Olympus SP-560 UZ review
User Marc850 pretty much nailed it in his intelligent review.
I bought the earlier model SP-550UZ when it first came out in the beginning of last year, and must say I was a bit disappointed with its mediocre performance - especially in the department of both auto and manual focus. Don't get me wrong - I managed to take some nice pictures with it, but only in spite of its serious flaws. So now, a year later, when the 570UZ was announced, I got very excited about the new model's 20X manual zoom ring, improved manual focus, and 10 megapixel sensor. I quickly sold my 550UZ.
However, after recently testing out the new 570UZ, I discovered to my dismay that the motorized zoom ring has an extremely jerky quality, and is too easily activated, often ruining compositions I'd settled into before releasing the shutter - I much prefer the earlier models' discrete zoom lever. Also, the new UZ's body had become a bit bulkier than it's predecessors' more comfortable and elegant design - without that compactness, you might as well move on up to a DSLR.
That was when I decided to jump back a step and look into the 560UZ, the model released immediately after the 550 late last year. I hadn't ever considered the 560 because it seemed too similar to my 550, both physically and functionally. But after careful analysis, I now realize that Olympus had reached near-perfection in the 560UZ for this class of super-zoom point-and-shooters. Every problem which I'd experienced in the 550UZ had been dealt with and solved. The autofocus is now much quicker and more responsive, and the manual focus is greatly improved, delivering accurate results. With its 8 megapixel sensor, shots come out astonishingly sharp. The colors and white balance of this camera have been greatly improved over its predecessor.
The 550 was merely a study for the 560, and probably should never have been released. However, I must give Olympus the highest praise for creating in the 560UZ one of the most versatile and superbly-performing photographic instruments I have ever encountered! And I've encountered quite a few. How they managed to cram so many features into such a small device and make it work so well is nothing short of miraculous. And now at its lowered price (on account of the release of the 570), a better deal for what you are getting can NOT be found. Folks, don't even bother with the inferior new 570 - it's a classic case of overdevelopment (sorry Olympus, you got it superbly right the last time). So, I'd run out and snatch up the remaining 560UZ's while they're still lying around. Simply put, the 560UZ is a talented amateur photographer's treasure.
This camera will probably not perform well for beginners or amateurs who haven't truly explored its functions in relation to the principles of photography (i.e. those who gave poor reviews to this camera). Don't go shooting in AUTO mode at a location with low light and then complain that your pictures look grainy - of course the camera automatically switches to a higher ISO. Best results are achieved when using an optimum combination of MANUAL and AUTO settings, which this camera allows you to do with flying colors.
Also, this camera is probably not fast enough for professional sports photography or any other extremely quick action - but then, NO point-and-shoot in this class is. And other reviewers who expect DSLR results from a point-and-shoot do a real disservice to this review system. However, within certain limitations, wonderful action shots can absolutely be attained with the 560!
Make no mistake about it - the folks at Olympus have created a highly sophisticated piece of machinery here capable of doing almost anything a CAMERA IN ITS CLASS could possibly be hoped to do (it's not a DSLR, for cryin' out loud). You just have to know its strengths and its limitations. Its functions are all in there, intelligently laid out for those who are willing to try them out.
Ignore the bozos who make unreasonable demands of a truly superb mid-range camera.
Olympus, you really nailed this one. Bravissimo!!!