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You are hereHome > Best Digital Cameras > Olympus SP-550 UZ

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Olympus SP-550 UZ Review

Review Date: May 7, 2007

Olympus SP-550 UZ
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Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

The Olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom is currently "the world's most powerful ultra zoom." It features 7.1MP resolution, a whopping world-record 18x wide-angle optical zoom and a large high-resolution 2.5 in. LCD monitor.

There are lots to like with the Olympus SP-550 UZ:

  1. It stays with 7.1MP resolution -- a wise decision. In doing so, the engineers can keep noise low and concentrate in adding real value to the camera -- which they did in spades here.
  2. Not only does the Olympus SP-550 UZ has the most optical zoom in any long zoom digital camera, but it also starts out with a wide-angle focal length, important for capturing large group shots and expansive landscape vistas.
  3. So, now the serious photographer can indulge in wide landscapes (28mm), telephoto shots (504mm) and macro photography (10 cm) -- all in one versatile camera.
  4. New is CCD-Shift Image Stabilization that effectively counteracts camera shake when using a long focal length and/or slow shutter speed. In addition, Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) favours a high ISO (up to ISO 1600; ISO 3200 and 5000 at 3MP resolution) and fast shutter speed to eliminate or reduce blurred shots caused by subject movement.
  5. If you've ever despaired of seeing the image on the LCD in dimly lit conditions, Olympus' Bright Capture Technology brightens the image on the LCD so framing and composing in the dark is not a problem anymore.

As you'd expect from any digital camera targeted to the serious photographer, the Olympus SP-550 UZ has full exposure flexibility with Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority and full Manual modes, plus 23 Scene Modes to automate the most common picture-taking situations. You can display a histogram or grid lines. Movies are recorded with sound at 640x480 @ 30fps. Capture the moment with Burst Mode at 1.2fps for 7 frames (7MP), or 7fps for 15 frames (3MP), or 15fps for 20 frames (1.2MP).

The Olympus SP-550 UZ comes with 20MB of internal memory and runs on 4 AA batteries. Shutter speed range is from 1/1000 sec. – 15 sec., and there is even a Bulb shutter speed for special effects photography.

Optional accessories include the WCON-07 Wide Conversion Lens (0.7x) and the TCON-17 (1.7x) Telephoto Conversion Lens (1.7x); Lens Adapter Tube CLA-10 required for both lenses. An optional Remote Cable Release that plugs into the camera's USB connector is also available.

The Olympus SP-550 UZ should appeal to serious amateur photographers who desire an ultra zoom with a high degree of control and lots of useful practical features such as a wide-angle optical zoom and CCD-shift image stabilization.

Read our Olympus SP-550 UZ review...
Olympus SP-550 UZ
QuickFact™ Sheet
Olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom
Image Sensor 7.1 Megapixel (effective), 7.4 Megapixel gross, 1/2.5” CCD
Lens 4.68-84.24mm (28-504mm equivalent in 35mm photography), 14 lenses in 11 groups, 4 aspherical lenses, 2 ED lenses
Zoom Seamless to 100x (18x optical and 5.6x digital)
Aperture Range f2.8- f4.5 (adjustable in 1/3 EV step)
LCD 2.5” (6.4cm) LCD, approx. 230,000 pixels
Viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (with dioptic correction)
Focus System CCD Contrast Detection
Focus Ranges

Normal Mode:
Wide: 3.94” (0.1m) – infinity
Tele: 47.24” (1.2m) – infinity

Macro Mode:
Wide: 3.94” (0.1m)
Tele: 47.24” (1.2m)

