|Olympus SP-590 UZ image quality test
Cameras offering a large optical zoom range, such as the Olympus SP-590 UZ, and the combination with a small image sensor with high resolution, require the utmost to be able to keep the image quality at an acceptable level. Recently, Olympus gave away that 12 Megapixels is more than enough, which applies to the Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds assortment, to ensure high quality photography. However, this concerns the Four Thirds sensor, which is substantially and hugely different from the SP590, for example when it comes to size. To be able to judge the quality in an unbiased and correct way, this review is also based on technical lab tests, as well as tests in practice.
Olympus SP-590 UZ lens metering
It is not easy to bring to life a Mega zoom camera with 26x zoom. A lot is required and demanded of the lens. Not only must the lens stay compact and light, it also has to be able to process the full resolution over the entire image. The technical lab tests measure significant differences between the center and the edges of a picture. Even changing the aperture with a few stops does not solve this, which is clearly a lens failure. An additional effect is that the center quality of the picture drops even from aperture f/5.6-8.0. And if we compare the resolving power of the telephoto with that of wide angle, it becomes clear that the camera has to give in when it comes to resolution. And it is in fact this item with which the Olympus SP-590UZ should differentiate itself from the rivalry.
Olympus SP-590UZ - Distortion
Measurements concerning distortion show clearly visible barrel distortion. Although expected, the lens of the SP590 shows a more than average distortion. And even though it is in fact the beautiful 26mm wide angle that is perfect for landscape pictures or indoor pictures, the clear distortion really takes away the joy and needs correcting through a photo editing program afterwards. Telephoto shows slight signs of pin cushioning, although it is acceptable. When it comes to vignetting, the Olympus SP-590 UZ obtains a fine average result.
|Olympus SP-590 UZ noise reduction
An image sensor featuring a high resolution will look great on the specification sheet; however, in practice it does not always work to its advantage. In fact, the sensor is a lot more sensitive to the ever so dreaded noise at high ISO, and an effective noise reduction is frequently required to keep the quality at a good level. As for details in the picture, they are of good quality. Sharpening is average, and the quality of the JPEG compression is slightly sloppy. This is soon visible when enlarging the picture, and artifacts creep up. If you are not into blowing up pictures, however, artifacts will not be in your way.
Olympus 590UZ signal/noise ratio
Much more annoying is the signal/noise ratio. Low ISO up to ISO 200 looks fine, however, noise is visible from ISO 200. As from ISO 400, the internal noise reduction has to work hard to keep noise under control at the cost of details in the picture. Noise increases significantly at higher ISO values, and regretfully we have to admit that ISO 800 and higher perform poorly. Although the competitors also encounter some troubles with high ISO and showing its quality to the fullest, the Olympus SP590 clearly performs below average.
To photograph in badly lit circumstances
Thanks to the image stabilization system of the Olympus SP-590 UZ Mega zoom, you will be able to use the entire zoom range on a sunny and clear day without having to use high ISO values. However, using ISO 400 is quite obvious and to be honest; the SP590 UZ should also be able to offer the same quality in circumstances with less light. This may in fact become quite difficult for the average user, to try and shoot a decent picture in badly lit circumstances.