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Olympus SP-570 UZ: Ginormous 20x superzoom

Olympus has announced the longest superzoom going, the 20x SP-570 UZ with pre-capture mode, 15fps burst mode and a gobsmacking 26-520mm 35mm equivalent

Crave was musing only the other day that the number 20 is a very interesting figure. Not only is it the atomic number of calcium and the third magic number, it's also a tetrahedral and a primitive semiperfect. But hey, aren't we all? Incidentally, 20x is also the size of the ginormous zoom Olympus has slapped on the new SP-570 UZ.

The 10-megapixel SP-570 thus becomes the longest superzoom on the market, with a whopping 35mm equivalent range of 26-520mm. Note the 26mm wide angle, which makes it wider than the average compact, with their meagre 3x zooms and 35mm lenses. The SP-570m also sports a large 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen, and we can't wait to get our hands on this one for a game of 20 questions.

The SP-570 features pre-capture mode, which continually records whatever the camera is pointing at, holding frames in the memory for a limited period and then discarding them -- until you press the shutter, in which case the previous five frames are stored. This allows you to capture a particular action even if you're a tad slow in the finger-twitchin' reactions department.

We like superzooms as they are, in many ways, the next best thing to SLRs. Continuing that theme, the SP-570 boasts SLR-like features such as a viewfinder, hotshoe, full manual mode as well as aperture and shutter priority, and the ability to adjust focus and zoom levels by turning the lens rings. Olympus also claims a 15 frames per second burst rate, but be warned that's at a paltry 1.2-megapixel resolution.

As well as seeing things that are way the heck away, you can also photograph things that are way the heck nearby, thanks to a 1cm super macro mode. Apparently this is "perfect for unlocking nature's secrets", for all you fans of press-release nonsense.

The Olympus SP-570 UZ will be unlocking nature's secrets from March 2008 for about £390. -Rich Trenholm