The megapixel war may be raging onward elsewhere, but the Olympus SP-570UZ is claiming a victory among the competition in the ultra-zoom digital camera market. Its 20x optical zoom lens is the longest on a compact digital camera. The resolution isn’t a
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Front**The front of the SP-570UZ shows a new design from what is familiar to older Olympus ultra-zoom models. The new camera looks more like a DSLR than its predecessors. It has a more prominent and less curvaceous hand grip. The lens on the right side has a wide girth and extends dramatically with its 20x optical zoom power. To the upper right of the lens is a microphone grill. To the upper left of the lens is an auto focus assist lamp. Directly above the lens is an Olympus logo on the front of the pop-up flash unit. At the top of the hand grip, the large shutter release button can be seen, with an exposure compensation button in the same neighborhood. **Back**The back of this digital camera looks especially like a DSLR, with its column of buttons to the left of the LCD and curves near the right side to make for better handling. The LCD takes up most of the back and is located just left of center. To its left are four buttons in a column: playback/print, shadow adjustment/delete, menu, and info/display. Above the LCD is the electronic viewfinder with its plastic, rectangular eyecup. To the left of the viewfinder is a small diopter adjustment dial. The brackets of the hot shoe can be seen above the viewfinder. Inside the LCD’s glass is an Olympus logo, along with text flaunting the HyperCrystal LCD in the bottom of the screen. To the upper right of the LCD are two buttons: one to shift the display from the viewfinder to the LCD, and one to "expand" burst folders and lock the auto exposure and autofocus. In the upper right corner of the camera is a thumb grip that has a nice, comfortable curve to it. The multi-selector is beneath this. It has a central OK/Func button and four separate buttons around it to navigate in four directions. Each button has an icon on it to show its function when it isn’t in the menu system. The top button jumps through images, the right side changes flash modes, the bottom turns on the self-timer, and the left side activates the Macro focus mode. **Left Side The left side has a tough rubber door that must be pried open to reveal the two jacks under it. The top one is for the optional power adapter, while the bottom one serves as a USB and AV (Audio/Video) port. Near the top of this side, on the shoulder, is a chrome eyelet for the neck strap to be attached. On the left side of the flash is a button that pops up the built-in flash. The large lens can also be seen from the left side, complete with a grooved manual zoom ring and two extending segments. There are two buttons on the left side of the lens that contribute to its SLR-like look: there is a drive button at the top and a switch on the bottom that flips from AF to MF. Right Side The right side of the Olympus SP-570UZ is a sizeable grip. This thick side has a smooth but grippable rubber front, rather than the faux-leather material used by other manufacturers. The back edge of this side has a plastic door that opens to a memory card slot. Above the door is a chrome eyelet for the neck strap. Top The chunky SLR-like shape can be seen from here. The neck strap eyelets sit at the flanks while the zoom lens protrudes from the left side. Above the lens is the built-in flash unit. There is also a hot shoe behind the built-in flash. There is a mode dial to the right of the viewfinder hump; it is a steely chrome color and is surrounded by a power switch that is also reminiscent of DSLRs. Another move toward DSLR-like control is the function dial to the right of the mode dial. Toward the tip of the hand grip are two buttons: a large shutter release button and a smaller exposure compensation button. ****Bottom**The bottom of the camera shows just how large the lens is, dominating the rest of the camera body. The hand grip looks dwarfed from this angle, although it doesn’t seem that way sitting upright. The battery compartment is under the hand grip and has a plastic lock to keep the door jammed shut. In the center of the bottom is the metal tripod socket. **Viewfinder The Olympus SP-570UZ has an electronic viewfinder that is properly sized for the camera’s measurements and is surrounded by a hard plastic eyecup. This isn’t very comfortable to rest your eye upon. There is a diopter adjustment dial to the left of the viewfinder that allows you to customize the viewfinder to your eyeglass prescription. There are 15 stops in its range. Resolution specs aren’t available, but they didn't appear to be very good in the pre-production unit we looked at. The image looks blocky. The view from the finder