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Old Mar 19, 2006, 5:16 PM   #1
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I have always been an Olympus fan dating back to the 1960's. Now I am considering the SP-500, even though I own an E-500 with the kit lenses. I just like the ultra zooms. So I would be interested if any previous SP-500 had any qualms about their SP-500 purchases.

Thanks in advance for your comments/reports.

MT
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Old Mar 19, 2006, 8:57 PM   #2
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My only quibble withthe SP-500is that in comparison to the earlier ultrazoom 7xx series, it eats batteries like there's no tomorrow. Buy the rechargeable and a charger. The larger screen on the 500 is marvelous. It's a little dicey on closeup focusing in low light situations (but then every single autofocus camera I've had, both film and digital have had some problems there).


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Old Mar 19, 2006, 11:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input, Suzi-

That's not too bad. I can put up with that.

MT
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 11:40 AM   #4
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The SP-500 is not a bad camera but it has one major drawback for an Ultra Zoom - no image stabilization. It is also limited to 6mp. You might want to look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30. It has 12x optical zoom at 8mp (35mm equiv. 35-420), 19x optical zoom at 3mp, macro down to 2" and it has image stabilization. In addition,its awesome Leica lens has no purple fringing in high contrast areas like most of the other ultra zooms. There are times when you will shoot without a tripod and the image stabilization great to have in a pinch.

Ihave bought dozens of cameras in the past 30 years, so I know what is important to me.I compared the Panasonic Lumix FZ30 with Olympus SP-500, Sony DSC-1, Canon PowerShot Pro 1, and Fuji S9000. Iread all the reviews at half a dozen sites and critically compared the photos in all reviews. The Panasonic FZ30 came out the clear winner for my needs, so I purchased it and a 2 GB Transcend 150X SD memory card ($99 at www.datamem.com). Be sure to set ISO to 80 for this or any other non-SLR camera, for minimal noise. The flash is good to 23 feet. The high speed card gives virtually instantaneous saves with no waiting. The battery seems to last forever. The controls are logical and well placed. The camera is light in weight yet feels solid in you hands with comfortable grips.

So far I have taken over 600 photographs under a variety of conditions and am blown away by the easy of operation and the quality of the photographs on the FZ30. The FZ30 is fantastic!
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 6:06 PM   #5
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Stefla-

Yes, as a professional digital camera instructor, I am very familiar with the Panasonic FZ-30 camera. In fact,I purchased one and promptly returned it due to the excessive (IMHO) noise produced by the FZ-30.

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Old Mar 21, 2006, 9:19 PM   #6
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MT,

I evaluated the noise question prior to purchase, since this was brought up in some of the reviews. IMHO the noise at high-ISO levels is not significantly different from any other non-DSLR camera (except the Sony DSC-1), and I have not found it to be an issue. The photographs I have taken are of outstanding quality and I am quite pleased with them. Perhaps the FZ30 you bought had some problems - defective or an early buggy release. Or maybe you are comparing them with photos taken with your E-500 - a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex).

Some reviewers compared the FZ30 noise levels at higher ISO with DSLR cameras. That is a totally unfair comparison. Naturally DSLR's will have much less noise - they have much larger sensors. There is a trade off between a large sensor (DSLR) and a small sensor (non-DSLR). DSLRs have low noise but the larger sensor requires a longer focal length and therefore larger, heavier and more expensive lenses. You need at least 3 lenses (wide-angle, telephoto and macro) to do what one lens does on an ultra zoom non-DSLR. On the other hand, the price you pay for the convenience of an all-in-one ultra zoom non-DSLR camera is more noise at higher ISO levels. As a digital camera instructor, I am sure you know this, but I am clarifying it for any other readers that may be wondering about this.

You own an E-500 (great camera!) which is a DSLR and it has low noise. You will not find a non-DSLR that can compete with the E-500 on noise except perhaps for the Sony DSC-1 which has a large sensor. However, because the DSC-1 sensor is large, the zoom is limited to 5X and the lens is huge to accommodate the longer focal length. Compare this with the Leica lens on my FZ30 which has a 12X optical zoom at 8mp and a 19X zoom at 3mp, yet the lens is half the size of the Sony DSC-1, due to the more standard smaller sensor on the FZ30. Perhaps 5 or 10 years from now, there will be small sensors with low noise levels equivalent to today's DSLRs, but that is not the case with today's technology.

