The Olympus SP-550 UZ shakes up the ultra zoom category with an 18x optical zoom that starts at a beautiful 28mm wide-angle coverage to the longest telephoto available so far at 504mm. No longer playing catch up to its competitors, the SP-550 UZ now includes CCD-shift image stabilization to help eliminate camera shake when using long focal lengths.
This camera is packed with features
that should appeal to the serious amateur photographer.
It sports a new DSLR-look, has excellent build and construction, and very good handling.
A large 2.5 in. LCD has a high 230K resolution and "gains up" very well (with no grain!) in low-light.
Image quality is very good at the low ISOs of 50 and 100. As with most compact digital cameras, higher ISOs tend to suffer from noise and image detail loss. The custom White Balance on my review camera was a bit finicky and probably requires a firmware fix.
Performance is average. Also do bear in mind that tracking and focusing on a moving subject at the extreme focal length of 504mm can be challenging: we wouldn't consider using the extreme focal length for either sports photography or street photography.
Scene Modes and a new on-screen GUIDE help steer beginner photographers. Based on our use of the camera, we believe that it really requires a knowledgeable photographer -- or a beginnner willing to learn -- to make the most of the SP-550 UZ's many features.
The Olympus SP-550 UZ has many advanced features
and should prove attractive to those who understand how to use them. The high degree of control
it allows the photographer makes it a good
choice for photography students.