Olympus’ update of the SP-610UZ has arrived as the SP-620UZ and it arrives boasting a 16-megapixel sensor, a 21x optical 'ultra-zoom' lens and other treats. Find out how it fares in this, its full WDC test?
Olympus SP-620UZ review – Performance
A simple plastic lens cover, attached onto the body with a small strap
of its own, protects the lens but it’s an untidy if effective affair as
you must remember to remove it prior to switching the camera on.
single top plate on/off button is the only control on the top plate
proper with the large shutter release and its surrounding zoom control
lever that sit proudly on the peak of the hand grip. Cameras start up
time is good at just under two seconds and the lens barrel quickly pops
out ready for action at its widest zoom setting. AF is fast (though
not a patch on the recent Olympus Pen cameras) while a surprisingly
positive press of the release is required to take a shot, once AF has
been conformed with a beep and high lit green square on the screen.
are stored on the aforementioned SD/SDHC/SDXC cards and the camera also
has wireless, Eye-Fi compatibility for those wanting to shoot and send
straight to a PC, say on your home network. There’s no RAW shooting with
top quality provided by the camera’s ‘Fine’ compression setting,
there’s ‘Normal’ in there too.
The zoom lever and lens are very
responsive, the lens quickly running through its full focal range,
almost too quickly meaning it’s hard to asses the right point to stop,
for the angle of view required. The lens reaches it’s full zoom position
in just shy of three seconds, so a little patience and practice is
required to get to grips with this element of the handling.
capturing movies, you cannot use the optical zoom while recording audio;
audio can be switched off in menus. The reasoning here is undoubtedly
that the lens mechanism and motors make a racket and ruin any audio you
shoot. This prevents that from being problem, but replaces it with a
less than convenient compromise; there’s that word again.
(ahem) compromise on such a sparse-looking camera in terms of its
controls, is the fact all the main shooting options are housed within
menus and the shooting options ranged down the right side of the
Press the ‘OK’ button at the centre of the
scroll-wheel-come-four-way jog control to highlight the required
settings. A menu option at the bottom of the shooting option activates
the tabbed main menu system, also reached via the dedicated Menu button
below the control wheel. You can then scroll or tab left or right to go
through the available menu options. In terms of main shooting modes, you
can pick from Program or the Intelligent Auto (iAuto) mode its AF
tracking that allows for effectively simple point-and-shooting.
info can be toggled on and off from the back plate’s Info button and
one of the nicer features at this level of compact is a live histogram
display that allows you to accurately assess exposure if you have mind
Flash settings are only accessible once the flash has been popped
up, no auto pop up here, which is actually another big plus as you can
rest control of the flash from the camera even in the auto modes
allowing greater creative potential.
Flash modes include a basic set
of on, off redeye reduction and auto, there’s no slow sync setting which
is a shame, but you can always pick the night portrait mode to force
the camera to use an ambient exposure with flash, basically the same
One of the best settings for photography are the dual macro
modes; you get macro and super macro to choose between, the latter
allows for even close focus on your subject but fixes the focal length
to provide the best overall shot.
The self timer has two or 10
second choices to tinker with while those after more manual control will
be happy to see exposure compensation of +/- 3EV, for those hard to
meter subjects. Speaking of metering you have either Olympus’ iESP or
spot modes, with the former producing well balanced shots overall and
the latter giving yet more creativity for measuring light from specific
parts of a scene.
White balance (WB), and ISO settings can be set
up quickly via the screen’s right hand menu options too, with WB
adjustment running through the usual suspects of fluorescent,
incandescent, daylight and cloudy with two One Touch WB options
activated by pressing the menu button whereupon the camera sets the
white balance according to the ambient light or the flash, if the flash
is in its up and ready position.
ISO settings available run
through ISO auto, ISO 80 to ISO 1600 and an extra punch of sensitivity
is added with an ISO High option. Drive modes on offer include the
default single shot, then continuous 0.65fps shooting at full resolution
and two high-speed sequential shooting modes. Use either of the latter
two modes and the resolution is bumped to just 5-megapixels at 5.3fps
dropping further to just 3-megapixels when shooting at the otherwise
Within the main menus (accessed via the shooting
menu on the right side of the display or the dedicated menu button on
the camera’s back) you find the meat of camera adjustments, from setting
the date and time to selection of image size; compression, the choice
to activate other clever kit such as Olympus’ shadow adjustment
technology (it can be applied automatically or simply left switched off)
and you can select the AF mode too. AF settings include face
recognition and AF tracking and you can also adjust the image
stabilisation between continuous or set to work only as a shot is made.
set up options provide for memory formatting and, at the bottom edge of
the control dial, a dedicated delete setting is always useful to delete
unwanted snaps without going into the menus.