Olympus SP-820UZ Review

January 28, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6.5Mb.

The Olympus SP-820UZ's handled noise pretty well. This camera produces noise-free JPEG images from ISO 80 to 400, with noise first appearing at ISO 800, not bad for a compact camera. The faster settings of 1600 and 3200 display a lot more noise and smearing of fine detail, with the fastest setting of 6400 best reserved for emergenices.

The SP-820UZ dealt with chromatic aberrations quite well, with purple fringing effects appearing only in high-contrast situations. The pop-up flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. Macro performance is excellent, allowing you to fill the frame with a subject that is significantly smaller than a standard Compact Flash card.

The camera is not particularly well suited to night photography as you cannot dial in the necessary slow shutter speed yourself, but the Night Scene mode does its job in an urban setting. The range of Magic Filters are fun to use, while the Backlight HDR scene mode successfully combines several images taken at different exposures to increase the dynamic range.


The Olympus SP-820UZ offers 8 sensitivity settings at full resolution, ranging from ISO 50 to ISO 6400. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 80 (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)

Focal Range

The Olympus SP-820UZ's 40x lens has an extremely versatile focal range of 22.4 - 896mm, as demonstrated by the examples below.




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 bit soft at the default sharpening setting, and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


File Quality

The Olympus SP-820UZ has two file quality settings, Fine and Normal. Here are a couple of 100% crops which show the quality of the two options.

14M Fine (5.48Mb) (100% Crop) 14M Normal (2.64Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The 40x zoom lens of the SP-820UZ handled chromatic aberrations pretty well for such a long zoom, but in some cases, coloured fringes were in evidence along contrasty edges.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)


The Olympus SP-820UZ has both a Macro and a Supermacro mode, albeit the zoom can only be used in the former. 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 (100% Crop)


The camera has a pop-up flash that has to be raised manually. The available flash settings include auto, redeye reduction, fill in, redeye + fill in and slow. In our test, the redeye effect was quite successfully removed through the use of the redeye removal function.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (22.5mm)


Flash Off - Telephoto (896mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (896mm)

And here are some flash portraits. As you can see there's no red-eye in either mode.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Olympus SP-820UZ is not very well suited to night photography, as you cannot use very slow shutter speeds. The photo below was taken in the Night Scene mode at a shutter speed of 1/2 second, aperture of f3 at ISO 200, with all parameters chosen by the camera at its own discretion. We've also included the same scene shot with the new Hand-held Starlight mode, which smears a lot of the fine detail, so try and use a tripod if at all possible


Night (100% Crop)


Hand-held Starlight

Hand-held Starlight (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation

The Olympus SP-820UZ has an Image Stabilisation mechanism built into the camera body, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, we took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Image Stabilisation turned off, the second with it turned on. As you can see, with Image Stabilisation turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Image Stabilisation On (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation Off (100% Crop)

1/5th / 22.4mm
1/4th / 896mm

Backlight HDR

The Backlight HDR scene mode combines several images taken at different exposures to increase the dynamic range.

Backlight HDR Off

Backlight HDR On

Magic Filters

The Olympus SP-820UZ has an extensive range of 12 Magic Filters. These examples demonstrate what each filter does.

Magic Filters Off

Pop Art

Pin Hole Fish Eye


Soft Focus

Punk Sparkle










The Olympus SP-820UZ offers two Panorama sizes, Standard and Wide, as shown below.

Panorama - Standard


Panorama - Wide