Compared to... Olympus SP-550UZ

The last few months have seen several new 'super zoom' cameras appearing and the SP-550UZ is the most ambitious yet, with a huge 18x zoom. Although the resolution (7MP vs 8MP) and zoom range (18x vs 12x) are different the basic feature set is the same and and we felt it was worth seeing how it compares with Canon's latest. We've included comparisons at each camera's lowest ISO setting (S5 IS: ISO 80, SP-550UZ: ISO 50), ISO 400 and ISO 1600 (the top setting on the S5 IS).

Studio scene comparison (S5 IS @ ISO 80, SP-550UZ @ ISO 50)

  • Canon PowerShot S5 IS: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.67 EV compensation
  • Olympus SP-550UZ: Aperture Priority mode (F5.0), ISO 50, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +1.0 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Olympus SP-550UZ
ISO 80, 1/40 sec, F5.0
ISO 50, 1/25 sec, F5.0
3,176 KB JPEG
3,712 KB JPEG

Although we found the SP-550UZ frustratingly lacking in many respects there's no doubt that Olympus pulled off quite a feat squeezing a full 18x zoom range (with a true wideangle) into such a compact camera; there's really not a lot between these two in terms of detail, and the the SP-550UZ actually has marginally better corner sharpness. There's a lot more difference in color, with Canon's strong reds looking particularly vivid next to the Olympus's rather weakly warm tones.