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Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

Review posted 4/5/2007

Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom
Click to take a QTVR tour of the SP-550

The 7.1-megapixel Olympus SP-550 UZ Ultra Zoom offers the ultimate in power and versatility with a compact, 18x optical zoom lens which gives users the ability to shoot from super telephoto to as close as 1cm. This lens features Dual Image Stabilization and the broadest focal range available on any digital point-and-shoot. The camera’s automatic and manual exposure control will satisfy casual users as well as photo-enthusiasts and the Built-in Help Guides will put novice users at ease.

Featuring a powerful 18x optical zoom lens, the SP-550 UZ offers maximum shooting versatility for travel, sports and day-to-day use. The 18x super telephoto zoom gets you closer to the action than any compact digital camera on the market. At the same time, the wide-angle lens gets more into your frame – perfect for shooting indoors, landscapes and group shots. The super macro mode is ideal for capturing the most subtle details from as close as one centimeter. This precision-crafted lens combines high-refractive, aspherical and extra-dispersion (ED) lens elements to deliver edge-to-edge sharpness and clarity.

Dual Image Stabilization technology ensures crisp, clear pictures in virtually any shooting situation – adjusting for camera shake and moving subjects. The Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization keeps images sharp by adjusting the CCD to compensate for camera shake and Digital Image Stabilization freezes the action with high ISO sensitivity and fast shutter speeds that prevent blur caused by a moving subject.

Capable of capturing images at an incredible 15 frames per second (at 1.2MP), the SP-550 UZ offers the highest burst rate of any compact digital camera. The inclusion of Pre-Capture technology, which works in conjunction with High-Speed Sequential Shooting, enables users to capture the action before and after fully pressing the shutter button. Pre-Capture begins working as soon as the focus is locked, automatically archiving five frames prior to the shutter release – virtually guaranteeing that none of the action will be missed.

The Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes give advanced users the control for optimal performance in any situation. Users can adjust the f-stop for detailed portraits with softened backgrounds, or slow the exposure speed to create the blurred effect of motion, or just let the camera do the work with its automatic settings.

The SP-550 UZ makes it easy to take great photos in a variety of scenarios and lighting situations with 30 shooting modes, including television-quality video with sound (640x480/30fps) up to the capacity of your xD card. Simply select the desired mode for portraits, landscapes, night scenes, fast-action, macro and more.

With in-camera editing features such as Red-Eye Fix and the ability to add frames and titles, crop, adjust brightness, switch from color to black-and-white or sepia, make calendar prints, and more – all without using a computer and editing software. Also, the new Lighting Fix feature corrects the underexposed areas in your picture to reveal the details hidden in the shadows.

Connecting the SP-550 UltraZoom to a computer is easy with the USB Auto Connect feature, which connects directly via USB 2.0 cable and requires no software. Or, if you prefer, forget the computer altogether. The power of PictBridge technology enables photos to be printed directly from the camera with any PictBridge-enabled printer.

OLYMPUS Master™ software provides the ultimate in digital imaging management. An intuitive user interface makes downloading to your computer quick and simple, and images are searchable by date or keyword in the Calendar View. And with one-click editing tools, such as red-eye reduction, images can be touched up before printing or emailing. Online support, templates, firmware upgrades and other user services are just a mouse-click away.

SP-550 UltraZoom Features:

  • 7.1 Megapixel CCD imager for up to 3072x2304 pixel images
  • 18x wide angle zoom (28-504mm) with image stabilization
  • JPEG and uncompressed RAW image formats
  • Low-light focus assist illuminator
  • Hi-res 2.5" color LCD with realtime histogram and 5x playback zoom
  • 30 shooting modes including Auto, Program AE, Shutter-speed priority, Aperture priority, Manual and creative scene modes for beginners
  • Quicktime movie mode w/sound 640x480 at 30 fps or 15 fps
  • Digital iESP metering, Auto Multi-Pattern TTL, Spot Metering, Center-weighted options
  • Stitch Assist mode for perfect panoramas
  • Exposure compensation: +/-2EV in 1/3-step increments
  • White Balance: iESP2 Auto, 6 presets, custom WB
  • Shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/2000 second
  • Noise reduction for shutter speeds of 1/2 sec. or longer
  • Selectable ISO settings from 50 to 5000 (3200 and 5000 @ 3MP only)
  • Built-in microphone and speaker
  • Powered by 4 standard AA type batteries
  • USB Direct-print with any PictBridge compatible printer
  • USB connectivity for PC and Mac
  • 21MB of built-in memory plus optional xD-Picture Card media slot

The SP-550 UZ will be available in March 2007 for an estimated $499.99 USD, see our buy box below for vendors and current pricing. The camera outfit includes: Neck Strap, WIN/Mac USB Cable, Audio/Video Cable, four AA Batteries, Instruction Manual, Warranty Card and OLYMPUS Master Software CD-ROM.

Physical Views

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom

The SP-550 compared in size to a standard CD disc.

