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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus SP-590UZ


Olympus SP-590UZ Review

Review Date: Apr 20, 2009

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Olympus SP-590UZ


The Olympus SP-590UZ is a digital camera targeted to beginner and serious amateur photographers. It has 12 effective megapixels resolution on a 1/2.33-inch CCD image sensor. The Olympus lens is a 26-676 mm (35mm format equivalent) F2.8(W)-F5.0(T), 26x wide-angle optical zoom.

We find the overall image quality of the Olympus SP-590UZ to be good to very good at ISO 64 with good image detail.

26x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 26mm Tele 676mm
Wide-angle 4.6mm
(26mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 119.6mm
(676mm, 35mm equivalent)

The Olympus SP-590UZ has an impressive 26x wide-angle optical zoom lens with a CCD-shift Image Stabilization which helps to reduce camera shake at the long focal lengths. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 26mm [you can barely see the yellow building] and 676mm [now you see it!]. We love the 26mm wide-angle coverage as well as the incredible tele reach!

Both pictures were taken handheld and, at Web sizes, they appear sharp. But if you click on the tele one, you'll find that it is blurred and very soft. The softness is the price you pay for that long tele reach, and the blurriness is because the shutter speed was 1/125 sec. and that is just too slow to hand hold the shot. This is the downside of that incredible tele reach: at the max tele reach, you will need to use a tripod (or monopod) to get sharp pictures -- just like pros do whenever they use a super long zoom lens.

Super Macro
9.2mm [52.1mm], Aperture-Priority, Pattern
1 sec., F3.5, ISO 64, Self-timer, Tripod used

The Olympus SP-590UZ can focus in Super Macro mode to as close as 1 cm (0.39 in.). AF may take about 2 sec. to lock in low-light at Super Macro. However, AF locks positively. 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).

Auto White Balance Indoors
AWB One Touch WB
AWB 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-590UZ allows WB to also be set manually. AWB works very well in natural light.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 64
ISO 64
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800
ISO 400 ISO 800
ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400  
ISO 6400  

You can set the ISO on the Olympus SP-590UZ from 64 to 6400. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that noise at ISO 64 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 detail.

The Olympus SP-590UZ does not offer RAW file format.

Chromatic Aberrations

CA is present in some very high contrast shots. In the above photo, the area delimited by the red square at top right, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom left, shows some purple fringing.

Long Shutter Speed
Long Exposure
4.6mm [26mm], Manual, Pattern, 15 sec., F6.3 ISO 64
One Touch WB, Self-Timer (2 sec.), Tripod Used

The Olympus SP-590UZ provides a maximum long shutter speed of 15 sec. 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 F6.3. 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-590UZ LCD gains up in low-light.

The Olympus SP-590UZ is attractive to both beginner and serious photographers. Serious photographers may be more demanding as far as image quality is concerned, preferring the SP-590UZ to have better noise control and would want the ability to capture images in the RAW file format. Images are soft and seems to be the price we pay for that long zoom in such a relatively small package. At the longer focal lengths, the use of a tripod (or monopod) will go a long way in keeping camera shake in check to ensure sharp photos.

The pictures in the Olympus SP-590UZ 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 3968 x 2976 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

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 bandwidth. Thanks!


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