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- Olympus SP-500UZ Review - Australia

Design 9.0
Versatility 9.0
Image Quality 8.8
Value 9.9
Distributor: Olympus
Andrew B



Before I start this review, I must admit that I am a procrastinator when it comes to purchasing new technology and before buying my last camera, it look me almost 6-months of thoroughly researching the internet and various photography magazines before I bought my Olympus C770 digital camera. I've owned the camera for almost 2 years and I must admit that it was probably the best damn camera on the market when I purchased it.

To my joy, Olympus sent impulsegamer the SP-500UZ which is considered the successor to my camera and not only does it feature the same highlights of the previous model (10-optical, easy-to-use and 21 scene selections) but now the camera supports a whopping 6.0 megapixels (effective) at an affordable price of $599AUD.


Type Digital camera with 6.4cm/2.5” colour TFT LCD monitor.
Image sensor
Image sensor 1/2.5’’ CCD with 6.37 million pixels.
Effective pixel number 6.0 million pixels (the actual number of pixels used in image processing).
Filter array Primary colour filter (RGB).
Storage media type 10 MB internal memory for image data. Removable xD-Picture Card (16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512MB and 1GB).
  Optical zoom 10x.
Structure 11 lenses in 7 groups, including 2 double-sided aspherical lens elements.
Filter diameter 45.6mm ( Use CLA-4 to attach conversion lenses).
Focal length 6.3 – 63mm (equivalent to 38 – 380mm lens in 35mm format).
Maximum aperture 1:2.8 (wide) – 3.7 (tele).
Digital zoom 1x – 5x.
Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder with 201,600 pixels.
LCD monitor 6.4cm/2.5’’ colour TFT LCD monitor with 115,000 pixels.
System TTL autofocus with contrast detection.
Function AF illuminato.
Mode Auto Spot, iESP autofocus, Predictive AF, AF area is selectable from 143 points.
Manual Yes, with enlarged focusing area.
Working range Standard mode 0,6m (wide) / 2m (tele)-infinity.
Macro mode Up to 7 cm (wide) / 120cm (tele).
Super Macro mode From as close as 3cm (wide).
Light metering
Mode Digital ESP metering, spot metering, centre weighted metering.
Function Histogram in shooting and playback mode, AE lock.
Exposure control Programme AE.
Auto, Programme, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual Exposure.
21 Scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Landscape and Portrait, Night Scene, Night & Portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Museum, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Beach, Snow, Shot & Select 1, Shot & Select 2).
4 settings storable (“My Mode”).
Shutter speed 15 – 1/1000 sec. (with Bulb mode up to 8 min.)
Compensation ±2 EV in 1/3 EV steps.
Auto bracketing Up to 5 frames in 1/3 EV steps.
  Auto ISO automatically adjusted.
Manual ISO 80 / 100 / 200 / 400.
White balance
Mode Auto Full-auto TTL ESP.
WB adjustment (red ) -7 – (blue ) +7.
Pre-set Overcast, Sunlight, Evening Sun, Tungsten, Fluorescent1, Fluorescent2, Fluorescent3.
Full manual One-touch.
Pop-up flash Modes Auto (automatic activation in low and backlight), red-eye reduction,
fill-in (forced activation), fill-in & red-eye reduction, off (no flash).
Working range 0.3m – 4.5m (wide) or 1.2m- 3.4m (tele).
Guide number Approx. 9.
Function Flash compensation (±2 EV).
Salve function for studio flash available.
Sequence shooting 2.5 shots per second up to 3 images ( High speed mode).
Interval shooting 2-99 frames with interval between the shots from 1 to 60 min.
Image processing TruePic TURBO, Pixel mapping, Noise reduction.
Image quality Adjustment Brightness ± 5.
Saturation ± 5.
Contrast ± 5.
Function shooting Panorama function ( only with optional Olympus xD-picture Card).
Movie processing Digital image stabilizer.
Still image Slide-show with several effects, Calendar, Album, Demo Mode.
Motion picture Fast forward, Frame by Frame.
Still image edit RAW Data Edit, Red-eye fix, Re-size, Rotation, Trimming, Sepia mode, Black & White mode, Frame insert, Title insert, Calendar insert, Layout composition.
Motion picture edit Index, Edit.
Recording system
Still image JPEG (DCF: “Design rule for Camera File system”),RAW, Exif 2.2 support, DPS and Print Image Matching III support, DPOF support.
Motion picture QuickTime Motion JPEG®* with Sound.
Movie sound / voice recording WAVE format.
Number of storable frames (approx., with internal memory)
  2,816 x 2,112 RAW: 1
  SHQ: 2
  HQ: 7
2,816 x 1,877 ( 3:2 ) SHQ: 2
  HQ: 8
2,592 x 1,944 SQ1 high: 2
  normal: 8
2,288 x 1,712 SQ1 high: 3
  normal: 10
2,048 x 1,536 SQ1 high: 4
  normal: 13
1,600 x 1,200 SQ1 high: 7
  normal: 21
1,280 x 960 SQ2 high: 11
  normal: 32
1,024 x 768 SQ2 high: 17
  normal: 50
640 x 480 SQ2 high: 43
  normal: 103
Motion picture mode Up to the capacity of the xD-Picture Card. With internal memory: QVGA (320 x 240 pixels), at 30 frames/sec.: 15 sec. QVGA (320 x 240 pixels), at 15 frames/sec.: 31 sec.
Power supply
  Rechargeable batteries 4 x AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries,
One time use batteries 4 x AA alkaline batteries.
AC adapter Optional AC adapter C-8AC;
AC 100V-240V, 50-60Hz; DC 6.5V and 2A.
Interface DC input terminal,
USB Auto Connect interface combined with audio/video output terminal (PAL).
Other features
DPOF setting Single-frame print reservation, all print reservation, number of prints, date display.
Direct printing (DPS) PictBridge and PictBridge EasyPrint support allows direct printing with compatible printers.
Multilingual menu English / French / German / Spanish / Italian / Russian. Additional languages can be downloaded through OLYMPUS Master software.
Guide function Displays help text for several functions.
Setting memorisation Yes.
Date/time/calendar system Up to year 2099.
Dimensions 105.5 x 74.5 x 71.0 mm (W x H x D).
Weight 285 g (without batteries and memory card).
Box contents Strap, USB cable, audio/video cable, 4x AA batteries, OLYMPUS Master 1.31.

