Olympus SP-560 UZ review: Olympus SP-560 UZ

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.6
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Image quality: 5.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Superlong, yet wide lens; manual exposure controls; good body design; supports wireless flash.

The Bad Softness and noise hurt picture quality; middling performance.

The Bottom Line Olympus' 8-megapixel ultrazoom generally improves over the SP-550UZ, but suffers from many of the same problems.

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Last year, Olympus released the SP-550UZ, a 7-megapixel digital camera with an impressive 18x zoom lens. We loved its lens' long reach and wide angle, and appreciated its great body design. Unfortunately, the camera was plagued with performance and picture quality issues. Now Olympus offers the SP-560UZ, an 8-megapixel follow-up. It carries over both good and bad aspects of last year's camera, but overall presents an improvement.

Body design was one of our favorite aspects of the SP-550UZ, so we were pleased to see that the new version looks and feels almost identical. Every design aspect is carried over, from the pop-up flash to the comfortably large, flat buttons. It even weighs nearly the same, standing at a hefty but manageable 16.4 ounces with four AA batteries and an xD memory card.

A whopping big lens stands out as the SP-560UZ's most prominent feature, just like its predecessor. The 27-to-486mm-equivalent lens is slightly wider and shorter than the SP-550UZ's 28-to-504mm-equivalent lens, but still offers the same f/2.8-4.5 range and 18x optical zoom. I could easily frame the spire of the Empire State Building from Hoboken, N.J., thanks to the camera's long reach. Sensor-shift image stabilization helps reduce camera shake, a vital feature when pushing the camera to its full zoom without a tripod to stabilize it.

Unfortunately, the SP-560UZ's biggest feature is also one of its greatest weaknesses. While its lens is long and wide, it simply isn't very sharp. Regardless of the lens position and focus, pictures taken on the SP-560UZ generally look soft. Fine details, like text focused upon from a great distance, can appear fuzzy regardless of focus, shutter speed, or ISO sensitivity. Beyond the softness, significant noise further hurts the camera's pictures. Notable grain appears at ISO 200, and gets significantly worse as sensitivity gets higher. At ISO 400 and higher, noise consumes fine details, rendering textures muddled.

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Where to Buy

Olympus SP-560 UZ

Part Number: 226085
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Full body
  • Optical Zoom 18 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 8.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (image sensor shift mechanism)
  • Lens 27 - 486mm F/2.8
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.3"