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Olympus SP-810UZ review

Ben Pitt
1 Nov 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
187
inc VAT

Limited control and poor quality in low light, but for outdoor telephoto photography on a tight budget, it's a reasonable choice

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Specifications

1/2.3in 14.0-megapixel sensor, 36.0x zoom (24-864mm equivalent), 413g

The SP-810UZ stands apart from most SLR-shaped ultra-zoom cameras. With no electronic viewfinder, manual exposure or manual focus and the bare minimum of physical controls, it's really just a point-and-shoot camera with a very big zoom. That's not necessarily a criticism, though, and this certainly is a big zoom – its 864mm (equivalent) telephoto focal length is the longest ever to grace an ultra-zoom camera. Meanwhile, it's reassuring that its point-and-shoot simplicity is reflected in the price.

Olympus SP-810UZ top

The 720p video resolution and the fixed zoom while recording are less excusable, though, and the 3in widescreen LCD's 230,000-pixel resolution is a little coarse. The navigation pad doubles as a dial for entering settings, but it's somewhat undermined by a menu system that favours fancy visual flourishes over quick operation.

Olympus SP-810UZ back

The photographic options are typical point-and-shoot fare, with white balance, ISO speed and so on plus various creative effects such as pinhole camera. However, there's a conspicuous absence of moveable spot focus. Telephoto photography creates a shallow depth of field, which is great for guiding the eye to the main subject but only if the camera focuses on the right thing. On the SP-810UZ, focus is either fixed at the centre or chosen automatically by the camera.

SP-810UZ took 2.1 seconds to switch on and shoot, and 1.7 seconds between shots. Continuous mode was barely any faster at 0.7fps, but an alternative mode captured 27 5-megapixel shots at 4.5fps. Various faster, lower-resolution options are available too.

Olympus SP-810UZ sample 2

We can't fault it for telephoto detail, but with no manual exposure controls, dialling in -2 EV exposure compensation wasn't enough to avoid over-exposing this shot - click to enlarge

Image quality under artificial lighting was dire. Colours took on a garish orange cast and noise reduction obliterated details. Outdoor photography was much more competitive, though. It couldn't match the smooth, crisp details of the best ultra-zoom cameras and the autofocus and optical stabilisation weren't hugely reliable at the full extension, but firing off a handful of shots provided a useful insurance against blur.

Olympus SP-810UZ sample 3

Photos under artificial light suffered from smeared details and strong colour casts - click to enlarge

The SP-810UZ can't compete with the likes of the

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ48, but then, it is almost £100 cheaper. It's worth spending more if you can, but if you want to take photos of faraway subjects in bright light – and spend as little as possible – it's a decent choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
CCD effective megapixels14.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.3in
Viewfindernone
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom36.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent24-864mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,288x3,216
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; MP4 (AVC)

Physical

Memory slotSDXC
Mermory supplied14MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)350 shots
ConnectivityUSB, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution1080i
Body materialplastic
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplierN/A
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB cable
Weight413g
Size76x107x74mm

Buying Information

Warrantyone-year RTB
Price£187
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com
Detailswww.olympus.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangef/2.9 (wide), f/5.7 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)64 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 4 presets, manual
Additional image controlsshadow adjust
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus5cm
Auto-focus modesmulti/face detect, spot, tracking
Metering modesmulti, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer

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