Digicam offers 18x optical zoom

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

OLYMPUS SP-550 UZ: Point-and-shoot with many features of an SLR camera

Jim Jamieson

What is it? Olympus SP-550 UZ digital camera

Price: $599.99

Why you need it: You want to increase your capabilities as a photographer but you still want to have the ease of a point-and-shoot.

Why you don’t: You want your digicam to be small enough to slip into your shirt pocket.

Our rating: 3 mice

Anyone who’s taken a point-and-shoot to get an action shot of his or her kid’s soccer game knows that can be a hit-and-miss proposition. In fact, it’s usually more miss than hit.

For those of us who aren’t quite ready to take the leap into the interchangeable- lens world of SLR cameras, Olympus has just released a new ubercamera that offers many of the features you would expect from a more complex package.

The 7.1-megapixel SP-550 has some features that jump right out at you, the most gaudy being its 18x optical-zoom lens. This basically allows the user to shoot telephoto, wide-angle and macro shots, all with one lens. The range, in 35-mm language, is from 28 to 504 mm — the largest among consumer-level digital cameras.

The second part of the package that jumps out at you is the shutter speed — two high-speed shooting modes and a burst rate of 15 frames per second.

The specs are impressive, but reviewers have quibbled with image-quality issues at the highest speeds — no surprise, considering it still requires an SLR to capture a professional-quality action shot.

Still, the SP-550 is an impressive package. Part of the high-speed feature is something called Pre-Capture, which enables the user to capture the action before fully pressing the shutter button. As well, it offers 30 shooting modes and high-quality audio and video.

Power usage is good, with an estimated 500 shots on four rechargeable AA nickel-metal-hydride batteries.

Available at London Drugs, Future Shop, Lens & Shutter and Kerrisdale Cameras.

© The Vancouver Province 2007


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