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Olympus' SP-550 UltraZoom digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Olympus: 18x zoom digicam (with preview!)
By
(Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 00:00 EST)

Olympus Imaging America Inc. has today announced its new SP-550 UltraZoom digital camera.

The Olympus SP-550UZ has what the company says is the world's most powerful zoom lens, with a rather impressive 18x optical zoom - that's all the way from a useful wide angle of 28mm equivalent to a powerful 504mm equivalent at telephoto. This is coupled to a 7.1 megapixel CCD image sensor which is mounted on a moving platter, allowing for true (mechanical) image stabilization. Other features include a 2.5" LCD display, electronic viewfinder with diopter correction, 20MB of built-in memory, and xD-Picture card storage slot.

The Olympus SP-550UZ ships from March 2007, priced at $499.99. Alongside the announcement, we've published a hands-on preview covering the Olympus SP-550UZ, and authored by IR senior editor Shawn Barnett.

Olympus SP-550 UltraZoom
Olympus' SP-550 UltraZoom digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
General
Camera TypeSLR-style
ManufacturerOlympus
Model NumberSP-550
Dimensions4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1"
116.0 x 78.5 x 78.0mm
Weight365.0 g
12.8 oz
Planned Price$499.99
Planned Availability 2007
Image Capture
Sensor Type1/2.5" CCD
7.40 megapixels (total)
7.10 megapixels (effective)
Aspect Ratio4:3, 3:2
Image Dimensions3072 x 2304 (7.1 megapixels)
3072 x 2048 (6.3 megapixels)
2560 x 1920 (4.9 megapixels)
2304 x 1728 (4.0 megapixels)
2048 x 1536 (3.1 megapixels)
1600 x 1200 (1.9 megapixels)
1280 x 960 (1.2 megapixels)
1024 x 768 (0.8 megapixels)
640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Image Preview / Review
ViewfinderYes, Electronic viewfinder
LCD2.5", 230,000 pixels
Lens
Lens TypeOlympus ED lens
18x optical zoom
Image StabilizationYes
Focal Length4.7 - 84.2mm (actual)
28 - 504mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Rangef/2.8 (wide) / f/4.5 (tele) - ???
Focusing SystemCCD contrast detection, iESP Auto / Spot / Selective AF
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
Focusing RangeNormal: 4" - infinity (10 cm - infinity)
Macro: 0.4" - infinity (1.0 cm - infinity)
Exposure
ISO SensitivityAuto, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 5000
Shutter Speed15 - 1/2000 second
Exposure ModesAperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering ModesDigital iESP Auto Mult i-Pattern TTL, Spot Metering, Center-Weighted Metering
Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White BalanceImage Sensor - Auto, overcast, sunlight, tungsten, 3 fluorescents, preset, Manual
Internal FlashModes: Auto, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Fill-in + red-eye, Slow Sync, Off
Range: Wide: 14.8ft (4.5m); Tele: 9.2ft. (2.8m) at ISO 200
Flash Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 0.3EV increments
Creative
Scene Modesportrait, landscape, landscape + portrait, night scene, night + portrait, sport, indoor, candle, self-portrait, available light portrait, sunset, fireworks, cuisine, documents, auction, shoot & select1, shoot & select2, beach, snow, underwater wide 1, underwater wide 2, underwater macro
Digital Zoom5.6x
Self TimerYes, 2 or 12 seconds
Time LapseYes
Movie FormatAVI (Motion JPEG) with audio
640x480 and 320x240
Max. frame-rate: 30 frames per second
Storage
Recording MediumxD Picture Card, Built-in
File SystemComplies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File FormatCCD-RAW, Raw, JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
Connectivity
VideoYes
ComputerUSB 2.0 Full (LOW) Speed
OtherDC input
Power
Battery TypeType unspecified
Battery Form Factor4 x AA
Product Bundle
SoftwareOLYMPUS Master
Battery / Charger4 x AA (Type unspecified) battery
Flash Memory20.0MB Internal
Other
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliantYes
PictBridge CompliantYes
Internal MicrophoneYes
Internal SpeakerYes
Tripod MountYes
More Photos
Olympus' SP-550 UltraZoom digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' SP-550 UltraZoom digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' SP-550 UltraZoom digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Olympus' SP-550 UltraZoom digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
 