can be switched to the LCD and vice versa with the button to the lower right of the finder. The viewfinder provides good shade and would be good for shooting in the outdoors and other harsh lighting, but otherwise the LCD provides better resolution on a bigger screen. LCD Screen The older SP-560 has a 2.5-inch LCD screen. The new SP-570UZ upgrades to a slightly larger 2.7-inch LCD. The HyperCrystal LCD has 230,000 pixels, making for a better view than the blocky viewfinder. The LCD can be seen from above, below, and to the sides at fairly wide angles. When viewing at extreme angles, though, the screen’s colors look oversaturated and the contrast looks overbearing. Some manufacturers’ screens look washed out at extreme angles, but this one seems to go the other way. The SP-570’s LCD screen isn’t very bright with its standard setting, but has a five-step adjustment in its Setup menu that boosts the light. One nice perk about the LCD is that it seems to repel fingerprints. We looked at this camera at a press event the day before the Photo Marketing Association trade show opened. There were dozens of people handling the camera. Most cameras look nasty and germy with all the smudges and grease on the LCD, but the SP-570 retained its pristine screen. It did catch a little glare, as do most, but generally comes out on top. Flash The Olympus SP-570UZ has a pop-up flash that appears just above the lens. It doesn’t pop up automatically; there is a button on its left side that must be pushed to open it. This may baffle some beginners in the Auto mode, but the camera does suggest opening the flash at times with large red text on the live view. The flash options are many: Flash on, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in, Fill-in and Red-eye reduction, Slow Sync 1, Slow Sync with Red-Eye Reduction, Slow Sync 2, and Off. They can be accessed with the button to the right in the multi-selector. According to the manufacturer, the flash lights from 0.98 to 21 feet at ISO 400. This spec is generous. Most manufacturers publish flash coverage specs at low or automatic ISO speeds, and Olympus chose to publish its specs at a more sensitive ISO 400. The aforementioned specs are valid when the lens is zoomed wide; in telephoto, the flash is effective from 3.9 to 13.1 feet. The flash generally does not look flattering. It seems too harsh for subjects within six feet. There is a flash exposure compensation option that helps, though. It has a full +/- 2 range in steps of a third and is found in the Recording menu. Like its predecessors, the Olympus SP-570UZ can sync with wireless flash systems. It has a slave flash option in its menu, as well as a remote flash option. The Olympus SP-570UZ can accept third-party flashes as well as its FL50R and FL36R remote flashes. The hot shoe sits directly behind the built-in unit. Overall, the built-in flash’s coverage is questionable, but it has an array of nice options and even a hot shoe that can accept just about any flash. ****Zoom Lens**Currently, the Olympus SP-570UZ is the king of the hill with its 20x optical zoom lens and dual image stabilization system. This is longer than the SP-560’s 18x lens. The new lens is also wider with its 26-520mm equivalent (4.6-92mm), only one millimeter wider than the 27-486mm range on the older model. This makes it incredibly versatile. Sally Smith Clemens, Olympus digital camera product manager, claims this lens is like carrying around three lenses in one. We can validate that statement, to a certain extent. The SP-570 is built to attract photographers who want the control of an SLR without carrying around a hefty camera and a big bag of lenses. Certainly, this lens has a great range that allows you to photograph everything from landscapes to products to portraits to sports. The Olympus ED lens is made of 14 lenses in 11 groups and includes four aspherical lenses and two ED lenses. Its maximum aperture is a nice and bright f/2.8 when zoomed out and f/4.5 when zoomed in. Previous SP-series digital cameras use a zoom control that surrounds the shutter release button. The Olympus SP-570UZ uses a manual zoom ring around the lens that makes it feel very much like a DSLR. This is a tactic the Casio Exilim EX-F1 ultra-zoom digital camera uses on its 12x lens. The Olympus SP-570’s zoom ring is grooved and comfortable. It feels good to move, and requires users to have both hands on board to operate the lens and push the shutter release button. The toggle on previous cameras just didn’t do the giant lenses justice. But the new ring doesn’t move as smoothly as I’d hoped. Granted, it doesn’t make any noise or backfire, but it takes fast rotation to get it to move at all – and most of the time I would over-zoom my target. In other words, it doesn't register slow movement, so you really have to crank the zoom