Olympus SP-560UZ Review
The SP-560UZ offers six white balance presets (sunny, cloudy, tungsten lightbulb, and three fluorescent settings) as well as the usual auto white balance and a custom (manual) setting. Outdoors we found the auto white balance to be excellent, though in artificial light (as our tests show) it rarely produces a 'neutral' result - even using the manual presets. If you don't like color casts when shooting indoors at night you need to switch to custom white balance.
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 6.1%, Blue -9.1%
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red 2.7%, Blue -10.7%
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 3.1%, Blue -19.1%
|Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red 5.2%, Blue -12.6%
The flash on the SP-560UZ offers pretty reasonable performance, reaching 4.5m (feet) at the wide end of the zoom at ISO 200. Its combination of preflash and post-processing also does well at avoid red-eye. It also offers the choice of front- or rear-curtain synch, giving a better choice over flash behavior than most similar cameras. Recycle times can be pretty pedestrian, but that is likely to be affected by the chemistry of the batteries you choose to use.
Good color, excellent exposure
Excellent color, good exposure
As well as having two synchro flash modes, the SP-560UZ has a feature not shared by any other compact we can think of: the ability to wirelessly control and off-board flash. With 'RC' mode engaged, the SP-560UZ can trigger the Olympus FL-50R or FL-36R flashguns. Arguably much more useful than a hot shoe, this allows much more professional lighting than most compacts can achieve (if you're willing to buy a flash that will cost nearly as much as the camera again). It can only control a single flash but even this allows much more subtle lighting than is possible with the onboard flash.
|FL-50R flash used wirelessly||Onboard flash|
The SP-560UZ has two macro modes; standard and 'super'. The standard macro mode lets you get as close as 10cm at the wide end of the lens (120cm at the long end), while the 'Super Macro' option reduces the closest focus distance to a very impressive 1cm (under half an inch), capturing an area just over an inch high. However, although the macro performance is pretty good, there is very little overlap between the focusing distances covered by Macro mode and those available in normal shooting modes, so you have to engage Macro mode to focus closer than 70cm at the wide end and 1.5m at the long end.
Although it's lovely to be able to say that the SP-560UZ can focus down to a 1cm distance, the reality is that it's almost impossible to ever do so. Because the lens is so large, it blocks out most light hitting your subject when you get that close.
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
Considering the zoom range - 27-486mm equivalent - distortion is kept to a (just) acceptable level, though it is visible at both ends of the zoom.
|Barrel distortion - 1.0% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 27 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 1.0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 486 mm
Specific image quality issues
As with all the cameras we review, we take around 500 real-world images in addition to the studio shots. You can see some of the best of these in the samples gallery at the end of the review but we also look through them to search for any characteristics that are visible in the real world that might not appear in our more formal tests. The SP-560UZ is a camera that has to make compromises in some areas in order to do all the things it does. And, to be completely fair, it does most things pretty well. It takes pleasant images with quite subtle, realistic color representation.
However, a couple of factors count against the Olympus when you're out and about using it. The low base ISO sensitivity means you risk losing image sharpness by shaking the camera during the relatively long exposures it brings, or losing it to noise and noise reduction if you try to up the shutter speed by increasing the ISO setting. The camera struggles to focus as soon as the light levels start to drop, again risking blurred photos. It also loses some sharpness and contrast at the long end of the zoom because of its ambitious design. The combined effect of these problems is that around 10 percent of our images (shot in a variety of conditions), were marred in some way.
It a zoom as long as the one on this camera, fringing was always likely to feature, especially if our suspicions about it sharing a lens with the CA-prone Fuji S8000fd are correct. And, sure enough, it is visible in images taken at the long end of the lens. That said, it does appear better controlled than on the Fuji, suggesting that Olympus are devoting some degree of processing to the problem.
|100% crop||486 mm equiv., 4.5|
Contrast / tone curve
In common with many cameras built around small sensors, the SP-560UZ struggles in scenes with extremes of light and shade though its metering does a good job and rarely gives up on the highlights altogether. In extreme circumstances it will do, however. It is also somewhat prone to letting the red channel overexpose and 'clip' when confronted with saturated reds in a scene.
|100% crop||45 mm equiv., F3.3|
|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
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.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.