Olympus SP-550 UZ

Last Update: Review & Sample Photos @ PPMag (09 August’07)

The Olympus SP-550 UZ (Ultra Zoom) is a point-and-shoot digital camera featuring 7.1 million effective pixels with 18x optical zoom (35mm equiv: 28-504mm) with Dual Image Stabilization, and a 2,5″ High-Resolution LCD screen. The camera is measuring in at 4.6” W x 3.1” H x 3.1” D (116mm x 78.5mm x 78mm), weighing 12.9oz. (365g) , and it’s running on 4 AA Batteries,. The Olympus SP-550 UZwill be available in March 2007 with an estimated street price of US$499.99

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Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ | Latest Price Info


Olympus SP-550 UZ Reviews

PPMag reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“While the camera can take a rapid sequence of images, getting ready to shoot takes too long. Auto focus can be so slow—barely acceptable, in fact—and it had problems locking in. When it got confused, the camera would run through the entire focusing range several times before honing in on the subject. A couple of times the camera simply wouldn’t focus. I had to turn it off and on again to get it to work properly. It also has the typical shutter lag of a consumer camera.”
Rating: N/A

ePhotozine reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“The SP-550UZ does look good, it has got some great features, but there are aspects of the performance and operation that leave something to be desired. However, if you really want to have a compact camera with an unfeasibly large zoom, then this will fit the bill.”
Rating: ★★★½☆

Derek reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“I just recently bought the Olympus SP550uz and have found it to be a great starter camera. I was debating about purchasing a DSLR; while i did not purchase one (obviously), the SP550uz offers many of the same features as a DSLR including full control of the manual features. However, sometimes i have difficulty in that the camera will snap 2 pictures at once and the delay is quite substantial….resulting in a blurred image. I do not now why it sometimes does that and it is frustrating. I know it is something to do with the burst/drive mode but it seems to still have quite a delay. Aside from this drawback i have found it to be a great camera with outstanding optical zoom at 18x and many other features, including 15fps, Dual Image Stabilization, a 28mm wide lens, and 32 various shooting modes. Certainly a good purchase.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

ImagingResource reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“With four AA batteries in the Olympus SP-550 UZ, I was able to shoot for days without swapping out the cells. That surprised me, frankly. I usually put in fresh batteries for every shoot, but I had an old but unused set and I wanted to know how long they’d last. They lasted — in this camera….While it has enough to complain about, the Olympus SP-550 UZ merits a Dave’s Pick for its excellent physical design and world beating zoom range.”
Rating: N/A

PhotoReview.AU reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“At the longest end of the zoom range we were able to produce some excellent shots with differential focusing. Backlighting was also handled quite well, provided the lens was shaded. Close-ups were competently handled and the super macro setting produced some impressive shots. Digital zoom shots were soft and artefact-affected.”
Rating: ★★★★½

GoodGearGuide reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“In our other speed tests, the SP-550UZ achieved mixed results. Its shutter speed of .07 of a second is about middle of the range, as is the 1.8 seconds between shots. Meanwhile due to the long lens it takes a little longer to power up, getting up and running in about 2.8 seconds… The Olympus SP-550UZ is a great camera that will suit people after a little more zoom in their life. The images could have used some minor improvements, but the huge zoom and fantastic design make this a worthwhile choice for some buyers.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

PCMag reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Image quality on the SP-550 UZ is very good. My daylight test shots exhibited very little noise, although the flash shot had some colored noise. Color was pretty good, too—both vibrant and accurate. I saw a bit of purple fringing, but nothing too strong—though my real-world test shots of trees shot against a blue sky had more fringing. Overall, I found that the SP-550 UZ’s images displayed a very nice dynamic range and good contrast—just strong enough without having the shadows swallow up the details. Flash coverage was even and powerful enough to provide proper illumination without blowing out highlights. And you can make the strobe stronger or weaker, which is a nice touch…”
Rating: ★★★★☆

Photoxels reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“The Olympus SP-550 UZ has very good build and construction, an excellent handgrip, and well spaced controls. It has lots of useful features, a very good EVF and LCD monitor that gains up very well in low-light situations. Overall, Olympus has given its ultra zoom a new SLR-like look and feel, and this works very well. Only letdown is the sluggish performance and lack of manual zoom and focus rings.”
Rating: N/A

PhotographyBlog reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
” found that images followed the familiar Olympus trait of colours being a tad washed out straight out of the camera, which had the effect of making skin appear ever more porcelain-like. The aforementioned noise starts to appear very visibly upwards of ISO800, and at ISO1600 detail is noticeably being lost and images take on an impressionistic, painterly appearance… Unless you really long for an 18x reach from a small package and/or don’t want to spend a small fortune on a whopping DSLR lens, I’d be tempted to save up a little more and buy an Olympus E-400 DSLR instead for greater responsiveness. ”
Rating: ★★★★☆

