Olympus SP-500 UZ Review

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Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom




Features & Controls



Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

The SP-500 features a 10x optical Olympus zoom lens with a 38mm-380mm (35mm equivalent) focal length and a maximum aperture of f2.8-f/4.8. The bright, high quality optical system is comprised of eleven elements arranged in seven groups and includes two aspherical lenses, plus an extra-dispersion (ED) glass element typically found in pro-level SLR cameras.

Equipped with a low-light AF-assist lamp, the contrast detection autofocus system has user-selectable iESP auto, Spot AF, Selective AF target modes and a working range of:

  • Normal: (W) 0.6m (23.62 inches) - infinity, (T) 2m (78.74 inches)- infinity
  • Macro mode: (W) 0.07m(2.76 inches) - 0.6m (23.62 inches), (T) 1.2m (47.24 inches) - 2m (78.74 inches)
  • Super Macro Mode: up to 3cm (11.12mm) (1.18")

The optional CLA-4 Lens Adapter Tube allows for the use of 55mm filters and enables the attachment of add-on wide angle or telephoto conversion lenses. Compatible accessory lenses include the WCON-07 and WCON-08 wide angle lenses and the TCON-17 telephoto conversion lens, which extends the camera's magnification capability to a 17x optical zoom.




Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

The manual popup speedlight has modes for Auto (for low light and back lit conditions), Red-eye Reduction, Fill-in, Fill-in + red eye and Off. The working flash range is 0.3 ~ 4.5m (11.8 in. ~ 14.8 ft.) in wide angle and 1.2 ~ 3.4m (3.94 ~ 11.15 ft.) in telephoto. The flash squelches down nicely for macro exposures.




Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

The SP-500 employs a color electronic viewfinder (EVF) as the eyelevel viewfinder, it has no dioptric adjustment. The EVF can display the same data as the large LCD. simply press the MONITOR button to toggle the active display.





The high resolution 2.5-inch color LCD has 115,000 pixels and can be used for preview, review and accessing the camera's menu system. The LCD or EVF can display a realtime histogram when desired.

Controls on the back: Flash popup button next to the EVF. The MONITOR button toggles the display between EVF and LCD. The DISP/GUIDE button toggles the overlay information on the EVF/LCD image and enables the histogram. When viewing menu screens, select a menu item and press the DISP/GUIDE button to display an explanation of its function. The Quick View button is for reviewing the last image captured. The Flash button selects the flash mode, in playback it is used to delete images. The 4-way controller is for navigating menus, changing settings and selecting playback images. The OK button accepts menu selections and calls up the menu. The small LED near the bottom blinks when the memory card is being accessed.



Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Top controls: The shutter release/zoom lens control (functions as the index and zoomed playback in review mode.) The Power on/off button. The AEL button is used to lock the exposure, in playback it is the Print button. The Mode Dial with positions for: AUTO, Program AE, Aperture priority AE, Shutter-speed priority AE, Manual, MyMODE, Scene, Movie and Playback.




Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

On the side is a single I/O port which handles both the A/V output, video is NTSC or PAL, audio is monaural and the USB 2.0 (full speed, not high speed) data. The SP-500 is Pictbridge compatible and may be connected directly to any Pictbridge enabled photo printer without the need of a computer.



Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

The SP-500 stores its data in its built-in memory or on optional xD-Picture Cards. xD cards are currently available up to 1GB in capacity. Olympus brand xD cards are required if using the camera's built-in Panorama function.


Approx. Still Image Capacity

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Approx. Movie Capacity

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom





Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

The SP-500 is powered by four standard AA batteries, alkaline or NiMH type rechargeables. Both Olympus and myself recommend the use of high-capacity NiMH batteries, they last much longer and they'll save you a lot of money. Olympus does not specify the battery life of this camera.

Check out our Rechargeable Battery Page for info and prices on various brands of NiMH AA cells and chargers.





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