- Large focal range, large LCD screen, HD video capture, compact size
- Half-baked 3D implementation, poor build quality, no Raw capture
- Review Price: £170
For those looking for a large focal range in a small body, there is more choice on the market than ever before. Not only do a host of small compact cameras now offer large focal ranges, but the once-expensive superzoom market now features a host of models available at an affordable price. The Olympus SP-610UZ is one such model, offering a 22x optical zoom and specification to match in a relatively compact body and at an affordable price point. But how does it size up on the WDC testing bench?
Olympus SP-610UZ review – Features
The headline feature of the Olympus SP-610UZ is without doubt the large focal range. The 22x optical zoom covers a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-616mm, which would necessitate a host of lenses to cover an equivalent on a DSLR. The optical zoom is supported by two types of optical stabilisation, which will be of use to the long-range shooters. The SP-610UZ utilises a 1/2.3in 14MP CCD sensor, which is paired with a TruePic III+ image processor, aimed enhancing colour reproduction and high-ISO noise performance. What may be of interest to some shooters is the fact that the SP-610UZ is powered by AA batteries, allowing for quick and affordable replacement when out shooting.
The model’s LCD doesn’t feature the best resolution, at just 230k-dot, although at 3in it more than fills the rear of the camera. Another of the eye-catching features of the SP-610UZ is that it offers 3D still image capture, creating a stereoscopic image from two separately-captured stills which are merged together separately in camera. The model also offers HD video capture at 720p resolution.
Away from the advanced functionality, and more targeted to the beginner shooter, are the eight magic filters – in magic filter mode, the user can select from a range of photo effects that will instantly transform your images.
The Olympus SP-610UZ also features an in-camera manual, which is impressively in-depth, and will no doubt please those who lament the loss its paper equivalent.
Olympus SP-610UZ review – Design
The body of the Olympus SP-610UZ is strikingly small. It boasts a large barrel front section, characteristic of the compact superzoom type of camera. Alongside the barrel for the zoom is a protruding grip. The grip serves several purposes – it houses the camera’s shutter release button, as well as the control for the camera’s zoom, whilst also offering the practical function of fitting in the four AA batteries the camera needs to function. However, the real win is how comfortably it allows you to hold the camera – it’s the perfect fit for single-handed carrying, and the rubberised and sculpted design make it feel secure in the hand.
The rear of the model is basic in design. The majority of the real estate is taken up by the large 3in LCD screen, with buttons kept to a minimum. A dedicated video record button sits to the top of the rear, while the main bulk of the camera functionality is accessed by a small control wheel in the right centre of the camera rear. Three further buttons feature, including a button marked with a ‘?’, offering quick access to the aforementioned full on board manual.
Performance, value, image quality and verdict
Olympus SP-610UZ review – Performance
The main thing that strikes you when using the SP-610UZ is that it has the feel of a superzoom camera at the more affordable end of the scale. The body feels flimsy and as though it wouldn’t stand up to much hard wear and tear, and the aforementioned LCD screen struggles in bright lighting conditions.
With regards to the positives, the button layout and configuration facilities easy use of the camera, while the oversized grip offers a comfortable hold of the camera. The menu system is also well thought out with regards to the beginner, and the in-camera manual is very useful.
The 3D functionality of the camera is somewhat half-baked – as the models screen doesn’t support display of the images, it’s hard to tell as to how successful your capture has been. Add to that the fact that you have to manually align the images during the capture process, from shot to shot, and it seems as though Olympus has rather forced a half-ready version of 3D capture on to the camera. The model also offers a Panorama capture mode that is far clunkier than some of its competitors, and the addition of magic filters may not be to everyone’s liking. There’s also the lack of Raw capture, which is an oversight, although as Olympus has aimed the model at the more affordable end of the superzoom pricing scale this may be an informed decision to keep costs down.
Olympus SP-610UZ review – Value
At around £170 at time of review, the SP-610UZ is a lot of camera for the price. The large focal range and HD video capture are an enticing combination, especially when housed in the compact body of the SP-610UZ. Despite some misgivings about design and performance, as well as a few items missing from the specification, you’re still getting a lot of camera for your money with the SP-610UZ.
Olympus SP-610UZ review – Image Quality
Image quality is, on the whole, reasonable. There are a few issues with exposure and metering, as the SP-610UZ has a tendency to favour lighter areas and underexpose as a result. Colour fringing is also a noticeable issue, but this is often the case with compact superzooms as they have to accommodate such a large focal range. Image quality also suffers to an extent at higher ISO settings, with noise emerging at anywhere over ISO 400. However, below that the images display a pleasing tonal range.
Olympus SP-610UZ review – Verdict
On the face of it, the Olympus SP-610UZ offers most of what you could want from a compact superzoom, featuring a 22x optical zoom and HD video capture. However, there are a few glaring oversights on the specification, while the build quality is also disappointing. So, while the SP-610UZ is a good camera, it falls short of being a great camera.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9