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Olympus SP-810UZ Overview

Posted: 07/27/2011

The Olympus SP-810UZ is based around a 1/2.3"-type CCD image sensor with an effective resolution of fourteen megapixels, yielding images with dimensions of 4,288 x 3,216 pixels or below. This RGB-filtered chip sits behind an Olympus-branded 36x optical zoom lens which, says the company, means the SP810UZ offers the world's longest zoom in a compact camera. The SP810UZ's lens offers actual focal lengths ranging from 4.3 to 154.8mm, equivalent to the range from a very generous 24mm wide angle to a staggering 864mm telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/2.9 to f/5.7 across the zoom range. Importantly, given the reach of the zoom lens, the SP810 does include mechanical image stabilization, although it isn't currently clear if this is achieved via sensor shift, or in the lens itself. (We suspect the former, however, given that the closely related Olympus SP-800UZ opted for sensor shift, as does the only other 36x zoom digicam on the market--Nikon's P500.)

There's no optical or electronic viewfinder, with all interaction taking place at arm's length courtesy of a 3.0" LCD display with 230,000 dots of resolution, which equates to approximately 320 x 240 pixels, with each pixel comprising separate red, green and blue dots. The SP-810UZ uses iESP contrast detection autofocusing by default, with the ability to switch to spot AF if desired. Both AF tracking and face detection functions are also included. 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 1/850 to four seconds, a surprising drop in the fastest shutter speed since the SP800UZ, given that a fast shutter speed would have been very useful to fight blur at longer focal lengths. Seven white balance settings are provided, including automatic, five presets, and two custom white balance settings.

As well as Intelligent Auto and Program modes, the Olympus SP-810 offers a generous selection of 16 scene modes that provide a modicum of control over the look of images: Portrait, Beauty, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Pet (cat), and Pet (dog). A selection of ten "magic" filters includes new miniature and reflection filters, while a 3D mode creates a single image with simulated 3D effect from two sequential photos of the same (static) subject.

The Olympus SP810UZ 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. Images and movies are stored on SD, SDHC, or SDXC cards, including wifi-capable Eye-Fi cards, or in a not-very-generous 14MB of available built-in memory--a huge reduction from the 1,783MB offered in the SP-800UZ. Connectivity options include USB 2.0 High Speed data, standard definition composite video output, and a new Type-D micro HDMI high definition video output. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary LI-50B lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and the SP-810UZ can charge via USB cable, letting you leave the external charger at home if you'll have a laptop to charge from on a trip.

The Olympus SP-810UZ will ship in the USA from September 2011 with pricing of about $330, around $20 cheaper than the SP800UZ when it hit the market a little over a year ago.