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The Olympus SP-610UZ was launched in January 2011, joining the range of ultra-zoom compacts in the SP series. It can take close-up and group shots with the 22x optical zoom making it ideal for holidays and sports. The SP-610UZ is available in black for £159.
The camera is powered by 4 AA batteries, meaning there is no reason to run out of power when out shooting for the day.
For extra creativity there are a range of magic filters available and other features such as Pet Detection and Beauty Modes. With Pet Detection, you simply point the camera at your cat or dog and the shutter will automatically fire when the animals face is detected. On top of this there is in-camera Panoramas, Intelligent Auto Mode, Advanced Face Detection and AF tracking.
- 22x wide optical zoom (35mm equiv: 28-616mm)
- Dual Image Stabilisation
- 3D photo shooting mode
- 720p HD movies & HDMI
- 14 Megapixel sensor
- 3.0in 230,000 dot colour LCD screen
- In-camera panorama function
- Pet Detection Mode
- Intelligent Auto Mode
- Advanced Face Detection
- AF tracking
- Magic Filters
- Beauty Mode
The menus are quite easy to navigate although on occasion it was a touch over-sensitive, one press of a button skipped along two stages of the menu. The buttons are all well placed and instead of the d-pad that is typical on cameras, it has a wheel that rotates clockwise and anti-clockwise as well as performing the same function as a d-pad.
How many shots you get out of the batteries will very much depend on the quality of battery used. The cameras has been tested using the four Panasonic batteries supplied. After taking over 400 shots during testing the batteries are still showing as full on the camera.
From shot-to-shot the camera takes between four and five seconds and from switching on is ready to take a shot after two to three seconds. There are three modes of sequence shooting, the camera can shoot 3Mp images at 10fps.
ISO and noise performanceISO80 and ISO100 show very little signs of noise which doesn't get much worse at ISO200. Noise is clearly starting to come in at ISO400 but it is not affecting image quality. ISO800 is where the noise really affects the image quality with some detail being lost. At ISO1600 the noise is at a level where you wouldn't use the images for large prints, with large areas of detail affected, but certainly look good for use on the web.
Images at both end of the lens retain plenty of detail from edge to edge. Blow the full optical range image below to full size and you can clearly read the sign on the front of the building. There is no sign of any purple fringing or chromatic aberration. The SP-610UZ has two macro modes. Super Macro has a minimum focus distance of 1cm which enables pleasing close-ups to be taken.
Below are a sample of images shot a large optical zoom ranges. The clock was taken using a tripod. Although it's recommended to use a tripod when zooming in at such a large length, it is not always possible. The images of the swan and pigeon have been taken without the use of a tripod with decent results.
|22x optical zoom, ISO200, 1/250, f/5.7, 110mm (35mm equivalent: 616mm)||17.8x optical zoom, ISO80, 1/250, f/5.2, 89mm (35mm equivalent: 498mm)|
There are a range of scenes available on the SP-610-UZ including Portrait, Beauty, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow and Pet Detection.
The Landscape mode does a really good job at increasing the blues and greens in the image. Pet Detection mode is a bit hit and miss at times but with some persistence it is possible to take some great pet pictures.
Using the beauty mode produces a mixed bag of results. The indoor portrait with flash below makes the model look like she has had a fake tan applied! Red-eye also appears much worse in one eye than the other. Outdoors without the flash the results are much more pleasing.
|Beauty mode with flash indoors, ISO100, 1/125, f/4.3, 16mm (35mm equivalent: 90mm)||Beauty mode with flash outdoors, ISO80, 1/1250, f/4.6, 30mm (35mm equivalent: 168mm)|
The Panoramic mode produced excellent results. The images are stitched together in camera and it is impossible to see where they have been joined.
|Panoramic mode, ISO640, 1/1250, f/7.7, 6mm (35mm equivalent: 34mm)|
White-balanceGenerally the auto white-balance does a perfectly acceptable job although under the incandescent lights in our studio the AWB images has a slight magenta tint whereas the incandescent preset performs perfectly. The AWB does the best job over the fluorescent preset under the studio's fluorescent lights.
The SP610-UZ has eight magic filters: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle and Watercolour. Below are a few examples.
|Fisheye, ISO200, 1/15, f/3.5, 6mm (35mm equivalent: 34mm)||Pin Hole, ISO200, 1/20, f/3.5, 6mm (35mm equivalent: 34mm)||Punk, ISO200, 1/15, f/3.5, 6mm (35mm equivalent: 34mm)||Watercolour, ISO640, 1/60, f/3.5, 6mm (35mm equivalent: 34mm)|
Video modeThe SP610-UZ records HD at 720p with a maximum length of 29 minutes. There are no time limits when shooting VGA and QVGA although the maximum file size is 4Gb.
Value for moneyIf you are looking for a compact camera with lots of optical zoom, at £159.00 the SP610-UZ is ideal for those who have a limited budget. The Nikon Coolpix L120 has 21x optical zoom, 14.1Mp sensor and is priced at £203.99. Panasonic have the Lumix DMC-FZ45 with 24x optical zoom, 14.1Mp and costs £269.00. If you require even more zoom, the Olympus SP800-UZ has a 30x optical zoom lens, 14Mp sensor and is priced at £218.99. With a massive 36x optical zoom lens, the Nikon Coolpix P500 will set you back £342.99.
If the SP610-UZ is still a bit out of your price range, the Fujifilm FinePix S1800 has an 18x optical zoom with 12Mp sensor and costs £136.99. There are other 18x optical zoom cameras, such as the Nikon Coolpix S9100 at £244.99 and Olympus SZ-10 at £189.00.
Olympus SP-610UZ: Pros22x optical zoom
Value for money
Good LCD screen
Super Macro mode
In-camera Panoramic stitching
Olympus SP-610UZ: ConsBeauty mode with flash is poor
Some of the magic filters are a bit strange
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Optical zoom||22x optical zoom, 5-110mm, (35mm equiv: 28-616mm), f/3.3-5.7|
|Max image size||4288 x 3216|
|Focusing method||TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection|
|Focus modes||iESP, Face Detection AF, Spot, AF Tracking|
|ISO sensitivity||ISO64 - 1600|
|Metering modes||ESP light metering, Spot metering, Centre weighted metering|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2 EV / 1/3 steps|
|Shutter speed range||1/2 - 1/2000 s / < 4 s (Night scene)|
|Frames-per-second||10 fps / 17 frames (in 3MP mode)
4.8 fps / 15 frames (in 5MP mode)
0.92 fps / 3 frames (in 8MP mode)
|Image stabilisation||Dual Image Stabilisation|
|Movie mode||720p HD, VGA & QVGA (Note: maximum file size 4Gb)|
|Monitor||3in TFT LCD screen, 230,000 dots|
|Media type||SD / SDHC / SDXC|
|Interface||USB 2.0, HDMI, A/V Cable|
|Power||AA batteries Alkaline or Ni-MH (CR-V3 not compliant)|
|Box Contents||4x AA Batteries
CB-USB6 USB Cable
CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable
World Wide Warranty Card
Image Management Software
|Size||107.4 x 72.6 x 73.2mm|
|Weight||405g (including battery and memory card)|
The Olympus SP-610UZ costs £159 and is available from Warehouse Express here: