Olympus SP-810UZ Review

January 23, 2012 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 Warren Lyons

Nice combination of features and image quality for the price, but that using the full 864 focal length without either viewfinder or tripod is kind of like a 50 caliber sniper rifle with no sights.  This camera would be a winner if they included an electronic viewfinder

8:58 pm - Monday, January 23, 2012

#2 Ralf

I can’t understand, why this camera gets a “highly recommended” and Canon SX40HS only “recommended”. IQ with Canon ist much, much better (especially beyond 400ISO), it as an EVF, you can zoom during filming, ...

The samples of 810UZ are nearly the worst I have seen with a current superzoom.

7:36 pm - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#3 Matt

This camera seems to have good value for money.
Canon & Panasonic, etc are more expensive and more feature packed.
I’m getting the FZ150 for RAW, better video and best fps in a superzoom. It may not have the reach, but you can always add a TC for that (bulky though).

11:37 am - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#4 JET

Waiting to see some reviews on the just announced Pentax VS20.

Key Specifications
16 megapixel CCD Sensor
3-inch LCD
20x zoom lens (28-560mm equiv.)
Minimum focusing distance of 10mm in macro mode
Sensor-shift Shake Reduction
ISO 6400
HD video recording (720p)

More Pentax news at: http://www.pentaxforums.com/#ixzz1kja0SxFY

Lens is not in the same range, but more usable for most folks.

8:06 am - Saturday, January 28, 2012

#5 zebarnabe

I prefer the old Kodak K990 MAX given a bridge on a budget…

ISO performance is probably the biggest issue with this Olympus…

4:44 pm - Saturday, January 28, 2012

#6 luxornet

I agree with most of your conclusions except those related to image quality.
I saw more superior devices of only 3.2 megapixels. I mean the image details.

8:07 pm - Saturday, January 28, 2012

#7 Matt Grayson

using the full 864 focal length without either viewfinder or tripod is kind of like a 50 caliber sniper rifle with no sights.

Look at the full telephoto and wide samples. That spire is the little teeny tiny speck in the middle of the frame on the wide shot. They were both done hand-held. :O)

4:28 pm - Monday, January 30, 2012

#8 ^Daniel

I agree with comments this review feels like a bought AD.

I am totally allergic with noise since i bought the hyped Casio EX fc100.

This camera is totally useless above iso 200, and for that it should be impossible to get more than a 3 in picture quality.

Also the jpegs show so much compression artifacts im not all that sure my Galaxy S2 phone wont outperform this camera on the macro shots.

Having to go through all your photos with neat noise filter in Adobe photoshop sucks pixelated @

oh well besides raging im glad you showed me the way to the panasonic g3, was deciding on that or the Nex 5n

The focusing on G3s screen is awesome!

11:04 pm - Monday, February 6, 2012

#9 Augustin Man

As the SP-810 has been presented as an upgrade of SP-800, I’ll also make my considerations by comparing the two cameras.

It’s rather unusual, but for those who don’t want to read it all, here is the conclusion: SP-810 is even more a P&S than SP-800, but the IQ is better and the IS much better. It’s a camera for a hobbyist traveller, not for a photographer traveller.

The aspect of 810 is more impressive, but the shooting position is with the lens more extended, like the 800 on super macro setting. It seemed the Olympus people also saw this, so if you switch to display mode, the lens retracts after 15s. Of course when you switch back, there is a notable extra time to revert to the shooting position. They also changed the functioning of the display button: you can start displaying and switch to shooting mode, but you have to put off the camera using the general on/off button, something better I think.

From the tests I’ve made, mainly landscape and zoom by day in P mode, by night SCN-Night Scene, the 810 was all the time better than 800.

Other observations: I’ve imagined that the 810 was more than 800 in choices; well, I was wrong, because the 810 is much LESS: for instance, the SCN-Night Scene has the timer only, compared to the added EV and WB of 800. There is no bracketing, no colour editting and the setting menu was significantly reduced. There isn’t the AREA choice of AF, something rather disturbing, as you have to choice SPOT or try refocusing again and again; a tip is to zoom in to the wanted area and than zoom out again; the mark will remain there. Also shooting movies with sound prevents using the zoom, something clearly explained in the 800 Instruction Manual, but not in the 810 one; in exchange the so called “Fine Zoom” of 800 is no more called like this, but explained as a trimmed raw image and, more important, shown at the zoom scale also. The All Erase option was migrated to the display menu, probably better, I don’t know…

That’s all for the moment.

My advice: if you are a hobbyist in love with big zooms like me, go and get an 810, because it’s better and cheaper than 800; otherwise think again…

P.S. One says “an image is worth a thousand words”, so here you find some of my tests with this camera:


Happy shooting!

8:46 am - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#10 Augustin Man

@Matt Grayson and @Ralf: I’m sorry to contradict both of you.