ring fast in order to get it to go anywhere. This doesn’t make for very subtle zoom changes. The Casio F1’s similar zoom ring is much more sensitive. Keep in mind, though, that I looked at a pre-production Olympus SP-570, so its zoom could potentially be much smoother by the time it gets to store shelves. It has 5x digital zoom, and Olympus pairs this with the 20x optical zoom to advertise a ridiculous 100x zoom – but beware, digital zoom degrades image quality to the point that subjects are barely recognizable. **Model Design / Appearance**The Olympus SP-570UZ has been completely redesigned from its predecessors to look more like a DSLR. It has a more traditional-looking hand grip and a wider zoom lens with a manual zoom ring. Olympus lifted a few other features from DSLRs: a power switch instead of a button, more designated buttons on the back of the camera, a function dial to choose exposure settings, and a focus mode switch on the side of the lens barrel. According to Smith Clemens, you can now buy a DSLR for $500 so "you really have to differentiate yourself and the product." It is designed for photographers who want DSLR-like control but don’t want to haul around a backpack of lenses. The body is very sturdy and well-built. The Olympus SP-570UZ looks like a serious digital camera. **Size / Portability**This ultra-zoom digital camera is larger than its predecessor at a time when most digital cameras are getting smaller. The SP-560 measures 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches, while the SP-570 measures 4.7 x 3.3 x 3.4 inches. The new camera weighs 15.7 ounces without the card and four AA batteries, so it is a substantial chunk of metal. It is still smaller than many DSLRs, but still requires a carrying case of some form to protect it properly. The camera has strap eyelets on both sides for short-term portability. **Handling Ability**The Olympus SP-570UZ’s redesigned body has a bigger hand grip coated in smooth rubber. The SP-560’s hand grip has a textured faux leather surface coating it, but the newer model uses a smoother surface. The smoothness doesn’t take away from its actual grip, though: the surface is almost sticky. The rubber wraps around the sizable hand grip, and a separate pad of the same material is placed where the thumb rests. There is a nice curve on the back to prevent slippage, too. This ultra-zoom digital camera requires two hands when shooting because its shutter release button is pushed by the right index finger and the lens zooms with help from the left hand. The base of the camera is plenty wide enough for the left hand to support it and turn the zoom ring. The right hand’s grip is comfortable. Top this off with the placement of the controls and the Olympus SP-570 handles like one of the best ultra-zooms on the market. It has a function button in range of the thumb and a row of designated buttons to the left of the LCD that make the left thumb busier than usual. Overall, handling is a success. **Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size Many buttons look like they’ve come straight off a DSLR, particularly Olympus’ E-series. The Olympus SP-570UZ has a column of buttons to the left of the LCD screen that are reminiscent of their chunky cousins. The multi-selector looks typical, like it came off a compact digital camera. The power switch, mode dial, and function dial on the top are more evidence of the DSLR look. The function dial is especially handy in quickly selecting exposure settings. The buttons are all labeled properly and are mostly recognizable to loyal Olympus users. The only exception is the jump button at the top of the multi-selector; it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was. The controls are all nicely placed for comfortable handling and easy access. ****Menu**The menu system looks familiar, but comes on a larger LCD and therefore has a larger and more readable font. It comes with a gray background, but the background color of the menus can be changed to reflect three other color schemes (via the Setup menu). The background prevents most options from having live views. A few, however, like white balance, do work with a live view. There is also the "perfect shot preview" in the Guide mode to provide those live views – although it isn’t as convenient. The OK/Func button doesn’t access any menus, but it does show a full set of selected exposure settings when pushed. The menu button to the left of the LCD makes the menu system come to life. Like previous Olympus digital cameras, an initial menu screen appears, with the "Camera menu" in the center and options like image size, Silent mode, calendar, and Setup menu around the edges. The Recording menu appears as follows. The Recording menu has five pages of menus, and the Setup menu seems to only get longer. The menu system is