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Olympus Announces SP-Series

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August 29, 2005 – Olympus expanded their list of digital still cameras today, adding an SP line to their "Power & Versatility" segment of consumer level offerings. The line is introduced with three new models, all offering a host of manual options: the 6 megapixel SP-500UZ, 8 megapixel SP-350 and 7.1 megapixel SP-310. The cameras are expected to ship in October, with estimate pricing set at $379.99 for the SP-500UZ, $399.99 for the SP-350 and $349.99 for the SP-310.

"The SP-series cameras are designed to offer an all-in-one camera solution for photographers of all skill levels," said John McGuire, product manager at Olympus Imaging America in a statement announcing the new cameras.

Featuring a 10x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 38-380mm) with manual focus and an aperture range of f/2.8-f/3.7, the SP-500UZ joins the competitive "ultra-zoom" segment of consumer digital cameras. The SP-500UZ boasts predictive auto focus, borrowed from the Olympus C-7070WZ, which calculates the location and focus of objects moving through the frame.

Utilizing Olympus’ TruePic TURBO processor, the SP-500UZ is able to shoot up to 2.5 frames per second, and offers full frame, 30 fps video capture. The camera has an ISO range of 80-400 and a shutter speed range 1/1000 of a second to 15 seconds, with a bulb mode also available. Support for RAW capture is provided along with a host of manual control options, spanning aperture, shutter speed, white balance and focus. The camera also offers 27 shooting modes for users looking for more assistance from the camera.

The SP-500UZ has a 115,000 pixel, 2.5 inch LCD screen along with an electronic viewfinder. The camera measures 4.15 x 2.93 x 2.80 inches and weighs 10.05 ounces without its four AA batteries or xD-memory card. Several accessories are available for the SP-500UZ including two wide accessory lenses and a telephoto lens that extends the cameras optical zoom to 17x optical.

Along with the SP-500UZ, Olympus brings out two nearly identical cameras, the 8 megapixel SP-350 and the 7.1 megapixel SP-310. Both cameras feature a 3x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent focal range of 38-144mm and an aperture range of f/2.8-f/4.9. Among the shared features are a 2.5 inch LCD screen as well as an optical viewfinder. 30 shooting modes are offered with manual controls over aperture, shutter speed and focus as well as other shooting parameters.

Both cameras offer full frame, 30 frames per second video capture and a still image burst mode of 2.4 fps. Automatic bracketing is available on both cameras as is automatic noise reduction on exposures of 1/2 a second or longer. The cameras have slightly different ISO ranges with a range of 50-400 for the SP-350 and 64-400 for the SP-310.

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Like the SP-500UZ, the SP-350 and SP-310 offer support for images saved in RAW file format. Both cameras have built-in flashes, while the SP-350 also has an accessory hot shoe. The SP-350 and SP-310 measure 3.92 x 2.56 x 1.38 inches while the SP-350, at 6.88 ounces without batteries or xD-memory card, weighs slightly more than the 6.35 ounce SP-310

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