RSS Twitter YouTube

Olympus SP-800UZ Review

14 Megapixels14 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 MeteringAccepts 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-800UZ are quite usable at low ISO sensitivities. Even at ISO 50, the lowest setting, some noise is visible and fine details get smudged. For this reason, prints from the SP-800UZ have to be smaller compared to typical 14 megapixels cameras, up to 9x12" for brighter scenes. ISO 200 is not so different. Luminance noise increases 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 is on the poor side, leaving stronger casts than usual, even in outdoor light where most cameras normally do very well. This is the one area where the SP-800UZ under performed its shorter-zoom sibling, the SP-600UZ
Olympus SP-600UZ
.
Choosing a preset white-balance helps somewhat but rarely gets it spot-on. There is no custom white-balance option in this camera, so poor white-balance cannot be fixed.

The Olympus SP-800UZ shows poor metering reliability. The LCD is not exposure-priority either, which makes matters worse as it is hard to say when the exposure is wrong versus the LCD being wrong. Overall, more exposure-compensation is required when using this digital camera than usual. The sensor's limited dynamic range means that there are plenty of scenes in broad daylight which cannot be captured. One of the benefits afforded by such a long lens though is to be more easily able to zoom into parts of a subject that are within the camera's ability.

Images from the SP-800UZ are a little soft with a noticeable increase in softness towards corners. The softness is more pronounced at wide-angle and becomes slight towards the telephoto end. The smudging of details does not help either which causes most images to look soft when seen between 50 and 100%. Given a 30X zoom range, we have to say that such softness seems very reasonable. The lens is bright at the wide-end and loses to stops by the time it reaches 840mm, which is once again very reasonable considering the zoom power.

Barrel distortion is certainly noticeable from the wide-end to a normal setting. Zooming-in further makes it go away and the longer half of the range is pretty much distortion-free. 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-800UZ is quite snappy. It takes about 1.5 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 under 4 seconds to go from 28 to 840mm. Focusing is a little slow though, easily taking a second under most situations. There are more focus misses than usual, 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 5 continuous drive speeds on this Olympus ultra-zoom. Full-resolution sequential shoots takes up to 10 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 45 images at 6.5 FPS. The LCD shows a continuous image with a slight lag, so following action is a little difficult. Going down to 3 megapixels high-speed sequential 2 mode, the SP-600UZ can capture up to 48 images at 10 FPS. The preview in this 10 FPS mode keeps up with action very well, making it usable for following action.

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-800UZ shoots at 15 FPS for up to 65 frames. It keeps the LCD image fluid, so this time following action is possible here too.

The final continuous drive mode shoots at 0.3 FPS! Which is just about the same as pressing the shot-to-shot speed. Plus, since the LCD is blank most of the time, this mode will find very little use. The SP-800UZ also has a time-lapse mode which can take up to 99 images with an interval from 1 to 99 minutes between images. Power is provided by a tiny lithium-ion battery which translates into poor battery-life. up to 200 shots-per-charge according to the CIPA standard.

Performance - How well does it shoot video?

The Olympus SP-800UZ, along with its near-twin the SP-600UZ, 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 actually works and is very quiete, which minimizes its sound from being recorded. One needs to settle on a view for about ¼ 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-800UZ has several things going for it, most importantly its compact solid design and extreme 30X 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 and mostly acceptable white-balance. 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-800Z is about accepting its moderate image quality and performance for its extremely long zoom in a relatively compact form-factor. Image quality is certainly good enough for the most common print sizes and even the highest sensitivity can be used for small prints. Compared to the SO-600UZ, this model improves white-balance while being somewhat less reliable with exposure. There is a slight improvement in speed in terms of autofocus and continuous shooting as well.

Average
Buy from these sellers: Buy From Amazon.com

By Neocamera on 2010-10-28

Olympus SP-800UZ Highlights


Large digital camera

Sensor-Size: 6 x 5mm

1/2.3" Sensor

Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI

14 Megapixels Ultra ZoomISO 50-1600
30X Wide Optical ZoomShutter 1/2000-4s
Built-in StabilizationSpot-Metering
0.8 FPS Drive, 24 ImagesLithium-Ion Battery
1280x720 @ 30 FPS Video RecordingSecure Digital High Capacity
3" 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

    2020.07.22

  • 2020.07.22

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Review

    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Review

    Third-Generation OM-D that packs a 20 MP Four-Thirds CMOS on a 5-Axis Stabilization System. Fast 121-Point Phase-Detect AF, 30 FPS Continuous Drive, Cinema 4K Video and more in a weatherproof and freezeproof body. Features dual control-dials and a builtin 2.4 MP EVF with Eye-Start Sensor with 0.69X magnification and 100% coverage.

  • 2020.07.07

  • 2020.07.07

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Review

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Review

    20 MP Micro Four-Thirds Mirrorless with 7-Stop 5-Axis Image-Stabilization, 121-Point Phase-Detect AF 30 FPS Continuous Drive and Cinema 4K capability in a weatherproof and freezeproof body with dual control-dials and dual SDXC memory card slots.

  • 2020.07.03

  • 2020.07.03

    M.Zuiko 12-45mm F/4 PRO Review

    M.Zuiko 12-45mm F/4 PRO Review

    A review of the M.Zuiko 12-45mm F/4 PRO added to the Olympus Premium Lens Roundup.

  • 2020.05.05

  • 2020.05.05

    Peak Design Travel Tripod Review

    Peak Design Travel Tripod Review

    Review of the unique Peak Design Travel Tripod with its own ballhead and the universal ballhead adapter.

  • 2020.04.15

  • 2020.04.15

    Nikon Z-Mount DX Lens Roundup

    Nikon Z-Mount DX Lens Roundup

    Review of Nikon Z-Mount lenses for APS-C mirrorless digital cameras. Covers all current Z-mount DX lenses available.

  • 2020.03.25

  • 2020.03.25

    Nikon Z50 Review

    Nikon Z50 Review

    The first Nikon APS-C mirrorless is built around a 20 MP BSI-CMOS sensor with ISO 100-204800, 209-Point Phase-Detect AF, 11 FPS Drive and 4K Video capability. Compact body with dual control-dials and 2.4 MP 0.39" EVF with 0.68X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor.

  • 2020.02.08

  • 2020.02.08

    Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide 2020

    Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide 2020

    The Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide was fully rewritten for 2020, including all new systems from Nikon, Canon and Leica joined by Panasonic and Sigma. This new extensive 2020 Edition shows in 5 simple steps how to choose a mirrorless camera.

  • 2020.01.01

  • 2020.01.01

    Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Review

    Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Review

    This highly capable and compact mirrorless ranked as Best Beginner Mirrorless Digital Camera of 2019. Its 20 MP Four-Thirds CMOS sensor with Anti-Alias Filter is pared with 5-axis stabilization to maximize sharpness. Features a tilting 2.8 MP 0.39" EVF with large 0.7X view and Eye-Start sensor in a body with dual control-dials.

  • 2019.12.10

  • 2019.12.10

    Best Digital Cameras of 2019

    Best Digital Cameras of 2019

    The Best Cameras of 2019 awarded by Neocamera: Best Travel-Zoom, Best Premium Compact, Best Ultra-Zoom, Best Mirrorless and Best DSLR.

  • 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.