SP-610 UZ - Low quality images
It is mainly the trees on the left that look blurry. Was it windy? There is a bit of flare on the rounded roof of the center building. Other than that the picture looks sharp to me at pixel level.
Looking at the EXIF data it says (in the File Propertries choose the Details tab)....
'Exposure program: Creative program biased to depth of field'. And elsewhere the Exposure Bias shows 0. This implies you left the camera in iAUTO, where the camera is left to guess what you are trying to do.
With iAUTO you are at the mercy of a firmware writer thousands of miles away who by now has forgotten about the model you are working with. Look at the SCENE modes you have available, because these are the ones that iAUTO works with. Try each one and find out what they actually do.
This might be a good time to look at the manual on the CD. It is actually a short course on photography in general, not just an introduction to your particular camera model.
Other than that, try 'P' mode with E(xposure) V(ariation) -0.7. Observe what the green rectangle has settled on, because that is where your camera is focussing. If it has latched on to a plane in the distant sky, take the finger off the button temporarily so the camera can refocus.
Henry Falkner - SZ-30MR, SP-570UZ, Stylus 9010
Henry Falkner wrote:
... If it has latched on to a plane in the distant sky ...
Here's another suggestion you might try. First, go into the camera manual on CD or download one from Olympus' site online. Find out how to reset the camera. Doing this will eliminate any settings and setup changes you've made, including any you might have unintentionally made. After using reset, you'll need to set the date and time again.
Next, get hold of a tripod. Go outdoors when there's plenty of daylight, mount the camera on the tripod and point it toward a building 150 or more feet away, preferably with the sun behind you. Turn image stabilization OFF. Make sure the lens is at its wideangle setting, not zoomed in. Set the mode dial to "P." Make sure there are no wires, branches or anything else in the camera's field of view — things that automatic focus could assume should be in focus. You want infinity focus at the building, nothing else. Take three test shots using the automatic self-timer to trip the shutter. Then make three exposures using your finger (follow the same sequence, self-timer then finger, for each series of exposures below). When using your finger to operate the shutter button, take care to squeeze the button only halfway, pausing to give automatic focus time to do it's job, then squeeze the button the rest of the way down, taking care not to jiggle the camera.
Keeping the camera on the tripod, move to where you can shoot the side of a car or truck, or similar subject, 20 to 25 feet away. Make six exposures.
Finally, with the camera still on the tripod, make several exposures of some well-lit subject, preferably with texture, six to eight feet way. A tree trunk or vehicle's grille, maybe.
When you're through, turn IS back on.
Review your test shots on a PC monitor. If nothing is in focus in any of the infinity shots, your camera needs repair. If the self-timer shots are sharp but some or all of the finger shots aren't, your problem is camera shake. If there are unsharp areas on one side of the image or the other, one or more lens elements is probably decentered.
If all the test shots are sharp, your problem is probably one or both of two things: not giving automatic focus enough time to work and/or not steadying the camera sufficiently/jiggling it slightly when pressing the shutter button. (These problems are much more likely and their effects more pronounced with the lens zoomed.)
An additional possibility in some shots, where there is some thing or area in focus but not the subject you want in focus, is that automatic focus zeroed in on the wrong thing. If that is contributing to your problem, see if you can set the camera's AF default to a center box. Then, if what you want sharp is not in the center of your image area, center the lens on the subject you want sharp, press the shutter button halfway down to obtain focus, then keep the button halfway while repositioning the camera so the subject is off center again. Carefully complete the exposure. If possible make two or three exposures this way to increase the likelihood at least one will be sharp where you want it to be.
I hope these suggestions will prove helpful.