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Old Apr 4, 2007, 12:50 PM   #1
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Have bought and already returned the 550. It was a huge disappointment.

Wetestedthe 550againstour 765UZ, whichwe consider an excellent point-and-shoot, and a friend's Canon S3-IS. The 550 isn't in the same league with either.

On a two mile hike, my wife and I shot more than 100scenes, attempting each time to get the same shots with all three cameras. Then we did side-by-side comparisons in Photoshop.

The 550's long zoom simply doesn't work well. At long zooms, the focus is soft. It was very little better than the 765's 10x.In many cases, the 765 was sharperat 10x zoom. The Canon's 12x zoom was much sharper than the Olympus at 18x zoom. On overall picture quality, the Canon put the 550 to shame, and it's much cheaper. We found the overallpicture qualityof the 765 to be far superior to the 550.

The autofocus on the 550 is most frustrating. It never seems to find a subject it wants to lock on to.

The stabilization didn't work well in lower-light situations, like outdoors in late afternoon, or indoors in normal room light. In fact, we were able to take better non-flash indoor shots with the 765, which doesn't have stabilization.

We use the 765 for birding photos. We had hoped the longer zoom of the 550 would get more detail at greater distances. Not so, especially if there are varying light conditions. Between the soft focus and the inabilit of the autofocus to lock onto a bird (or even a limb in a tree), we found it annoying to use.

The overalllook of the pictures on the 550 is much darker than the 765 or the Canon. We found a yellowish/reddish tint that we couldn't remove in Photoshop. Adjusting the white balance didn't solve our issues. We've found the color balance on the 765 to be almost perfect, so we were very surpriesed that the 550 wasn't even as good on color balance as Olympus' previous UZ models.

The overall look and feel of the 550 is excellent. It feels good in your hands, and the controls are all in the right places. The nice, large LCD sceen is great. Unfortunately, itjsut falls way shorton optical performance.






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Old Apr 4, 2007, 5:58 PM   #2
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You must have received a lemon. That's why you get a warranty. Get it replaced.Several people, including myself are having an experience exactly the opposite...

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22735643

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22716182

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22718886

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22643685

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22552943

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22602768

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22539814

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22510901

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22523360

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=22485303

Sorry, you felt the need to go into a long reason why the camera doesn't work without posting any samples of what it was doing. I, equally, felt a need to post links with actual images so someone looking at this model has an option to see what it is capable of.
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Old Apr 4, 2007, 7:47 PM   #3
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rfmax, you should take 100 pictures with oly550 instead 3x 100 pictures with 3 cams.

concentration brings better results than comparing.

I think (my) oly550 ist an excellent camera -

I also use Lumix FZ30, Canon 10D, Canon 350D, Canon 400D :lol::-)
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Old Apr 4, 2007, 9:56 PM   #4
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RFmax, we were having some of the same problems with our 550 and I called the place we bought from (it has a 30 day return policy). They have agreed to send us another and we'll see if it is any better. We think our first one had a focusing problem.

When we get the 2nd one, I'll let you know what happens.
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Old Apr 4, 2007, 10:10 PM   #5
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Dpreview has a recent review and didn't like the 550 UZ. Their conclusion was:
" Ultimately however, after a lot of debate here, we decided that the SP-550UZ has just too many flaws where it matters (image quality and performance) for a $500 camera, and that (though a close call) it fell short of a Recommended rating. As always we'd recommend having a good look at all the sample images before deciding if you agree."

The S3 was "Highly Recommended" by comparison.


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Old Apr 4, 2007, 10:21 PM   #6
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slipe wrote:
Quote:
Dpreview has a recent review and didn't like the 550 UZ. Their conclusion was:
" Ultimately however, after a lot of debate here, we decided that the SP-550UZ has just too many flaws where it matters (image quality and performance) for a $500 camera, and that (though a close call) it fell short of a Recommended rating. As always we'd recommend having a good look at all the sample images before deciding if you agree."

The S3 was "Highly Recommended" by comparison.


What Canon ISN'T "Highly Recommended" at DPReview? They have three different ratings for Canon models at that site:

Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended (just)

Highly Recommended (with reservations)



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Old Apr 5, 2007, 7:56 AM   #7
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Does anyone shot any sports with this camera yet? Any examples? I used to get great shots with the 765UZ considering it is a point and shoot, and was really thinking about getting this camera.


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Old Apr 5, 2007, 10:59 AM   #8
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I'd also like to see some sample pics from one of the users reporting focus problems.

One professional review so far, at dpreview, did report some focus accuracy problems, having to refocus about once every 20 shots. Others don't seem to have had this problem.

Overall, from most of the review and user samples I've seen so far, I think I would expect image quality comparable to the S3. I would probably prefer the S3 myself, as I think I'd get more from the flip out screen than the extra zoom. And the S3 is more responsive. Though I would miss the 28mm wide angle, more than the extra tele; the Fuji S600fd would probably be my first choice for that reason.