Matt, did you see my shots taken with hand held camera by day and with a Gorillapod by night?

Ralf, probably Canon SX30 or 40 is a better camera (generally I’ve had Canon cameras,I went this time for Olympus mainly because it’s significantly smaller), but please give me a link to some zoom samples (I’m not talking about many other features Canon is having and Olympus isn’t). When SX30 went to market, everywhere there was only a beautiful image of an eagle, but without any information about zoom. Thank you. Oh,I forgot: you can zoom while filming, but without sound; they say it’s not to interfere with the zooming noise; I don’t agree, but that’s what they say… A much better camera for filming is the tiny SZ-30MR (24X optical zoom).

I wish you both happy shooting!


10:36 am - Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#11 João

meeh!... Nice ultra zoom, but look at that image quality =X I own a panasonic FZ38 and pictures look much better(12Mpx sensor), movie mode is also better, with stereo sound recording, zoom and manual controls during capture. 18x optical zoom “only”, but it’s enough.

8:03 pm - Tuesday, February 14, 2012


most disadvantage is no electronic view finder

12:42 pm - Tuesday, May 8, 2012

#13 wall-e

I just bought this camera frankly the pictures are very detailed and satisfactory, unfortunately without a viewfinder, and battery charging for three hours only able to produce 80 images in one day.

The resulting colors tend to be inconspicuous and soft, and the lcd screen it gives a different color when the photograph is transferred to the computer. LCD screens tend to give bright and flashy colors when the image has a color that produced a level below

2:02 pm - Sunday, July 15, 2012

#14 Alex

This camera is okay, more like 3 1/2 stars than 4 1/2. The zoom, it’s big selling point, doesn’t produce great quality and I don’t think even the standard portraits are really up to scratch. It’s not easy to stabilize for zoom shots and they tend to come out very fuzzy without a tripod.
I also own a Canon Powershot SX 40, which is a MUCH better camera and takes considerably better shots and would recommend it any day of the week over this model.

2:12 am - Thursday, August 23, 2012

#15 Dave

I recently had the misfortune to damage my Canon SX30IS.
Fortunately, it’s insured.
Insurance company has offered me an Olympus SP810UZ.
As far as I can see, it sounds like a great replacement.
Obviously, I use this as a camera, but one doubt I have, and I hope some of you can answer….
I also used my Canon a lot in a local club to film music artists.  The video quality and sound quality of my Canon was great.
Can you comment on the video / sound quality of this Olympus?

12:10 pm - Monday, September 3, 2012

#16 Bruce A. Mc Mahon

I was using the 800 and loved it!  Upgrading the the 810 was a positive step for me. However, I find the Super Macro function is a real problem, like I do not believe it exists with this camera.  My photos come out with the background or surrounding area in focus, but the subject is totally out of focus! If I want Super Macros, I grab the 800 again.  Perhaps I am doing something wrong with the 810??

6:25 pm - Monday, September 10, 2012

#17 emma

great camera! very easy to use and produces excellent pictures! would certainly recommend!

9:52 am - Saturday, September 29, 2012

#18 stuart

not bad camera .easy to hold , flick up flash.

Q does it produce black and white images?

3:54 pm - Saturday, October 20, 2012

#19 carl

A collection of hints and tips would be nice. I have yet to find a sharper picture than my 3Mp casio opio s so im spoiled but this camera has some annoying foibles.

Its a bit slow to start (forgivable) but much too quick to go to sleep (battery i imagine) so that frustrates.

The focus locks with half depressing the shoot button but infuriatingly the exposure doesnt….

Setting a landscape scene doesnt lock the focus at infinity

A bright light off centre wil prevent the autofocus locking you see your perfect shop snap into and then out of focus….

The screen is pretty low res and on occasion i have been tempted to discard an image only to find it much sharper at home

The panorama shots work very well but are relatively small Mp wise when processed. They do make otherwise bland scenes quite exciting however.

To be fair it excels at hand held hi telephoto shots and you can charge it from any usb adaptor which makes more batteries less necessary.

2:55 pm - Sunday, October 28, 2012

#20 Patrick Taylor

We bought this camera in Lisbon in January having realised that the dinky compact was not going to be satisfying on our 7 week cruise up the Amazon and around the Caribbean. I had decided against taking a Canon 35mm with two lenses on the basis that the weight and the constant lens changing is a pain in the butt.

It has performed superbly and without a doubt is the most useful camera I have owned in the last 40 years.

It is now a well travelled camera and in St. Johns Newfoundland I was able to get stunning shots coming towards the narrow harbour mouth.
Incidentally there was a chap onboard with over £20,000 of Leica gear and you can imagine the problems of carrying that around and the insurance ....

