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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus SP-560 UZ


Olympus SP-560 UZ Review

Review Date: Dec 3, 2007

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Olympus SP-560 UZ


Monday, Nov 5, 2007 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • SP-560 UZ
  • No memory card (but 10MB Internal Memory) [I received a 2GB Olympus xD-Picture Card]
  • 4x AA Alkaline Batteries
  • Neck Strap, Lens Cap, Lens Cap Retainer String
  • USB and A/V Cables
  • Documentation: Quick Start Guide Instruction Manual (English, French, Spanish)
  • Software CD: Olympus Master 2.0

The Olympus SP-560 UZ improves on the SP-550 UZ with better AF and a wider starting focal length of 27mm (versus 28mm on the SP-550 UZ). It is still an 18x optical zoom camera which means that the longest focal length is now only 486mm (versus 504mm on the SP-550 UZ). This is a good thing really because at 504mm, I found it almost impossible to hand hold the camera and get a stable focus lock; at 486mm, I have not found this to be a problem.

Otherwise, it is basically the same camera with the same handsome body design and solid construction.

I believe all digital cameras should have Area AF where the AF Frame can be moved about on the screen for off-centre focusing. The SP-560 UZ Area AF has 13 across x 11 down = 123 positions that go almost to the edge of the screen! Once you've selected AF Mode = AREA in the MENU, all you have to do to activate it is to press and hold the OK/FUNC button for about 1 sec., then use the ARROW Keys to position it on screen. Then press and hold the OK/FUNC button for another 1 sec. to set it in its new position. Easy and intuitive, though the 1 sec. holds slow things down slightly.

A digital camera targeted to serious and advanced photographers should have a Live Histogram. There is nothing like a Live Histogram to help you determine whether your image is correctly exposed. You cannot rely on the LCD monitor no matter how clear and detailed it is because today's LCD monitors tend to adjust its display (usually, brighten) to present a bright picture. So it's quite easy to mistake an underexposed picture as correctly exposed on such LCD monitors. The SP-560 UZ has 2 Live Histograms! Besides the traditional histogram with a distribution curve, you can also opt for a display of bright and dark areas.

If reading the above gives you the impression that the SP-560 UZ is brimming with features that a knowledgeable photographer would like, you're right. And the converse is also true: it takes a knowledgeable photographer to make the most of the SP-560 UZ.

Concerning the AF issues that some encountered on the SP-550 UZ, the SP-560 UZ seems to have resolved them (especially with the shorter max. focal length). It can still be a problem to lock focus sometimes in low light at full tele, for example when trying to lock focus on the moon or buildings at night. An infinity focus lock would be much welcomed here.

Master 2 Software

Olympus Master 2

The Olympus Master 2 software is very user-friendly and an excellent upgrade from the previous offering. It displays all info on one screen, including very complete EXIF info. You can do image editing, resize, crop, insert text, brightness & contrast, color balance, tone curve, gamma, auto tone correction, hue & saturation, monochrome & sepia, sharpness & blur, distortion correction and red-eye reduction.

It also processes RAW files: exposure compensation, white balance, picture mode, contrast, sharpness, saturation, B&W filter, picture tone, gradation, noise filter and color space.

The Olympus SP-560 UZ is a well designed and very good ultra zoom digital camera. It is enjoyable to use with an excellent wide-angle for large group and wide landscape shots and a tele that is more manageable than on the SP-550 UZ. The serious photographer will appreciate the extensive amount of control and customization available, the excellent metering and very good image quality at the low ISOs.

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