Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShotolympus_sp600_uz_450.JPG

  • 12-Megapixel CCD Imaging Sensor
  • 15x wide optical zoom lens: 35mm equivalent of 28-420mm
  • 2.7-inch,230,000 pixel LCD screen
  • TruePic III Image Processor
  • Dual Image Stabilization: Sensor-Shift and Digital
  • Face Detection and Tracking
  • 720p HD video capture
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • 1GB internal memory
  • Powered by 4 "AA" type batteries
  • SD/SDHC memory card compatible

Pros
  • Good image quality and performance
  • 15x optical zoom is very versatile
  • Sensor shift image sensor assists with handheld images
  • Dedicated video record button works in all shooting modes
  • 1GB internal memory
  • Powerful pop-up flash
  • 340 images with alkaline batteries
  • Slightly better performance than SP-800 UZ
Cons
  • Above average noise at settings above ISO 400
  • The camera chooses higher ISO settings when using the telephoto end of the zoom, which can cause unwanted noise in photos
  • Mono microphone
  • No audio input for HD video recording
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.3  seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = 7/10 - 1.0 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.94 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.26 seconds
  • Burst Mode = 0.65fps
  • Burst Mode HI1 = 6.55fps (5M)
  • Burst Mode HI2 = 10.91fps (3M)
  • Burst Mode HI3 = 14.55fps (2M)
  • All tests were taken using an 8GB PNYPro Pro Class 10 SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The SP-600 UZ is an affordable and very versatile super-zoom digicam. While its performance and image quality have a little room for improvement, they are good for this price range.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an affordable and easy-to-use super-zoom model. 
Olympus's SP-600 UZ is the affordable option in Olympus' "SP" line, featuring a 15x optical zoom lens, 12-Megapixel imaging sensor, 720p HD video capture, image stabilization and an intelligent auto shooting mode. The SP-600 UZ is incredibly easy to use and with a minimal set of controls, it does not look intimidating either.

As one of the smaller super-zoom cameras on the market, it is easier to carry with you in a small bag than others. The grip on the right side allows for easy one or two-handed operation, two being easier when using the telephoto end of the zoom. With fewer controls on the camera, there are more options within the menus, but they are easy to navigate and allow you to quickly make your changes. Framing and viewing your images on the 2.7-inch LCD is a pleasure. The bright screen is easy to see in all lighting conditions, including bright sunlight and it has several levels of adjustment available.

Our outdoor image samples show that the camera handles different exposure situations fairly well, from sunny to overcast days. We did see some very dull colors in the overcast images, along with a huge increase in chromatic aberrations where the overcast sky and dark areas come together. There is also some severe edge softness on the right and left sides of the images, especially when using the wide end of the 28-420mm zoom.

Looking at our indoor samples shows us that the camera does produce very vivid and natural colors, which we did not see much of in the outdoor images. We also noticed that at ISO 400 and up there were some small variations in the exposures that produced some underexposed images and others with excellent exposures while the camera settings never changed. We also noticed that while most of the image was clear, there was not a sample image taken that allowed us to read the titles of the magazines on the left edge. ISO 100 and 200 did very well, while ISO 400 was as high as we would go if you are looking at making prints from your images. Anything over 400 was incredibly grainy with a real loss of detail.

Portrait photography is very easy when the face detection software is turned on. This allows the camera to quickly detect and follow faces as they movie within the frame of the camera. The camera will then set the exposure, focus and white balance to ensure the best image possible based on the face. Our sample shows a great exposure and life-like skin tones. Even in portrait mode, the camera quickly raised the ISO levels, deteriorating the quality of the image quickly, so you will want to stay as close to your subjects as possible, despite the 15x optical zoom. Even with the assistance of the Red-Eye reduction flash, we did see at least a little redness in all of our portrait shots.

Thanks to the dedicated video recording button, the camera is ready to capture HD video at any time and in any shooting mode. While the 15x optical zoom lens is available to be set beforehand, it is not available while the camera is recording. These videos are clear, but a little choppy when playing them back on a computer. You also have the choice of watching them on either your camera or, using a HDMI cable, on your HDTV. The audio accompanying these videos is good for an internal mic, but remember the camera will pick up all of the sound near the camera and not necessarily what you are recording.

Running off of 4 "AA" type batteries, your power sources are almost unlimited. In a bind, you can stop almost anywhere to pick up some spare batteries that will get you by. Our tests were completed using 4 Energizer 2450mAh Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. Over the course of our tests we were able to capture 200+ images and videos while still having plenty of power left in these batteries. This is expected as Olympus claims the camera can capture 340 images with standard alkaline batteries. We recommend Ni-MH as they last longer and can be recharged and used again hundreds of times, saving you a lot of money in the long run.

Bottom Line - The Olympus SP-600 UZ is a compact and affordable super-zoom digicam. Sporting a 12-Megapixel imaging sensor, 15x optical zoom lens, image stabilization and 720p HD video recording, you get all the top features without some of the smaller ones at a much lower price. Its overall performance and quality are good, although there were a few small issues with the quality. With a MSRP of US $249.99, this is an affordable super-zoom model that is easy to use and carry. If you like this model but want more with it, look at the Olympus SP-800 UZ, which includes all the bells and whistles.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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