The Olympus SP-500 is a digital camera
targeted to beginner and serious amateur photographers.
It has 6.0 effective megapixels resolution on
a 1/2.5 in. image sensor. The Olympus lens is
a 38-380 mm (35mm format equivalent) F2.8(W)-F3.7(T),
10x optical zoom.
We find the overall image quality of the Olympus
SP-500 to be good to very good, though highlights
tend to be blown.
(38mm, 35mm equivalent)
(380mm, 35mm equivalent)
In the above pictures, we show the coverage for
38mm and 380mm.
10.9mm [65.7mm], Program
Auto, ESP, MWB
1/1.3 sec., F3.2, ISO 80, Super Macro
Tripod used, White Page 'Reflector'
The Olympus SP-500 can focus in Super Macro mode
to as close as 3 cm (1.18 in.) but it has a hard
time doing so in low-light, even with the AF-assist
ON (in fact, the AF assist light cannot reach
the subject due to the long lens barrel). For
the picture above, the face is in slight shadows
(light source is from the ceiling) and the AF
cannot focus on the left eye (using Selective
AF Frame to position the AF Frame). I therefore
use a white paper (ordinary printer paper) as
a 'reflector' to throw some light on the left
side of the face. After a number of trials, I
obtain an in-focus picture.
Auto White Balance
Automatic WB gives a pinkish cast, but One-touch
WB (i.e. Manual WB) reproduces white very well.
As expected, AWB works well in natural light.
The 100% crops
above (area delimited by the white rectangle)
demonstrate the noise levels at ISO 80, 100, 200,
and 400. Noise is low at ISO 80 and ISO 100. At
ISO 200, noise becomes visible and at ISO 400,
it is visible as splotches of colours, especially
in the black areas. However, as the image samples
in the Olympus
SP-500 Photo Gallery show, images at ISO 400
display without trace of noise at 800x600 pixels.
CA is visible in very strong highlights everyday
situations. In the shot above, CA is visible at
the red square in the centre of the picture (reproduced
at 100% crop at bottom right).
6.3mm [38mm], Manual mode,
ESP, 13 sec., F8.0 ISO 80
Macro, Self-Timer (12 sec.), Tripod Used
The Olympus SP-500 provides a maximum long shutter
speed of 15 sec. (plus Bulb) in Manual mode. Here
I'm checking out the presence of noise at long
exposure (noise usually increases the longer the
shutter is left open). As usual, I place Bamm-Bamm
under my office desk, in the shadows, to obtain
a long exposure of 13 sec. at F8.0. To eliminate
camera shake, I place the camera on a tripod and
use the 12 sec. self-timer. Noise reduction (set
in MENU: CAMERA Tab) kicks in whenever the shutter
speed is slower than 1/2 sec., and doubles the
time required to store the shot.
The pictures in the Olympus SP-500 Digital
Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of
what the camera is capable of. I have provided
samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality
60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 2816
x 2112 pixels original size (click on the image
for the original version).
You can safely assume that most macro shots and
slow shutter speed shots required the use of a
tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name.
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious