Olympus SP-550 UZ Review
Announced just before PMA in January 2007 the SP-550UZ is the first serious attempt by Olympus to take back some ground in the super zoom sector, a sector it almost single-handedly created back in 2000 with the legendary C-2100UZ, but has since struggled to make a mark in. The SP-550UZ is a significant step up from the previous models in the 'SP' range (including the current SP-510UZ), offering 7MP resolution, image stabilization (CCD-shift) and an astounding 28-500mm (equiv.) 18x optical zoom range. The 'super zoom' market is an increasingly crowded and competitive one, and the SP-550UZ goes head to head with popular and well-regarded models such as the Sony H5, Canon S3 IS and Panasonic FZ8. Rarely has a camera caused so much interest based on its specification alone... so can the SP-550UZ live up to the hype? Let's find out, starting as ever with the headline specifications:
- 18x wide optical zoom (equivalent to 28-504mm on a 35mm camera) 1:2.8-4.5
- Dual Image Stabilization
- 7.1 Megapixels
- 6.4cm/2.5” LCD with 230,000 pixels
- High burst rate (up to 15fps in 1.2 Megapixel mode )
- Super Macro mode (from as close as 1cm)
- P/A/S/M exposure modes
- RAW mode
- BrightCapture Technology for better low light photography – also available in movie mode
- 23 scene modes (including Portrait, Sports, Night Scene)
- 25 languages on board
- Internal memory plus xD-Picture Card slot
- Supplied with Olympus Master software and four AA batteries
Side by side
Although not a small camera the SP-550UZ is very similar in size and weight to the Canon S3 IS and Panasonic Lumix FZ8 (also the Sony H2/H5, not shown). In fact the only cameras in this class that are significantly different in size are the considerably larger Fujifilm S6000 and the Panasonic FZ50 (not shown).
Olympus SP-550UZ specifications
|Street Price||• US: $490
• UK: £300
|Body Material||Metal and plastic|
• 1/2.5" Primary color filter (RGB) Type CCD
|Image sizes||• 3072 x 2304
• 3072 x 2048 (3:2)
• 2560 x 1920
• 2304 x 1728
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480
|Movie clips||• 640 x 480 30fps
• 320 x 240 30fps
• Up to capacity of card (H cards only)
|File formats||• Still: JPEG (EXIF 2.21), RAW
• Movie: Quicktime Motion JPEG (AVI)
• Sound:Wave format
|Lens||• 4.7-84.2mm (28-504 35 mm equiv)
• 14 Lenses / 11 groups
• Four Aspherical glass elements
• 18x optical zoom
|Image stabilization||Yes (CCD Shift)|
|Conversion lenses||Yes (with CLA-10 adaptor)|
|Digital zoom||Up to 5.6x|
|Focus||• TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection
• Predictive AF
|AF area modes||• iESP multi-pattern
• 143 area selectable spot
• Manual focus
|AF assist lamp||Yes|
|Focus distance||• 0.1m-∞ (wide), 1.2-∞ (tele)
• 1cm closest focus (super macro)
|Metering||• ESP multi-pattern
|ISO sensitivity||• Auto ISO
• ISO 50
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200 (2048 x 1536 max)
• ISO 5000 (2048 x 1536 max)
|Exposure compensation||• +/- 2EV
• 1/3 EV steps
|Exposure bracketing||• +/- 5EV
• 1/3 EV steps
|Shutter speed||• 15-1/2000 sec (dependent on mode)
• Bulb (max 8 minutes)
|Aperture||F2.8 - 8 (wide) F3.1 - 8 (tele)|
|Scene modes||• Portrait
• Landscape with portrait
• Night scene
• Night scene with portrait
• Self portrait
• Available light portrait
• Behind glass
• Shoot & select 1
• Shoot & select 2
• Underwater wide 1
• Underwater wide 2
• Underwater macro
|White balance||• Auto
• Fluorescent 1
• Fluorescent 2
• Fluorescent 3
• Custom white balance
|White balance fine tune||-7 Red - +7 Blue|
|Self timer||2 or 12sec|
|Continuous shooting||• 1.2fps/7 frames (Full image size)
• 7fps/15 frames (3MP)
• 15fps /20 frames (1.2MP )
|Image parameters||• Black & White
• Brightness correction
• Saturation correction
|Flash||• Built in pop-up
• Red-eye reduction
• Fill-in with red-eye reduction
• Slow sync
• Working range 0.3-4.5m
|LCD monitor|| 2.5-inch Polycrystalline TFT
|Connectivity|| DC in
|Storage||• xD-Picture Card
20 MB built-in memory
|Power||• 4x AA batteries (alkaline included)
• Optional NiMHs and charger
|Other features||• RAW data edit
• In camera editing / effects
• Panorama function (with optional Olympus xD-Picture card)
• Digital image stabilizer for movie capture
|Weight (no batt)||365g (12.9 oz)|
|Dimensions||116 x 78.5 x 78 mm (4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in)|
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