Olympus SP-590 UZ review: Olympus SP-590 UZ

With the exception of overly long shot lag in dim light, the SP-590 delivers pretty typical performance for a megazoom. It powers on and shoots in 1.6 seconds, which is actually pretty fast for its cohort. In good light it matches the focus-and-shoot speed of the best of its class--0.6 second--but in dim light it struggles, resulting in an overly slow 1.4-second delay. Its 2-second shot-to-shot time matches the rest of the crowd, and enables flash bumps up to a pretty typical 2.5 seconds. While its continuous shooting rate of 1.2 frames per second sits close to the bottom of its class, frame rate is almost immaterial with an EVF camera since your real constraint for burst usability is the blackout interval of the viewfinder, which is almost universally bad.

As is typical with EVFs, the colors look completely different than on the LCD, but it refreshes quickly, even in low light, and it's relatively well-magnified. The LCD itself is too reflective to work well in direct sunlight, but you can set everything to display only on the EVF. Olympus' optical image stabilizer works well out to the end of the zoom range.

I debated between rating the SP-590 UZ's photo quality as a 6 or 7. It's not bad, and if you're not picky, you'll probably be very happy with the photos. However, even at low sensitivities (ISO 64 and ISO 100) my photos displayed visible noise, a lack of sharpness, and had that painterly artifact quality usually associated with higher ISO images, which makes prints look soft. The automatic white balance yields cool results in all lights (which, ironically, results in pretty good rendering under incandescent lighting). But metering and exposures are good, and there's practically no fringing. Colors are vibrant and pleasing, but not very accurate. The low-resolution video capture looks pretty good and perfectly sufficient for YouTube, but it's hard to get around the audio/zoom trade-off.

Ultimately, the Olympus SP-590 UZ ranks as a functional, but not particularly notable, megazoom. While none of the current models have a 26x zoom lens, as with many megazooms, the EVF makes it impractical to shoot the things most people want the long lens for--kids' sports, for example. So you might as well go with an alternative: save money with a cheaper camera or go for a more expensive camera and get better image quality and performance.

Shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28
2.3 
1.8 
0.8 
0.6 
Canon PowerShot SX10 IS
1.5 
2.1 
0.8 
0.6 
Olympus SP-590 UZ
1.6 
2 
1.4 
0.6 
Nikon Coolpix P90
2 
2 
0.8 
0.7 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50
2.3 
1.8 
1.3 
0.7 
Olympus SP-570 UZ
3.3 
2.5 
1.8 
0.8 

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Full body
  • Optical Zoom 26 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 12.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (image sensor shift mechanism)
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.33"
  • Lens 26 - 676mm F/2.8