Olympus Stylus SP-820UZ
by Roger Slavens
Made expressly for those who still want to get just a little closer to frame that perfect shot, Olympus has introduced a new flagship Ultra Zoom compact camera that boasts its longest optical zoom ever. The Stylus SP-820UZ iHS bests its predecessor's 30x wide-angle lens with a 40x super-wide-angle upgrade, providing an equivalent zoom range of 22.4mm to a truly telescopic 896mm. Aperture starts at f/3.4 at full-wide and goes to f/5.7 at telephoto.
Such a wide focal range makes the Olympus SP-820UZ a great candidate to take along on vacations, when lugging around a full-sized DSLR and multiple lenses just wouldn't be fun or practical. And depending on how it delivers on image quality, it may also prove to be a perfect second camera for both enthusiasts and professionals alike.
The Olympus Stylus SP-820UZ was designed to offer all-in-one versatility far beyond its long-range optics. The trademark iHS in the model name stands for the Intelligent, High-Sensitivity and High-Speed technologies Olympus has built into the camera, most notably a 14MP CMOS sensor and a TruePic V image processor that the company says will deliver sharp, high-resolution images and fast shooting even in low light. Also featured in the SP-820UZ are Dual Image and Multi-Motion Movie Stabilization modes for reducing camera shake and image blur, which comes in especially handy when the lens is at full ultra zoom. Finally, a 3-inch LCD screen (non-touch) with 460,000 dots lets you view your shot setup and results in colorful high resolution.
A plethora of scene and creative options come onboard the Olympus SP-820UZ, including the Hand-Held Starlight mode that blends multiple images together to create a single, sharp photo at night or in low light. Not versatile enough for you yet? The Olympus Beauty Make-up mode also lets you add eyeliner, eye shadow and blush just in case your subject didn't have time to put her face on. And the in-camera Smart Panorama mode can create a full 360-degree photo, especially useful if you like to capture your view spinning in circles.
Video seems to be a particularly strong point of the new Olympus Ultra Zoom. It boasts a choice of either 1080p or 720p high-definition video. If you're a fan of slow-motion footage, impressively swift frame rates of up to 240 frames per second are possible, albeit only at QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels). Also geared to provide high definition sound, Linear PCM audio recording technology has been borrowed from the manufacturer's professional-level audio recording line. To top off its multimedia features, the Stylus SP-820UZ offers a Photo with Video Clip mode, which captures a video before and after you take a photo.
The Olympus Stylus SP-820UZ iHS runs on 4 AA batteries, and it's WiFi compatible via an optional Eye-Fi SD memory card. The camera, available in black and silver, will be available in September 2012 for a retail price of US$329.99.