Olympus SP-550 UZ Review

 
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Olympus SP-550 UZ Performance


Timing and Performance

Good to average speed for a consumer camera.

Startup/Shutdown
Power on
to first shot
2.9 seconds
Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy.
Shutdown
2.4 seconds
How long it takes to retract lens.
Buffer clearing time
10 seconds
(4 seconds buffer clearing in LF JPEG)
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.
Mode switching
Play to Record,
first shot
0.7 second
Time until first shot is captured.
Record to play
5.0 seconds
Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.
Display
recorded image
0.7 second
Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.
Shutter response (Lag Time):
Full Autofocus Wide
1.52 seconds
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.
Full Autofocus Tele
1.11 seconds
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.
Prefocused
0.090 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Continuous AF
1.48 seconds
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual focus
0.60 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
4.16 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Single Shot mode
640x480 JPEG
2.48 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Single Shot mode
RAW
10.54 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.
Early shutter
penalty?
No
Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.
Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.97 second (1.03 frames per second);
3 frames total;
5 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.
Continuous mode
640x480 JPEG
0.81 second (1.23 frames per second);
1 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first.
Flash recycling
7 seconds
Flash at maximum output.
Download speed
Windows Computer, USB 2.0
989 KBytes/sec
Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-770=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

The Olympus SP-550's performance varies from above to below average with very little average about it compared to other long zooms, whose performance in general is not quite as nimble as compact digicams. Startup and shutdown speeds are above average for the Long Zoom category (which means it's slower than a 3x digicam at 2.9 seconds, but faster than the average long zoom). Shutter response is above average, too, coming in at 0.090s when prefocused; but below average with full autofocus, taking a full 1.52 seconds at wide angle. Shot-to-shot cycle times and continuous-mode speeds are also above average. The flash takes 7.0 seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, which is below average. Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are average, but not so slow you'll need an external reader. Bottom line, the Olympus SP-550 UZ is a responsive long zoom, although not a quick focuser.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Surprisingly good battery life.

Operating Mode
Battery Life
Still-image capture mode
LCD on, NiMH batteries
560 shots

The Olympus SP-550 UZ uses a four AA-size batteries for power. The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions using NiMH batteries. We normally recommend picking up a spare set of batteries and keeping them freshly charged and on-hand for long outings, but the SP-550's battery life is good enough that few users are likely to feel the need for a second set of batteries.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Olympus SP-550 UZ has 20MB internal memory and uses xD Picture Cards, although no card is supplied with the camera.

Image Capacity with
20MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal RAW
3,072 x 2,304
Images
4 10 1
File Size
4.2 MB 1.8 MB 10.7 MB
2,560 x 1,920
Images
8 16
File Size
2.5 MB 1.2 MB
2,304 x 1,728
Images
8 20
File Size
2.5 MB 994 KB
2,048 x 1,536
Images
8 25
File Size
2.3 MB 785 KB
1,600 x 1,200
Images
14 40
File Size
1.4 MB 497 KB
1,280 x 960
Images
21 62
File Size
914 KB 321 KB
1,024 x 768
Images
33 95
File Size
593 KB 208 KB
640 x 480
Images
83 207
File Size
240 KB 96 KB

The Olympus SP-550UZ stores its photos on xD memory cards or in approximately 20MB of internal memory, and no card is included with the camera. That means that out of the box, you can only capture four full resolution, low compression images, or one RAW image. We strongly recommend buying a large capacity xD Picture card at least a 512MB card, preferably a 1- or 2GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings and videos. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

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