The Olympus SP-550 UZ is a digital camera
targeted to serious amateur photographers.
It has 7.1 effective megapixels resolution on
a 1/2.5 in. image sensor. The Olympus lens is
a 28-504 mm (35mm format equivalent) F2.8(W)-F4.5(T),
18x optical zoom with CCD-shift image stabilization.
We find the overall image quality of the Olympus
SP-550 UZ to be very good at ISO 50 with good
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
(504mm, 35mm equivalent)
The Olympus SP-550 UZ has an impressive 18x wide-angle
optical zoom lens with a new CCD-shift Image Stabilization
which helps to reduce camera shake. In the above
pictures, we show the coverage for 28mm and 504mm.
We love the 28mm wide-angle coverage as well as
the incredible tele reach!
9.8mm [58.9mm], Program Auto,
1/13 sec., F3.5, ISO 50, Tripod used
The Olympus SP-550 UZ can focus in Super Macro
mode to as close as 0.98 cm (0.39 in.). I recommend
you use AF Mode = Area so you can position the
AF frame to where you want the focus to lock.
AF is not partifularly fast. Note that, as is
most often the case with ultra zoom digital cameras,
in low-light, it will be difficult to use Super
Macro even with AF-assist since the AF assist
light cannot reach the subject due to the long
There are three metering modes: ESP Multi-Pattern,
Spot Metering, Center-Weighted Metering. Using
ESP most of the time, images are well exposed
when shooting shady scenes. Scenes with bright
highlights (e.g. including the sky) turn out to be more under-exposed than we'd like.
Auto White Balance
One Touch WB
As the above two pictures show, the Auto White
Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under
artificial lighting [I have two ordinary household
tungsten light bulbs on the ceiling]. Fortunately,
the SP-550 UZ allows WB to also be set manually -- though it does not work consistently.
AWB works very well in natural light.
You can set the ISO on the Olympus SP-550 UZ
from 50 to 5000. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate that noise at ISO 50 and ISO 100 is
under control. Noise starts to be more visible
at ISO 200 but is still usable. At ISO 400 to
5000, the presence of noise is clearly visible
at full image size and with loss of image
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).
4.7mm [28mm], Manual mode,
Spot, 15 sec., F5.0 ISO 100
One Touch WB, Macro, Self-Timer (2 sec.),
The Olympus SP-550 UZ 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 15 sec. at F5.0.
To eliminate camera shake, I place the camera
on a tripod and use the 2 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 SP-550 UZ LCD gains up very nicely in low-light and the display is smooth (no grain).
The pictures in the Olympus SP-550 UZ 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 3072 x 2304
pixels original size (click on the image for the
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