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Olympus SP-560UZ Review

December 2007 | By Richard Butler


Review based on a production Olympus SP-560UZ with firmware V3.1

Olympus was one of the first manufacturers to realize that building digicams around small sensors allows much longer zooms to be offered without the bulk of the camera becoming unmanageable. With its "Ultra zoom" range, starting back in 2000 with the 2.1MP C-2100UZ, Olympus almost single-handedly created a niche for digicams offering 10X optical zooms in relatively compact formats. Over the years, that niche has developed into a popular and fiercely fought market segment.

Realizing that the utility of a 10X zoom was great enough to make many users overlook the compromises that such a large zoom range entails, Olympus decided to investigate whether customers would put up with still more compromises if the zoom range was even greater. The result was the SP-550UZ with its astonishing 18X zoom range. And, just a few months later, the Olympus was joined on the market by similar offerings from Panasonic and Fuji, suggesting it wasn't alone in its thinking. So here we have Olympus' second-generation 18X zoom camera, the SP-560UZ. The question is, having lost its unique selling point, can the Olympus still make a convincing pitch for your money, and have the SP-550's shortcomings been overcome? Let's find out...

Headline features

  • 18X optical zoom, giving a 27mm-486mm equiv. range
  • Dual IS, combining sensor shift technology with high ISO settings
  • 8.0 million pixel sensor
  • ISO 6400 at 3.1MP
  • ISO 3200 at full resolution
  • RAW mode
  • Face detection
  • Face detection-combined In-camera red-eye reduction
  • Rapid continuous shooting (up to 15fps at 2MP)
  • 25 scene modes
  • Smile mode (waits for subject to smile)
  • Expression Edit
  • Shadow Adjust
  • Control of off-board flashguns, with latest firmware

SP-560UZ key specifications

Street price • US: $375
• UK: £260
Body Material Plastics
Sensor

• 1/2.35" Type CCD
• 8.5 million pixels total
• 8.0 effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3264 x 2448
• 3264 x 2176 (3:2)
• 2560 x 1920
• 2304 x 1728
• 2560 x 1920
• 2304 x 1728
• 2048 x 1536
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
• 1600 x 1200
•1280 x 960
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480

Movie clips • 640 x 480 @ 30 fps
• 320 x 240 @ 15 fps
•160 x 120 @ 15 fps
• AVI Motion JPEG with WAVE monaural audio
Lens

• 27 - 486 mm (35 mm equiv)
• F2.8 - F4.5
• 18x optical zoom

Focus

• TTL contrast-type auto focus
• Single / Continuous AF
• Manual focus
• Center / Moveable area / Multi / Face Detect

Focus distance

• Normal: 10 cm (wide) / 1.2 m (tele) - Infinity
• Macro: 10 cm (wide) / 1.2 m (tele) - Infinity
• Super macro (60mm equiv.) 1 cm - Infinity

Metering

• 'ESP' metering
• Center weighted
• Spot

Shutter speed

• 15-1/2000 sec (extremes depending on exposure mode)

Aperture • F2.8-F8 (wide)
• F4.5-F8 (tele)
Shooting mode • Auto
• Picture Stabilization (auto High ISO)
• Natural Light
• Natural Light with Flash
• Movie
• Program
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Manual
• Scene modes
Scene modes

• Portrait
• Landscape
• Landscape with portrait
• Sport
• Night
• Night with portrait
• Indoors
• Candle
• Self portrait
• Available Light
• Sunset
• Fireworks
• Cuisine
• Behind glass
• Document
• Auction
• Shoot and select (fast-moving subject)
• Shoot and select (constantly moving subject)
• Smile shot (Takes a photo when your subject smiles)
• Beach
• Snow
• Under water wide 1
• Under water wide 2
• Under water macro
• Quick shutter

Sensitivity

• Auto (Up to ISO 400)
• High Auto (Up to ISO 800)
• ISO 64
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
• ISO 6400 (3.1 MP)

White Balance • Auto
• Fine
• Shade
• Fluorescent (daylight)
• Fluorescent (warm white)
• Fluorescent (cool white)
• Incandescent
• Custom
Continuous

• 1.1 fps for around
• 7 fps, ~28 frames at 3.1MP (ISO 400 or higher)
• 15 fps, ~40 frames at 1.2MP (ISO 400 or higher)

Flash

• Built-in pop-up
• Range: 4.5 m (w), 2.3 m (t) (ISO 200), 6.4m (w), 4.0m (t) (ISO 400)
• Modes: Auto, On, Off, Slow Sync Front and Rear, Red eye reduction
• Optional off-board flash remote control

Storage • 47 MB internal memory
• xD-Picture Card (not included)
Viewfinder

• Electronic viewfinder (EVF)

LCD monitor • 2.5" TFT LCD
• 230,000 pixels
• Brightness boost
• Approx. 97% coverage
Connectivity • USB 2.0 High speed
• A/V out (NTSC/PAL switchable)
Power • 4 x AA batteries alkaline or NiMH (alkaline included)
• Charger optional
Other features

• DPOF
• PictBridge
• Index view
• Histogram
• 2 and 10 sec self-timer
• Hardware-based Face Detection AF/AE

Optional accessories

Leather case SP-550UZ
CLA-10 conversion lens adapter
TCON-17 1.7x Teleconverter (requires CLA-10)
Compact AC Power Adapter C-8AC
PT-037 Underwater case
Leather case

Weight (no batt) 460 g (16.2 oz) inc memory card and batteries, 365g without.
Dimensions 116 x 78.5 x 78 mm (4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in)

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2007 dpreview.com and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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