Box Contents & Warranty

The Olympus SP-500 UltraZoom comes with everything you need to start taking photos that includes the camera, neck strap, 4 alkaline batteries, USB cable, audio/video cable, instruction manual, warranty card and a software CD-ROM.

Probably the three main differences between the SP-500UZ and the C770UZ is that the SP-500 now comes with 6 megapixels, alkaline batteries and 10meg internal memory as compared to 4 megapixels, Lithium Ion Battery and a 128MB external XD memory card.

I must admit that I was a little bemused to the change from lithium ion batteries to AA batteries but I'm guessing that this is a move to suit the current climate of digital cameras (pushed by Kodak and Fuji) to use standard AA batteries which makes it easy to replace in those times of need.


The installation of the SP-500 was simplicity at its best and all we had to do was install the batteries into the camera itself and turn it on. Although it comes with an internal 10MB of memory, we installed a 512MB XD memory card to take this camera through its steps. With that said, the 10MB of internal memory allows you to take around 10 photos on high quality (6 megapixel) and also one RAW format picture that could be used for high quality print media.



The design and feel of the SP-500 is a huge improvement over its predecessors as the camera now comfortably fits in the users hand. The C770 was a little difficult to hold (although tiny) because it had no grip for the fingers, however this has all changed with the current model of the Ultra Zoom series as the SP-500 feels like a mini digital SLR. With that said, all the buttons and dials are located in ideal places and Olympus seem to have done their homework where everything should be located. The scene dial is located at the top of the camera with the zoom button also located at the top that allows for flawless zooming in and out.

Zoom zoom zoom!

The zoom mode of the SP-500UZ is phenomenal that boasts a full 10 optical that is equivalent to a 38-380mm non digital camera. Not only is the zoom flawless but the auto-focus of the camera is rather adept when it is fully zoomed. The only downside to this the SP-500UZ is that it does not contain any image stabilization (like the Panasonic or Minolta) but Olympus have addressed this issue by allowing the camera synchronises to 1/250th of a second which is rather fast.

As shooting in direct sunlight can be difficult, the SP500-UZ features an electronic viewfinder that is basically a mini LCD screen that is ideal for using outside and actually saves the battery life of the camera.


New Features

Olympus have also introduced a new feature to this series with a light portrait scene function that basically adjusts the lighting of the photo without the use of a flash. The SP500-UZ also supports a huge 2.5" LCD screen that is a nice change from the C770 1.8" LCD screen which means a bigger display on the back, so more detail and a lot more easier on the eyes.


In conclusion, SP500-UZ is the perfect camera for a whole variety of camera enthusiasts who wish high quality photos, extraordinary zoom and great value for money. Great stuff from Olympus!


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