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Olympus SP-500UZ Digital Camera Review

Digital Camera Review by: Michael Gazzola


The new Olympus SP-500UZ is a small and feature filled ‘pro-sumer’ 6 mega-pixel digital camera. The camera is light weight but sturdy and still has a good balance and feel in the photographers hands.

Although the camera is compact, it still has room for a 2.5 inch LCD screen, an electronic viewfinder and space for a series function buttons and dial – with more functions!

The SP-500UZ is very easy to use and has a number of similar functions to the Olympus compact range, for anyone looking to upgrade to a higher end Olympus camera. The dial has pro influenced options such as Manual control, Aperture control and Shutter control plus easy options such as Scene and Auto selections. Another pro functions is the option to shoot in RAW capture mode – for those looking to capture a little extra detail.

The menu navigation is quite good with simple diagrams and a user-friendly layout to help the photographer find what they’re after.

Images captured were sharp and crisp. Even at a full zoom the images outdoor remained sharp although the camera struggled a little in rooms with low light, taking a little longer to focus. The zoom range is excellent, with a 10x optical zoom 38-380mm (35mm equivalent) keeping travellers happy along with nature enthusiasts. Although at 380mm you better have a steady hand as you will be test for camera shake with slower shutter speeds.

The colour reproduction of images taken were good, with skin tones hitting the target in daylight, tungsten and fluorescent light conditions and reproducing slightly cooler tones using camera’s flash.

medal-gold-r.jpgThe flash on this camera is worth mentioning as it has great coverage and is a real step up from the regular compact range. And even with the extra power the flash still manages to read each photographic situation well providing a correct exposure pretty much every time.

The viewfinder is a little darker than the LCD but still good for framing an image if you’re a traditionalist, however we conducted our tests using the LCD as it was bright and easy to use.

At the end of the day, a final, and nice touch worth mentioning is that the camera doesn’t come with a power lead and doesn’t come with a charger… but simply an empty battery slot ready to take good old fashioned AA (alkaline) batteries which can be purchased in any supermarket or milk bar, or AA rechargeable NiMH batteries… 4 of them.


Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Value for money 4 stars
RRP (AUD) $599 stars
Effective Pixels 6 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 9 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 38mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 380mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 10x
Resolution Settings From 640 x 480 to 2816 x 2112
Shooting Modes 21 Scene options
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 7cm to infinity
Aperture Range F2.8 - F8.0
Aperture Priority Yes
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 3cm (Super Macro Mode)
Shutter Speeds 15 seconds - 1/1000
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO 80, 100, 200, 400 and Auto
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 2.5 inch TFT LCD colour monitor
Viewfinder Yes, EVF
Flash 3 mode options plus auto
Hot Shoe No
White balance 4 options, 3 custom and Auto
Self Timer Yes
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes. AV out
Storage Type xD-Picture Cards (16MB - 1GB)
Storage Included [Mb] Onboard memory, 10Mb
Image / Audio Formats Jpeg, RAW and QuickTime Motion Jpeg
Connectivity USB
Power Source 4x AA batteries
Battery Options AA (Alkaline) / NiMH Rechargable batteries
Dimensions 105.5mm x 74.5mm x 71mm
Weight 285g without battery or card


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About Olympus


In Greek mythology, Mt.Olympus is the home of the twelve supreme gods and goddesses. Olympus was named after this mountain to reflect its strong aspiration to create high quality, world famous products.

"Olympus" has been used as a trademark since the time of Takachiho Seisakusho, the predecessor of Olympus Corporation.

In Japanese mythology, it is said that eight million gods and goddesses live in Takamagahara, the peak of Mt.Takachiho. The name "Olympus" was selected as the trademark because Mt.Olympus, like Mt.Takachiho, was the home of gods and goddesses. This trademark is also imbued with the aspiration of Olympus to illuminate the world with its optical devices, just like Takamagahara brought light to the world.

Takachiho Seisakusho was renamed Takachiho Optical Co., Ltd. in 1942 when optical products became the mainstay of the company. In 1947, the name was changed again to Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. in an attempt to enhance its corporate image.

And in 2003, the company made a fresh start as Olympus Corporation, to show its willingness to establish a dynamic corporate brand by unifying the corporate name and the well-known brand.

In recent years, Olympus Corporation has focused on "Opto-Digital Technology" as its core competence, technological strengths that competitors cannot easily imitate, to maximize corporate value and to become one of the top optical instrument manufactures.

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