Olympus SP-500 Ultra Zoom
- Big zoom, Sharp colourful shots, Speedy
- Noisy Images, Big design
A very respectable advanced camera model that is only really let down by noisy pictures.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
With speedy operation, a big zoom and a respectable set of features, the Olympus SP-500 does a good job of making it in the 'prosumer' category of cameras. It isn't going to blow your socks off by any means, but the performance is solid and the average (rather than stunning) image quality is really the only factor holding it back.
The key selling point is the robust manual functions. Olympus has included a nice bundle here, including manual white balance, noise reduction and even a bulb shooting mode. We would have liked to see a stronger continuous shooting mode (it only operates for three shots or five in the slower mode) and we did feel the absence of any image stabilisation, but overall the package was more than satisfying for a camera in this price point.
All of this is complemented by a big 10X zoom, which is the other prominent feature of this model. It does protrude quite a fair way (compared to a model like the Kodak Z650) but that's to be expected for such a big lens. It won't make a difference to most happy snappers, but when taking shots at big events or in specific outdoors situations it really comes into its own.
Whilst we can understand why the lens needs to be so big, we really felt the design as a whole was a little on the large side. The grip is particularly chunky, although it does slot into your hand quite easily. There is a lot of empty space across the body that doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose, so we feel that it could have been much more compact in terms of size.
This only really has an impact if you're concerned about form factor. The SP-500 won't be fitting into your pocket any time soon, but then again, trying to walk down the street with an advanced, 10X zoom model in your pocket is just asking for trouble (and ridicule!). What the extra space has allowed Olympus to do is lay the controls out very thoughtfully. It is rare for a button configuration to be anything other than average, but on this model we felt it deserved some sort of credit. All the controls are perfectly placed to give you maximum access and there aren't any hidden buttons in out of the way locations. Big thumbs up.
Our thumbs however drop down to the halfway mark when it comes to image quality. Most of our tests came back with average scores although our shots were a little noiser than normal. Colour reproduction scored 6.72 which is a very reasonable score, and sharpness was similarly impressive at 1270. At that level, you'll be producing great prints in both smaller and larger sizes. Where the quality really fell down was in terms of noise. Our testing revealed various noise scores ranging from 1% through to 8%. 8% is ridiculously high and only occurred once, but the average score was still about 2.4% which is much higher than we'd like to see.
Our test shots highlight this. They were quite noisy across the board regardless of lighting conditions, with thick, tangible white fuzz that was really evident across a broad spectrum of colours (not just the greyscale areas). Noise aside, we thought the shots looked pretty reasonable. The camera responded well to a variety of situations and the end results were more than good enough to blow up to 5x7 or 6x8. However, perhaps you'd be better off finding a better sensor if you're looking for A4 or bigger prints.
If speed is your thing you'll be pleased, if not stunned, by the SP-500s performance. Shutter lag measured roughly 0.8 of a second, which is pretty good compared to your average prosumer model but startup was slightly inhibited by the extension of the massive lens. Shot to shot time could have been better taking roughly 2.25 seconds to write an image, but when switching to RAW format we were very impressed with the six second delay between snaps. You certainly won't be taking any sports series snaps in RAW format, but it compares very favourably with the competition (some models can take 10-20 seconds).
Sadly, Olympus appear to be ignoring GoodGearGuide's battle against AA batteries (unbelievable we know!) and the SP-500 epitomises this, requiring four of them. We can see why this is useful for an on-the-fly changeover when you run low on power, but having to buy a new packet of batteries every two or three weeks is going to double the cost of your camera in the long run. We managed a bit over 400 shots before our first set of batteries died, which is a pretty decent number, but you have to remember many other cameras only use two AA batteries, so the SP-500 is consuming double the power under the hood.
Join the newsletter!
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
cloudandco Smart Cane
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Toys for Boys
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Bose SoundLink Micro
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Xbox One X
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Fallout Geeki Tikis
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 2 Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- 3 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Oppo A77 smartphone: Full in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Panasonic Announces Compact, Lightweight ultra-telephoto LEICA Lens
- Panasonic announce still-shooter flagship G9
- Sony Announces Development of New G Master Super-Telephoto Full-Frame E-Mount Lens
- Sony Expands Full-frame E-mount lens lineup
- Sony’s New Full-Frame α7R III Interchangeable Lens Camera promises to delivers both resolution and speed
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- LG V30+ review: The videographer's smartphone arrives
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCWeb Applications Project ManagerQLD
- FTProject Coordinator - FinancialsOther
- FTProject ManagerNSW
- CCDevOps EngineerWA
- TPOffice 365 Technical LeadQLD
- FTDevOps EngineerOther
- FTSenior Consultant - Portfolio GovernanceVIC
- CCContracts OfficerNSW
- FTJava Software Engineers wanted (Melbourne CBD location)VIC
- FTField Service TechnicianOther
- FTSenior Salesforce DeveloperNSW
- FTNetwork ArchitectOther
- FTEngineer Control Systems SpecialistSA
- FTLevel 2 Desktop Support EngineerOther
- CCNetwork Data EngineerWA
- FTJuniper EngineerOther
- FTSecurity Technical LeadOther
- TPProject Officer. Website optimisation enablementNSW
- CCProject Manager - InfrastructureWA
- FTFinance Analyst (Part-time)Other
- FTLevel 2 Support Engineer | 12mth FTCOther
- FTApplication Support SpecialistVIC
- FTICT Business AnalystACT
- FTPlatform Engineer (Teradata/Datastage) - Permanent - Sydney CBDNSW
- FTTechnical Quality Analyst (Payments, data, application integration)VIC