RSS Twitter YouTube

Olympus SP-600UZ Camera Review

12 Megapixels12 MegapixelsUltra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Ultra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.720p HD Video: 1280 x 720 resolution or more but less than 1920 x 1080.720p HD Video: 1280 x 720 resolution or more but less than 1920 x 1080.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringRuns on standard AA batteriesRuns on standard AA batteriesAccepts Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed reviewDiscontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.Discontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.

Performance - How well does it take pictures?

Images from the Olympus SP-600UZ are quite usable at low ISO sensitivities. Even at ISO 100, the lowest setting, some noise is visible and fine details get smudged. For this reason, prints from the SP-600UZ have to be smaller compared to typical 12 megapixels cameras, up to 9x12" for brighter scenes. ISO 200 is not so different. Luminance noise increases noticeable at ISO 400 and 800 which can still be used for medium-sized prints. ISO 1600 is much noisier but can pull off a reasonable 4x6" print.

Colors from this camera are generally realistic with some punch without being over-saturated. White-balance in broad daylight is accurate enough but when light levels drop it leaves a distincly orange tint, even under natural light. Automatic white-balance indoors is below average and leaves too much yellow. Choosing a preset white-balance helps somewhat but rarely neutralizes colors completely. There is no custom white-balance option in this camera, so poor white-balance cannot be fixed.

Exposure was good with the SP-600UZ, although it showed some inconsistency at different ISO settings. The LCD is not exposure-priority, so things looked more often overexposed than they actually were. Overall, less exposure-compensation was required with this camera than average and rarely more than -2/3 EV.

Images from the SP-600UZ are a little soft with an increase in softness around edges. There is certainly some complex variance in softness as some images were softer in different areas. The smudging of details does not help either which causes most images to look soft when seen between 50 and 100%. The lens is not too bright on either end of its range but considering it reaches 420mm, a maximum of F/5.4 is quite reasonable.

Distortion is extremely controlled for such a long zoom. There is a slight amount of barrel distortion at the widest setting but zooming in a little makes it dissappear. Towards the second half of the zoom, a very slight pincushion distortion can be noticed. Purple fringing is virtually inexistent with this ultra-zoom. Some vignetting is noticeable at wide-angle but quickly disappears at other focal-lengths.

Performance of the SP-600UZ is quite snappy. It takes about 2 seconds to power on or off, with the lens having to extend out before images or video can be captured. The zoom is speedy, taking roughly 3 seconds to go from 28 to 420mm. Focusing is a little slow though, easily taking a second under most situations. There is sadly a particularly high amount of focus misses, which the camera reports with a red-square on the LCD. Shutter lag is on the short side but the camera goes blank for 1.5s after each shot. This makes shot-to-shot speeds on the slow side, taking about 3s between shots.

Most button presses get an instant response. Navigating the menu is particularly speedy. It takes about a second to enter playback mode and another second to return to capture mode. This camera is shooting-priority, so returning to capture mode requires only a tap of the shutter-release. Playback mode is quite speedy, with a only a small delay between images to show a transition effect. Pan and zoom is very quick.

There are 4 continuous drive speeds on this Olympus ultra-zoom. Full-resolution sequential shoots takes up to 5 shots at 1 FPS. The screen goes blank between each shot, so following action would be difficult. At 5 megapixels, high-speed sequential shooting captures up to 19 images at 5.5 FPS. The LCD shows a continuous image with a slight lag, so following action is not so difficult as long as it's not too fast. Going down to 3 megapixels high-speed sequential 2 mode, the SP-600UZ can capture up to 14 images at 11 FPS.

High-speed sequential 3 mode drops the resolution further to 2 MP by using only the central part of the image sensor. This means that the angle-of-view is reduced by about 20%, so you lose wide-angle capability. In this mode, the SP-600UZ shoots at 15 FPS for up to 32 frames. It keeps the LCD image fluid, so this time following action is possible.

Power is provided by a set of 4 AA batteries which give a 340 shot battery life according to CIPA measurements standard. This is above average for a modern camera but not quite class-leading. The powerful flash has a good reach and takes 5 seconds to recycle. A blinking flash icon indicates when the flash is charging.

Performance - How well does it shoot video?

The Olympus SP-600UZ, along with its near-twin the SP-800UZ, are the first two Olympus ultra-zoom cameras to record HD video. Video can be captured at up to 720p, which is 1280x720 @ 30 FPS with a widescreen (16:9) aspect ratio. There are also 640x480 (VGA) and 320x240 (QVGA) modes with traditional 4:3 aspect ratio.

Video recording starts about two seconds after pressing the dedicated video recording button. It stops instantly after pressing the same button. There are two quality settings and toggle options for stabilization, sound and continuous autofocus. Both quality settings produce smooth video using the efficient MPEG-4 codec. When the stabilizer or continuous autofocus is enabled, it is possible that the built-in mono microphone captures sound from either of these mechanisms.

HD video quality is on par with similar cameras, showing both crisp details and smooth motion. Continuous autofocus is a little slow, probably to minimize its sound from being recorded. One needs to settle on a view for about ½ second to get it in focus. Sound from any such tiny microphone is rarely great and this one is on the sensitive side. It can pick up sounds a few meters away but also any rustling from close by objects.

Conclusion

The Olympus SP-600UZ has several things going for it, most importantly its compact solid design and versatile 15X wide-angle optical zoom lens. The stabilization mechanism is very effective which greatly helps with such a long zoom range. Body handling is great and the interface is easy to use but the lack of function buttons means that operating this camera is rather slow. Speed of operation is average overall, with some speedy aspects and same slow ones as well. Notably, focus and shot-to-shot speeds are on the slow side.

