The Olympus SP-720UZ was released alongside the SP-620UZ as a camera ideal for travelling. It is available in black and silver for £174.95.
Olympus SP-720UZ Features
The SP-720UZ has a 14 megapixel CMOS sensor and 26x optical zoom lens, a 35mm equivalent of 26-676mm, with Dual Image Stabilisation to help keep images as sharp and blur free as possible.
To make picture taking easy there is iAuto mode which automatically adjusts the camera settings dependent on the scene. Other shooting modes available include scene modes, HDR backlight adjustment, pet detection, in-camera panorama, beauty make-up, 3D photo shooting, high-speed continuous shooting, face detection and advanced SAT (Shadow Adjustment Technology). There are also a range of magic filters which can be used on images and videos.
Videos are recorded at full 1080p HD, the SP-720UZ also has HDMI Control.
14 megapixel CMOS sensor
26x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 26-676mm)
Dual Image Stabilisation
3.0 inch 460,000 dot LCD screen
High-speed continuous shooting
1080p full HD movie and HDMI Control
5cm minimum focusing distance
HDR backlight adjustment
Available in black and silver
Olympus SP-720UZ Handling
The SP-720UZ has a plastic body with a substantial rubber hand grip. There is also a rubberised area for your right hand thumb on the rear. The camera comes supplied with a lens cap and camera strap. To use the flash you have to manually lift it up and put it back again after.
There are only a few buttons on the camera, there is a mode dial on the top alongside the on/off button, shutter release and zoom rocker. On the rear is menu, d-pad, playback and movie record buttons.
Most of the camera settings are adjusted via a menu which appears along the right hand side of the screen. This does make it a little time consuming to change a setting, but thankfully the menu system is logical and easy to use. The 3 inch LCD screen is bright and clear to see in varying lighting conditions.
There is no CIPA rating provided for the battery, during testing we were able to manage over 600 shots on one charge, impressive stuff! 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
The sequential shooting modes can record at full 14 megapixel resolution, whereas the high-speed modes are both limited to 5 megapixels.
Olympus SP-720UZ Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.
Olympus SP-720UZ Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Portraits have superb skin tones and are free of red-eye when shooting with the flash. During testing we found the camera had a tendency to over-expose, so dialled in some exposure compensation. Colour reproduction is impressive.
Olympus SP-720UZ Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is good, particularly when shooting wide (4.7mm). There are signs of purple fringing and chromatic aberration in contrasting areas. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5cm which is close enough to allow the SP-720UZ to take a good macro shot.
Olympus SP-720UZ ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - There's no noise at ISO 100, but at ISO 200 there is, which causes the image to lose sharpness. At ISO 400 some detail is lost, more so at ISO 800. Images are very soft at ISO 1600 and there are black and white dots appearing through the colours when shooting at ISO 3200.
Olympus SP-720UZ White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - 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.
Panorama | 1/250 sec | f/7.5 | 4.7 mm | ISO 125
Panorama mode - Panoramas are taken by the camera stitching together three images. They look decent enough when resized for web use, but when you view them full size there are clear signs where the stitching isn't quite perfect.
Zoom Example 3 | 1/160 sec | f/5.6 | 121.2 mm | ISO 100
Zoom Example 2 | 1/600 sec | f/5.6 | 121.2 mm | ISO 250
Trees | 1/50 sec | f/3.2 | 4.7 mm | ISO 100
Landscape With Building | 1/200 sec | f/7.5 | 4.7 mm | ISO 100
The first two images above are further examples using the lens at its longest length, with the first taken using macro mode as well.
Olympus SP-720UZ Digital filters
Digital Filters - The SP-720UZ has twelve magic filters: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Watercolour, Reflection, Miniature, Fragmented and Dramatic, with examples below.
Video - Below is a short example video shot at 1080p HD. The camera can record with use of the optical zoom an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Page. Image stabilisation struggles to keep the video steady when using the optical zoom.
The super-zoom compact market is a competitive one, with cameras available for all budgets. The SP-720UZ is at the cheaper end and image quality is good if you shoot at ISO 100 and 200. From ISO 400 upwards image quality becomes poor. It has a number of useful features, including high-speed shooting, panoramas and is supplied with a lens cap and camera strap. There is a tendency for over-exposed images, but this can easily be rectified and colour reproduction is really good, meaning your images will look great when shared on sites such as Facebook and Flickr.
The Olympus SP-720UZ offers decent image quality and plenty of zoom at a reasonable price.
Olympus SP-720UZ Pros
26x optical zoom lens
Images have good colour reproduction
Decent image quality
Excellent battery life
Magic filters are unique to Olympus
Fast high-speed shooting modes
Decent value for money
Comes with lens cap and camera strap
Decent rubber grip
Good portrait shots
Olympus SP-720UZ Cons
Images are often over-exposed
Noise is bad from ISO 400
Panorama images have stitching issues
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