Olympus SP-570 UZ Review
Olympus SP-570 UZ Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Good overall color and hue accuracy, with only slight color shifts and oversaturated reds.
Saturation. The Olympus SP-570 UZ handles saturation well, with a small amount of oversaturation in strong reds, but slight undersaturation in bright yellows. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.
Skin tones. Here, with the proper color balance for the light source, the SP-570 UZ's Caucasian skin tones were just a little warm, and a tad yellow. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Olympus SP-570 UZ produced pretty good hue accuracy, with only slight shifts, such as cyan toward blue and yellow toward green. Hue is "what color" the color is.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Most accurate color with Manual white balance, though a hint flat. Less than average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was a quite warm and orange-pink in Auto white balance mode, with much better results in Incandescent mode, though a bit magenta. The Manual option produced the most accurate color overall, though even here color is just a little flat and could use a touch more warmth. The Olympus SP-570 UZ required only a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is just slightly above average for this shot. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
High contrast in the automatic settings, but good color and overall exposure.
|Manual White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Olympus SP-570 UZ produced good overall color and exposure, though contrast under harsh lighting was somewhat high. Despite the high contrast, the shadow areas held onto a decent amount of detail, though noise suppression did blur definition a bit. The camera's adjustable contrast setting did tone things down a bit, but there's also an exposure mode that boosts shadow areas, and results on the portrait shot were actually not too bad. Highlights remained bright, but the shadow areas were brought to more closely match the rest of the exposure. Overall, about average performance outdoors.
Very high resolution, 1,500 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,500 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,500 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,500 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction occurred around 1,950 lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Sharp images overall, though with a fair amount of edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits detail definition in the shadows.
|Noticeable evidence of
edge enhancement in high contrast
|Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of hair here.
Sharpness. The Olympus SP-570 UZ captures a lot of fine detail with good sharpness overall. In high contrast subjects, such as the crop above left, enhancement artifacts are visible. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows a fair amount of noise suppression, as well as plenty of left over chroma noise in the hair, with the darker areas of hair showing limited detail. Individual strands quickly fade into the shadows. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO & Noise Performance
Some noise at the normal sensitivity settings with so-so performance at the mid-high settings. However, strong blurring and loss of fine detail at ISO 800 and up.
|ISO 64||ISO 100||ISO 200|
|ISO 400||ISO 800||
(2,560 x 1,920)
(2,560 x 1,920)
The Olympus SP-570 UZ produced low to moderate noise at its lower sensitivity settings, and even at ISO 400, noise is higher but not overly intrusive. The biggest fault overall is how much chroma noise is left in the scene after processing. Starting at ISO 800, image noise, combined with the camera's efforts to suppress it result in blurry detail and decreased definition. At ISOs 3,200 and 6,400, despite the smaller resolution, images are very soft indeed, with an overall purple cast.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but high contrast at the default contrast setting. Good low-light performance, capable of producing bright images in near darkness.
|+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV||+1.0 EV|
Sunlight. The Olympus SP-570 UZ produced high contrast under the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, resulting in very strong highlights and deep shadows. Shadow detail isn't too bad, though both image noise and noise suppression decrease definition in these areas. At +0.7 EV, the highlights are fairly strong, but they dominate the image at +1.0 EV. The camera does have an adjustable contrast setting, as well as a shadow adjustment tool, both of which work to balance uneven exposures like this one. In the shadow-emphasis mode, the camera boosts shadow areas but leaves highlights and brighter mid-tones alone, which produced good results. The adjustable contrast did even out the exposure, but it also resulted in slightly flat color as a result. Be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; and it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
Low light. The Olympus SP-570 UZ performed well here, capturing images bright enough for use at the lowest light levels, and almost at its lowest sensitivity setting. The image is a little dim at the ISO 64 setting at 1/16 foot-candle, but you can still see a lot of detail on the target. Image noise increases with the higher ISO settings, as you'd expect, but isn't too bad at the lower sensitivities. Color balance was good with the Auto white balance setting. The camera's AF system was able to focus unassisted down to the 1/8 foot-candle light level, and to total darkness with the AF assist.
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
A strong flash at close range, though definitely not a match for the camera's 20x optical zoom. Our standard shots required slightly lower than average exposure compensation, coverage was pretty uniform.
|26mm equivalent||520mm equivalent|
|Normal Flash, +0.7 EV||Slow-Sync Flash, +0.74 EV|
Flash coverage was uneven at wide angle, though results were about average. At full telephoto, the target was too far away for the flash to illuminate it. In the Indoor test, the Olympus SP-570 UZ's flash underexposed our subject just a little at its default setting, requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get bright results. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced slightly brighter and more even results at the same EV setting, though with a stronger pinkish-orange cast from the background room lighting.
ISO 100 Range. At wide angle and ISO 100, flash shots maintained the same intensity to about 12 feet before decreasing slightly with each additional foot of distance. At telephoto and ISO 100, intensity remained steady to about 10 feet before minutely dropping down. Though it does drop by 16 feet, it's still pretty impressive, as images from most long zoom digital cameras go dark much earlier; some starting out dark at 6 feet.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, the SP-570 UZ performs about as Olympus says it will, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto, which unfortunately selected ISO 400 to compensate. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, good color, sharp 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are faded but usable at 5x7.
The Olympus SP-570UZ had enough resolution to make good looking 11x14-inch prints. 13x19 inch prints were too soft and chroma noise shows up in some places. ISO 100 shots show some noticeable chroma noise in the shadows, with becomes less objectionable at 8x10. This marks an early quality drop for a modern digital camera. ISO 200 shots are good at 8x10, though color and detail start to fade. ISO 400 shots start to soften at 8x10, and detail disappears from near-solid colors as color continues to fade. ISO 800 shots are too soft and grainy at 8x10, but are better at 5x7, though color is still an odd combination of an artificial, almost candy-like color and faded darks. ISO 1,600 shots are rough, but usable at 5x7 and 4x6. ISO 3,200 and 6,400 shots are murky and soft enough that we recommend avoiding these settings entirely.
Sensor noise is a big problem for the SP-570UZ. The SP-570 delivers good print quality across the frame if you keep the ISO low enough, but we expect larger sizes for a wider range of ISOs from a modern 10-megapixel digital camera.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Olympus SP-570 UltraZoom Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Olympus SP-570 UltraZoom with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.