Last update: Review by PCWorld (added on 23.09.06)
Offering 8.0 and 7.1 million pixels respectively, the new Olympus SP-350 and SP-310 are an enthusiast’s dream. Four exposure modes hand the photographer the freedom to experiment whilst a precision 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 38-114mm on a 35mm camera), ensures that crisp and razor-sharp images are produced each and every time. Featuring a range of focusing options from regular iESP auto focus to spot and multi-spot AF both models also have a manual focus option. In addition a histogram function is available, both in playback mode and in real-time whilst framing, to enable exposure distribution to be checked on the extra-large 6.4cm LCD.
REVIEWS (last updated: 23.09.06)
PCWorld reviewed the Olympus SP-350 where they rated the camera 83/100 and wrote:
In our lab tests, the SP-350 earned our top rating (Superior) for overall image quality. It also received very high marks for color and exposure accuracy, outscoring some significantly more-expensive models. Informal images I shot in macro mode were impressively sharp. Sometimes, however, the camera was a little slow to zoom, focus, and display images on its 2.5-inch LCD. The SP-350′s CRV3 battery excelled in our battery life test, continuing to power the camera when we reached the test’s 500-shot maximum.”
DPExpert reviewed the Olympus SP-350 and wrote:
Like this: The SP-350 has exceptionally good auto white balance. Photos taken under a tricky mix of incandescent and halogen spots were just about perfect. Dislike that: Olympus do not provide either a printed manual or a battery charger. The manual is on disc and the owner will have to supply the rechargeable batteries and charger. There is no memory card with the camera, only the 32mb of internal memory. All of which means that the true price of the camera is not $700 but more like $800.”
Imaging Resource reviewed the Olympus SP-350 and wrote:
“Pro:Full range of exposure modes from full manual to 24 scene modes, Good skin tones, Very small macro area in Super Macro mode, Very compact size and light weight, Very simple user interface, Fun to use, Hot shoe allows use of external flash for more power and better lighting with bounce shots, Innovative Help system, Accurate LCD viewfinder, Good low light capability, Case design fits both large and small hands well, Excellent print quality, even at high ISO.Cons: Contrast is a little high, tends to lose highlight and shadow detail under harsh lighting, slghtly warm color in Auto white balance mode, Slightly slower than average cycle times, Flash coverage a little uneven at wide angle, Saving images to card takes too long, High distortion and chromatic aberration at full wide angle, Scant internal storage, you will need a card.
8.0 / 7.1 million pixels
Bright 3x zoom lens (equiv. 38-114mm on a 35mm camera),
1:2.8-4.9. 15x total magnification incl. digital zoom
6.4cm/2.5” LCD monitor
Auto, Programme, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and manual exposure, 24 scene
Focusing options: Spot with option to select AF area with 143 points, iESP auto focus and manual focus
Super Macro mode up to 2cm
Histogram function in shooting and playback modes
Recording in JPEG or RAW formats
Very long battery life (up to 510 shots)* and uses standard AA batteries
TruePic TURBO image processor
32 MB internal memory plus xD-Picture Card slot
Movie recording with sound
USB Hi-Speed AutoConnect
Availability of lens converters WCON-07F, TCON-17F and underwater case PT-030
TTL hot-shoe connector (SP-350 only) for attaching external flashes
* Under ideal conditions using the included CR-V3 battery pack
More experienced photographers know it is essential to have the freedom to adjust exposure parameters individually. Both the SP-350 and SP-310 enable full manual control, in addition to automatic shooting options, and whether using Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or the Full Manual mode, the results are only limited by the photographer’s imagination. All results can be recorded in both JPEG and RAW formats.
A range of optional accessories gives the SP-350 and SP-310 a further edge on their competitors. Photographers can greatly extend the cameras’ capabilities with the WCON-07F lens converter for wide 27mm shots or the TCON-17F for 193mm tele views (35mm camera equivalent / usage requires CLA-4 adapter). An underwater case is also available and external flash units, such as the Olympus FL-20, can be added to the SP-350 via its hotshoe.
The Olympus SP-350 and SP-310 are both ultra-compact and lightweight yet have a robust feel to them and fit snugly in the hand. Perfect for the experienced photographer who needs a compact model in their kitbag both models come with an Olympus CR-V3 battery pack that lasts for more than 500 shots. Both are PictBridge compatible and downloading images to a PC or printer couldn’t be simpler using the USB Hi-Speed AutoConnect provided.
See also: Digital Camera | Olympus