The Olympus SP-560 UZ is a digital camera
targeted to serious amateur photographers.
It has 8.0 effective megapixels resolution on
a 1/2.35 in. image sensor. The Olympus lens is
a 27-486 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-560 UZ to be very good to excellent at ISO 50 with good
(27mm, 35mm equivalent)
(486mm, 35mm equivalent)
The Olympus SP-560 UZ has an impressive 18x wide-angle
optical zoom lens with a CCD-shift Image Stabilization
which helps to reduce camera shake. In the above
pictures, we show the coverage for 27mm and 486mm.
We love the 27mm wide-angle coverage as well as
the incredible tele reach!
9.8mm [57.1mm], Manual,
2.5 sec., F5.0, ISO 50, Tripod used
The Olympus SP-560 UZ can focus in Super Macro
mode to as close as 1 cm (0.4 in.). I recommend
you use AF Mode = Area so you can position the
AF frame to where you want the focus to lock (in this case, the eye).
AF hunts a bit (3 sec.) in low-light at Super Macro. 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
lens barrel. However, AF locks positively.
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 energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs on the ceiling). Fortunately,
the SP-560 UZ allows WB to also be set manually -- and the WB inconsistency previously observed in the SP-550 UZ has been fixed.
AWB works very well in natural light.
You can set the ISO on the Olympus SP-560 UZ
from 50 to 6400. 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
6400, the presence of noise is clearly visible
at full image size and with progressive loss of image
CA is slightly present in some very high contrast everyday shots.
In the above photo, the area delimited by the
red square at top left, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom
right, shows minimal purple fringing.
4.7mm [278mm], Manual mode,
Pattern, 15 sec., F2.8 ISO 50
One Touch WB, Self-Timer (2 sec.),
The Olympus SP-560 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 F2.8.
To eliminate camera shake, I place the camera
on a tripod and use the 2 sec. self-timer. Noise
reduction kicks in whenever
the shutter speed is slower than 1/2 sec., and
doubles the time required to store the shot. The SP-560 UZ LCD gains up very nicely in low-light and the display is smooth (no grain).
Overall, the Olympus SP-560 UZ has fixed the AF issues noticed on the SP-550UZ, image quality is very good to excellent at the low ISOs, and metering is right on. I love the possibility to customize the Stabilizer button, which I set to AE lock. This way I can point to the sky, press the button to lock the exposure (only), then recompose, press the shutter release button to lock focus and take the picture. No more burnt highlights in the sky.
The pictures in the Olympus SP-560 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 3264 x 2448
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