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Olympus SP-720UZ Overview

Posted: 01/11/2012

The Olympus SP-720UZ is based around a 1/2.3"-type CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 14 megapixels, coupled to a 26x optical zoom lens, with output handled by a TruePic III+-branded image processor. Maximum image dimensions are 4,288 x 3,216 pixels. The SP720UZ's lens offers actual focal lengths ranging from 4.7 to 121.2mm, which would equate to the same range as a 35mm camera with everything from a generous 26mm wide angle to a whopping 676mm telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.2 to f/5.6 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 460,000 dots of resolution. (This translates to roughly 153,000 pixels, with each pixel comprising separate red, green, and blue-colored dots.)

The SP-720UZ 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 1/1,300 to four seconds. Seven white balance settings are provided, including automatic, four presets, and two Manual settings. As well as Intelligent Auto and Program modes, the Olympus SP-610 offers a selection of 16 scene modes -- Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Pet (cat), Pet (dog), and Backlight HDR -- 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 four new additions -- Reflection, Miniature, Fragmented, and Dramatic -- in addition to the existing Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, and Water Color 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 SP720UZ stores images in JPEG format, and is also able to record movies at high-definition Full HD (1920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution or below, using Motion JPEG compression. At full resolution, the SP720UZ is capable of shooting a swift seven frames per second, although the buffer depth is fairly abbreviated, at just eight frames. Images and movie are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, but not the higher-speed UHS cards. There's also a reasonably generous 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 an LI-50B lithium-ion battery pack, but no information was available on battery life at press time.

No plans have been announced to sell the Olympus SP-720UZ in the US market. In Europe, we understand that the SP-720UZ will ship from March 2012, with pricing of about €250.