Olympus SP-560UZ Review
Olympus created the first 18X zoom camera with the rather disappointing SP-550UZ. While it may not have been the greatest all-round camera, it does appear to have grabbed the attentions of the technicians and marketers at other camera makers. As a result, the SP-550UZ's successor no longer has the advantage of being the only 18X zoom on the market.
One of the most useful aspects of the lens is not so much the extraordinary length of the telephoto end of the zoom (which is only truly useful in a very specific situations), but the wide-angle end of the lens that extends to a really handy 27mm. This is as wide as the kit lens supplied with most contemporary DSLRs and obviates the need to lie in gutters, back yourself into corners or only befriend contortionists and structural elements of human pyramids, in order to get your chosen subject in shot.
|27mm (equiv) Wide||framing compared||486mm (equiv) Tele|
The SP-560UZ, like its rivals from Panasonic and Fuji, features an optical Image Stabilization system (in this case, like the Fuji S8000fd, using a moving sensor). This is pretty much essential with such a long lens because the longer the zoom, the more it will tend to show signs of being shaken. As a result, a long focal length usually requires fast shutter speeds so that there simply isn't time for the camera to noticeably shake while the shutter is open. The traditional approximation used was that most photographers can consistently, steadily hand-hold a camera down to around 1/equivalent focal length. Consequently, a 486mm equivalent zoom requires high shutter speeds or some kind of stabilization to be useful.
The stabilization test
In this simplified version of our SLR IS test, eight hand-held shots were taken of a static scene with the stabilization off and on. The shutter speed was decreased by a third of a stop and repeated (from 1/250 sec to 1/50 sec). The zoom was set to its maximum position (486mm equiv.), the test chart was 4.5 m away from the camera. This procedure was repeated ten times.
The resulting images were then inspected and given a blur score - 'Sharp' (no visible blurring at 100%), 'Mild Blur' (the kind of camera shake that is tolerable at small print sizes) 'Heavy Blur' (unusable due to camera shake) and 'Very Heavy Blur' (little discernible detail).
As the charts below show we were able to get a measurable one and a third stop advantage. More importantly we were able to get 'usable' results around half the time at shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second, rather than the one-in-ten hit rate we could manage hand-held.
Hand-held, no stabilization (486mm equiv.)
Already at 1/250th of a second we're not guaranteed to get a sharp shot every time and below 160th of a second, less than half of the images we take are properly sharp.
Image stabilization on (486mm equiv.)
With IS on, you're still not certain to get steady shots every time at 1/200th of a second. However, we found that you could still expect around half your photos to be sharp at 1/60th of a second, when you would be very lucky to get any at all with IS turned off. Overall, this doesn't appear to be quite as effective as the system employed in the Fuji S8000fd and means you'll still benefit from taking a couple of shots to be sure of getting a perfect one. It is still a feature worth having, not least because it stabilizes the image on the viewfinder, rendering distant detail distinctly.
In one of the stranger features tucked away in the SP-560UZ's labyrinthine menus (and afforded one whole sentence in the full instruction manual), is the heroically gimmicky Expression Edit function. And, to be fair to the limited space given to it by the manual, it is pretty self-explanatory: it's a post-shooting special effect that manipulates the facial features of a picture in which the camera has detected a face.
|Here is a picture of the glamorous model whose services we use for the fine detail noise reduction test. She may not be one of London's great beauties but she is nothing if not amenable. And, when the moment came, was the only 'person' we could find willing to have the end results of this function shown in public.|
Shadow AdjustOn a slightly more sensible note, the SP-560UZ has a 'Shadow Adjust' mode which uses a combination of changed exposure and tone curve alterations to brighten faces it has recognized (it will also lift shadows in contrasty scenic shots). Here are the results of switching the mode on and off:
|Shadow Adjust off (Face not recognized)||Shadow Adjust on|
|Fascia walkie talkie building London by ian herridge|
from Abstract Architecture
|Global Reach by cjf2|
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.
The company behind popular photo editor Picktorial 3 just released the X-Pack: a preset package that allows you to add Fuji's in-camera film simulation profiles to your RAF files in post.
