The Olympus SP-620UZ was released in January 2012 as a successor to the SP-610UZ, designed for travelling photographers and featuring a 21x optical zoom lens. The SP-620UZ is available in black and silver for £169.00.
Olympus SP-620UZ Features
The 21x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 25-525mm lens on a 35mm sensor, which is actually less zoom that the SP-610UZ, with the updated model offering an extra 3mm at the wide end, while sacrificing a total of 91mm at the longest length. Olympus has increased the number of megapixels, going from 14 to 16 on the SP-620UZ with Dual Image Stabilisation to aid taking sharp photos. The SP-620UZ can shoot 720p HD videos which can be played back on a HDTV.
The camera is powered by 4 AA batteries, meaning there is no reason to run out of power when out shooting for the day as you can carry plenty of spares or purchase new ones when out.
For extra creativity there are a range of magic filters available and other features such as Pet Detection and Beauty Modes. With PetMode, 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.
16 megapixel CCD sensor
21x wide optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 25-525mm)
720p HD movie recording and HDMI Control
Multi-motion Movie IS
3.0 inch 230,000 dot colour LCD screen
Dual Image Stabilisation
Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
Advanced Face Detection and SAT
iAuto and AF Tracking
3D Photo Shooting Mode
Pet Detection Mode
High-Speed Continuous Shooting
Eye-Fi Card compatibility
Olympus SP-620UZ Handling
The design of the SP-620UZ lends itself to being easy to grip as your left hand holds the lens barrel and right hand where the AA batteries are housed, with a rubber grip placed here for your fingers. There is a plastic lens cap to keep the lens clean and dust free, but it is a little easy to knock off when carrying the camera and it's worth noting that when the camera is switched on the lens cap just falls off and chances are it'll be easily lost. When loading the memory card and batteries it is quite fiddly to put the cover back on.
On the rear of the camera is the 3 inch LCD screen which is bright and easy to view. There aren't many buttons, with most of the settings being adjusted by the rotating dial and OK button. The rotating dial can also be used as a D-pad. It proved a little sensitive and quite often skips an option too far. Other buttons found are dedicated movie record, playback, menu, help, on/off, shutter release and zoom rocker. From the widest to the longest the lens takes around 2 seconds.
How many shots you get out of the batteries will very much depend on the quality of battery used. The camera has been tested using the four Panasonic AA alkaline batteries supplied. After taking over 300 shots during testing, including a full day around Prague, the batteries are still showing as full on the camera. Having 4x AA batteries makes a significant addition to the cameras weight.
We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Sequential shooting takes pictures at 16 megapixels, with High-speed 1 and High-speed 2 restricted to 5 and 3 megapixels respectively.
Olympus SP-620UZ Performance
The SP-620UZ takes pictures with decent colour reproduction that are well exposed. When viewing the images full size details lacks in shadows and highlights with clear softening in the corners and purple fringing appearing fairly frequently. With a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm the camera is capable of taking an impressive close-up shot.
Olympus SP-620UZ Lens test images
The ISO range is 80 - 1600. At the lowest two settings of ISO 80 and 100, there is no noise visible, with a small amount creeping it at ISO 200. Despite a clear increase in noise at ISO 400 and 800 the camera still manages to take sharp images. At the maximum ISO setting of 1600, images have lost sharpness and detail, with this setting best saved for images which are to be resized for use on the web.
Olympus SP-620UZ ISO test images
The first two images below have been taken using landscape mode, with good blues and greens produced. Portrait modes takes pictures with pleasant skin tones but when using the flash there is some red-eye. There are also further examples using night scene, sport (to freeze to motion of the water) and documents.
Olympus SP-620UZ Scene modes
The following images show the versatility of the SP-620UZ when travelling. It can be used to take portraits, wide scenes and zoom to pick out distance details. The camera also shoots panoramics, which are stitched together in camera.
Olympus SP-620UZ Sample Photos
Panorama | 1/400 sec | f/8.7 | 4.5 mm | ISO 640
Generally 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.
Olympus SP-620UZ White-balance test images
The SP620-UZ has eleven magic filters: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Watercolour, Reflection, Miniature and Fragmented with examples below.
Olympus SP-620UZ Digital filters
Below is a short example video shot at 720p HD. The camera can record with use of the optical zoom, but only when sound is switched off, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Page.
When taking into account the price of the SP-620UZ the features and performance make it extremely good value for money, ideal for those who are looking for a decent amount of zoom but are on a tight budget. Image quality is good, with only a few minor handling issues providing any problems with the camera.
The Olympus SP-620UZ is ideal for those on a budget who want a camera with a versatile zoom lens.
Olympus SP-620UZ Pros
21x optical zoom lens
Magic filters are unique to Olympus
Fast high-speed shooting modes
Decent image quality for the price
Excellent value for money
In-camera panoramic stitching
Olympus SP-620UZ Cons
Video recording is limited to 720p HD
4x AA batteries make camera quite heavy
Rotating dial on back can be fiddly
The Panasonic Lumix TZ70 offers a 30x optical zoom lens, built-in Wi-Fi, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder as well as a lower resolution 12.1 megapixel sensor. Say what? Yes, a lower resolution sensor.
3 Mar 2015 8:44AM