Super-zoom cameras are hot products for the enormous focal length ranges they cover; suitable for almost all your photographic needs from macro to wildlife.
But all manufacturers face the challenge of balancing quality with price. Olympus has somehow managed to keep their prices under check for their camera range, and this seems to be their USP. Olympus’s SP-series consist of these high-value cameras, and the latest in this series is the 16-megapixel SP-620UZ.
Design and Build Quality
The Olympus SP-620UZ’s outer body is largely made of polycarbonate. The lens is constructed with only one extending barrel, which extends a little bit while zooming. The device works on four AA batteries, but the battery chamber door is rather too flimsy. Though there is a lock for the door, a gap between the door and the body is always present. The tripod receptacle is plastic, which is not a very good idea in the case of this camera.
The 16-megapixel Olympus SP-620 UZ uses a 1/2.3-inch Type (6.17 x 4.55 mm) CCD along with a TruePic III+ image processor. The camera features sensor-shift image stabilisation. The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 25 to 525 mm. The f-numbers range from f/3.1 to 8.7 at the wide-angle end and f/5.8 to 16.3 at the telephoto end. The lens focusses from 60 cm to infinity at the normal mode and from 1cm in Macro mode. Autofocus modes are Contrast-detect, Multi-area, Tracking, Single, and Face detection. Shutter speed ranges from 4 to 1/1500 sec. Metering modes available are Multi and Spot, and the camera offers drive modes of Single, Continuous, and Self-timer. Exposure can be compensated up to +/-2 EV in 1/3-stop increments. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 3200 along with Auto ISO option. The camera offers five White Balance presets—Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, and One Touch, along with Auto. The built-in flash has a range of 6 m (we believe this is in Auto ISO mode). Self-timer can be set to either 2 or 12 sec.
The camera features P, iAuto, SCN, Magic Filter, Panorama, and 3D shooting modes. The Scene modes included are Portrait, Beauty, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Pet (Cat), and Pet (Dog). Still images are recorded in JPEG format with a maximum resolution of 4608 x 3456 pixels while videos are recorded in MPEG-4 or H.264 with up to 1280 x 720 (30 fps) quality. The device uses a fixed, 3-inch 230,000-dot TFT colour LCD. The internal memory is 59MB and the camera accepts an SD/SDHC/SDXC card for external storage. The device is powered by 4 AA batteries and it weighs 235g including batteries and memory card. The camera measures 110 x 74 x 74mm (W x H x D).
The Olympus SP-620UZ has a deep hand grip, which makes it easy to hold. The interface is user friendly and the menu is intuitive. But the camera has an overall boxy design. This, combined with a lack of rubber thumb rest, renders it slightly uncomfortable compared to similar super-zoom cameras. But the level of comfort can vary from person to person as it depends on various factors such as the size of your hand. The lens housing is fairly large, which allows you to stabilise the camera with the left hand. Images on the LCD appeared crisp.
The SP-620UZ performed well in our tests. Out-of-the-box images were sharp except at extreme telephoto end and the metering modes performed well as expected. Autofocus was fast and precise even in low-light situations. In the test for darkening of corners, the camera automatically selected the widest aperture, which was ideal. Darkening was observed, but only at extreme corners, and the remaining areas were free of any light fall off. The camera controlled noise very well. Native print size was 11.52 x 15.36 inches at 300 ppi. At 25 percent of the screen size, images were noise-free up to ISO 800. Even the slight noise at ISO 1600 was almost imperceptible. At 50 percent, slight noise was observed at ISO 800 and 1600. Enlarged to 100 percent view, we observed a tinge of noise from ISO 400 upwards, but you may not notice this under normal circumstances, especially if you print the images.
Auto White Balance performed very well and produced accurate results except under Incandescent light source. But under Incandescent light, preset White Balance provided excellent results. On the downside, the camera produced prominent flare and chromatic aberration under strong against-the-light shots.
Value for Money
The Olympus SP-620UZ retails at an MRP of Rs.13,990. At this price, the camera is very good value for money.
+ Impressive zoom range
+ Good performance
– Flare and CA
– AA batteries
|Design and Build Quality||15/20|
|Value for Money||8/10|
The Olympus SP-620 UZ may not be a stunner when it comes to looks. But if you are looking for a simple super-zoom camera that does not burn a hole in your pocket, this is an excellent choice. However be prepared to buy four good quality rechargeable NiMH batteries. It is a Best Buy indeed. Sujith Gopinath