Olympus SP-550 UZ Review
Operation and controls
Olympus obviously decided that the best approach to its return to the stabilized super zoom market was to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the SP-550UZ, and so as well as that huge zoom there's a real wealth of photographic features on offer here, and it's a challenge to find anything that's been left out.
As with most such cameras the SP-550UZ inevitably suffers in comparison to even the cheapest entry-level digital SLR when it comes to actually using all those features, and it could really do with a control dial of some sort to make using the manual and semi automatic exposure modes a little more fluid. But the FUNC menu and level of customization do help keep the important stuff at your fingertips and the user interface is clean and relatively intuitive.
Rear of camera
The rear of the camera doesn't break any new ground; the controls are built around the ubiquitous four-way controller (which also provides direct access to self-timer, flash mode, macro/super macro and AE compensation. There are also buttons for switching to playback mode, deleting images, bringing up menus and changing the amount of information displayed on-screen. The button above the LCD screen is used to toggle between the main monitor and the electronic viewfinder.
Top of camera
|From the top the SP-550's excellent front and rear grips are obvious, as is the debt the overall styling owes to traditional SLR design. When powered down the lens retracts into the wider fixed barrel.|
Display and menus
Overall there is little to complain about here; the SP-550's user interface does a good job of taming the huge feature set, is easy on the eye and relatively intuitive. There are some inconsistencies and foibles that take some getting used to, and I cannot see the point of the two-level menu system (other than to offer a pretty screen when you press the menu button), but for most everyday photography the interface rarely gets in the way.
|As usual you can choose the amount of detail displayed on-screen, from very basic (nothing but the focus brackets) to this, the full works, including a 'memory gauge' - the blue line on the right, which turns green as the buffer fills.||You can also display a large, clear RGB histogram. Hidden away in the record menu there's also an option called 'direct' that uses color overlays to highlight overexposed areas directly on the preview image.|
|Half-press the shutter and the display changes to indicate the focus area selected (in iESP mode). There's no exposure information (shutter speed/aperture) in full auto mode (or any of the scene modes), but a green dot shows correct focus, and the flash symbol turns red if it is turned off and the exposure is likely to result in camera shake. In all other modes you do get full exposure info.||In aperture or shutter priority modes the up and down keys change the relevant setting. The value turns red if it's outside the usable range (i.e. if it would result in over or under exposure). To accept the setting and use the keys to change, for example, the self-timer (or bring up a menu), you have to press 'OK', which I found annoying in the studio, but isn't a problem when out shooting.|
|The image stabilizer is turned on and off using the dedicated button on the top of the camera (this can be reassigned using the custom button menu).||The manual focus mode has an option for enlarging the central portion of the frame. As with all such systems the low resolution of the focus aid makes it almost pointless.|
|This rather Canon-like 'Function' menu is activated by pressing the OK/FUNC button in most modes. Here you get quick access to white balance, ISO, drive and metering options (note that the menu is normally displayed as an overlay on the live preview).||There is a special Shooting Guide position on the mode dial, which brings up three pages of basic advice on how to use the camera.|
|The SP-550UZ has a grand total of 23 subject modes. That not enough for you? Then create up to four of your own with Olympus's highly customizable 'MyModes'.|
|Pressing the menu button brings up a page of icons covering Camera Menu, Setup, Image Quality and (if the mode dial is set to SCN), Scene mode. There is also a 'Silent Mode', which quickly turns off all camera sounds. This was apparently at the request of the Trappist monk community...||Selecting the Camera Menu option brings up an extensive menu system with five pages of options (many of which are duplicated in the quick 'FUNC' menu, so you don't actually need to visit here that often.|
|The Image Quality option lets you choose from a fairly wide selection of image quality / size variations, including RAW.||Unusually you can choose the size / quality of the JPEG duplicate saved with each RAW shot (or turn it off altogether).|
|The setup menu is where you change basic camera settings; audio, card formatting, LCD brightness and date/time etc. This menu is also accessible from playback mode.||It's worth noting that the Image Stabilizer button (on the top of the camera) is highly customizable, and can be set to control something you're more likely to want to change on a regular basis.|
Mar 26, 2007
Jan 25, 2007
Mar 3, 2010
Mar 17, 2010
|scrum break away by al booth|
from Sport competition
|Parking Deck by Olaf R|
from Your City - Parking Garage
|Communication Tech by alberto_b|
|With & without by OBellini|
from Empty - Full
When one of his friends got a filter stuck on his $1,700 Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L, former MythBuster Adam Savage removed it using an unlikely, terrifying tool: a band saw.
The New Yorker asked Magnum's famed photographers, in town for the agency's 70th anniversary, to go out and capture 'the fleeting beauty of New York City's golden hour.' This is what they shot.
Roger Cicala is a difficult man to impress, but he's been waxing lyrical over at Lensrentals about Sony's new 12-24mm wide zoom.
Glassware is one of the most challenging subjects to photograph, especially against a white background. This tutorial shows you how to do it with hardly any gear.
Handevision is now shipping its all-metal Iberit 90mm F2.4 short telephoto lens for Leica M-mount 35mm and full-frame cameras.
Isocell comprises four sub-brands: Bright, Fast, Slim and Dual which are tailored to specific mobile device market demands.
The new store will be located at the Fotografiska center for contemporary photography in Stockhom, Sweden and carry the full range of Hasselblad products.
A recent vacation gave Richard a chance to think about the needs of travel photography – and how our reviews might recognize the perfect travel camera.
Need more evidence that 2017 is the year analog begins its comeback? Well, welcome another new film stock to the world.
The winners of the 10th annual iPhone Photography Awards have been announced, and they're striking.
If you were disappointed by reports that the Sony a9 struggles with adapted Canon glass, you might be able to take some comfort from Metabones' latest update.
Blackmagic Design has dropped the prices of its Video Assist external monitor/recorders for a limited time. Prices of the SD card-based recorders will be reduced in all markets, while supplies last.
Instagram has started testing a new feature called 'favorites' that enables users to share photos with only certain people. Only a small number of users have access to the feature at this time, though it may roll out to everyone in the future.
Lensbaby has announced the Velvet 85 F1.8 for interchangeable lens cameras. The lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony E, Sony A, Pentax K, Samsung NX, Fuji X and Micro 4/3 mounts.
It's the end of an era. Parent company Micron has announced that they are discontinuing the Lexar retail brand. This includes 'memory cards, USB flash drives, readers, and storage drives.'
Youthful trainspotter turned adult photographer, John Sanderson has traveled across the United States, documenting the country's railroads. But you won't find any trains in his pictures.
Sony's new CMOS sensor is backside-illuminated and offers an all-pixel global reset function which should drastically reduce rolling shutter effect when panning.
Shoulderpod has converted its offerings into a lego-like modular system by offering all individual parts of existing products separately, allowing users to build exactly the rig they need for a specific project or simply replace a damaged part.
Photographer Felix AAA has spent the past ten years touring the world with a variety of musicians, capturing behind the scenes shots and portraits. He talks about some of his favorite images on the FujiFilm Blog.
A roll of film discovered in an Argus C2 from an Oregon Goodwill turned out to contain some incredible images – and has been re-united with the original owner's family.
Nikon's 28mm F1.4E ED appears to roundly complete the company's updated lineup of fast, professional prime lenses. We've already seen some initial images from a Nikon ambassador, but we've worked through a gallery of our own, with a lens of our own over the past week. Take a look.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.