navigated using the traditional multi-selector. It isn’t as nice on thumbs as a rotary dial, but gets the job done without too much pain. **Ease of Use The Olympus SP-570UZ has an exposure mode for every level of photographer. It has a fully automated mode, a fully manual mode, and everything in between. In Auto mode, the camera is a point-and-shoot. You need only to zoom and push the shutter release button, which is large and can’t be missed. To make it even easier for beginners, Olympus included a function guide on the mode dial. This walks you through a tutorial and ends in a picture taken. The function guide lists desired traits of images like "blurring background." When that is selected it leads to more options; in this case, "set to Portrait mode" and "Zoom in." If you choose "zoom in," the camera automatically zooms to 20x and the background is definitely blurred. All you have to do is push the shutter release button and your picture is taken. Easy enough. But the DSLR look might scare away anyone who really wants their photos taken that easily. Auto Mode The Auto mode is very easy to use. It limits options so the only thing that can be changed in the menu is the image size. The functions on the multi-selector are also accessible: flash, self-timer, and macro. All you have to do is point, zoom, and shoot. There is also a Program mode in addition to the Auto mode. The Program mode offers full access to the Recording menu, but doesn’t allow any manual control over shutter speed or aperture. Movie Mode**The Olympus SP-570UZ’s Movie mode isn't everything I hoped it would be. Previous SP-series cameras’ Movie modes have a major flaw: you have to choose between the optical zoom and the audio. You can’t have both. Unfortunately, that isn’t fixed on the new SP-570. You still can’t have it all. You can either have moving silent videos or static videos with sound. Of course, this strikes us as absurd. Not only have most manufacturers found a solution to the "noisy zoom" problem while Olympus continues to drag its feet, but the 20x zoom is the camera’s key feature. Restricting its use in any mode is unnecessary. The videos record at 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels; the frame rate can be set to 30 or 15 frames per second (fps) in both resolution settings. The exposure in movies looked OK in the convention center where I reviewed the camera, but the focus was very iffy. Sometimes it would take a few seconds for the autofocus to "catch up" to the zoom, and other times it wouldn’t focus at all. Granted, this is a pre-production model, and Olympus may have more work to do on this. The Movie mode has access to most of the options from the Recording menu, so things like white balance, ISO, metering, contrast, saturation, and sharpness can be adjusted – a nice perk when many other digital cameras limit control in the Movie mode. The optical image stabilization system can be turned on and off in the Recording menu. It’s a good feature for videos because it can keep more bumps from showing up in footage. However, the optical image stabilization is only available when the lens – not the audio – is activated. So stabilized videos will be silent. Too bad. Videos can be played back frame by frame or normally, and fast-forwarded and rewound like on most cameras. Movies can also be edited to clip the beginning and end. Still images can be saved from movies and a frame index can be viewed and printed. Overall, the Olympus SP-570UZ’s Movie mode is disappointing. A camera that flaunts its 20x zoom lens as its best feature should work in every mode. **Drive / Burst Mode**The Burst mode is accessible from two locations. The more complete list of Burst modes comes when the button on the left side of the lens barrel is pushed. It displays these options: Single, Sequential, High-Speed 1, High-Speed 2, Pre-Capture, Autofocus Sequential, and Exposure Bracketing. The drive section of the Recording menu doesn’t go into this much detail, but provides basic burst and high-speed burst options, along with the default single drive. The Sequential mode is advertised to shoot 1.2 fps for up to seven frames, and the pre-production model did just that. The Autofocus sequential mode takes a bit longer between shots, but still functions at full-resolution. This is a novelty among the burst selections: the high-speed modes shoot at lower resolutions. High-Speed 1 snaps 7.2 fps for 30 frames straight, but does so at 5 megapixels. High-Speed 2 takes 13.5 fps for 30 shots at a time, but at 3 megapixels. There is also a Pre-Capture burst mode that snaps 5 frames before you even push the shutter release button and continues at a 13.5 fps clip. The Burst mode isn’t changed much from the older SP-560. It shoots at the same pedestrian 1.2 fps rate. Of note on the SP-570 is the 10 and 2-second