Olympus SP-565UZ

This advanced compact camera has a massive 20x super-zoom lens and a 10-megapixel sensor.

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Olympus SP-565UZ
  • Olympus SP-565UZ
  • Olympus SP-565UZ
  • Olympus SP-565UZ

Pros

  • 20x zoom lens, image stabilisation, comfortable to hold and easy to use, good for macro shots

Cons

  • Photos lack contrast, noticeable noise above ISO 200, noticeable barrel roll, images look soft

Bottom Line

The SP-565UZ packs a lot of useful features for manual photography, but its image quality doesn't cut the mustard. Consider this camera if image quality isn't your primary concern and you are just interested in its zoom and super-macro capabilities.

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It may not look like it at a glance, but the Olympus SP-565UZ has a 20x zoom lens with a maximum focal length of 520mm. It's aimed at users who want an advanced compact camera with a lot of range that won't cost a lot of money.

However, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. While the SP-565UZ has a lot of handy features and plenty of zoom for its $599 price, its image quality is not very good. You can take plenty of decent-looking photos if the light is just right, but in most cases you will have to undertake some post-processing to adjust photos' colour and give them a little more contrast.

It's probably best suited to taking super-macro photos, as it produced shots with decent clarity and colour in this mode. We were able to get up-close and personal with our subjects (within 1cm). But even in this mode our shots needed a contrast boost. Long-range shots taken with maximum zoom will be blurry unless the image stabilisation feature is enabled; this helps counter the blur significantly.

The SP-565UZ captures pictures using a 10-megapixel sensor and a 26mm lens with an aperture range of f/2.8-4.5 (f/2.8 at 26mm and f/4.5 at 520mm); its smallest aperture size is f/8.0. The shutter can close in as little as 1/2000th of a second or take as long as 15 seconds. It also has a bulb mode, which can expose a shot for a maximum of 8min. This can be useful when trying to capture lightning storms, for example. There are three metering modes to select from when exposing your photos: spot, centre and the entire shot, and these can easily be selected through the menu system on the LCD screen. ISO modes from 64 to 6400 can be selected, but images shot at above ISO 200 will exhibit noticeable graininess.

There aren't any dedicated manual controls to change the aperture, shutter or ISO speed, but they can be changed easily enough using the multi-purpose thumb-controls on the rear of the camera. The camera's controls are laid out clearly and its menu system is intuitive to use.

You can use either the LCD screen or the viewfinder to frame your shots. On bright days you'll need to use the viewfinder because the LCD screen will be very hard to view. It's a comfortable camera to hold, as its battery compartment doubles as a hand-grip. Four AA batteries are required to power the unit, which is convenient if you're a traveller, but a rechargeable battery pack would be welcome for those of us who hate fumbling with AAs.

The camera has an auto mode, as well as Guide and Scene modes. We shot mainly in aperture priority mode during our tests, as well as manual mode. The quality of the captured images wasn't altogether pleasing: images were lacking in contrast and looked soft. They also suffered from noise, purple fringing and barrel roll. It's one of those cameras where you will have to post-process even the simplest of images in order to give it a bit more oomph. The camera also struggled to handle sun bursts reflected off metal objects and windows; when we tried to capture a sun burst, a green line became visible across the entire image. This is unfortunate as the camera produces a wonderful star-shaped sun burst when it hits a reflection.

It's also a slow camera, as it takes a while to write each image to memory before it's ready to shoot another. It can use xD-Picture Card or mini-SD memory cards.

In the end, the SP-565UZ isn't the best camera to consider if you're after crystal-clear and vibrant images, but it can do a decent job of super-macro shots.

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