Earlier this year, we reviewed the Olympus SP-550UZ. That EVF camera packed the biggest lens (28 to 504mm-equivalent) we ever saw on a non-SLR camera. Unfortunately, extremely slow performance and soft images held the otherwise impressive device back. Now Olympus is trying again with the SP-560UZ, a new 18x EVF camera that will hopefully fix the SP-550UZ's flaws.
The SP-560UZ keeps its predecessor's 28 to 504mm-equivalent 18x lens and mechanical image stabilization, but includes a new sensor, a new image processor, and offers some new features over the SP-550. The new camera uses an 8-megapixel sensor and Olympus' new TruePic III image processor, upgrades over the SP-550's 7-megapixel sensor and TruePic Turbo processor. Olympus claims that the TruePic III processor will produce sharper photos and faster performance than previous processors, though we're going to have to wait and see for ourselves. The SP-560UZ also features face detection autofocus and autoexposure and Olympus' Shadow Adjustment Technology and Perfect Shot Preview. Olympus claims that Shadow Adjustment helps compensate for awkward lighting and brings out more details in highlights and shadows. Perfect Shot Preview lets users see how various image effects will look in a multi-frame display, before they take the shot.
We loved the SP-550UZ's wide-angle, 18x lens, but its poor performance and picture quality issues left us cold. If the SP-560UZ's new sensor and image processor fix these problems, Olympus' new ultrazoom might hit where its older brother missed. The Olympus SP-560UZ ships this October for a retail price of $449, $50 less than the SP-550UZ's initial MSRP.