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?
Image Quality and Verdict
Olympus SP-620UZ Review – Image Quality
The camera was set to shoot at 16-megapixels and the Fine JPEG setting, but the key to the image performance is how it performs at the maximum zoom and the wide end of the lens, the two most likely places the camera will be shooting at.
With some of today’s ultra zoom digital cameras having over 40x zooms (Nikon’s P510 has a 42x optical zoom!) its odd to describe this lens, as having a ‘modest’ zoom range, but that is now the case. But even so, the lens is still asked to perform major feats of optical trickery that allow it to shoot as close as 10cm in Super Macro mode to the full 21x zoom 525mm end of the lens.
Images are relatively sharp, although some low contrast scenes I shot pushed it to the limits. Shooting handheld with image stabilisation on continuously was possible in brighter conditions but ISO will bump up (if in ISO auto mode) in lower lighting.
At the wide-angle 25mm end of the zoom, corners of a shot are noticeably softer on close inspection but both barrel and fisheye distortion is controlled well enough. There’s also a fare bit of chromatic aberration at the corners of the images on high contrast subjects such as tree branches against a bright sky being a goods example.
White balance is good overall too and as is the focusing performance, though low contrast scenes do present a problem at full zoom where it cannot key onto any part of scene, which proved frustrating indeed.
My biggest worry, as always on digital compacts with such high pixel counts, is how that overloaded sensor copes with image noise and thankfully, I can report the SP-620UZ performs well, even up to ISO 800 when details softens as noise suppression systems work their magic. At ISO 1600 images are still usable if pushed.
Omitting an ISO 3200 mode is, on balance (and here comes that word again) a compromise based (presumably) on price, the market sector and if then the longer focal length lens range would be more easily handled in low light but be marred by too much noise. For me, the lower maximum ISO is (about) spot on.
The iAuto and Program modes work well, colour is natural and not oversaturated though I felt the camera dealt poorly with lens flare, a lens hood or similar accessory might be beneficial. The Magic Filters can add a neat creative flourish to your shots and work well enough with a little trial and error helping you to learn and fine-tune the effect and the type of image a particular filter is best used upon.
Olympus SP-620UZ Review – Verdict
The SP-620UZ’s performance is, frankly, quite superb given its price and some of my initial worries of the 16-megapixel sensor. Yes the design is a bit clunky and the build does feel rather flimsy, but…
The lens works well across its range and image noise is kept under strict control, image quality is therefore pretty good and those Magic filters and other neat kit all combine to make this a great value snapper for those requiring greater lens reach than a ‘normal’ compact provides on a tighter budget.