As for the white balance, it seems most reviews so far have reported auto working well outdoors, and presets being better for indoor, incandescent or flourescent. This is generally true of many models (including the S3). It does seem there is an additional problem with the SP-550 using custom white balance, though. Two reviewers have reported some poblems with this in studio shots.

On edit, here's another review which complains a bit of general softness:

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Ol...UZ/page6.shtml

"Olympus SP-550UZ final verdict
The Olympus SP-550UZ is a wonderful camera to use. It feels really well-built and it's reassuring to know you have such a massive optical zoom range and effective stabilisation at your disposal.
If the image quality had no issues, the SP-550UZ would easily have earned our top Highly Recommended award, but as discussed earlier, visible coloured fringing when zoomed-in and a general softness throughout the range let the camera down. To be fair, there's always a compromise with such a massive optical range, and it's up to you to weigh-up the convenience of the lens against ultimate image quality.
That said, the SP-550UZ remains a very impressive camera which can delight in many respects. The build quality's great, the stabilisation effective and the zoom range extremely seductive. So long as you're willing to accept the caveats above – and the lack of a flip-out screen – the SP-550UZ comes recommended."

From the detailed review, though, it seems the images still retain very good detail, comparable to the Panasonic FZ50, and they suggest this can be handled by adjusting the in camera sharpness, saturation, and contrast (or by postprocessing). Which is why it's always helpful to post same samples. It can help more experienced users to sort out whether what you are experiencing is really due to a focus problem, a lens limitation, or something to do with camera processing.

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Old Apr 5, 2007, 2:40 PM   #9
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Ladies and gentlemen, we're talking $500 street for a point and shoot (!!). There's no excuse for soft focus at this pricepoint, especially given the excellentlong zoom performance of my 765.And the autofocus on the 550 is a joke.If I wanted a camera where I had to play with the controls all the time, I'd get an SLR for a few bucks more. The 765 gives excellent results without having to dive into the menus all the time. I never could get a satisfactory white balance with the 550, and the colors were always too saturated. And the overall cast of all of my pictures with the 550 was dark. The camera is built well, it's beautiful to look at andfeels great to use. For what it's worth, I had many conversations and pictures exchanges with OlympusCustomer Support, and they said my results were normal, and that I should just keep playingwith the menus all the time. Again, I repeat....it's a point and shoot, for goodness sake.I'm not a pro. I just dothis for fun, and wading through menus all the time isn't fun for me. Action shots don't wait for me to work through a menu. I'll just wait for Olympus to workthe kinks out and buy the nextversion. They'll probably ratchet back down to 12x zoom, which seems to beabout the limit of decent zoom performance in the point and shoot price range.Again, I've been an Olympus loyalist since my old OM-1, and this is my first disappointment. I very much wanted this camera to be good.
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Old Apr 5, 2007, 5:05 PM   #10
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The thing is, the Olympus SP550 is NOT just a point & shoot. Point & shoots don't go from 28mmto 504mm and have all the options you get with the SP550. And no, it's no DSLR. Anyone would be a fool to believeany camera like thiswould replace a DSLR. I think the two camps most disappointed with this camera believeit either (1) is a point & shoot, or (2) replaces a DSLR, and on bothpoints they are miserably wrong.The built-in flash is too weak and, quite honestly....these type cameras don't do well with active subjects. As a camera to complement a DSLR, for a user USED to shooting with longer focal lengths, who likes being "in control" of all aspects of recording an image inthe camera itself,wants an outfit with a full complement of excellent focal lengths to work with in a small, easy to carry package,and not needing a camera to do what, in all honesty, you really need a DSLR to do, it's a great little camera.

I'll repeat what I've said many times on this and other forums...image stabilization does NOT guarantee sharp images at 504mm. The user needs to exercise good handholding techniques at that magnification...betterthan many people think. I have no doubt many who have tried this camera have NEVER used anything with the capabilities beyond the basic digicam set of focal lengths, andwhat worked using something like that does not always work with something like this.I'm gonna take mine to Paris this Fall instead of hauling my E330, 7-14, 14-54 and 50-200 Zuiko's around like I did last year, and everything I've been able to do with it tells me it'll do fine for the type pictures I'll be taking over there.

I tried a camera today you should look seriously at....the Panasonic FZ8. Bought one for my girlfriend. It arrived yesterday. I charged the battery up, popped it in, went out at lunch to try it out today prior to taking it to her this evening. Shot it in plain program mode. I DID make one or two tweeks using the exposure compensation, but the files look gorgeous, and the electronic viewfinder is superb. 12x optical Leica lens 36-436mm, optical stabilization and this camera, in Geico speak, is "so easy a caveman could use it"...and get great results... just what she needs. But it has all the "other stuff" too if you want to get fancy with it.




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