stashed in a backpack). Operations
and shutter lag times are average. The large grip
makes handling very comfortable.