Steve’sDigicams reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Bottom line – As a sports shooter, the SP-550 UZ is a bit of an enigma, hampered by its slow autofocus performance and poor image quality in its 2 high speed drive modes. But no other consumer digicam can come close to its high speed capture rate and the pre-capture mode that renders anticipating the decisive moment a moot point. The SP-550′s high-quality lens can’t be matched either, offering a versatile focal length range that is equally at home in tight interiors and athletic playing fields. Combine that with its very good image quality in standard drive modes, and the SP-550 UZ represents a good value at its $499 MSRP. Please have a look at our Sample Photos and see for yourself; included are some action sequences taken with the camera’s high speed drive modes and pre-capture. ”
Rating: N/A

CrunchGear reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Even though the 550UZ is mostly plastic, it feels solid with rubbery grip and metal trim. The lens barrel is sturdy while being surprisingly long and zooms with a nice smooth mechanism. The buttons and dials are intuitive and logical. The built-in flash pops up nicely. It takes 4 AA batteries, allowing for about 450 shots…Same goes for Dual Image Stabilization: It works well, but in fact the dual part is a stretch. The sensor-shift mechanical IS is the hardware that detects camera motion and moves the CCD sensor to compensate which reduces blur. Effective and important when using long-zoom lengths or shooting in low light when shutter speed is slow. ”
Rating: N/A

Megapixel reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Even with an 18X optical zoom, the SP-550 UZ is the most compact camera of Olympus’ UZ line. Its ergonomic design is excellent. The monitor is sharp and clear, the viewfinder is equipped with a dioptre correction, the grip appears to be comfortable for all hand sizes and finally, the layout of the controls is well thought out, making it practical and easily memorized..The pop-up flash of the SP-550 UZ has no difficulty providing light for the widest angle of the zoom, and is ideal at low ISO settings for fill-in light. Still, to increase its reach, it is best to boost the sensitivity, or set the sensitivity to Auto ISO and allow the camera to increase it as necessary, even if a slight increase in noise may result.”
Rating: ★★★★½

CameraLabs reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“The Olympus SP-550UZ is a wonderful camera to use. It feels really well-built and it’s reassuring to know you have such a massive optical zoom range and effective stabilisation at your disposal. If the image quality had no issues, the SP-550UZ would easily have earned our top Highly Recommended award, but as discussed earlier, visible coloured fringing when zoomed-in and a general softness throughout the range let the camera down. To be fair, there’s always a compromise with such a massive optical range, and it’s up to you to weigh-up the convenience of the lens against ultimate image quality. That said, the SP-550UZ remains a very impressive camera which can delight in many respects. The build quality’s great, the stabilisation effective and the zoom range extremely seductive. So long as you’re willing to accept the caveats above – and the lack of a flip-out screen – the SP-550UZ comes recommended.”

Video Review @ CameraLabs

DigitalTrends reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Olympus is to be congratulated for taking the mega zoom category up a level to 18x—and it appears this will be the most powerful model in 2007… With those caveats on the table, the SP-550UZ is a good camera for vacationers and for having around the house. The 28mm wide angle option is a real plus while the extreme telephoto will capture faraway subjects. I just wish the darn thing moved faster. ”
Rating: ★★★★☆

CNET reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Image quality also left a bit to be desired. While the lens in the 550UZ is admirable for its wide angle, fast f/2.8-to-f.4.5 maximum aperture range, and 18x optical zoom, it is noticeably less sharp than the lens Olympus included in last year’s SP-510UZ. …The bottom line: Olympus’ SP-550UZ has great ergonomics, but disappointingly slow performance and soft, noisy images drag it down. ”
Rating: ★★★☆☆

DigicamReview reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
” The pop-up flash release button is easy to use and clearly labelled. The four-way controller provides quick access to most common functions such as self-timer, macro mode, flash etc. I thought the camera felt very good ergonomically, with an excellent sized rubber hand grip, an excellent rubber thumb grip on the back, and other rubber cladding around the lens and on the left of the body the camera is very easy to hold. The shutter release and zoom very well positioned. ”
Rating: N/A

DCRP reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Camera performance was average in most respects. The SP-550UZ takes about 2.7 seconds to turn on, which is fairly typical. Focus times are decent at wide-angle or in good light, but sluggish at the telephoto end of the lens, or in low light situations… The photo quality at ISO 1600, 3200, and 5000 isn’t what I’d consider acceptable. While the camera has a bit of a redeye problem, the in-camera redeye reduction took took care of it in a matter of seconds.”
Rating: N/A

TrustedReviews reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“The massive zoom range and impressive image stabilisation make the SP-550UZ a camera with unique capabilities, and at low ISO settings the image quality is very good. Handling, build quality, style and low-light performance are also highlights. The range of manual options and RAW mode will appeal to experienced users, while the beginner-friendly Guide mode is a boon for those keen to learn. However slow focusing and shot-to-shot times, high-ISO image noise and lens distortion at both ends of the zoom range are serious handicaps.”
Rating: ★★★½☆

DigitalCameraReview reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
” The camera also has great battery life. If you’re interested in a long zoom camera, the SP-550 UZ is a great choice. Don’t be intimidated by all of its features, plenty of in-camera help and Olympus’ built-in Guide system do a great job of helping a beginner to get comfortable with the camera.”
Rating: N/A

CNET Asia reviews the Olympus SP-550 UZ (rating: 7.4/10) and writes;
“The SP-550UZ feels surprisingly comfortable in our hands. Our first finger rests just where it’s supposed to be–at the shutter button with zoom lever–and the rubber wraps on the front side of the hand grip and thumb rest area provide non-slip handling…The bottom line: The Olympus SP-550UZ would be a great travel camera, or a second camera with a wide focal range, at a competitive price.”

