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Olympus SP-570 UZ

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    7 Reviews
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      29.06.2011 16:45
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      A user friendly camera that allows any amateur to produce professional pictures

      Christmas (2009) my hubby brought me the Olympus SP-570 UZ. At the time of purchase the Olympus cost in the region of £250-£300 (I was never privy to the exact cost), far more than I had ever considered paying for a digital camera in the past and I did question the need for such a pricey model considering most of my photography had been limited in recent years to family snaps, holidays and excursions and I would never class myself as anything more than a happy snapper or novice photographer. The list of features pertaining to the Olympus is too big to list everything individually so for this review I have chosen to focus mainly on the functions I regularly use.

      The camera came complete with a CD instruction manual, lens cap, adjustable carry strap, USB cable, video cable, 1GB XD picture card (holding up to 402 pictures at 10 mega-pixel, 789 at 5 mega-pixels and 1184 at 3 mega-pixels), photographic software and four AA batteries required for power. First impressions and the Olympus looked smart, professional and authoritative. I've always been competent with cameras, having studied photography as part of my art course in college but I'm certainly no expert and admittedly felt a little intimidated as this model seemed a massive step up from my pocket sized Nikon Coolpix 5200 (the only other digital camera I have owned). The Olympus, billed as "having the advanced capabilities of a digital SLR with the convenience of a point to shoot" does indeed offer some ambitious features for it's price range but for me, almost outweighing it's capabilities is just how deceptively user friendly the camera is and any concerns I initially had about complicated handling were quashed once I stated using.



      ---- See It, Hold It, Use It ----

      The Olympus is compact measuring 8.5cm wide x 8cm high x 8.5cm deep and surprisingly light weight at just 370grams, feeling more robust and durable as opposed to awkward or cumbersome as I first expected. The black plastic exterior provides a non slip surface making the camera easy to hold and an ergonomic curve to the right side allows the hand a natural clasp providing a comfortable grip which in turn aids stability when shooting although the Olympus does have built in image stabilisation, particularly useful when shooting over long distances and helping to eliminate blur, keeping pictures sharp and in focus. The main external controls, which include an on/off flick lever and mode dial are naturally accessible with right thumb control allowing fluid movement when changing the settings whilst the camera is in use (at least if your right handed it does!). The general feel of the Olympus is one of acute practicality.

      A lens cap and shoulder strap are optional and take few seconds to fasten to the camera. The picture card just needs to be slotted in to place and batteries installed and the camera is ready to use, booting up in around four seconds. Battery life is also extensive as the camera won't drain batteries after long periods of use.



      ---- Exploration, Navigation, Familiarisation ----

      It's clear from the moment I started using the Olympus that the interface is menu driven and there is a broad spectrum of features to explore. The on screen menu is an area that has been criticised for being cluttered and confusing but my opinion and experience is quite the opposite. Sub menus are clear, concise and above all logical offering a wealth of practical information pertaining to the individually selected features. Brief explanations of the purpose of the settings accompanied with a photographic example provide invaluable information that allows the user a good degree of creative flexibility without prior photographic knowledge or experience with a digital camera and the simplistic interface is universal throughout all of the sub menus. Overall the menu is intuitive and logical and makes light work of the abundance of possible settings.



      ---- (Some) Main Features ----

      Olympus appear to have prepared for every photographic composition possibility with an extensive menu of shooting modes and image editing settings all of which make the task of adjusting the camera to the correct setting a quick and simple procedure. Six function modes located on the external mode dial include automatic (camera sets exposure), programme (user control) and aperture priority (user selects aperture) allowing the user to adjust settings to their own required preferences. Those with less technical know how have the cushion of preset functions by way of the scene and guide menu to fall back on, choosing from a vast list of presets suitable to the composition.

      The camera has several built in features such as BrightCapture Technology to produce better images in low light situations as well as a comprehensive focus system that includes face detection for optimised focus and smile shot where the camera will automatically snap the picture as soon as it detects the subject smiling and macro settings.



