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January 25, 2007 – Olympus unveiled the SP-550 UZ Ultra Zoom compact camera with 18x optical zoom as the star of the show among seven camera announcements today. Along with the high zoom, the 7.1 megapixel SP-550UZ packs a High Speed Sequential Shooting burst mode, Pre-Capture shooting, and Dual Image Stabilization. The SP-550 UZ debuts in March for $499.95.
Olympus brands the SP-550 UZ as having "the body of a UZ" with "soul of a DSLR." The 7.1 megapixel camera with a 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel LCD monitor promises to deliver "near-DSLR performance," according to the release. The camera has full and automatic controls, can handle JPEG and RAW files, and even comes with an adjustable diopter for the electronic viewfinder. As an all-in-one camera, the SP-550UZ measures 4.6 inches wide and 3.1 inches thick, spanning multiple consumer groups for travel, sports, and everyday use.
While the standard for most compact cameras is a 3x or 5x optical zoom lens, the new Olympus SP-550UZ is equipped with an 18x optical zoom lens, called a "world’s first," according to a company press release today. The Olympus camera comes with a f/2.8-4.5 Olympus ultra-zoom high-reflective, aspherical, and ED lens elements to minimize chromatic aberration and keep the body compact. With a focal length equivalent to 28mm-504mm, the lens can focus up to 100x and is capable of wide, telephoto, and macro shooting as close as 1cm, according to the release.
Like its 10x optical zoom predecessor, the SP-510 UZ, the new SP-550UZ carries the TruePic TURBO Image Processor. It also has Dual Image Stabilization that includes a shifting CCD sensor to compensate for camera shake and digital image stabilization for moving subjects by increasing shutter speed and ISO sensitivity. The camera, with Olympus’s Bright Capture technology, has a maximum full resolution sensitivity of 1600 ISO and 5000 ISO at 3 megapixel image resolution.
The SP-550UZ totes what Olympus calls "the world’s fastest sequential shooting," called High Speed Sequential Shooting. The camera has a burst rate of 15fps but at a limited 1.2 megapixel resolution. At full resolution, the camera has a burst rate of only 1.2fps.
Used with its High-Speed Sequential Shooting mode, the camera can record images even before the user hits the shutter through Pre-Capture. Once the focus is locked, buffer memory captures the subject for up to 5 frames before the user hits the shutter. Aimed at compensating for shutter lag in fast situations, Pre-Capture records the previous 5 shots at 1.2 megapixels.
Users can choose from 30 shooting modes, including a movie mode at 640x480 at 30fps. The PictBridge and DPOF-compatible SP-550UZ has in-camera editing functions, including red-eye correction, cropping, border frames, brightness adjustment.
For underwater activity, users can opt for the PT-037 Underwater Housing accessory for 130ft. of submergence. Designed for the SP-550UZ body, the underwater casing allows pool swimmers and even scuba divers to photograph underwater, according to the release.
The camera is xD compatible and accepts four AA batteries.