10:22 pm - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#21 carl littlejohns

I’m getting to know the camera, and reasonably impressed so far.  Its useful to remember that at lowest zoom its actually wide angle, the edges of the photos arent always as sharp as Id like but slightly zoomed (or cropped) is fine.  The wide angle means you can grab buildings and scenery without stepping back into the road.  I do find myself taking pictures in situations when I wouldn’t have tried before, especially max zoom, so some disappointments were my fault.  The autofocus can be infuriating as light falls as it happily moves through the correct focus point without detecting it - also photographing something with a flashing light on it is really difficult- you can focus elsewhere and then move back, but then the exposure is wrong - if only there was a ‘focus nudge’...

The intelligent setting is point and shoot - it tends to do a better job than I can mostly - macro requires the P (automatic but no pre-set set pieces).  Havent used the magic settings- they are best done at home I think.

The sunset setting is good - but annoyingly neither this, or landscape, prelock the focus to infinity… why?

Battery life is initially poor if you do a lot of playing with images between shots (new toy) and that made me switch off between shots - that made it worse- in fact the camera has a sleep mode with the lens extended that saves power (so, as long as you keep the lens protected) and that made all the difference, but I have bought a spare battery. 

Of course you can charge from any USB source (cars, phone charge batteries, wall plugs, PCs, laptops..) so its pretty flexible.

The 3d mode works well (MPO files are produced which can be converted to other formats with easy to find software) -but only on still life shots of course as left and right are sequential.  Its nice when Im without my 3d instant.  The camera will play MPOs to a 3d TV and I imagine they will get more common.

The rapid fire modes are good in excellent light for sport- I tried it on a bmx track - but if its getting dull the highest speed shots do rattle off but produce rather pixellated looking shots (again, I do tend to over reach the spec of the camera because I can, to be fair).

Panoramic shots on camera are impressive but at a couple of megapixels they disappoint back home.  You can use the panorama mode to store any number of photos to be stitched up back home, that gets around it.  I assume the processing would take too much power at a greater resolution.  Panoramic shots work well on facebook :)

I haven’t used the video yet, but discovered that you can zoom and video but without sound, if you want sound, no zoom (noise of the lens perhaps).  Zooming is overrated in video anyway.

Summary - zoom has provided some exceptional shots, but also tempts to push the envelope to far and gives a false negative view of the resulting pictures.  Low light shots get grainy. Focus is fast when it works but infuriating in dull or flashing light environments. 

The lens extends on switch on - and does attract glances - however when ‘off’ shrinks down to a size that doesn’t shout ‘professional’ which is useful at concerts and festivals.

8:02 pm - Sunday, February 24, 2013

#22 Godfrey

Im not really a professional photographer but im trying to be one. I boght this camera as a jumpstart. To those who really have a lot of knowledge about this camera, please help me. Can i put some filters on the lens of the sp-810? Can i use lens hood? Is there some sort of a waterproof case for this camera? Please give me some answers.

7:56 am - Thursday, June 27, 2013

#23 Reya

I am planning to buy a camera and I do not want to spend more than 150$. I am beginner and would like to capture pictures of my family, and use it more when i visit places for some scenic images.

I recently brought this camera kit at amazon on 145$ (Nikon Coolpix L810 Digital Camera (Black) with 8GB Card + Case + Accessory Kit - Refurbished By Nikon USA )

After reading the comments I was wondering if have to return Nikon or for a beginner is it okay to go with?

I have an other option Olympus SP-810UZ in my mind. So which of the two is better for the same price range? Or do you have any other model that you can suggest me for the same price range?

2:39 pm - Wednesday, July 10, 2013

#24 el Cheapo

Bought at a yard sale for $75. Not sure it’s even worth that due to poor IQ in anything less than bright sunlight. Pathetic for any action shots.

If you want a disposable digital camera, don’t care about IQ, and find one of these dirt cheap, it might be a good buy.

If you care about image quality, I suggest you pass on this camera at any price.

1:54 am - Sunday, August 31, 2014

#25 Scott Klingler

Pure junk for Macro Pictures. Just wont take very good pictures of small numbers a symbols . May as wall not even have a macro setting at all.

12:54 am - Monday, January 5, 2015

#26 Terry Ritchie

This camera is pretty much useless.  Any phone camera will do better.  Yes it has a big zoom, and if you like grain and vague images, then it might work for you.  The image quality, even for short range snapshots sucks.  It really is bad. Dont waste your money.  Lots of other much better options available in the same price range.  Look at Nikon.

2:26 am - Friday, May 15, 2015

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, wide-angle, 720p, olympus, super-zoom, 14 megapixel, 24mm, super zoom, ultra-zoom, 3D, 36x zoom, sp 810uz, sp810uz, sp-810 uz, sp-810uz, Olympus SP-810UZ Review, sp 810 uz

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