Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Olympus SP-720UZ, a digital camera with a 26x optical zoom lens.

| Olympus SP-720UZ in Compact Cameras

Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Olympus Sp 720uz Flash Up

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 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Sp 720uz Front

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.

Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Olympus Sp 720uz Rear

Key Features

  • 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
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • HDR backlight adjustment
  • In-camera panorama
  • Available in black and silver
Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Olympus Sp 720uz Top

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.

Shutter Response   0.125 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.6 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   1.1 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   3.3 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   2.5 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   4.6 seconds
Sequential 1
  2.3 fps
Sequential 2   6.3 fps
High-speed 1   10 fps
High-speed 2
  33 fps

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 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Sp 720uz Battery And Memory Card

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.

Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Panorama | 1/250 sec | f/7.5 | 4.7 mm | ISO 125
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.

Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Zoom Example 3 | 1/160 sec | f/5.6 | 121.2 mm | ISO 100
Zoom Example 3 | 1/160 sec | f/5.6 | 121.2 mm | ISO 100
  Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Zoom Example 2 | 1/600 sec | f/5.6 | 121.2 mm | ISO 250
Zoom Example 2 | 1/600 sec | f/5.6 | 121.2 mm | ISO 250
Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Trees | 1/50 sec | f/3.2 | 4.7 mm | ISO 100
Trees | 1/50 sec | f/3.2 | 4.7 mm | ISO 100
  Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review: Landscape With Building | 1/200 sec | f/7.5 | 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.

Value For Money

The Olympus SP-720UZ is currently priced at £174.95. There are a whole range of super-zoom cameras available for varying budgets. There is the Olympus SP-620UZ (21x zoom) at £129.00, Olympus SZ-14 (24x zoom) at £149.00, Nikon Coolpix L310 (21x zoom) at £149.00, Nikon Coolpix L810 (26x zoom) at £169.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ48 (24x zoom) at £239.00, Olympus SZ-31MR (24x zoom) at £249.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ62 (24x zoom) at £299.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 (24x zoom) at £364.00, Fujifilm X-S1 (26x zoom) at £479.95 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 (24x zoom) at £539.00.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Olympus SP-720UZ Verdict

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.

Olympus SP-720UZ Digital Camera Review:
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
No viewfinder


Olympus SP-720UZ Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.2 - f/5.6
35mm equivalent26mm - 676mm
Optical Zoom26x
Image Sensor
Pixels14Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4288
Pixels (H)3216
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)6.16mm
Sensor Size (height)4.62mm
Aspect Ratio
    LCD Monitor
    LCD Monitor3in
    Screen resolution460,000
    Touch ScreenNo
    Min Focus5cm
    Focusing modes
    • Spot
    • Face Detection
    • AF Tracking
    Exposure Control
    Shutter speeds shortest1/1300sec
    Shutter speeds longest4sec
    Bulb modeNo
    Exp modes
    • Program
    • Scene modes
    • Spot
    • ESP Light Metering
    ISO sensitivity100 - 3200
    White balance
    • Auto
    • Outdoors/Daylight
    • Cloudy
    • Incandescent
    • Fluorescent
    Exposure Comp+/-2
    Shooting Options
    Continuous shooting30fps
    Movie modeYes
    Video Resolution
    • 1920x1080 FullHD
    Video FPSNo Data
    Stereo SoundYes
    Optical Zoom with VideoNo Data
    Other Features
    Image StabilisationYes
    USBUSB 2
    Card Type
    • SD
    • SDHC
    • SDXC
    File Type
    • JPG
    Power Source
    Battery TypeLI-50B
    Battery Life (CIPA rating)No Data
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsLI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery, F-2AC AC Adapter, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Lens Cap, Hand Strap, Instruction Manual, World Wide Warranty Card, [ib] Image Management Software

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    Photographs taken using the Olympus SP-720UZ

    Ryanair - B737-800 Landing At Leeds Bradford IntBoeing 737 - Jet 2 HolidaysTranceChapel-St-Leonards - ( Skegness )Red Arrows _ Blackpool Air Show 2013MIA - Ryanair LandingHaving Fun Then...FlowerHaworth Main StreetEscaping raindropBlue Jay FeatherTiny Wildflower in WinterSweetie-Pie & Angel Baby

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