|Olympus SP-500 Ultra Zoom - 10x optical zoom
The Olympus SP500 UZ has a large optical range with a 10x optical zoom (38 - 380 mm in a 35 mm camera) at your disposal. This brings us at once to one of its disadvantages; the lack of any form of image stabilisation. A generation ago, manufacturers of Megazoom digital cameras could still get away with not integrating image stabilisation in a camera like the Olympus SP500 UZ. The competition, however, has not stood still and many contemporary Megazoom cameras are now equipped with optical or digital image stabilisation.
Olympus SP500 UZ - No optical image stabiliser
In practice, the lack of an image stabiliser means that you have to be very careful to be as stable as possible when taking tele pictures. This turned out to be a difficult task, and many of the test pictures taken during cloudy weather had problems with movement blur. Of course, you can get a long way by concentrating on your breathing in combination with using a longer shutter speed, but it doesn’t feel good, especially if you have already experienced the ease and results of an optical image stabiliser. Strangely enough, using the tele lens indoors gives fewer problems. As Olympus uses a flash synchronisation of 1/250e, pictures taken with the flash in combination with zooming in had no problems with movement blur. Of course, you will need to stay within the effective flash range of approximately 3.5 meter (tele).
Olympus SP-500 UZ - JPEG & RAW Format
The standard settings with which you start-up the Olympus SP-500 UZ will give you a good result. The image processing in the camera will generally be enough for normal use. You can save pictures in both JPEG and RAW format. This latter format gives users much more freedom to edit photos to their own taste. What is noticeable is that the sharpness in JPEG pictures seems to be a bit fuzzy. It is easier to control this with RAW and making certain subjects sharper gives you more control over the final result. Olympus reacts well to this by supplying a RAW converter which allows you to work with RAW format pictures with ease. One special feature is that you can edit RAW format images in the camera. The pictures’ colour reproduction is good and very true to life.
|Olympus SP500 UZ - TTL ESP white balance
The Olympus SP-500 UZ Megazoom digital camera performs very well with pictures taken with the standard automatic white balance. There is practically no colour cast to be seen in pictures taken in various light sources. The remarkably good performances mean that the other 7 settings and the manual white balance setting are almost superfluous. With its TTL ESP white balance, Olympus has the situation well under control.
Olympus SP-500 Ultra Zoom - ISO values
In addition to the automatic ISO, the Olympus SP500 UZ digital camera also has adjustable ISO values. The series of 80, 100, 200 and 400 ISO may look a bit puny against the current trend of high ISO values which peak at 3200 ISO. It is true that practically every compact digital camera has problems with large noise ratio when using ISO values of 400 and above. The use of the higher ISO values is pretty limited from the viewpoint of quality. Pictures taken by the Olympus SP500 UZ show an excellent quality of noise ratio. From 80 to 400 ISO we see clean pictures in which the noise is really under control. Excellent!
Olympus SP-500 - Tele, Wide-angle & Macro setting
The Megazoom character places the emphasis primarily on tele range. In the wide-angle setting, the lens only has problems with distortion to a very slight degree and if we zoom in slightly there is no distortion over practically the entire range. An outstanding performance! In addition to the tele performance, the Olympus SP-500 UZ also allows you to discover the wonderful world of macro. You can have a distance of 7 cm in the macro setting, but switching to the super macro setting gives you a distance of just 3 cm. Both these distances are only possible in the wide-angle setting. The quality of super macro pictures was very good, with excellent sharpness and few problems with distortion. The standard macro pictures have more problems with distortion as well as some chromatic aberration. You must make sure that you have enough light. The built-in flash cannot be used for macro pictures; this has a minimal effective range of 30cm.