      ---- My Favourite Features ----

      The "guide" and "scene" menus, both located on the mode dial are my settings of choice. Amongst other advanced operations "scene" allows the user to scroll between a selection of composition scenarios such as multiple fireworks, close ups, landscapes and portraits (there are actually 23 photographic scenarios in total), each with an on screen picture accompanied with a brief explanation of their corresponding action. Once your selection has been made the camera automatically adjusts to the selected condition providing control over the desired picture eliminating the need for fussy and confusing programming. Likewise, "guide" provides image effects that include blurred background, shooting into back-light and adjusting image quality. I found the best way to familiarise myself these features was to discard the manual and fumble my way through the menu, opting for the hands on approach rather than scrolling reams of instructions, a far more interesting way to familiarise with the settings! I do however, have a niggle with one of the features. Shooting a subject in motion does not provide the quick responses I would expect resulting with blurred images as the moment has passed by the time the camera reacts and the picture being lost. It's quite disappointing considering how responsive other functions are to implement however, shooting high speed sequential shots (located in the shooting guide) in contrast, does produce fantastic images taking pictures at up to 13.5 frames per second, although at this speed picture quality is slightly compromised at 3 mega-pixels but I still feel this is one of the best options for speed shooting.



      ---- Elongated Compositions ----

      The wide angled lens (26 - 520mm) achieves amazing land and city scapes as well as being perfect for taking pictures of large groups and shooting in panoramic couldn't be easier. In addition to "guide and "scene" this is my only other favoured feature of the camera. In the aperture, shutter, manual or scene modes, Panoramic compositions can be performed in two simple ways. By far the easiest way is "panoramic1". The Olympus will automatically merge three sequential photos. A marked target on the previous picture needs to be aligned but I personally feel that although this method is definitely easier the results are not as crisps as the second option and also three photos is limiting. The second and most effective `option "panoramic2" allows multiple pictures to be snapped, with the possibility of creating a 360 degree image. The downside to this method is the user manually aligns the images on a PC and although you need a keen eye the results are much more rewarding and it's the option I always favour because I feel you can achieve near seamless stills.



      ---- The Big Screen ----

      Advanced features and dial sub menus display on the screen. At 2.7inches the "hyper crystal" LCD is colossal compared to that of my modest Coolpix and thanks to it's size (that consumes almost the entire back of the camera) you get to see clearly the composition in detail before you commit to taking the picture. The screen offers a 230,000 pixel resolution providing sharp, crisp visuals with "true to life" colours whilst the "hyper crystal", not only aids the screen quality but also supposedly eliminates glare from the sun. Whilst the former may be accurate the latter, in my opinion is not. The Olympus suffers the same dreadful light interference as any other electrical equipment when using in bright sunlight which limits the user to some hit and miss snaps as the screen becomes darkened and images disappear meaning you are limited to relying on the viewfinder only, which I tend not to use if I can help it.



      ---- Life Through A Lens ----

      It would be inappropriate not to mention the 20x optical zoom. When the camera was first released for general sale back in 2008 the "20x optical zoom" was a buzz word and unique selling feature, unheard of in cameras of this price bracket and ilk. What's equally impressive as the zoom power however is the quality of the image produced. Where my Nikon only managed a teeny 3x zoom, most with grainy or slightly blurred results the SP-570 UZ is capable of maintaining clear images under this magnification and high quality results. The wide angled lens, controlled automatically via the selected function or a switch located at the base can also be manually turned. Fully extended (6.5cm) the Olympus remains easy to handle.
      Additional lens filters and lenses including wide angled and macro can be purchased separately to attach to the static lens although I have never bothered as I would never fully utilise as my pictures tend to just be average day to day ones.



      ---- In Motion ----

      I always feel that manufacturers add a video feature to digital cameras as a gimmick and whilst I appreciate that sometimes it's nice to have a motion option my personal preference would be that they either stick to stills or video and don't bother to mix the two. The SP-570 UZ does have a video option which records in AVI format, voice recording in Wave. There's no HD in this feature and images are captured at either fifteen or thirty frames per second (fps), which for those that aren't sure what this means it loosely translates to grainy, fairly low quality images, no where near the supremacy of the stills. As a basic back up, it's ok but nothing to write home about and that's as far as I can comment as I never use the video option.



