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Olympus SP-620UZ Compact Digital Camera Review

The Olympus SP-620UZ has a 21x optical zoom lens and is designed for travelling photography. Daniel Bell puts it to the test.

| Olympus SP-620UZ in Compact Cameras
Olympus SP-620UZ Compact Digital Camera Review: Olympus SP-620UZ

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 Compact Digital Camera Review: Olympus SP-620UZ

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.

Olympus SP-620UZ Compact Digital Camera Review: Olympus SP-620UZ

Key Features

  • 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
  • Beauty Mode
  • Pet Detection Mode
  • In-Camera Panorama
  • High-Speed Continuous Shooting
  • Scene Modes
  • Eye-Fi Card compatibility
Olympus SP-620UZ Compact Digital Camera Review: Olympus SP-620UZ

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.

Shutter Response   0.1 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.4 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.5 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   3.6 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.6 seconds
Sequential shooting
  0.6 fps
High-speed 1
  5.0 fps
High-speed 2
  15.8 fps

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 Compact Digital Camera Review: Olympus SP-620UZ

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

Olympus SP-620UZ Compact Digital Camera Review: Panorama | 1/400 sec | f/8.7 | 4.5 mm | ISO 640
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

Video Mode

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.

Value For Money

The Olympus SP-620UZ is currently priced at £169.00. The market for ultra-zoom cameras is increasing with competition for all budgets. Other cameras to consider are the Fujfilm FinePix S4200 at £164.00, Olympus SZ-14 at £194.00, Pentax Optio VS20 at £199.00, Nikon Coolpix L310 at £199.00, Olympus SZ-30MR at £209.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 at £234.00, Canon PowerShot SX240 HS at £299.00, Olympus SZ-31MR at £299.00, Fujifilm FinePix F770 EXR at £329.00, Canon PowerShot SX260 HS at £329.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 at £329.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 at £379.00 and Leica V-Lux 3 at £689.00

Olympus SP-620UZ Verdict

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.

Olympus SP-620UZ Compact Digital Camera Review:
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


Olympus SP-620UZ Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.1 - f/5.8
35mm equivalent25mm - 525mm
Optical Zoom21x
Image Sensor
Pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)6.16mm
Sensor Size (height)4.62mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution230,000
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1500sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • Spot
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity80 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting0.65fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPSNo Data
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery Type4x AA
Battery Life (CIPA rating)No Data
Box Contents
Box Contents4x AA Batteries, Lens Cap, Hand Strap, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Instruction Manual, World Wide Warranty Card, [ib] Image Management Software

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Photographs taken using the Olympus SP-620UZ

Red Wolf, Pr. Defiance Zoo, Tacoma, WASeattle Knights, Hood Canal Highland Celtic FestivalSunset BeautyProud papaEndangered Red Wolf, Pt. Defiance Zoo, Tacoma, WACamino de Primavera 3Camino de primavera 2Camino de PrimaveraCamino de Invierno 3Camino  de Invierno 2Camino  de InviernoLonely Butterfly

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mikesavage 20 299 2 England
9 Mar 2012 3:32AM
Good performance, but I always think that cameras of this type defeat the object of their styling by NOT having an electronic viewfinder - Fuji manage to incorporate one into each of their bridge cameras.
pentaxpete 17 739 1 United Kingdom
30 Dec 2012 5:11PM
I bought one of these for my daughter 'digitalgirl' on EPZ to go with her mju760 I won and gave her -- she is trying it out right now !!

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