Original Source Press Release:

OLYMPUS LAUNCHES WORLD’S FIRST 18X OPTICAL ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA: THE SP-550 UZ

All-in-One Ultra Zoom Offers Power and Versatility for Superior Images Far and Wide

CENTER VALLEY, Pa, January 25, 2007 – The new Olympus SP-550 UZ Ultra Zoom offers the ultimate in power and versatility with a compact, best-in-class 18x optical zoom lens (28-504mm equivalent in 35mm photography), which gives users the ability to shoot telephoto, wide-angle and macro (as close as 1cm) all in one. Crisp, clear images can be captured far and wide with Dual Image Stabilization and the broadest focal range available on any digital point-and-shoot. The camera’s full manual exposure control provides professionals and photo-enthusiasts with unlimited creativity, while its automatic settings and Built-in Help Guides will put novice users at ease.

This revolutionary ultra zoom is equipped with several unique features to deliver near-DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) performance in a compact size, including:

  • Dual Image Stabilization combines the benefits of Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization and Digital Image Stabilization to ensure beautiful, blur-free images in any situation;
  • High-Speed Sequential Shooting records multiple images in rapid succession (up to 15 frames per second) – perfect for shooting action and capturing the exact moment you want; and
  • Pre-Capture compensates for slow reaction times by capturing images (five frames) even before the shutter button is fully pressed to ensure you catch the perfect shot.

“The SP-550 UZ is the ultimate all-in-one digital camera and a perfect example of Olympus’ innovative optics,” said Michael Barnett, product manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “This new ultra zoom enables users of all levels to capture beautiful images in any shooting situation. Its powerful zoom, incredible speed and compact size will provide consumers an unprecedented level of performance and convenience.”

18x Wide-Angle Ultra Zoom Lens Provides Power and Versatility
Featuring the world's most powerful zoom lens, the SP-550 UZ offers maximum shooting versatility for travel, sports and day-to-day use. The 18x super telephoto zoom gets you closer to the action than any compact digital camera on the market. At the same time, the wide-angle lens gets more into your frame – perfect for shooting indoors, landscapes and group shots. The super macro mode is ideal for capturing the most subtle details from as close as one centimeter. The compact, precision-crafted lens combines high-refractive, aspherical and extra-dispersion (ED) lens elements to deliver edge-to-edge sharpness and clarity. The bright, f/2.8-4.5 lens provides the equivalent of 28-504mm focal length with 100x total seamless zoom (5.6x digital zoom).

Dual Image Stabilization
Dual Image Stabilization technology enables users to take crisp, clear pictures in virtually any shooting situation – adjusting for camera shake and a moving subject. Olympus’ Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization keeps images sharp by adjusting the CCD to compensate for camera shake, which often occurs when zooming in on your subject and in low-light conditions when shutter speeds are slower. Digital Image Stabilization freezes the action with high ISO sensitivity and fast shutter speeds that prevent blur caused by a moving subject.

High-Speed Sequential Shooting & Pre-Capture
Capable of capturing images at an incredible 15 frames per second, the SP-550 UZ offers the highest burst rate of any compact digital camera. The inclusion of Pre-Capture technology, which works in conjunction with High-Speed Sequential Shooting, enables users to capture the action before and after fully pressing the shutter button. Pre-Capture begins working as soon as the focus is locked, automatically archiving five frames in the camera’s buffer memory prior to the shutter release – virtually guaranteeing that none of the action will be missed even if the user’s reaction time is slow. Perfect for situations where timing is essential, such as photographing a tennis player serving, children playing or a whale breaching.

Full Manual & Automatic Control
The Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes give users versatility and control for optimal performance in any situation. Users can express their creative vision – adjusting the f-stop for detailed portraits with softened backgrounds, or slowing the exposure speed to create the blurred effect of motion, or just sit back and let the camera do the work with the automatic settings. Full manual and automatic control options allow advanced users to maintain creative control and novices to point-and-shoot their way to beautiful images.

