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Olympus SP-610UZ Overview

Posted: 01/05/2011

The Olympus SP-610UZ is based around a 1/2.3"-type CCD image sensor with an effective resolution of 14 megapixels, coupled to a 22x optical zoom lens, with output handled by a TruePic III+-branded image processor. Maximum image dimensions are 4,288 x 3,216 pixels. The SP610UZ's lens offers actual focal lengths ranging from 5.0 to 110.0mm, which would equate to the same range as a 35mm camera with everything from a useful 28mm wide angle to a whopping 616mm telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.3 to f/5.7 across the zoom range. For a zoom lens with this much reach, it's absolutely vital to have some form of mechanical image stabilization with which to prevent blur from camera shake, and Olympus doesn't disappoint, including a sensor shift system. There's no optical or electronic viewfinder, though, with all interaction taking place at arm's length courtesy of a 3.0" LCD display with 230,000 dots of resolution. (This translates to roughly a 320 x 240 pixel array, with each pixel comprising separate red, green, and blue-colored dots.)

The SP-610UZ uses a iESP Auto contrast detection autofocusing by default, with the ability to switch to spot AF if desired. An AF assist illuminator is included, helping the camera to focus on nearby objects in difficult lighting conditions. Both AF tracking and face detection functions are also included. Sensitivity ranges from a minimum of ISO 100 to a maximum of ISO 3,200 equivalent. Exposures are metered with Digital ESP metering by default, and a spot metering mode is also available.  2.0EV of exposure compensation is available, in 1/3EV steps. Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to four seconds. Five white balance settings are provided, including automatic and four presets. Unfortunately, manual white balance isn't possible with the SP-610. As well as Intelligent Auto and Program modes, the Olympus SP-610 offers a selection of 16 scene modes -- Portrait, Beauty, Landscape, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, Pet (Cat), and Pet (Dog) -- that provide a modicum of control over the look of images. There are also a variety of Magic Filter functions applicable both to still image and movie recording. These include three new additions -- Watercolor, Sparkle, and Punk -- in addition to the existing Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish-Eye, Soft Focus, and Drawing filters seen in past models. A 3D Photo mode captures two images from slightly differing angles, and combines the result into an image suitable for viewing on 3D-capable displays.

The Olympus SP610UZ stores images in JPEG format, and is also able to record movies at high-definition 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) resolution or below, using MPEG-4 compression. No full-resolution spec is available, but one can surmise that the SP610UZ's burst shooting rate is quite modest from the fact that even at a reduced eight megapixel rating, the camera is limited to just three sequential frames at 0.77 frames per second. Images and movie are stored on SD, SDHC, or the latest generation SDXC cards, or in a 59MB of built-in memory. Support is included for Eye-Fi's wireless-capable SD card products. Connectivity options include both USB 2.0 High Speed data, composite standard definition video output, and Type-D HDMI high definition video output. The HDMI connection includes HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronic Control) support, allowing certain playback functions to be controlled directly from an attached display's remote control unit. Power comes courtesy of four AA batteries, rated as good for 350 shots when using alkaline disposables.

The Olympus SP-610UZ will ship in the USA from February 2011, with pricing of about $230.