Olympus SP-800UZ Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

Picture
Olympus SP-800UZ Ease of Use 8
Features 8
Movie Mode 9
Build Quality8
Colours 7
Photo Quality 7
Style 8
Lowlight 7
Macro 7
Value for Money 7
14 Megapixels
30x Zoom
3 inch LCD Screen
107.3 x 73.4 x 84.7 mm
416g

Overview

The Olympus SP-800UZ offers more zoom power than any other digital camera at the time of writing this review. It has a 30x wide angle zoom lens. Also on offer are 14 megapixels and High Definition movies.

On top of these features Olympus has built into the SP-800UZ 1.8GB of internal storage. This is enough for up to 500 photos. You can also charge the camera by attaching it to a computer using a USB cable. Despite the number of features available the camera remains relatively easy to use.

I must admit to being a bit disappointed with picture quality. This length of lens is pushing technology to its limits and I think in one or two places Olympus has gone beyond the limit. If this length of lens is more or less a necessity to you then there are not a lot of alternatives. Otherwise you may be better off looking elsewhere.

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:

14
30x
3 inches
107.3 x 73.4 x 84.7 mm
416g

Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

1cm
Yes
No
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
SD/SDHC

Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

Olympus has gone for broke with the introduction of such a long zoom lens. In my view it does not always work. With any longer lens you expect to see purple fringing from time to time, but with the SP-800UZ this can show even when only a small of zoom is used. When the lens is fully extended picture quality does suffer. Definition is lost as the shots can take on a hazy appearance. This will impact larger prints.

On the whole focusing works well enough. There is little evidence of sharpness being lost to any great degree at the edges of my test shots. The glare from the sun is also handled well enough by the SP-800UZ.

Portraits

My outdoor portrait lacks warmth and brightness. This gives the shot a dull look. I tried to boost the colours by using a white balance setting of cloudy, but it has made little difference. There are no problems with focusing, but the shot lacks vitality.

With flash turned on the photo produced looks quite harsh. Any blemishes are highlighted and the pink in the skin tones are strong. The light is spread evenly, but as with the outdoor portrait I am not that happy with the end result. The concentration of light delivered by the flash unit is very strong and portrait subjects may not enjoy being photographed at close quarters by the SP-800UZ. The strength of the flash also creates a noticeable shadow.

I much prefer the warmer feel to the indoor shot taken without using flash. It produces far subtler colours. The result is a lot more flattering.

Macro, Colours and Noise

The macro shot is below average when compared to the results achieved by other similar cameras. There is a slight colour caste and I am not completely convinced by how sharp the shot is. Another negative point is that the lighting I have used creates some purple fringing around the outside of the watch face. This problem does occur from time to time with other cameras, but the majority of cameras avoid it. It should not be an issue to you unless you are working with shiny, reflective objects.

Colour is a matter of personal choice. I would like to have seen the SP-800UZ produce stronger colours in some of my pictures. This is especially true in my outdoor portrait shot and the picture of a building. A touch more blue added to skies would not go amiss in my opinion. At times I could also detect a purple tinge to some of the blues.

Noise does show up to a greater degree in shady areas than with many other digital cameras. One of the key check points I use for this is around the names of the boats in my first test shot. Definition is definitely lost from this area of the photo.

Summary

The SP-800UZ is not really for me. If you need tremendous zoom power to this level then there is not a lot of choice in the market, but there are plenty of alternatives offering lots of zoom power and better overall picture quality.

See sample images link arrow

Style

With the large zoom lens the SP-800UZ bears a resemblance to a Digital SLR camera. It is available in silver and black.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Fast

Single Shot
Five Shots
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time

0.28 seconds
12.29 seconds
1.1 seconds
20.12 seconds
3.39 seconds


Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Par It is hard to find this much zoom in a camera that is as straightforward as the SP-800UZ. There are very few buttons and dials. Olympus shows the key settings on the right hand side of the LCD screen.

Points I Like

Ease of use - USB battery charging - 2GB of built in memory - built in manual

Where it Could Improve

Picture quality

Product Shots

Front View

Olympus SP-800UZ Front View

Back View

Olympus SP-800UZ Back View

Top View

Olympus SP-800UZ Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

setup 1 setup 2

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Related Pages

Olympus SP-800UZ Review Olympus SP-800UZ Specification Olympus SP-800UZ Sample Images Olympus SP-800UZ Features Olympus Digital Cameras

Review Date

April 2010

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