Product Type: Olympus digital cameras
Newest Review: ... 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... more
Olympus SP-570 UZ
Member Name: savvyshopper6476
Olympus SP-570 UZ
Date: 29/06/11, updated on 03/06/12 (132 review reads)
Advantages: Very user friendly, masses of pre select features, 20x optical zoom, great picture quality,
Disadvantages: non rechargable batteries, video camera setting is near useless
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.
Summary: A user friendly camera that allows any amateur to produce professional pictures
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