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Features & Controls

US visitors SP-550 UZ Black Digital Camera (7.1MP, 3072x2304, 18x Opt, 20MB Internal, xD-Picture Card Slot)

$ 270.00 at TriStateCamera.com

UK visitors Olympus PT-037 Underwater Housing for SP550/560

£ 295.00 at Jessops

SP-550 UZ Specifications

Imager 7.1 Megapixel (effective), 7.4 Megapixel gross, 1/2.5” CCD
Lens 4.68 – 84.24mm (28 – 504mm equivalent in 35mm photography), 14 lenses in 11 groups; 4 aspherical lenses, 2 ED lenses
Zoom 18x Optical + 5.6x Digital (Seamless to 100x)
Aperture Range f2.8 – f4.5 (adjustable in 1/3 EV step)
LCD 2.5” (6.4cm) Color LCD, approx. 230,000 pixels
Viewfinder Electronic (dioptic correction)
Focus System CCD Contrast Detection
Focus Range Normal/Macro Mode:
(Wide) 3.94” – infinity (.1m – infinity)
(Tele) 47.24” – infinity (1.2m – infinity)
Super Macro Mode:
0.39” – infinity (.1m – infinity)
Focus Mode iESP Auto, Spot AF, Selective AF Target, Manual
Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec. – 15 sec., Bulb
ISO Auto, High ISO Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200*, 5000* (*approx. 3MP)
Metering Mode Digital iESP Auto Multi-Pattern TTL, Center-Weighted Metering
White Balance iESP2 Auto, One-Touch, Presets (Sunlight, Overcast, Tungsten, and 3 Fluorescents)
Exposure Compensation ±2 EV steps in 1/3 EV increments
Recording Modes Still Image: DCF Exif 2.21, JPEG, PIM3
Movie: AVI Motion JPEG
Adjustment Resolutions 3,072 x 2,304, RAW / SHQ / HQ
3,072 x 2,048, 3:2 / SHQ / HQ
2,560 x 1,920, SQ1 High, Normal
2,304 x 1,728, SQ1 High, Normal
2,048 x 1,536, SQ1 High, Normal
1,600 x 1,200, SQ2 High, Normal
1,280 x 960, SQ2 High, Normal
1,024 x 768, SQ2 High, Normal
640 x 480, SQ2 High, Normal
Shooting Modes 30 Shooting Modes: Auto, Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, My Modes, GUIDE, Scene Presets (Portrait, Landscape, Landscape & Portrait, Night Scene, Night & Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select1, Shoot & Select2, Beach, Snow, Underwater Wide1, Underwater Wide2, Underwater Macro), Movie
Panorama Modes Up to 10 frames automatically stitchable with OLYMPUS Master Software when using Olympus brand xD-Picture Card™
Sequential Shooting Hi-Speed2: 15 frames per second for 20 frames (1.2MP)
Hi-Speed1: 7 frames per second for 15 frames (3MP)
Normal Speed: 1.2 frames per second for 7 frames (7MP)
Bracket: Exposure bracketing up to 5 frames
Interval Shooting
Shooting Assist Functions Histogram, Frame Assist
Movie Mode AVI Movie with Sound: 640x480/30fps, SHQ; 640x480/15fps, HQ; 320x240/30fps, SQ1; 320x240/15fps, SQ2
Image Processing TruePic TURBO™ Image Processor
Pixel Mapping Automatic Pixel Mapping (APM) available via menu setting
Noise Reduction Set automatically at shutter speeds of 0.5 second or longer
Image Playback Still Image: Single, Index, Enlargement, Slideshow, Calendar, Album, Histogram, Rotation
Playback Edit Effects Still Image: Lighting Fix, Red-Eye Fix, Black & White, Sepia, Crop, Resize, Rotate, Brightness, Saturation, Frame, Label, Calendar, Layout
Direct Printing Options PictBridgeTM and DPOF
Flash Built-in
Flash Modes Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In, Fill-In & Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Off
Flash Working Range Wide: 14.8 ft. (4.5m), Tele: 9.2 ft. (2.8m) at ISO 200
Wide: 42.3 ft. (12.9m), Tele: 26.2 ft. (8.0m) at ISO 1600
Selftimer 12 Seconds/2 Seconds, AUTO
Setting Memorization On (stores changes) / Off (restores default settings)
Date/Time Calendar Automatically recorded with each image (up to 2099)
Memory 20MB internal memory
Removable Media Card xD-Picture Card™ (16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512MB, 1GB or 2GB)
Type H card is required for SHQ movie recording beyond 15 sec.
Outer Connectors USB Connector, Audio/Video Output, DC Input
Auto-connect USB 2.0 Full Speed
System Requirements Auto-connect USB: Windows® 98SE/ME/2000PRO/XP/VISTA with USB port, Mac OS® 9.0-9.2x/OS X 10.1-10.4 with USB port. Software: Windows® 2000PRO/XP/VISTA, Mac® 10.3 and higher
Operating Environment Operation: 32° – 104°F (0° – 40°C), 30% – 90% humidity
Storage: -4° – 140°F (-20° – 60°C), 10% – 90% humidity
Power Supply (4) AA Batteries, AC Adapter (C-7AU)
Size 4.6” W x 3.1” H x 3.1” D (116mm x 78.5mm x 78mm)
Weight 12.9oz. (365g) without batteries and media card

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Features & Controls

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