Olympus SP-560 UZ Review

 
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Olympus SP-560 UZ Optics


Lens

Zoom
A very generous zoom range of 18x optical that starts at 27mm and extends to 100x total zoom with its 5.6x digital zoom.

27mm
486mm
5.6x Digital Zoom

The Olympus SP-560 UZ zooms over the equivalent of a 27-486mm range, wider than most among long zooms. Overall performance is good, with some softness at wide angle that responds well to unsharp mask in Photoshop. Chromatic aberration is pretty dramatic at telephoto, but that's to be expected, and it's not as bad as one would expect from a lens of this length. The 5.6x digital zoom takes it out to 100x total zoom, or 2,722mm equivalent. Results at the maximum digital zoom setting, however, are pretty soft. You do better to restrict the digital zoom to about 2x.

Macro
A below-average standard macro area, with noticeable blurring in the corners. Super Macro is excellent. Both macro modes are too close for the flash.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash Super Macro

The Olympus SP-560's macro setting captures a minimum area of only 3.97 x 2.98 inches (101 x 76 millimeters). This is below average, and details are soft in the corners of the frame. Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode (evidence of the optical "curvature of field" characteristic). At Super Macro, the SP-560 captures an area 1.05 x 0.78 inches (27 x 20mm), an excellent result.

The Olympus SP-560's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area and was partially blocked as well, resulting in a very uneven exposure. (Plan on using external lighting for any macro shots with the SP-560.)

Distortion
Average barrel distortion among long zooms, higher than average pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 27mm is 0.9%
Pincushion at 486mm is 0.6%

The Olympus SP-560's 0.9% barrel distortion at wide angle is higher than average among the cameras we've tested (but its 27mm setting is wider than most), and not noticeable in most images. At the telephoto end, the Olympus SP-560 UZ showed higher than average pincushion at 0.6% -- but this isn't surprising, since its telephoto focal length is well beyond average. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic aberration
Noticeable at wide angle, dramatic at telephoto.

Wide: Noticeable but low, top left @ 200% Wide: Noticeable but low, top right @ 200%
Tele: High and bright, top left @200% Tele: High and bright, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is noticeable at wide angle, showing several pixels of medium coloration on either side of the target lines. Chromatic aberration becomes quite dramatic at telephoto focal lengths, covering a wider area with brighter coloration. This will show up in printed photographs. (This distortion is visible as a colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Softening in the corners of the frame, strongest effect in the lower corners; worse at telephoto.

Wide: Soft in the lower left corner. Wide: Sharp at the center (note evidence of edge enhancement)
Tele: Softer in the lower right corner. Tele: Sharp at the center.

The Olympus SP-560 UZ produced soft corners at wide angle, with the lower corners showing the most significant effect. This is actually a surprisingly good result, considering the extreme range of this 18x lens. At the telephoto end, corner softening was more pronounced. Note sharpening artifacts in the center wide angle shot, appearing as bright halos around the black objects in the frame.

Viewfinder

Coverage
The electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor were identical and both very accurate.

27mm eq., Electronic viewfinder 486mm eq., Electronic viewfinder
27mm eq., LCD monitor 486mm eq., LCD monitor

Both the Olympus SP-560's electronic viewfinder and LCD were quite accurate, showing nearly 100% frame accuracy at both wide angle (102%) and telephoto (97%) lens settings. Note: Geometric distortion has an effect on these measurements.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Olympus SP-560 UltraZoom Photo Gallery.

Olympus SP-560 UZ

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