Most helpful customer reviews
518 of 529 people found the following review helpful.
By Steven J. Streitfeld
I should say right from the outset, the most important factor in buying a digital camera for me is the camera's zoom capability. Several years ago, I began my digital camera collection with a cheap Samsung (S630), followed the year after with the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ-8 (432mm zoom) and the next year with the FZ-18 (504mm).
It seems each year, camera companies try to outdo one another with the biggest zoom for the buck. Several weeks ago, I bought this camera with a mind-numbing 840mm zoom. Don't be surprised if the 1000 mm zoom comes out next year. Surprisingly, for a camera with this kind of capability, it is light as a feather and differtentiates itself from the other ultrazooms out there by eliminating the Electronic View Finder completely in favor of a 3" screen monitor (I suspect this omission may cost them sales). The instruction manual can be downloaded from the Olympus web site. The camera's software can be downloaded by connecting the camera to your computer (make sure your memory card has been removed to download software)
What also differentiates it from the others out there is that you can edit the still pictures you have taken using the special effects function from reducing red eye, shadow adjustment, adding/reducting color saturation, and cropping. Some of these functions were available in my Samsung S630, but in none of the more expensive Lumix models. With most digitals, if you want to edit your pictures, you would have to download them to your computer and use the camera's editing software or Photoshop.
By using Panorama function you can take up to 3 shots manually or automatically and the camera's computer "stitches" them together into one panoramic wide angle shot. quite a technological achievement.
Also differentiating this camera from its main competitor, the Fuji HS 10, a rather affordable price tag of $349 vs. $499 for the Fuji. The HS10 also has a smaller manual 720mm zoom and uses 4 AA batteries as its power source, which I consider a disadvantage in taking motion pictures. The SP 800uz has the capability of adjusting the focal distance during film recording in some modes, not always available in cameras of this class. Unlike the Lumix cameras, there is no hood lens included to take shots in bright sunlight, a slight disadvantage. There is no thread on the barrel for attaching wide angle or telephoto lenses, but with an 840 mm telephoto lens, why would you need one?
The camera comes with cables to connect to your computer and your HDTV to playback still and movie pictures in 720i high definition. A rechargeable lithium battery pack is offered instead of the Alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries in Olympus' previous models. If you take a lot of motion pictures, alkaline or rechargeable NiMH batteries must be replaced or recharged at more frequent intervals than most Lithium battery packs, or you could continue to invest in 12 packs of disposable alkaline cells.
The rating for the included standard Lithium battery pack is 900 mAh. Imported batteries with a rating of 1400 mAh are available from 3rd party suppliers. A higher Mah rating means you get more usage between charges since the battery has a higher storage capacity, similar to having a larger gas tank on your car. Battery capacity is important if you use your camera frequently or take motion pictures which drains the battery...and your memory card.
Another factor to consider is the camera's 2GB internal memory, making it possible to store many pictures without the use of a memory card. The camera has an app to transfer the pictures taken from the camera's internal memory to the memory card. The camera accepts SDHC cards up to 8GB, an important consideration if you take a lot of motion pictures.
There are several shooting modes available and the camera has a small user-friendly internal manual to explain each mode and what flash, ISO, aperture, white balance settings are available for each mode, making taking pictures almost foolproof. There is a manual pop up flash for low light conditions. For shots taken with the digital zoom you should use a tripod to avoid camera shake at the far ranges, a problem endemic to a lot of ultrazoom models, not just this particular model or manufacturer.
This is a great camera if you take sports pictures from the nosebleed seats, go on whale watches frequently, or want to take unobtrusive shots of your subjects from a distance. With an impressive ISO of up to 3200 sensitivity (unfortunately, the higher the ISO, the higher the distortion and graininess when enlarged for prints) you can also take excellent shots of moving subjects.
I rate this camera highly.
340 of 356 people found the following review helpful.
Nice Camera with Drawbacks!
By Brian M. Edwards
This is one nice looking camera with the best quality build I think I have EVER seen in a camera, really, it screams quality at you and if you plan to use this solely for photography and NOT for video, then I give it 5 stars.
