Olympus SP-590UZ Review

4.5
April 2, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Olympus SP-590UZ produced images of good quality during the review period. The biggest issue is noise, loss of detail and colour desaturation at relatively slow ISO speeds. The 1/2.33 inch, 12 megapixel sensor recorded noise-free images at ISO 64 and 100, but there's already some noise and slight loss of saturation at ISO 200. ISO 400 shows more noise and some obvious softening of fine detail, and ISO 800 and 1600 are even worse, with lots of noise and a very washed-out look. The fastest speeds of ISO 3200 and 6400 are recorded at a reduced resolution and simply aren't worth using. The Olympus SP-590UZ dealt extremely well with chromatic aberrations, with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 8 minutes via the Bulb mode far surpassing what most compact cameras offer. Anti-shake is a feature that sets this camera apart from its competitors and one that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range, essential given the massive focal lengths on offer. Macro performance is amazing, allowing you to focus as close as 1 cm away from the subject! The images were a little soft straight out of the Olympus SP-590UZ at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting.

Noise

There are 8 ISO settings available on the Olympus SP-590UZ. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% Crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

The Olympus SP-590UZ has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M Fine (5.40Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Normal (2.64Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Olympus SP-590UZ handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Olympus SP-590UZ offers a Super Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Olympus SP-590UZ are Auto, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Off, Red-eye reduction & Fill-in, Slow synchronisation, Slow synchronisation with red-eye reduction, Slow synchronisation 2nd curtain. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Fill-in - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Off - Telephoto (676mm)

Fill-in - Telephoto (676mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the On or the Red-eye reduction settings caused any red-eye.

On

On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye reduction

Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Olympus SP-590UZ's maximum shutter speed is 8 minutes in the Bulb, which is fantastic news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds at ISO 64. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Olympus SP-590UZ has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/13th / 26mm
1/8th / 676mm

Entry Tags

12 megapixel, beginner, 2.7 inch LCD, ultra-zoom, 26x zoom, advanced

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