self-timer, accessible from the bottom of the multi-selector and the time lapse function in the menu. It allows the camera to be set up to take 2-99 pictures at intervals of 1-99 minutes. **Playback Mode The Playback mode is accessible from two places: the button at the top of the column by the LCD or the position on the mode dial. I prefer the button method because it makes for a quicker return to shooting, but it’s nice to have the option for those who prefer it on the dial and intend to stay in Playback mode for a while. Images can be magnified up to 10x or viewed in index screens, although the index view didn’t work on the pre-production model. According to specs, the camera can show four, nine, 16, or 25 photos per screen. Images can also be viewed in a calendar through the initial menu screen. Individual images can be scrolled through with the multi-selector or deleted with a push to the shadow adjustment/delete button to the left of the LCD. They can be jumped through with the button at the top of the multi-selector. The initial screen of the Playback menu has nine options, with the short "Playback menu" in the center surrounded by other options. From the top and moving clockwise, the options are: edit, print order, silent mode, erase, calendar, perfect fix, and slide show. The Playback menu consists only of protect, rotate, voice memo, and index play. The edit portion of the menu provides the most options. There is a RAW data edit option, but it doesn't work on the pre-production model. Images can also be resized to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels. Images can be trimmed to seven preformed crops. They can be color edited to black & white, sepia, vivid, or muted colors; this option has a nice preview with it. Ten labels, eight calendar layouts, and six scrapbook layouts are also available in this menu. There is also "Expression Edit," which uses face detection to save the largest face as a separate image file, and "Face Focus," which blurs the background around the center of an image. Olympus’ Perfect Fix feature allows you to choose from lighting fix, red-eye fix, or both. The slide show is slightly more elaborate than previous Olympus SP-series cameras. The same 10 transition effects are available, but there are now two background music soundtracks to choose from instead of one – according to the menu, that is. Neither worked on the pre-production model on the show floor, but this should be up and ready by sale time. Overall, the Playback mode has a host of elaborate editing features that will attract soccer moms and hobbyists alike. Custom Image Presets**Olympus digital cameras are known for their gluttonous Scene mode menus. The SP-570UZ does not surprise us with its designated scene position on the dial and excellent Scene mode menu. All of the Scene modes come with a sample image and a brief explanation. For instance, the Smile Shutter mode offers this insight: "The camera automatically takes a picture when your subject smiles." This is next to a picture of a few smiling faces. Here is the rundown: Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Sport, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Multi-Firework, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Smile Shot, Beach, Snow, and Quick Shutter. The Smile Shot mode didn't work on the pre-production model we looked at, so we can't judge how effective it might be. This mode was on the older SP-560, but the Multi-Firework is a new Scene mode. This is perhaps one of the most interesting and underrated Scene modes out there. It can take several exposures at full resolution and combine them into one image. It is meant for fireworks, but can also easily make a nice shot of three or four of one person standing in a different spot in the picture each time. This mode provides an overlay of the previous image so the next can be lined up. This is really cool. The Olympus SP-570UZ also has a My Mode position on the mode dial that lets you customize and access four modes – you can essentially make your own Scene modes.
**Manual Control Options There are Manual, Shutter Speed Priority, Aperture Priority, and Program exposure modes in addition to the scores of automated modes on this digital camera. There is truly a place for every level of expertise on the Olympus SP-570UZ. Focus***Auto Focus – Like its predecessor, the Olympus SP-570UZ has a contrast detection autofocus system that focuses from 3.9 inches when the lens is zoomed out and 47.2 inches when it is zoomed in. This is when the standard autofocus is in place. The left side of the multi-selector can activate the Macro and Super Macro autofocus modes. The Macro mode is essentially the same as the standard autofocus mode, but it puts priority on close-up subjects, so it takes less time to focus on them than if