      ---- Overall ----

      I'm no professional photographer but I have found that I can at least shoot some passable professional appearing photographs. For me, the versatility of this camera far out weights the (at the time of release) phenomenally large zoom. The fact that I can produce some nicely detailed pics not just from a distance but also when shooting close up is a real plus. There's no escaping that to a novice, the Olympus appears daunting although, in use, the Olympus is anything but. It offers all the settings a novice could ever need, covering just about every photographic eventuality and it manages to do this in a way that a first time digital camera user could understand. Personally, I love the Olympus. It's bulky enough to easily handle, light enough for frequent day to day use and technical enough to retain the interest of a more experienced photographer.

      In the three years the camera has been on the market it's depreciated little but there are still bargains to be had if your prepared to shop around. For around the £250-£280 mark, I maintain this camera is excellent value for money.

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        09.06.2009 14:49

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        Very, very decent all round camera

        I bought this camera because I have had previous experience with Olympus cameras and the 20x optical zoom really appealed to me. The fact that it had such a great zoom and ten million pixels is what sold it for me, as well as the fact that I have had such great results from Olympus cameras in the past.

        The camera functions were easy to get used to, with a multitude of options and manual settings if you want to get creative with your photographs. It is quite compact and small which is useful when travelling and it isn't huge and clunky when you attach it to a neckstrap and carry it around your neck.

        Most of the time I have it set to auto and just zoom in and out as required and the picture quality is excellent.

        The only small gripe I have is with the batteries. Perhaps it is personal choice but I didn't like the fact that it requires 4 AA batteries. I like to use my camera when travelling or at sports events and it got quite annoying that I have to carry an extra four batteries around and replace them one by one, mainly when I could be potentially missing a great shot. On the other hand it is convenient that you can just use any kind of AA battery to power the camera.

        I am very impressed with this camera, which takes great pictures in any kind of situation.

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        26.02.2009 20:11

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        Well designed camera with a huge zoom

        Olympus SP-57OUZ is a look a like systems camera, but it is a normal digital camera with a solid objective and long zoom element.The zoom element works in both ways: in ultrazoom mode there is a 20 time optical zoom, in ultra macro mode you can take a picture as close as one centimeter.

        This device is a multifunctional machine dressed to a normal digital camera.Even a systems camera need several objectives to do such a things as this Olympus does and that surprised me a lot.You don't need to buy any objectives if you want to take good quality pictures from long or very close objects.
        When you take pictures with big zoom, there is a very high risk to bumbs and shocks.Thats why Olympus has a great double acting image stabilizer.This Olympus fits to hand perfectly and the holding pads covered with artificial leather makes it even better.The zooming is made with the ring around the objective and it is electrical.That makes it inexact and little bit hard to use.

        When you are in manual photo shot mode, there comes control pane with the main options to the screen.That is a great feature, because you don't need to surf the whole Olympus menus to find the important options.

        PLUS/MINUS:

        + Options in control panel
        + Speed of the photo series
        - Zoom (not a big minus, really a small one)

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        06.01.2009 20:27
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        great camera if the price doesn't matter

        This camera is an excellent choice for the amateur but interested photographer. The camera is very easy to use and does take excellent photos. The lens is static therefore it is not necessary to purchase an individual one which is great as specified for a beginner. I was amazed at how clear and concise the photos were especially in macro mode.
        The camera itself is easy to navigate, the menu and options are easy to understand and the settings are very easy to use for the appropriate moment.
        On the negative side, there are a few points about the camera that dissapointed me. May I hasten to add that this was not in the performance of the camera but the fact that the camera runs on non rechargable batteries which can be costly unless you invest in rechargable AA batteries and charger yourslef plus I thought that the price was quite high considering that DSLR's can be purchased for less than the price asked on this item.
        All in all an excellent camera though I would like the price to be reduced.

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          07.12.2008 21:54
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          Very Versatile zoom range makes this a decent camera

          The 10 Megapixel Olympus 'SP-570UZ' is an impressive camera indeed. 'Why impressive' you may ask?... well, this particular model has an outstanding 20 times optical zoom - Wow! For those of you in the know about digital cameras, that equates to a range of 26-520mm. Correct me if i'm wrong, but I think that means that this model offers the longest zoom of any camera in its class.

