Compared to... Panasonic DMC-FZ8

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Olympus SP-550UZ and the Panasonic DMC-FZ8 at ISO 800. See later in the review for the SP-550UZ's higher ISO modes.

Studio scene comparison (@ ISO 800)

  • Olympus SP-550UZ: Aperture Priority mode (F5.0), ISO 400, Default Image Parameters, Manual (preset) white balance, +1.0 EV compensation
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ8 : Aperture Priority mode (F5.0), ISO 800, Default Image Parameters, Manual white balance, +0.7 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Olympus SP-550UZ
Panasonic DMC-FZ8
ISO 800, 1/320 sec, F5.6
ISO 800, 1/400 sec, F5.0
2,979 KB JPEG
2,631 KB JPEG

When a camera is advertised with a headline 'ISO 5000' sensitivity you might be forgiven for thinking that ISO 800 would be usable. Well as you can see, you have to stretch your definition of 'usable' almost to breaking point for that to be true - the combined effects of noise and noise reduction have produced a result that - whilst fine for social snaps where flash can't be used - is of little value to the serious photographer. The biggest saving grace is that it isn't as bad as the Panasonic (which here acts like the 'ugly friend' teenagers take to bars to make them look better).