Popular Photography Magazine has reviewed the Olympus SP-550 UZ and writes;
“Overall, the Olympus SP-550UZ is a very capable camera, especially at lower ISOs with the sensor-shift image stabilization activated. The reach of this lens is record-breaking, and it covers that long distance while keeping distortion mostly contained, except at the extreme wide angle setting, which is typical for this camera class. The built is rock-solid for a composite camera, and it feels great in the hands. Its burst performance at full resolution is sluggish and limited to three shots, and it crawls in writing a single RAW file. ”
Rating: N/A

Lawrence Ripsher has written a hands-on review of the Olympus SP-550 UZ where he writes;
“Feature wise, I believe it is currently at the top of the ultrazoom pile and it is competitively priced, with optics and image quality that deliver on the spec sheet’s promise. I’ve owned a whole load of compacts and used many more, and I am almost certain that I’m going to be using this camera far more than any other [compact] in the past. It is just about portable enough to be carried on a regular / daily basis and more importantly (for me), combines great images with an advanced set of features and unrivalled reach.”
Rating: N/A

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Olympus SP-550 UZ Samples

- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ PPMag
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ ePhotozine
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ ImagingResource
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ Photoxels
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ PhotographyBlog
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ Steve’sDigicams
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ Pbase
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ Flickr
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ Megapixel
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ CameraLabs
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ DigicamReview
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ DCRP
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ TrustedReviews
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ Let’sGoDigital
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos by PixInfo
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos @ PopPhotoMag
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos by Lawrence Ripsher
- Olympus SP-550 UZ Sample Photos by TV Smith

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Videos


Olympus SP-550 UZ User Manuals (PDF)

Click to view or right click and select Save Target As.. (Firefox) or Save link as.. (IE) to download

- Download Olympus SP-550 UZ Basic Manual
- Download Olympus SP-550 UZ Advanced Manual

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Olympus SP-550 UZ Firmware

- Olympus SP-550 UZ Firmware Ver. 1.1 (released on 26.03.07)


Olympus SP-550 UZ Press Release

CENTER VALLEY, Pa, January 25, 2007 – The new Olympus SP-550 UZ Ultra Zoom offers the ultimate in power and versatility with a compact, best-in-class 18x optical zoom lens (28-504mm equivalent in 35mm photography), which gives users the ability to shoot telephoto, wide-angle and macro (as close as 1cm) all in one. Crisp, clear images can be captured far and wide with Dual Image Stabilization and the broadest focal range available on any digital point-and-shoot. The camera’s full manual exposure control provides professionals and photo-enthusiasts with unlimited creativity, while its automatic settings and Built-in Help Guides will put novice users at ease.

This revolutionary ultra zoom is equipped with several unique features to deliver near-DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) performance in a compact size, including:

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3 Comments »

Comment by Derek
2007-08-02 16:06:46

I just recently bought the Olympus SP550uz and have found it to be a great starter camera. I was debating about purchasing a DSLR; while i did not purchase one (obviously), the SP550uz offers many of the same features as a DSLR including full control of the manual features. However, sometimes i have difficulty in that the camera will snap 2 pictures at once and the delay is quite substantial….resulting in a blurred image. I do not now why it sometimes does that and it is frustrating. I know it is something to do with the burst/drive mode but it seems to still have quite a delay. Aside from this drawback i have found it to be a great camera with outstanding optical zoom at 18x and many other features, including 15fps, Dual Image Stabilization, a 28mm wide lens, and 32 various shooting modes. Certainly a good purchase. I give it a 8.5/10.

Comment by Dphotojournal com
2007-08-02 16:44:50

Thank you for your time reviewing this camera.. Much appreciated!

 
 
Comment by Blazing_Wolfe10 Subscribed to comments via email
2010-01-31 21:51:35

The only complaint I have with my Olympus SP-550UZ would be the slow auto-focus, I have encountered some blurred shots but the major issue I have with this particular camera would be the rubber grips that has came unattached from the camera, when I first bought it I had noticed a bubble in the grip and after a few uses it came apart from the camera itself. This has been the only thing that has not only hampered me with making great shots but it has been so aggravating to hold during shots which made it uncomfortable on trying to figure on how to hold the camera without the rubber grips folding up under the palm of your hand. As far as the camera itself I am some what OK with, I feel that I have over payed for this particular equipment at $799.00 w/o tax at Wal-Mart. I know if I had to do this over again I would have passed this one up and may have considered a Nikon.

 

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