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Olympus SP-570 UZ First Thoughts
by Howard Creech -  4/28/2008

Olympus largely pioneered the long zoom point-and-shoot digicam with the introduction of the 10x zoom C2100 in 2000, and their ultrazoom digital cameras have been built on that pedigree ever since. The folks at Olympus clearly believe that size does matter, and the new Olympus SP-570 UZ (which replaces the SP-560 UZ) features the longest zoom lens currently available on a fixed-lens camera – a whopping 20x f/2.8-f4.5 optic that goes from the 35mm equivalent of 26mm to 520mm. That extraordinary zoom range makes the SP-570 UZ the current record holder in the extended-zoom arena.

Olympus SP-570 UZ
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The SP-570 UZ features 10 megapixel resolution, a 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD screen, a bright electronic viewfinder, a hotshoe (allowing Olympus's FL-50R and FL-36R external flash units to be used), Olympus's proven TruePic III processor and BrightCapture Technology, Face Detection AF, Shadow Adjustment (on-board software fix that expands dynamic range to open up shadows while preserving highlight detail), 22 scene modes, macro focusing to 2.5 inches, RAW image capture, and a 15 fps burst mode.

Olympus SP-570 UZ
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Camera shake is a big problem with long zoom digicams – the longer the zoom, the more likely the camera is to produce blurry or fuzzy photos due to the magnified effects of involuntary camera movement. Obviously a camera with a 20x zoom needs image stabilization, and the SP-570 UZ features what Olympus calls Dual Image Stabilization; more on this in the full review.

Olympus SP-570 UZ
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The SP-570 UZ is an attractive, relatively compact, and robustly built digicam that looks rather like a scaled down DSLR, at least until its big zoom comes telescoping out of the lens housing. In hand, the SP-570 UZ is light-weight, and the ergonomic grip nicely balances the camera for right handed shooters. My initial impressions after some quality time spent shooting with the SP-570 UZ are that the control layout is a bit cluttered, making the camera harder to use than it needs to be.

Olympus SP-570 UZ
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The traditional zoom ring at the base of the lens housing moves the SP-570 UZ's long zoom "by wire" (that is, electronically rather than mechanically), and it takes the lens a moment or two to respond when the zoom ring is turned.

Olympus SP-570 UZ
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That's alright for static subjects, but it is bit frustrating when trying to track action. Once the zoom is set, the camera's auto focus system is bit slower than average and shutter lag seems to be about average.

Olympus SP-570 UZ
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In the full review I'll address image quality, ISO/sensitivity issues, noise levels, optical performance, battery life, and general usability. Based on my initial impressions, the SP570 UZ has a couple of areas that need improvement, but it also has some unique capabilities that may, for many shooters, balance its shortcomings.

Olympus SP-570 UZ
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Our full review of the Olympus SP570 UZ is coming soon.