Olympus SP-100EE Review

August 18, 2014 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | |
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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.

A camera with a tiny, pixel-packed sensor and a huge zoom ratio will always be a set of compromises and the Olympus SP-100EE is no exception. Viewed at 1:1 magnification, the images look a little over-processed with smeared details – a tell-tale sign of over-zealous noise reduction. That being said, the SP-100EE turns out more natural-looking photos than some other Olympus compacts (such as the Olympus SH-1). As far as the other aspects of image quality are concerned, the colours are vibrant without being garish, the dynamic range is pretty decent for a 1/2.3” sensor (and there's an HDR mode to fall back on when shooting in really contrasty light), chromatic aberrations seldom raise their ugly head, red-eye issues are essentially non-existent, and the camera is capable of producing some truly impressive close-up shots. Video quality is remarkably high when shooting in 1080/60p mode, and the various high-speed options add a good deal of versatility to the Olympus SP-100EE as a movie making tool.

Noise

The Olympus SP-100EE has 7 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 125/22° to ISO 6400/39°. Noise reduction is quite aggressive even at base ISO, and gets stronger as you move up the sensitivity ladder, which takes its toll on fine detail. Having said that, ISO 1600 is still good enough for on-screen viewing and small prints.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
iso6400.jpg  

Focal Range

The Olympus SP-100EE's 50x zoom lens has an extremely versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.

24mm

1200mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

To counteract the effects of over-aggressive noise reduction, the Olympus SP-100EE applies a pretty high dose of sharpening to its images. That being said, applying some extra sharpening in post does seem to bring out a little more detail, as you can see in these 100% crops.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The Olympus SP-100EE does not shoot raw. The available JPEG settings are Fine and Normal.

14M Fine (5.48Mb) (100% Crop) 14M Normal (2.64Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

For an ultra-zoom camera, the Olympus SP-100EE produces remarkably little purple fringing – but you can spot some chromatic aberrations in certain extreme situations, as shown in the crops below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The Olympus SP-100EE has a Super Macro mode, which enables it to focus as close as 1cm. The example below shows how close you can get to the subject; in this case, a Secure Digital memory card.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The Olympus SP-100EE has no hot-shoe but there is a pop-up flash that can be raised with the help of a dedicated switch on the side of the viewfinder housing. The available settings are auto, fill in, redeye-reduction and off. These shots of a white ceiling were taken at a subject distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

flash_wide_off.jpg flash_wide_on.jpg
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (1200mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (1200mm)

flash_tele_off.jpg flash_tele_on.jpg

And here are some flash portraits. As you can see the flash did not produce a noticeable red-eye effect.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The Olympus SP-100EE has a minimum shutter speed of 30 seconds in Manual exposure mode, which is fairly good news for those seriously interested in night photography. The photo below was taken at a shutter speed of 4 second, aperture of f/3.8 at ISO 125. We've included a 100% crop to show you what the quality is like.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Image Stabilisation

The Olympus SP-100EE has an image stabilisation system, which enables hand-held shooting at shutter speeds that would otherwise be too slow for the focal length used. These 100% crops are from two photos taken at a 35mm equivalent focal length of 169mm, shutter speed of 1/13s, with and without IS.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Image Stabilisation On (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation Off (100% Crop)

1/13th / 169mm anti_shake1.jpg anti_shake1a.jpg

HDR

The Olympus SP-100EE has an HDR exposure blending mode, which takes advantage of its fast sequential shooting capability to capture two exposures in rapid succession. These are then blended into a single image with improved highlight and shadow detail. Although Olympus calls it a 'Backlight HDR' mode, it can be applied to shooting any high-contrast scene, as the examples below demonstrate.

HDR Off

HDR On

hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Aspect Ratios

The sensor of the Olympus SP-100EE has a native aspect ratio of 4:3 but you can also record images in 16:9, 3:2 and square formats. These are all cropped from the full recording area.

4:3

16:9

aspect_4_3.jpg aspect_16_9.jpg
   

3:2

1:1

aspect_3_2.jpg aspect_square.jpg

Art Filters

The Olympus SP-100EE offers 7 'art filters': Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale&Light Color, Dramatic Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole and Diorama.

Pop Art

Soft Focus

art_filter_popArt.jpg art_filter_softFocus.jpg
   
Pale&Light Color Dramatic Tone
art_filter_paleandlightColour.jpg art_filter_dramaticTone.jpg
   

Grainy Film

Pin Hole

art_filter_grainyFilm.jpg art_filter_pinhole.jpg
   
Diorama  
art_filter_diorama.jpg  

Picture Modes

The Olympus SP-100EE has 7 so-called Picture Modes including Vivid, Natural, Muted, Fish Eye, Sparkle, Reflection and Fragmented.

Vivid

Natural

picture_mode_vivid.jpg picture_mode_natural.jpg
   
Muted Fish Eye
picture_mode_muted.jpg picture_mode_fisheye.jpg
   

Sparkle

Reflection

picture_mode_sparkle.jpg picture_mode_reflection.jpg
   
Fragmented  
picture_mode_fragmented.jpg