Image quality is only average with a smudging of details at all ISO sensitivities, reasonably good exposure but not so good white-balance and no custom option to fix it. The HD video is of good quality but the delay before recording starts and the difficulty of setting up initial framing makes it rather frustrating. The reduced-resolution high-speed continuous drive modes are usable for following action and shooting at up to 15 FPS which is rare among this type of camera.

Overall, choosing the SP-600Z is about accepting its moderate image quality and performance for a relatively compact form-factor and very versatile zoom lens. Image quality is certainly good enough for the most common print sizes and even the highest sensitivity can be used for small prints. Also, the use of standard AA batteries and SDHC memory cards make the SP-600UZ one of the most affordable ultra-zooms currently available.

Average
Buy from these sellers:Buy From Amazon.com

By on 2010/10/18
1

Olympus SP-600UZ Facts


Large digital camera

Sensor-Size: 6 x 5mm

1/2.3" Sensor

Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI

12 Megapixels Ultra ZoomISO 100-1600
15X Wide Optical ZoomShutter 1/2000-4s
Built-in StabilizationSpot-Metering
1.1 FPS Drive, 9 ImagesStandard AA Battery
1280x720 @ 30 FPS Video RecordingSecure Digital High Capacity
2.7" LCD 230K PixelsInternal Memory
Buy from these sellers:Buy From Amazon.com

Camera Bag

Clear

Your camera bag is empty. To add a camera or lens click on the star next to its name.

Your camera bag is empty.

Add cameras or lenses by clicking on the star next to their name.

Updates

    2019.11.26

  • 2019.11.26

    10 Gifts Photographers Will Love

    10 Gifts Photographers Will Love

    The 2019 gift guide for photographers showcases photography gear that amateur and enthusiasts will enjoy. It is divided into 3 price categories to suit different budgets from $50 to $200 USD.

  • 2019.11.25

  • 2019.11.25

    Sony Alpha A7R IV In-Depth Review

    Sony Alpha A7R IV In-Depth Review

    The newest Sony high-resolution mirrorless packs a 61 MP Full-Frame BSI-CMOS sensor on 5-axis Sensor-Shift system. It shoots at 10 FPS, records 4K Ultra-HD video and focuses with a new 567-Point and 425-Area Hybrid AF system with Realtime tracking. This professional-grade camera features a 5.8 MP 0.5" EVF with 0.78X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor plus triple control-dials in a weatherproof body. This review shows exactly how the A7R IV performs and compares to top Full-Frame and Medium-Format digital cameras.

  • 2019.11.04

  • 2019.11.04

    Olympus OM-D E-M1X Review

    Olympus OM-D E-M1X Review

    Professional Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless sporting an ultra-high speed 20 MP sensor with 121-Point Phase-Detect AF on a 5-axis image-stabilization system effective to 7-stops. 60 FPS drive with blackout free view on a huge 0.83X magnification 2.4 MP 0.5" EVF. Even a builtin GPS in a dual-grip double dual-control-dial IPX1-rated weatherproof and freezeproof body.

  • 2019.10.17

  • 2019.10.17

    Nikon D3500 Review

    Nikon D3500 Review

    The lightest DSLR packs a 24 MP APS-C sensor with ISO 100-25600 sensitivity-range, 5 FPS drive and Full HD video capture. Basic features with simple ergonomics.

  • 2019.10.16

  • 2019.10.16

    Time-Lapse Photography for Beginners

    Time-Lapse Photography for Beginners

    Learn how to get started with time-lapse photography in 4 easy steps.

  • 2019.10.07

  • 2019.10.07

    Fujifilm X-T30 Review

    Fujifilm X-T30 Review

    The newest 26 MP 4th-Generation X-Trans CMOS sensor and X-Process 4 from the flagship X-T3 in more compact body. ISO 80-51200, 1/32000-30s, 20 FPS Continuous drive, Cinema 4K video. Dual control-dials and 2.4 MP EVF with Eye-Start Sensor.

  • 2019.09.30

  • 2019.09.30

    Nikon Z6 Review

    Nikon Z6 Review

    Nikon Full-Frame Mirrorless with 24 MP and 5-Axis Built-In Image-Stabilization effective to 5-Stops. ISO 100-202400. 12 FPS Continuous Drive. 3.7 MP 0.5" EVF with 0.8X Magnification and 100% Coverage. 4K Ultra-HD video.

  • 2019.04.22

  • 2019.04.22

    Fujifilm GFX 50R Review

    Fujifilm GFX 50R Review

    Medium Format Mirrorless Digital Camera based on 50 MP 0.8X-Crop CMOS sensor without Anti-Alias Filter. ISO 50-102400, 1/16000s-60m Shutter-Speeds, 3 FPS and Full 1080p HD video at 30 FPS. Large 0.5" EVF with 3.7 MP, 100% coverage, 0.77X magnification and an Eye-Start Sensor. Dual control-dials in a weatherproof and freezeproof body.

  • 2019.04.10

  • 2019.04.10

    Fujifilm X-T3 Review

    Fujifilm X-T3 Review

    State of the art 26 MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor with 2.1M Phase-Detect pixels, 20 FPS Full-Resolution Continuous Drive, Cinema 4K & Ultra-HD 4K video at 60 FPS. Built-in 0.5" EVF 3.7MP, 100% Coverage, 0.75X magnification and Eye-Start Sensor. Dual control-dials plus dedicated dias in weatherproof and freezeproof body.

  • 2018.12.26

  • 2018.12.26

    Think Tank Photo Story Teller 10 Review

    Think Tank Photo Story Teller 10 Review

    Review of the Think Thank Photo Story Teller 10 photography shoulder bag.