Features & Controls

The SP-820UZ iHS has a 14-megapixel 1/2.3" CMOS sensor. Published specifications do not directly call the camera's anti-shake technology sensor-shift, but presumably it is, per the manual, which refers to the sensor as "the image pickup device."

With the lens at wide angle, it is fully retracted into the camera body.

Olympus SP-820UZ_side-angle-lens-out.jpg
The powerful optical zoom achieves 40x magnification - and the lens extends a full 2 inches beyond the 3.5-inch deep camera body. But if for some reason that doesn't get you close enough, you can get greedy and also employ the 4x digital zoom (or just crop your photo later).

In addition to the extremely powerful magnification, the lens offers a very wide view, having a 35mm equivalent range of 22.4-896mm.

Aperture range:
f3.4 (W) / f5.7 (T)

Shutter speed range:
1/2000 sec. -1/4 sec. (up to 4 sec. in Night Scene mode)

Focus range:
  • Normal Mode: W: 3.9 inches ~∞ / T: 9.8 feet ~∞
  • Macro Mode: W: 3.9 inches ~∞ / T: 9.8 feet ~∞
  • Super Macro Mode: 0.04 inch ~∞ / (focal length fixed at 0.2 inch)

The camera uses contrast detection auto focus and offers four AF modes. There is no manual focus option.

Focus modes:

  • iESP Auto
  • Spot AF
  • Face Detection AF
  • AF Tracking

Olympus SP-820UZ_flash.jpg
The built-in flash is powerful for its size. In my testing, it lit up a typical indoor scene quite well, and began tapering off at about 15 feet when shooting at wide angle. The company publishes an outlandish range of 49 feet, but this apparently requires that you manually select ISO 3200 for maximum light sensitivity (which you may prefer not to do).

Nonetheless, the bottom line is that when shooting indoors at nearly 40xwith ISO Auto, I got attractively lit shots of objects as far away as 25 feet. The camera chose light sensitivity settings from ISO 1600 and up to help get the shot with high zoom, and almost always calculated accurately to properly expose the picture.

To raise the spring-loaded flash you simply lift it (no pop-up button).

Flash modes:
  • Auto (for low light and backlit conditions)
  • Red-Eye Reduction
  • Fill-in
Flash range:
  • W: 0.2m - 15.0m (7.8 inch - 49 feet) at ISO 3200
  • T: 3.0m - 8.9m (9.8 feet - 29 feet) at ISO 3200

Olympus SP-820UZ_back2.jpg
The 3-inch LCD is sharp and colorful, with a resolution of 460,000 dots. The only downside is the viewing angle - the LCD sits recessed behind a protective window that's very reflective, and if you're angling the back of the camera toward a light source, the reflections can be distracting and obscure your view.

Olympus SP-820UZ_back-controls.jpg
The four-way control offers a unique layout. Note the lack of icons on the left and right positions. That's because in lieu of a quick menu button, these positions are used to navigate common settings such as flash mode, macro mode, white balance, etc. The icons for these settings appear vertically on the right side of the screen. For example, when using the SCN position on the mode dial (pictured below), pressing left or right takes you through a scrolling list of scene mode icons. The menu button at the bottom takes you to the full menu of settings.

The playback button sits just above the four-way control. The dedicated movie button is at the top of the back panel.

Video record modes:
  • 1080p
  • 720p
  • HS720 60fps
  • HSVGA 120fps
  • HSQVGA 240fps
  • VGA

Olympus SP-820UZ_top-dial.jpg
The mode dial on the top of the camera gives you a quick and convenient way to change shooting modes.

Mode dial selections (clockwise):
  • iAuto
  • SCN (scene mode)
  • Beauty
  • Panorama
  • Magic
  • Hand-held starlight
  • Photo with movie clip
  • Program
The shutter button is surrounded by the zoom ring for controlling the magnification of the powerful 40X zoom. Notice the size of the hand grip - big enough for even a large hand to grasp firmly and comfortably, and not too close to the lens barrel to be cramped.

Olympus SP-820UZ_side-ports.jpg
There are two ports behind a rubberized flap: a multi-terminal (USB, A/V) and
HDMI Type D. A USB cable comes with the camera; A/V and HDMI cables not included.

Olympus SP-820UZ_batteries.jpg
One reason for the large hand grip is its need to accommodate four AA batteries. The advantage here, of course, is the widespread availability of everyday batteries. There are a couple odd limitations listed in the manual, however, regarding batteries that can't be used due to flat terminals and partial insulating sheets. My rechargeable batteries may have fit this description and therefore was the cause of less-than-impressive battery life, whereas the included alkaline batteries performed better (it's usually the other way around, according to the manual). No batter life rating is published.

The camera supports SD/SDHC/SDXC Card formats. The camera is specified as not supporting UHS speed class, but that doesn't mean your UHS card won't work. I tested the camera using a card with a SDHC Class 10 and Ultra High Speed Class 1 rating. The camera also is Eye-Fi compatible, so you can add WiFi capability if you choose.

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