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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus SP-550 UZ


   


Olympus SP-550 UZ Review

Review Date: May 7, 2007

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Olympus SP-550 UZ

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This Olympus SP-550 UZ Review is based on a production model. All sample images are unretouched, except where specified.

This review has been submitted to DIWA Awards [70%].

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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.

What I like about the Olympus SP-550 UZ:

  • Very good image quality at low ISOs (ISO 50, 100)
  • Wide-angle 18x optical zoom lens (28-504mm, 35mm equivalent)
  • Effective CCD-shift image stabilization
  • Very good handling and build
  • Full exposure flexibility
  • Very good metering (in the shades)
  • Area AF with 123 positions for easy off-center focus
  • 2 Live Histograms
  • Accurate AF even in low-light, though a bit slow
  • Very good EVF
  • Very good battery life
  • Availability of optional Tele Conversion Lens TCON-17 (1.7X, 35mm equivalent 856.8mm); Lens Adapter Tube (CLA-10) required

Improvements wish list:

  • Reduce startup time (perhaps by eliminating first stage of lens extension)
  • Improve slow file writing
  • Improve AF speed
  • Improve accuracy and consistency of Custom WB
  • Better high speed continuous mode at full resolution
  • Improve AF at macro setting
  • USB 2.0 High Speed
  • Provide an easy Infinity focus mode
  • Manual zoom and focus rings
  • A tilting LCD for close-to-the-ground shooting

See if you fit the Olympus SP-550 User Profile below:

 

Olympus SP-550
User Profile
Desire a 7.1MP resolution digital camera with very good image quality (at low ISOs).
Desire effective image stabilization.
Want a long zoom. Want a long zoom. Want a long zoom.
Want a full-featured digital camera.
Want eveything a beginner or serious amateur photographer needs to learn, experiment and grow in digital photography.
Want more exposure flexibility than provided by a point-and-shoot digital camera.
Want pro-level features, such as RAW, manual WB, Histogram, Area AF.

 

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