I like the convenience of an all-in-one ultra zoom like the FZ30. True, at higher ISO levels it does not have the low nose levels of a DSLR, but I am willing to make that trade off for the convenience. Most of my shooting is at ISO 80 where noise is not an issue. If I need ISO 400, I can clean up the noise easily in Photoshop with plugins like Alien Skin's "Image Doctor" JPEG repair (http://www.alienskin.com/idoc/filters/cleaner.html[img]chrome://targetalert/content/skin/new.png[/img]).

Currently I am eyeing the Olympus Stylus 720 SW. I would like a camera I can keep in my pocket at all times. This model is shockproof up to a 5 foot drop, dustproof and waterproof up to a 10' depth, with a 2.5" LCD, 3X optical zoom and image stabilization. I am waiting for some reviews to come out so I can evaluate the quality of the Photos it produces.

-Stefla
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Old Mar 21, 2006, 9:41 PM   #7
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Stefla-

I guess the answer is simply this: each and every one of us have our own threshold concerning noise. Fo me the FZ-30 was out of my tolerance level.

I am happy however, that you are happy with your FZ-30. That is good for you.

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Old Mar 21, 2006, 11:34 PM   #8
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I got an sp-500 for christmas and have been happy with it so far. I use rechargable batteries. On a recent trip to LA I took 136 pictures one afternoon with the same batteries. It took some decent pictures along Hollywood blvd just sticking it out the window on auto and shooting while driving. I did have a problem trying to take a picture of a sign using the zoom at the end of the day in low light, I couldnt seem to not shake the camera even trying to use a tree for support. Some image stabilization would have been nice. Also some of the indoor photos of people using flash have got red eye which is fixable with the software. I am just a beginner to intermediate camera user this is my second digital camera the SP-500 replaced a Olympus D450-Z.

Some of the difficulty I have with the SP-500 is just that there are so many more settings or choices that you can make than my previous D450Z. I suppose as I get more experience I will come to appreciate all the advanced settings you can use.


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Old Mar 22, 2006, 12:35 AM   #9
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MT, yes, we each have different perspectives and that's why there are hundreds of camera models. If we all wanted the same thing, only one model would be needed for everyone. How do you like your E-500? Is it as good as the specs? Are you happy with it? -Stefla
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Old Mar 22, 2006, 8:28 PM   #10
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I've had the sp-500uz for about 6 months now.

I just made the cross over from 35mm to digital and here are my views on the sp-500uz.

--- CONS ---

1st -- lack of image stabilization, if you use the full ultra zoom, its almost impossible to even come close to getting a good shot off without the use of a tripod. Even at 1/2 zoom, camera shack is noticable.

2nd -- the add on wide angle and telephoto zoom lens CAN NOT recieve a filter. This might not be too important to the average joe, but lens filters are extremely important to me. Yes, you could put the lens filter inbetween the add-on lens and the actual camera, but doesnt that sortof defeat the purpose of protecting your add-on lens?

3rd -- in low light settings, i have yet to be impressed with the camera, alot of the pictures are dark, grainy and just dull. Even with moderate room light, the pictures are still not that impressive.

4th -- the manual(pdf file) extreme lacks description and any sort of helpful advice.

5th -- the internal flash is weak. i'm not sure if this is just a digital camera problem or what, but the flash on the sp-500 uz serves little purpose.

6th -- the olympus software is for the most part useless. it serves its purpose if you dont own photoshop or any other software, but otherwise, i havent touched it other then todo a firmware upgrade on the camera.

7th -- action shots of any kind have been a bit tricky to get right. any type of movement from a fish swimming, to a deer running to a car going by. Seems even at high shutter speed, iso and ect setting, the pictures all still seem to have a slight blur to them at high resolution.

--- PROS ---

1. I think the price is right on this one. Even better now as the price has dropped.

2. If your looking for a high grade camera, before getting a true digital SLR, then I would say this should be included as one of your choices.

3. Battery life is excellent, even with the lcd display active. I am using rechargable batteries and have yet the need to replace the batteries while I was out shooting photos. Just so you know, on the average weekend threw out the winter, I have been taking close to 400 photos a day.

4. Many features on this camera are probably ''basic'' to all cameras, but the panoramic feature is definetly a nice one I have enjoyed!!





Well, thats my opion and again, this is my 1st digital camera since making the cross over from 35mm.
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