Olympus SP-550 UZ review

Started Sep 25, 2007 | User reviews thread
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Steve Fink
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Olympus SP-550 UZ review
Sep 25, 2007

Overall, I like this camera!

This is my 9th digital camera and 5th different manufacturer, including 3 Canon DSLR cameras.

As expected from a camera in this class, noise is high and shooting speed is slow. Small sensor camera's have noise, they all do. Processing will never match a DSLR for a P&S camera, I realize that.

I found a significant image quality issue with my SP-550. When I shoot RAW, I can get outstanding detail from the Olympus Master 2 software but not any other software I tried in conversion.

What you have to do is select the RAW conversion button, the Basic 2 tab, and change the NR drop down box to "off". This option doesn't apply to Lightroom or CS3 however. This is not to be confused with the in-camera noise reduction setting.

The image is now true RAW, apparently no in-camera processing. With it, comes the noise, even at ISO 50, although it's not very much and will never be seen in print.

That said, the detail that is missing in JPG shots and RAW with NR set to the default "on" is superb! With some post-editing, your ISO 50 shots will be near DSLR-like.

Once above ISO 50, all bets are off for the above statement. ISO 100 can still produce fine prints while ISO 200 can produce decent 4X6 prints.

Problems:

1) Low contrast, long distant shots can "hunt" for AF. Try to lock focus on something nearby and opening up the lens to F8 for wider focus area. This may be the only time where iESP AF has value.

2) The camera's image processor is slow! Forget continuous shoots of a pitcher in a wind up unless you use the gadget features the camera offers.

3) Noise reduction is evident for JPG shots, especially if you compare them to RAW processed in Olympus Master 2 by turning off noise reduction. JPG are "Smoothed out" at the expense of lost detail.

Steve Fink's score
4.3
Average community score
4.2
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