          The camera is designed to look like an SLR in style, but due to its fixed lens and smaller image sensor, it's still technically a 'compact'. That said, the build quality is very good, and the camera is comfortable to hold.

          What impresses me most, is the way in which the zoom operates. Instead of having to press buttons to zoom in and out (which can be a fiddly process), you can literally grab the lens and rotate it as you would with a more expensive model. This makes the whole photographic process much easier, and certainly adds a lot more fun to proceedings! The camera also features image stabilisation which is essential for a piece of equipment with such a long zoom.

          Picture Quality
          - - - - - - - - - -
          As a 'compact' model, the SP-570UZ can't compete with the image quality of an SLR - yet the camera can produce some very good results. With an ISO range of 64-6400, it will satisfy those who are looking to shoot without flash in dimly-lit conditions, but having said that, anything taken at over ISO 800 is subject to heavy image noise.

          What's Not to Like?
          - - - - - - - - - - - - -
          Firstly, this model only uses the xD memory card format - which is more expensive. I find it unacceptable that in this day and age a camera shouldn't be able to use both xD and SD.

          Secondly, the SP-570 takes AA batteries rather than a rechargeable lithium-ion unit. However, they will last for a decent time if you invest in some good Ni-mH rechargeables.

          In conclusion, with a price of around £250, this camera will certainly satisfy amateur photographers who want to get closer to the action. The zoom range is phenomenal, and the camera is well made and easy to use - Recommended.

          Other Camera Features & Stats
          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
          Maximum Image Resolution: 3,648 x 2,736
          Dimensions: 119 x 84 x 88mm
          Weight: 445g
          Exposure Modes: A, P, AP, SP, M, Custom
          Storage: xD Card
          Batteries: 4 x AA

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            17.06.2008 23:21
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            Id recommomend

            I bought this to replace a seven year-old C-2100UZ that is still working great. I figured if I got this kind of usage from Olympus then I'd stay with them for the new camera. I looked at the SP-560 and the SP-570 and decided to go the SP-570 route. The camera menu stayed much the same as the C-2100, so the learning curve was fairly low. They did put the Panorama function in the first level so it's easier to find. It's not something I had used frequently, so when I wanted it I had to search around to find it. The 20X zoom is phenomenal... I took a picture zoomed all the way out (equivalent to 26mm) and took the same picture zoomed all the way in (equivalent to 520mm) and was impressed with how "close" I could get w/o moving. The macro mode is superb. I found that if you can get light to an object you can photograph it - I mean a cm away and bring it into sharp focus. Great for detail shots of small items. The lens filter issue has me stumped. You'd figure that a camera such as this would allow filters directly on the lens barrel. The SP-570 has NO threads at the end of the lens. (You can get the tubes but that brings up other issues.) The SP-550 and SP-560 both do, and there are step-up adapters out there for "permanently" mounting filters. Just a note; most digital cameras at this level that have a lens barrel that extends out won't have a way to do this either. I looked at the Olympus external flashes and they seem expensive for my infrequent use. That said, I'll probably go with the FL-36R as I know it works automatically with the camera settings and was just a few bucks more than the FL-36. Their identical, but the FL-36R has the wireless remote capability. Nice if using a camera bracket. In spite of these few inconveniences, I love this camera.

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            29.04.2008 01:44
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            Just awsome

            This ia a fantastic camera to have at home or to take on vacations or a nice event. It takes really awsome pictures nd you can zoom in and out on it. The pictures are really clear and not blurry at all. It have several different kind of features that you are able to use and so simple to operate. It is very easy to keep clean and maintain. It is pretty light and the performance is awsome. It doesn't run the battery down as fast as some other cameras does. You can also see the quality of photos it takes every time you put them on to your computer. They are very easy to transfer. This is an excellent example of a great camera that I would recommend to family, friends and other indivudals. It is definitely worth the price that it cost at the store. It's just awsome to use.

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          • Product Details

            Experience the power of 20x zoom with the SP-570 UZ. This compact 10 Megapixel camera does it all - from wide-angle perspectives to breathtaking close ups. Dual Image Stabilization even ensures images come out blur free. And for high-action moments, this model shoots at up to a whopping 13.5 frames per second in 3 Megapixel mode!