Photoshop. GoPro. Every once in a while a product emerges that defines a category. And sometimes, it vanishes just as quickly as it arrived on the scene. This week's Throwback Thursday remembers the Flip, the pocket camcorder everyone had – until they didn't.
The Nokia 8's dual-cam combines the image data from a 13MP RGB sensor and a 13 monochrome chip for better detail, improved dynamic range and lower noise levels.
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mk IV has won the European Imaging and Sound Association’s Professional DSLR of the Year award, making this the third year in a row that the brand has beaten Nikon to the top spot in the professional camera category.
A photograph and quote tweeted out by former president Barack Obama has officially become the most popular tweet of all time, receiving over 1.3 million retweets and 3.4 million likes.
Edward Weston was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, and in this episode of Advancing Your Photography we learn the extreme technique he used to capture one of his most famous still life photos.
Instagram just released a small update that will make a huge difference if you're active on the photo sharing app: threaded comment replies.
Venus Optics has announced the price and delivery date of the second lens to join its Zero-D line up: the 15mm F2 for Sony’s E mount. A lens they've dubbed, "the world's fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame."
Cinnac is a new social network for photographers that will help you separate your good photos from your great ones through a Tinder-like community-based rating system.
The Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM is an understated jewel of a lens, and one that we've enjoyed on a variety of cameras since its release almost five years ago. Its relatively small size and image stabilization make it a versatile tool for a variety of photography - check out our sample gallery.
You don't need a fancy studio or tons of gear to capture the kind of classic product photography you see in magazines. In this video, Dustin Dolby shows you how to do it with just a couple of speedlights and some know-how.
The life-logging camera is trying to make a comeback. Say hello to FrontRow, a live-streaming enabled life-logging camera from Ubiquiti that hangs on a necklace like a pendant.
When a prospective client approaches you, don't just say "yes" right away. Here's a useful list of questions you should be asking before you decide to take the job and name your price.
Samsung just revealed a blazing-fast new Solid State Drive capable of data transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s.
DJI has developed a 'Local Data Mode' that lets pilots fly without being connected to the Internet. The mode should calm recent fears over data privacy and security when flying DJI drones.
After 1.7 million downloads on Apple computers since the launch in November 2015, Aurora HDR will be available for Windows PCs for the first time with the 2018 release.
The company behind the new Meyer Optik Goerlitz lens manufacturing business has formed a new brand to bring back the Biotar 75mm F1.5 that was made by Carl Zeiss Jena in the 1940s and 50s.
The updated Qualcomm Spectra system is a dual-camera setup that is capable of sensing depth and motion in real time.
A sizable swath of the United States will be treated to a total eclipse of the heart – er, sun – in just under a week. Here are a few excellent guides to help you photograph this rare occasion.
f11 Magazine—an ad-supported, free magazine for 'photographers and aficionados' that focused on photos rather than gear—is suspending publication due to financial troubles.
The Minolta MC Rokkor-X 40-80mm F2.8 is unlike any zoom lens you've probably ever seen. Instead of a helicoid, it uses a gearbox, and because of this it's still one of the sharpest zoom lenses out there.
If you're looking to switch to Sony, the company's new limited-time "α trade up" promotion can snag you up to $500 + trade-in value towards a brand new a9, a7 II, a7R II, or a7S II when you hand over your DSLR or mirrorless camera.
The Google Camera app exclusive to the company's own Pixel phone has been unofficially ported to other Android devices. If you're willing to take the risk of installing, you can now use features like HDR+ on the Galaxy S8, LG G6, OnePlus 5, and more.
49-year-old David Hilos is known by the Singapore photography community as the 'camera whisperer.' When a service center says a camera is beyond repair, Hilos can usually coax it back to life.
Photographer Ryan Kelly captured one of the most viral and graphic images of the horrifying events in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. This is the harrowing story behind that photograph.
Data storage manufacturer Synology has added a new, lower-cost NAS to its DiskStation j line that has a maximum capacity of 40TB, and which is aimed at home users and photography enthusiasts.