Super Macro:
0.39” (0.98cm) – infinity

Focus Mode iESP, Auto, Spot AF, Selective AF Target, Manual
Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec. –15 sec., Bulb
ISO Auto/High ISO Auto/50/100/200/400/800/1600/3200*/5000* (*approx. 3MP)
Metering Mode Digital iESP Auto Multi-Pattern TTL, Spot Metering, Center-Weighted Metering
Exposure Compensation ± 2 EV steps in 1/3 EV steps
White Balance iESP2 Auto, One-Touch, Preset (Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, 3 Fluorescents)
Recording Modes Still Image: DCF Exif 2.21, JPEG, PIM 3
Movie Mode: AVI Motion JPEG
Adjustment Resolutions 3,072 x 2,304, RAW/SHQ/HQ
3,072 x 2,048, 3:2/SHQ/HQ
2,560 x 1,920, SQ1 High, Normal
2,304 x 1,728, SQ1 High, Normal
2,048 x 1,536, SQ1 High, Normal
1,600 x 1,200, SQ2 High, Normal
1,280 x 960, SQ2 High, Normal
1,024 x 768, SQ2 High, Normal
640 x 480, SQ2 High, Normal
Shooting Modes 30 Shooting Modes: Auto, Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, My Modes, GUIDE, Scene Presets (portrait, landscape, landscape + portrait, night scene, night + portrait, sport, indoor, candle, self-portrait, available light portrait, sunset, fireworks, cuisine, documents, auction, shoot & select1, shoot & select2, beach, snow, underwater wide 1, underwater wide 2, underwater macro), Movie
Panorama Modes Up to 10 frames automatically stitchable with OLYMPUS Master software when using Olympus brand xD-Picture Card™
Sequential Shooting Hi-Speed2: 15 frames per second for 20 frames (1.2MP)
Hi-Speed1: 7 frames per second for 15 frames (3MP)
Normal speed: 1.2 frames per second for 7 frames (7MP)
Bracket: Exposure bracketing up to 5 frames
Interval Shooting
Selftimer 12 seconds/2 seconds, AUTO
Shooting Assist Functions Histogram, Frame assist
Movie Mode AVI Movie with sound, 640x480/30fps, SHQ ; 640x480/15fps, HQ ; 320x240/30fps, SQ1 ; 320x240/15fps, SQ2
Image Processing TruePic TURBOTM Image Processor
Pixel Mapping Automatic Pixel Mapping (APM) available via menu setting
Noise Reduction Set automatically at shutter speeds of 0.5 seconds or longer
Image Playback Still image: Single, index, enlargement, slideshow, calendar, album, histogram, rotation
Movie: Normal, fast-forward, reverse, frame-by-frame
Playback Edit Effects Still image: lighting fix, red-eye fix, black & white, sepia, crop, resize, rotate, brightness, saturation, frame, label, calendar, layout
Movie: frame edit, frame index, still image cropping
Direct Printing Options PictBridge and DPOF
Flash Built-in
Hot Shoe No
Flash Modes Auto (for low and backlit conditions)
Red-eye reduction
Fill-in + red-eye
Slow Sync
Flash Working Range Wide: 14.8ft (4.5m), Tele: 9.2ft. (2.8m) at ISO 200
Wide: 42.3ft (12.9m), Tele: 26.2ft. (8.0m) at ISO 1600
Flash Compensation Flash intensity adjustment ±2 steps in 1/3 increments
Settings Memorization On (stores changes) / Off (restores default settings)
Date/Time Calendar Automatically recorded with each image up to the year 2099
Memory 20 MB (Internal)
Removable Media Card xD-Picture Card™ (16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512MB, 1GB or 2GB)
Outer Connectors USB Connector, A/V Output, DC Input
Auto-connect USB USB 2.0 Full Speed
System Requirements Auto-connect USB: Windows 98SE/ME/2000PRO/XP/Vista/Mac OS 9.0-9.2/OS X 10.1-10.4
Software: Windows 98SE/ME/2000PRO/XP/Vista/Mac OS 10.3 and higher
Operating Environment Operation: 32 – 104°F (0 – 40°C) 30-90% humidity
Storage: -4 - 140°F (-20 – 60°C) 10-90% humidity
Power Supply (4) AA batteries, AC Adapter (C-7AU)
Size (W x H x D) 116 x 78.5 x 78 mm /
4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in.
Weight (camera body only) 365g / 12.9 oz. without batteries and media card
MSRP US $499.99 / CDN $599.99 / UK £375

Package Contents:

  • SP-550 UZ digital camera
  • 4 AA alkaline batteries
  • USB cable (CB-USB6)
  • Audio/Video cable (CB-AVC3)
  • Neck strap
  • Manual
  • CD-ROM (Olympus Master 2.0 Software)
  • Warranty card

*Specifications and design are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.
All trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective holder.
©2007 Olympus Imaging America Inc.

Product technical specifications (including MSRP and Included Accessories) are as represented by the manufacturer and subject to manufacturer's change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. Product color availability and included accessories may also differ by country or area. Please verify the latest specs from the appropriate manufacturer's site.

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Though we make every effort to strive for accuracy in reproducing these specs, we do occasionally make mistakes, so verify with the manufacturer's site for the latest specs. Also, in the early stages of a product introduction, you can almost guarantee there will be some errors from the manufacturers themselves as they update their sites. If you see any mistakes, please contact us. We do appreciate your writing in with the corrections and thank you in advance!

Olympus SP-550 UZ


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