Olympus SP-500 UZ Review

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Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Review posted 2/3/2006


Click to take a QuickTime VR tour of the Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom
Click to take a QTVR tour of the SP-500


The Olympus SP-500 UZ features 6-megapixels of resolution with a powerful 10x optical zoom lens and a large, easy-to-view 2.5-inch color LCD with both automatic and manual settings, all built into a very compact and light-weight body. The large handgrip makes it easy to hold and operate with just one hand.

The 10x "Ultra Zoom" lens gives you the equivalent focal range of 38mm - 380mm (in 35mm photography) to bring distant action closer. The 6.0-megapixel CCD image sensor delivers super high-quality images that are consistently sharp and vivid even in large-format prints. Composing and reviewing images is far easier when you don't have to squint. The 115,000-pixel anti-glare LCD enables you to view images in large and vivid detail. Use the big color LCD to share photos and movies with friends and family, no computer needed!

The SP-500 UZ makes it easy to capture great images in a variety of lighting situations with 21 pre-programmed scene modes, such as Night Scene, Indoor Portrait or Cuisine Mode. The Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes gives users versatility and control for optimal performance in any situation. And with its QuickTime Movie Mode, you can record QVGA (320x240 pixels at 30/15 fps) movies of any length, limited only by the size of the xD-Picture Card in the camera.

Olympus' TruePic TURBO™ Image Processor enhances image quality and delivers faster overall processing speeds for rapid startup, shutter release and playback. TruePic TURBO enables the SP-500 UZ to capture information from all 6.0 million pixels with pixel "micro-smoothing" that delivers clearer and more color-accurate photos, even at lower resolutions. The fast startup of less than one second and nearly instant shutter release time ensures a high-speed response so you are always ready to take great pictures. Two Continuous Capture modes: High speed; 1.75 frames per second up to 3 frames and Normal speed; 1.2 frames per second up to 13 frames in HQ mode.

With in-camera editing features such as Red-Eye Fix, color brightness and saturation adjustments, users can edit photos on the fly - no longer do you have to tool around with computers and editing software for simple image touch-ups!

Connecting the SP-500 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, such as the Olympus P-10 Digital Photo Printer, without using a computer. Printing and sharing images is more convenient than ever, and the P-10's photo lab-quality dye-sublimation printing produces archival-quality prints in rich color.

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-500 UltraZoom Features:

  • 6.0 Megapixel CCD imager for up to 2816x2112 pixel images
  • 10x optical 38-380mm f/2.8-3.7 zoom, 5x seamless digital zoom
  • Standard JPEG and uncompressed RAW image formats
  • Super Macro coverage as close as 1.18"
  • Low-light focus assist illuminator
  • 2.5" color LCD with realtime histogram and 5x playback zoom
  • 27 shooting modes including Auto, Program AE, Shutter-speed priority, Aperture priority, Manual and creative scene modes for beginners
  • Quicktime movie mode w/sound 320x240 HQ and SQ quality
  • 1.75fps Continuous burst capture of Large/Fine images
  • Digital ESP metering on focus point or Spot metering option
  • 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 1/1000 second
  • Noise reduction for shutter speeds of 1/2 sec. or longer
  • Selectable ISO settings from 80 to 400
  • 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
  • Built-in memory plus optional xD-Picture Card media


The SP-500UZ is available now. It includes: Wrist Strap, Camera WIN/Mac USB Cable, Video cable, 4 AA batteries, Quick Start Guide, Basic Instruction Manual, Warranty Card, CD-ROM with OLYMPUS Master Software, and Camera Advanced manual.



Physical Views



Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom





Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom

The Konica Minolta Z6 and the SP-500 UZ for size comparison.





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Features & Controls



SP-500 UltraZoom Specifications
Imager 6 megapixel effective, 6.37 megapixel gross, 1/2.5" CCD
Lens 6.3 - 63 mm (38-380mm equivalent in 35mm photography), 11 lenses in 7 groups, 2 aspherical lens
Zoom Seamless to 50x (10x optical and 5x digital combined)
Aperture Range f2.8 - f8 (adjustable in 1/3 EV step)
LCD 2.5" color LCD, approx. 115,000 pixels
Viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
Focus System CCD Contrast detection
Focus Range 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")
Focus Mode iESP auto, Spot AF, Selective AF target, Manual
Shutter Speed 1/1000 sec -15 sec., Bulb
ISO Auto/80/100/200/400
Metering Mode Digital iESP multi-pattern auto TTL, Spot metering, Center Weighted metering
White Balance iESP2 multi-pattern auto TTL, Pre-set, (One-touch, Overcast, Sunlight, Evening sun, Tungsten,(3) Fluorescents) WB compensation +/-7
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV steps in 1/3 EV steps
Recording Modes DCF Exif 2.21, JPEG , PIM 3
Adjustment Resolutions RAW 2816 x 2112
SHQ 2816 x 2112
SHQ (3:2) 2816 x 1880
HQ 2816 x 1880
HQ (3:2) 2816 x 1880
SQ1 2592 x 1944 high, normal
2288 x 1712 high, normal
2048 x 1536 high, normal
1600 x 1200 high, normal
SQ2 1280 x 960 high, normal
1024 x 768 high, normal
640 x 480 high, normal
Shooting Modes 27 shooting modes
AUTO, Program Auto, A, S, M, MY, Scene Preset (Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Sport, Night + Portrait, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Museum, Behind Glass, Cuisine, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select1, Shoot & Select2, Beach, Snow)
Panorama Modes Up to 10 frames automatically stitchable with Olympus Master software when using Olympus brand xD-Picture card
Custom Settings 4 My Mode
Sequential Shooting High speed; 1.75 frames per second up to 3 frames
Normal speed; 1.2 frames per second up to 13 frames in HQ mode
Shooting Assist Functions Histogram, Frame assist
Shooting Edit Effects N/A
Image Quality Adjustment 5 levels of sharpness, contrast, saturation
Movie Mode QuickTime Movie with Sound, JPEG, HQ 320 x 240 30fps/ SQ 320 x 240 15fps
Image Processing TruePic TURBO Image Processor
Pixel Mapping Pixel Mapping via menu setting
Noise Reduction Set automatically at shutter speeds of 0.5 seconds or longer
Image Playback Single/ Index/ Enlargement/ Slide show/ Calendar/ Album
For Movie: Normal, Still (frame by frame), FF/Reverse, Index Jump
Playback Edit Effects Still Image; Black & white, sepia, resize, crop, raw data edit, compose, red eye reduction, brightness, saturation
For Movie: still image edit, index
Direct Printing Options PictBridge EASYPRINT and DPOF
Flash Built in Pop-up
Hot Shoe No
Flash Modes Auto (for low light and back lit conditions), Red-eye Reduction, Fill-in, Fill-in + red eye, Off
Flash Working Range Wide: 0.3~ 4.5m Tele: 1.2 ~ 3.4m
Selftimer 12 seconds
Setting Memorization On/Off (hold changes/Reset to default settings)
Date/Time Calendar Simultaneous recording into image data, Automatic up to 2099
Memory 10MB internal memory
Removable Media Card xD-Picture Card (16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512MB or 1GB)
Outer Connectors Multi-connector for USB and A/V, DC input
Auto-connect USB 2.0 Full Speed
Weatherproof N/A
System Requirements Windows 98SE/2000PRO/ME/XP, Mac 10.1 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
Size 4.15" W x 2.93" H x 2.80" D
(105.5mm x 74.5mm x 71.0mm)
Weight 10.05 oz. (285 g) without batteries and media card




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