30 Shooting Modes Including TV-Quality Video with Sound
The SP-550 UZ makes it easy to take great photos in a variety of scenarios and lighting situations with 30 shooting modes, including television-quality video with sound (640x480/30fps) up to the capacity of your xD card. Simply select the desired mode for portraits, landscapes, night scenes, fast-action, macro and more.

7.1-Megapixel Image Sensor
The 7.1-megapixel CCD image sensor delivers superior image quality for consistently capturing sharp, vivid details even in large-format or cropped prints. The SP-550 UZ records in both JPEG and RAW file formats and is perfectly suited for a wide range of users – from new photographers to advanced users who require maximum creative control.

High-Resolution 2.5-Inch LCD & Electronic Viewfinder
Compose and display incredible images on the camera’s bright 230,000-pixel LCD. The high-resolution screen enables you to review pictures, scroll through menu options and treat friends and family to a digital slide show with ease. The SP-550 UZ also features an electronic viewfinder with dioptic correction.

Bright Capture Technology
There are times when you want to photograph subjects in low light without having to use a flash – such as when trying to capture the softness and warmth of a candlelit dinner or natural skin tones in subdued lighting. Even when it’s too dark to see clearly, Olympus’ revolutionary Bright Capture Technology makes it possible to preview your shot on the LCD, quickly lock the focus and capture your subjects despite limited available light. The SP-550 UZ offers the highest ISO sensitivity of any ultra zoom (ISO 5000).

In-camera Editing
Enjoy in-camera editing features such as Red-Eye Fix and the ability to add frames and titles, crop, adjust brightness and more – all without using a computer and editing software. Also, the exclusive Lighting Fix feature corrects the underexposed areas in your pictures to reveal the details hidden in the shadows.

TruePic TURBO™ for High-Speed Response
Olympus’ exclusive TruePic TURBO™ Image Processor delivers incredible image quality for more true-to-life colors and skin tones as well as faster overall processing speeds for rapid start-up, shutter release and playback. TruePic TURBO ensures a high-speed response so you can capture the shot you want and instantly be ready to shoot again.

Underwater Housing and Accessory Lenses for Expanded Capabilities
An underwater housing (PT-037) is designed specifically for the SP-550 UZ, enabling great images to be captured in the pool and ocean. Using the PT-037, scuba divers can venture with the camera to depths of approximately 130 feet (40 meters) beneath the surface. The SP-550 UZ also features a threaded lens barrel, which enables easy attachment of add-on wide-angle or telephoto conversion lenses for even more creative control. Compatible accessory lenses include the WCON-07 Wide-Angle Conversion Lens (for 19.6mm equivalent) and the TCON-17 Telephoto Conversion Lens (for more than 30x optical zoom).

OLYMPUS Master™ Software
OLYMPUS Master™ software provides the ultimate in digital imaging management. An intuitive user interface makes downloading to your computer quick and simple, and images are easily organized by folders or albums. And with one-click editing tools, such as red-eye removal, images can be touched up before printing or e-mailing. Online support, templates, firmware upgrades and other user services are just a mouse-click away. Use the optional muveeä Theater Pack to create professional quality slide shows and DVDs from your pictures using any of several built-in templates.

Availability
The SP-550 UZ will be available in March 2007. It will also include: Neck Strap, WIN/Mac USB Cable, Audio/Video Cable, four AA Batteries, Instruction Manual, Warranty Card and OLYMPUS Master Software CD-ROM.

U.S. Pricing
SP-550 UZ Estimated Street Price: $499.99 (U.S.)

ABOUT OLYMPUS IMAGING AMERICA INC.
Olympus Imaging America Inc. is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering award-winning products for consumer and professional markets.

Olympus Imaging America Inc. works collaboratively with its customers and its ultimate parent company, Olympus Corporation, to develop breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality that enhances peoples’ lives every day. These include:

  • Digital and film cameras
  • Professional SLR Imaging Systems
  • Digital and Microcassette recorders
  • Personal Photo Printers
  • Digital Media
  • Binoculars

Olympus Imaging America Inc. is responsible for sales in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. For more information, visit: www.olympusamerica.com.

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