you were to photograph them in the standard mode. The Super Macro mode shortens the distance to 0.4 inches. There are four autofocus options in the Recording menu. The AF mode is where the face detection system is tucked away. The system can recognize at least three faces, but doesn’t track them well, especially if the face is turning rather than just moving. The menu is also where the iESP, spot, and area options reside. The default iESP mode seems to heavily favor the center of the image even when subjects are off-center. This is pre-production though, so that may be fixed before going on sale. The area autofocus mode allows you to move a small bracket around the view and target a single selected point. Fulltime AF and AF Predict can also be turned on and off. In dark situations, the autofocus assist lamp can come to the rescue; it can be turned on in the Recording menu. Overall, the autofocus system works just fine when zoomed wide, but has trouble when zoomed in on faraway moving subjects. Olympus isn’t up to snuff with its face detection technology: it is slow and doesn’t recognize as many as other manufacturers. *Manual Focus – *A switch on the left side of the lens barrel moves from autofocus to manual focus. You can then focus in one of three ways: on the function dial, the multi-selector, or the zoom ring. This is selectable from the Setup menu. The resolution on the LCD is good enough to support manual focusing, but don’t even think about it on the low-res viewfinder. *ISO**The ISO options are the same as those on the older SP-560. There are two auto settings, including one that puts priority on higher sensitivities. Manual ISO settings include 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, and 6400. The top two sensitivities function only when image size is reduced to 5 megapixels, but the others work at full resolution. **White Balance There are several white balance modes in the Recording menu. Auto is followed by the presets – Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, and Fluorescent 3 – and trumped by a one-touch Manual mode. The Manual mode is easy to set: frame something white and push the OK/Func button. In the Recording menu, white balance compensation is available. It offers +/- 7 adjustments that move from red to blue. This isn’t as elaborate as competing cameras, like the Panasonic FZ18, which offers Kelvin color temperature adjustments, but is still decent for an ultra-zoom digital camera. ****Exposure The exposure settings can be manually adjusted or left to the discretion of the SP-570. In the automated modes, you can overrule the camera’s choice by activating the exposure compensation control with the button by the shutter release. It has the standard +/-2 range in increments of a third. In the Drive menu, accessible from the button on the left side of the lens barrel, is an exposure bracketing feature. The bracketing can be selected here, but it can only be adjusted in the Recording menu; it can take three or five images at intervals of +/-0.3, +/-0.7, or +/-1. Histograms can also be viewed live or in the Playback modes to check the exposure. Metering The standard metering options are in the Olympus SP-570UZ. The default is the ESP that averages from the whole frame. Spot and Center-Weighted are available, too. Shutter Speed The SP-570UZ’s shutter speeds range from 15 to 1/2000 of a second in the Manual mode, with the fastest speed only available when the aperture is smaller than f/4.5. In the Shutter Speed Priority mode, the range is cut off at a half-second. This is the same range for most other modes, except for the Night Scene mode that slow to four seconds. For photographers who really want a long exposure, there is a bulb setting that can leave the image sensor exposed for up to eight minutes. The camera comes equipped with a TruePic III image processor that employs a noise reduction system on images taken with shutter speeds a half-second or longer. This noise reduction system can be turned on and off in the menu. Aperture The shutter speed and aperture can be manually selected using the function dial and the exposure compensation button that is in close proximity to the shutter release button. The apertures range from f/2.8-8, with the max in telephoto being f/4.5. Picture Quality****/ Size Options**Increased resolution of 10 megapixels is available on the 1/2.33-inch CCD. Compare this to Olympus’ SP-560, which has 8 megapixels. The new Olympus SP-570UZ can shoot RAW and JPEG image files. Image sizes include 3648 x 2736, 3648 x 2432 (3:2), 2560 x 1920, 2304 x 1728, 2048 x 1536, 1920 x 1080 (16:9), 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480. Fine and normal compression is available. Images can be cropped and resized to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels in the Playback menu.
