The SP series of ultrazooms from Olympus gets two new additions today - the SP-800UZ and SP-600UZ. The SP-800UZ will feature a whopping 30x optical zoom lens, and the SP-600UZ will offer "merely" a 15x optical zoom lens. Both feature a DSLR-grade TruePic III image processor and a full slate of beginner-friendly features.
The 26x optical zoom SP-590UZ held the top position in terms of zoom reach in the ultrazoom category for 2009, besting the 24x competition just slightly. Now Olympus is reaching farther into telephoto territory with the 30x SP-800UZ, a DSLR-style fixed lens camera covering an equivalent range of 28-840mm. Tagging along is the SP-600UZ with a 15x range starting at the same wide angle 28mm and stretching to 420mm on the telephoto end.
Behind the big, bold lenses are familiar features like Magic Filter art filters and shadow adjustment technology. And just like the compacts announced earlier this year, Olympus continues to bid the xD memory format goodbye in favor of SD. Both the SP-600UZ and SP-800UZ will be compatible with SD and SDHC only.
The SP-800UZ will feature a 14 megapixel sensor and a 3.0 inch LCD. That 30x zoom lens features a maximum aperture rating of f/2.8 at wide angle and f/5.6 at telephoto. As does the SP-600UZ, the SP-800UZ combines sensor-shift and digital image stabilization to create a dual image stabilization system. Both cameras record HD video at 720p, but the SP-800UZ offers 16:9 recording and an HDMI out port.
The SP-800UZ is powered by a lithium-ion battery with a CIPA rating of 200 shots. It offers 1783MB of internal storage for shooting.
The SP-600UZ offers a 12 megapixel sensor and 2.7 inch LCD along with many of the same features of the SP-800UZ. Both systems include AF tracking for continuous focusing on a moving subject. The SP-600UZ offers the same art filters - pop art, pin hole, fish-eye, and drawing.
The differences are small. The 15x lens isn't quite as bright at wide angle as that of the SP-800UZ. The SP-600UZ's lens maximum aperture range is listed at f/3.5-5.4. The SP-600UZ takes AA batteries and has 829MB of internal memory dedicated to shooting.
It's interesting to consider that just an hour prior to Olympus's announcement, Fujifilm jumped ahead into the ultrazoom arms race with their 30x HS10. The Olympus SP-800UZ adheres to point-and-shoot functionality and build with a mechanical zoom lens, and Olympus is calling it the "World's Smallest" 30x camera. Fuji takes the 30x fixed lens camera in a more pro-aimed direction, giving it a manual zoom-only lens and a back-lit CMOS sensor. Though the specs are similar, there is still room for a lot of variation.
Pricing and availability
The Olympus SP-800UZ and SP-600UZ will both be available in March 2010. The SP-800UZ will cost $349.99; SP-600UZ will debut at $249.99.
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