So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
20x optical zoom camera with dual image stabilisation
- 20x zoom, dual image stabilisation, 13.5fps burst mode
- Some over-sharpening, full-resolution burst mode slow, electronic zoom fiddly for precise framing
Olympus' SP-570UZ continues the trend of its past ultra-zooms, offering an enticing package for users looking for a larger lens. It isn't perfect — at times it can be sluggish and the pictures have some minor issues — but on the whole it does a solid job.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
A year or two ago it seemed like the megapixel (Mp) count on cameras would not stop climbing. Everybody wanted the biggest resolution possible. The same thing seems to have been happening with optical zooms recently. Olympus has now come to market with the largest lens on a compact camera, offering a massive 20x zoom on its latest advanced unit, the 10Mp SP-570UZ.
A solid performer in most areas, this unit will suit enthusiastic amateurs who are looking for something a little above their compact but don't want to venture into SLR territory just yet.
The massive zoom lens really lets you do some impressive things. 20x is absolutely huge and most users won't appreciate it until they use it. It is also supported by Olympus' dual image stabilisation, which employs both sensor shift and digital ISO adjustment to help keep your shots clear and minimise the impact of shaking hands.
We were impressed with the shots captured by the SP-570UZ. While they had some small issues, they will be fine for making fairly large prints. This camera can capture RAW files in addition to JPEGs, which should please enthusiasts.
Our shots were extremely sharp most of the time, with Imatest giving some extremely high scores in this regard. However, the program also picked up a fair bit of over-sharpening, which sometimes made the images look a little too crisp. There was also a reasonably high amount of chromatic aberration, with some minor haloing visible in high-contrast areas and some detail loss towards the corners of the shots. All of this is fairly standard and didn't detract too much from the shots.
Noise performance was also quite standard. Shots up to ISO 400 were fine at all magnifications. Once you hit that sensitivity, some chroma noise begins to creep in, but it isn't too severe until ISO 800. Past there, you'll need to be able to stomach some graininess or be happy just making tiny prints.
The colour balance was a little abnormal, with somewhat subdued shades rather than the more vivid, over-saturated tones you find on some other cameras. Accuracy was fairly good on the whole, particularly with cool colours; warmer shades were not as impressive, with yellows in particular looking a little pale.
In our speed tests, results were mixed. As expected, the SP-570UZ took a while to start-up thanks to its huge lens having to extend; we were up and taking our first shot in just over 3sec. Shutter lag was fairly good, at 0.09sec; shot-to-shot time was a fairly average 2.1sec. There are a variety of burst modes on offer too. The default one is extremely slow, snapping just .7 shots a second. However, if you are happy to drop the resolution down to three megapixels you can capture a whopping 13 frames per second.
The rest of the features are pretty standard, although there are a few nifty options such as the ability to alter saturation, sharpness and contrast onboard. You can also play with the metering and focus modes, change the colour style and, of course, shoot in any of the manual modes (program, shutter, aperture or full manual).
The design is pretty similar to past Olympus ultra-zooms. It will never be called attractive, but the chunky body is sturdy and comfortable to hold, with an imposing, professional look to it. One thing that did bother us was the zoom ring. While the SP-570UZ uses a ring around the lens to control the zoom, it is electronic rather than mechanical and there is a delay of a second or so when zooming, which makes precise framing difficult.
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