**Picture Effects Mode**There are plenty of picture effects on the Olympus SP-570UZ, but most of them are located in the Playback menu. There is one exception: a "Picture mode" option in the Recording menu that switches from natural colors to vivid colors. There are also sharpness, contrast, and saturation adjustments. The Playback mode hosts the most picture effects. You can create scrapbook pages, calendars, and cards with different frames and labels like "Happy Birthday" and "Congratulations." There is also a color editing option in the Playback mode that shows previews of black & white, sepia, vivid, and muted colors all next to each other so you can pick just the right one. Perhaps the coolest picture effect is a Scene mode. The Multi-Firework mode doesn’t sound like anything special, but it can take multiple exposures and merge them into a single image file – something that has much cooler potential than just fireworks. **Connectivity***Software*Olympus offers its Olympus Master Software on CD-ROM with all of its digital cameras. *Jacks, ports, plugs*There are two jacks beneath a tough rubber cover on the left side of the camera. The top port is for the optional 6.6-volt power adaptor, while the bottom is for USB and AV functionality. The mono audio can be output along with the video in NTSC or PAL format, selectable from the Setup menu. *Direct Print Options*The Olympus SP-570UZ is PictBridge-compatible and has printing features in its Playback menu and as a designated button, but the print features didn’t work on the pre-production model. *Battery*Under the large hand grip are compartments for four AA batteries. There are no specs out yet on battery life. The batteries in the pre-production model were crammed into their slots. It took significant force to close the battery compartment door and lock it because the AAs don’t lock in themselves. So if you open the camera with the bottom facing downward, the batteries will simply fall out. *Memory*Perhaps one of the biggest disadvantages of the Olympus SP-570 is its limited xD-Picture card compatibility. This camera can only accept up to 2 GB on an xD card. At a time when many digital cameras can handle up to 4x more expandable memory in cheaper media formats, the SP-570 is grossly behind. To its credit, though, the ultra-zoom has 45 MB of internal memory. **Other features***Alarm Clock* – This digital camera has a feature that can wake you up daily or weekly at a specified time.
**Value**The Olympus SP-570UZ costs $499, the same as its predecessor. This is pricey for a compact digital camera these days, but Olympus knows it. At this price, they know they’re competing with low-end DSLRs, said product manager Sally Smith Clemens. They are vying for consumers who want "the all-in-one solution" of the versatile lens, instead of carrying around a chunky DSLR and three lenses in a huge bag. The SP-570 is less expensive than buying a DSLR and three lenses, certainly. It’s pricey, but comes with some of the biggest features on the market. **Comparison to Olympus SP-560UZ**The SP-560UZ has less resolution on its 8-megapixel CCD, but it’s paired with the same image processor, so many of its performance features are the same as on the new model. For instance, the normal-speed Burst mode is still 1.2 fps. Face detection is included once again. The same wide array of exposure modes are available. The SP-560’s lens is one millimeter narrower and also shorter with its 18x, 27-486mm range. The lens has the same sensor-shift image stabilization system that pairs up with Olympus’ older digital image stabilization technology. The LCD screen is slightly smaller, at 2.5 inches, but the resolution is just the same at 230,000 pixels. The Olympus SP-560UZ doesn’t seem to offer any advantages over the SP-570, but still appears on the manufacturer’s website with the same $499 price. This will likely fall when the superior SP-570 becomes available. **Who It’s For***Point-and-Shooters* – The newly-redesigned SP-570 looks more like a DSLR, and will scare off these users even if it does have a tutorial-like function guide. *Budget Consumers* – At $499, the SP-570 isn’t built for those on the cheap. *Gadget Freaks* – The Olympus SP-570UZ will make those who like to brag about the size of their lenses very happy. It doesn’t have any brand new gadgetry, but has old favorites like face detection and dual image stabilization. *Manual Control Freaks* – There is a fully Manual mode, but with no jog dial to easily access the shutter speed and aperture, options are tougher to get to than on most DSLRs. *Pros/ Serious Hobbyists* – The SP-570 has a versatile lens and can sync with wireless flash systems, making it a good option for hobbyists.
Conclusion**We looked at the Olympus SP-570UZ at the PMA show and here’s what we can tell you. It has a very cool retro DSLR look that fooled many eyes and made many people think Olympus may have put out yet another DSLR. Its design is not only classy but comfortable with its rubber surfaces and excellent handling. This camera is packed with features, features, features. It has 10 megapixels, a whopping 20x optical zoom lens with a manual zoom ring, and an exposure mode for every person on the planet – including the very cool Multi-Firework mode that snaps several exposures and merges them into one image file. I have a few major complaints, the main one being that the awesome optical zoom lens doesn’t fully function in the Movie mode. You have to choose whether you want audio or zoom: you can’t have both. But if you aren’t going to shoot video with the SP-570, then this isn’t a big deal. All in all, the Olympus SP-570UZ looks like a winner with its excellent redesigned body, long and versatile 26-520mm lens, and scores of cool features.
Meet the testers
Emily Raymond is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.