Olympus SP-560 Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

Olympus SP-560 Ease of Use 7
Features 9
Movie Mode 8
Build Quality8
Colours 7
Photo Quality 7
Style 8
Lowlight 7
Macro 9
Value for Money 7


The Olympus SP-560 is an 8 megapixel digital camera with an 18x optical zoom lens. It incorporates manual exposure controls and other more advanced features such as image stabilisation. At the time of writing the review the SP-560 offers one of the longest lenses of any digital compact camera. When zoomed right out the lens also has wide angle capabilities. These two extremes give plenty of scope and flexibility for different types of photography.

Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

Although I like the colours in this picture it is not as sharp as I would like to see. This is true both in the centre of the photo and as you move out towards the edges. I think a camera with this length of lens should be able to do a bit better than this.

This is a good effort. Many digital cameras really struggle for sharpness when the lens is not zoomed in at all. Although my test picture is not perfect the SP-560 does well compared to other cameras with wide angle lenses.

Well this is the big test for the SP-560. On smaller prints the picture looks quite promising, but as you blow the picture up you start to see problems. Purple fringing shows more clearly than with other super zooms. This is where a purple line is added to the edge of brightly coloured objects. On top of this, overall clarity slips away too. As mentioned in the first outdoor shot the picture could be sharper. Noise also starts to show in the sky.

With the subject a lot closer to the camera than for the scenic type shots, focusing improves. I have also used the face detection setting to help the camera along. The picture could be improved if it was brighter, as I think it has a dull feel to it.


With the subject a lot closer to the camera than for the scenic type shots, focusing improves. I have also used the face detection setting to help the camera along. The picture could be improved if it was brighter, as I think it has a dull feel to it.

Time to get my sunglasses out! In contrast to the outdoor portrait this photo is too bright. Other cameras are able to calculate the amount of flash needed to brighten a scene without blasting out detail.

This is a much better effort than the one where I used flash. In fact it stands up well against other cameras too. As long as the light remains relatively bright this offers an alternative to using flash.

Macro, Colours and Noise

The macro shot is the best of my test shots by some distance. It is an impressive effort. The picture is bright and sharply focused. It suggests you should be able to take some very good close ups with this camera.

Colours are standard. In one or two places, such as the outdoor portrait, I would like the colours to pack a bit more punch.

At ISO 400 the camera makes a pretty good fist of my test. This supports my findings from my indoor portrait without flash. Once again I have noticed some purple fringing creeping in. Pushed up to ISO 1600 picture quality collapses. At this level quality is very poor indeed.


The SP-560 is a bit hit and miss. Sadly with the lens fully zoomed in picture quality is not brilliant. Although I accept that the extreme length of the lens means that you will not always need to zoom to full capacity it is still a black mark against the camera.

See sample images link arrow


Like other super zoom cameras the SP-560 is modeled on a digital SLR.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Slow

Single Shot
Five Shots
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash

0.48 seconds
14.86 seconds
1.63 seconds
14.81 seconds

Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Par It is not just because of the extra features that I only class ease of use as fair. To get to any meaningful menu you have to go through a main menu first. This can slow the time it takes to change a key setting and a photo opportunity could go begging.

Points I Like

Macro shot

Where it Could Improve

Picture quality when full zoom used - shutter time for single photo with flash


Perhaps I have been a bit harsh in my assessment of the Olympus SP-560, but I am disappointed by the quality of some of my test shots. The camera has plenty of features and I am sure its long lens will appeal to many.

Product Shots

Front View

Front View

Back View

Back View

Top View

Top View

Sample Menus

menu playback

camera menu white balance

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Panasonic DMC FZ48 Rating 87/100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ48 is very hard to beat. It is up against some stiff competition, but the combination of features, image quality and pricing makes it the outstanding model in its category. When it comes to picture quality it has few weaknesses and its length of lens means it can cope with more or less any photo opportunity.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FZ48 Review

Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Rating 86/100

The Fuji Finepix HS30EXR does offer a number of differences to rival Super Zoom or Bridge digital cameras. The main difference is the twisting lens barrel, but there are other handling aspects that make it that bit closer to a Digital SLR experience. In terms of features Fuji have packed in just about everything they can think of. Picture quality compares well against rival cameras and shutter response times are also impressive. This makes this camera a very attractive proposition if you are looking for a fully featured camera with a great deal of zoom power.

Read Review: Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Review

Nikon Coolpix L810 Rating 79/100

The Nikon Coolpix L810 offers something different as it gives you the power of an extra long lens, but with the simplicity of a point and shoot digital camera. This helps to make it somewhat cheaper than the more fully featured models with similar zoom power. Picture quality does not match up to the more expensive models in this category, but it is only if you are planning to make extra large prints that you are likely to see much difference between photos taken with this camera and those that give you that bit of extra quality. This camera is a good choice if you are looking for simple operation and a powerful lens.

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Related Pages

Olympus SP-560 Review Olympus SP-560 Specification Olympus SP-560 Sample Images Olympus SP-560 Features Olympus Digital Cameras

Review Date

January 2008

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