The quality of the photos to my (amateur) eyes are very good even in relatively low light, the zoom is excellent (for photography) and the proprietary battery seems to last for ever. Actually, I have been using it right out of the box without ever charging and it is still going strong!
The setting are easy to access, and a breeze to adjust or just leave it in I/auto as I did for great results.
I am quite disappointed with the video capabilities (or LACK of them!) with no optical zoom available for HD video recording unless you switch off the sound! Birthday parties and sports events will never be the same without sound and it beats me why Olympus would come out with such a stunning camera and leave out such an important feature!
I also tried shooting video in VGA mode but still no optical zoom. The camera does allow you to use the digital zoom but it turns decent quality video into a horrible blur! (I could have lived with the digital zoom for my purposes if it had worked better)
Also worth a mention is the auto focus on video recording which is very slow, too slow for me.
Really excellent quality build, this camera will last for years!!! (if you don't end up returning it)
Excellent 30x optical zoom capability
Great looking design, compact and light
Long battery life, I still have not charge the battery yet and have taken 100 photos and 20 minutes of video.
Nice LCD screen
Excellent quality photos (well,to my eyes, everyone will have their own opinion)
Many nice features that should satisfy most folks.
2 gig built in memory
No zoom capability when recording video with sound
Slow auto-focus when shooting video (too slow for me)
No HDMI cable included (seems to be standard with most camera makers)
The "magic" settings, are just a cheap gimmick and not worth bothering with.
On the Olympus web-site, the spec's for the camera include 1080i HD video, it DOES NOT have this feature!
As you can see, there are a lot of pluses with this camera and one big minus, and because I planned to use this for wildlife photography where the zoom will come in handy; as well as to record video of birthday parties and some soccer games the lack of zoom capability is hard to swallow.
I was aware that the camera may have a zoom issue but the digital zoom would have been suffice it would have worked better. The auto focus on the zoom is also slow.
I have also ordered the FUJI HS10 and will receive it this week. I will be doing a comparison of these two cameras and decide then which to keep!
Bottom line is this is a five star camera if you plan use it for photography ONLY and a great buy for the money. However, if you also need it for video, I don't recommend it!
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful. See all 178 customer reviews...
You Buy This For the Ultra Zoom - Great Pictures
By Tom D
Some of the reviews for this camera don't make sense or are for a different model. For example, the zoom is fully functional on my SP-800UZ in video mode. But if you're buying this camera, you want it for the ultra-zoom, in a light, relatively compact camera that delivers sharp pictures. There's an old expression that goes something like, "what kind of camera takes the best pictures? The one you have with you." You may be able to get a better photo with a RAW image from a digital SLR with a $1,500 lens (or more. This has one of the best digital zoom's I've used; most are useless. I took photos of lighthouses over water 7 and 9 miles away and got better detail than you could see through a telescope.
What's amazed me most, especially at this price point, is the sharpness of the images across the zoom range. I'll try to post a picture of a fly and a spider on a humingbird feeder. In the original you can see the hairs on the fly and the threadlike legs of the spider from a distance of about 15 feet. I have another of a wild turkey at about 40 feet that shows the details of his feathers and hairy head. People at 300' are easily recognizable.
Don't expect this camera to do unreasonable things that others don't do either. The built in flash has a limited range, maybe 10' to 12' before it starts to fall off. On the other hand, you don't really need a flash for most indoor shots unless it's candle light.
Read the manual. Sorry, this one's only intuitive after you read the manual. Just try to find video mode for example, without the manual...you might get there.
I miss a viewfinder. I knew this camera didn't have one and decided to live without it. But with the ultra-zoom at full zoom, finding an airplane in a backlit sky is a hit and miss exercise; you have to back way off the zoom, find the plane, then try to zoom in while holding it on the screen.
The only real complaint is that the focusing software sometimes has trouble finding what to focus on and it takes a couple of attempts to get to the right portion of the image. That only seems to be a problem at higher zooms. It's especially troublesome when again you're trying to find a small plane in a large blue sky, or the flip side, a boat on a large lake while flying over.
Read the instructions, practice a bit, learn the camera and unless you want to lug the big stuff, this will be your camera of choice for most occasions.