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Sunday, 1 March 2009

Is it all in the zoom?

You may recall how a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Nikon Coolpix P90, a new 24x superzoom.

Well, it appears that the competition is not lagging far behind! In fact they may have already overtaken. This month Olympus too is launching their new super zoom - the SP-590UZ Ultra Zoom - with a whopping 26x wide optical zoom!

But is it
just a matter of having the best optical zoom?

There are no reviews available yet of these models, but looking at the spec sheet we see that there are significant differences between these two super zooms.

For example:

The SP-590UZ has Dual Image Stabilisation, whereas the P90 has 4-Way Vibration Reduction Image Stabilisation.

SP-590UZ has 10fps sequence shooting when the P90 has 15fps.

The SP-590UZ has HDMI technology and the P90 has not.

The SP-590UZ has Face Dectection Auto Focus - the P90 combines face detection with smile and blink detection!

The LCD screen on the SP-590UZ is 2.7", but P90 has a massive 3" screen.

These are just some of the differences you can immediately spot on these two contenders. So clearly it is not just a matter of who has got the greatest zoom. You have to carefully weigh the pro's and con's of all the other features. We will have to wait for some reviews before making the final decision. We will keep you posted. Meanwhile, below is a complete summary of the Olympus SP-590UZ:

The Olympus SP-590UZ: The world’s leading ultra-zoom

With a world’s first 26x optical zoom lens that covers a remarkable 26-676mm* focal length range, 10fps sequential shooting, and a 12 Megapixel CCD, nothing can escape the scrutiny of the Olympus SP-590UZ. Whether taking wide-angle photos of rolling landscapes, or zooming into capture action on the sports field, photographers using the SP-590UZ have a distinct advantage. Not only do they have an ultra-powerful ultra zoom at their fingertips, but as Dual Image Stabilisation protects photos from blur caused by camera shake, they know that when they view their results on the camera’s 6.9cm/2.7” HyperCrystal II LCD, they will be picture perfect. The SP-590UZ gives users the choice of manual control and full automatic shooting, and will be in shops from March 2009 retailing for around £360 ($449.99).

If you are out trekking across the moors, on Safari or photographing family groups at a wedding, the last thing you want is to be weighed down with a hefty bag of camera lenses. With the SP-590UZ photographers have everything they need built into one neat unit. That’s the freedom to take a wide-angle shot at 26mm* and then zoom in to 676mm* super telephoto for a stunning close up; and with up to 10 frames per second sequential shooting, every split-second of the action can be captured.

Photographers after an easy life can choose either fully automatic shooting, or opt for one of the SP-590UZ’s 18 shooting modes. And those requiring more control can go for full Manual, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority, confident that Dual Image Stabilisation will prevent blur caused by camera shake and Shadow Adjustment Technology will bring out shadow details that would otherwise be lost. Creative photographers can even superimpose one image on top of another using the Multiple Exposure setting.

It’s not only photographers who will be delighted with the SP-590UZ, people love having their picture taken by it too. Advanced Face Detection Technology can automatically identify up to 16 human subjects in a photo and set the exposure and focus accordingly. And, even better than that, Beauty Mode can actually touch up the appearance of subjects as the photo is being taken, making their skin appear smoother, brighter and more youthful!

The new Olympus SP-590UZ is compatibility with both xD-Picture Card and microSD Card*** and will go on sale from March 2009.

The Olympus SP-590UZ – main features:

• Most powerful optical performance in minimum size: 26x wide optical zoom (26-676mm*) – from extreme close-ups to the action as well as wide landscapes, 130x incl. digital zoom
• Avoids camera shake and blurry images thanks to Dual Image Stabilisation (combines mechanical and digital image stabilisation)
• Don’t miss the moment with high-speed 10fps sequence shooting**
• P/A/S/M exposure modes for creative freedom
• High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI™) technology incorporated for viewing images in high definition on HDMI TVs
• 12 Megapixels to make prints up to poster-size
• Advanced Face Detection of up to 16 persons for perfectly focused and exposed faces. In combination with Shadow Adjustment Technology other main parts of the picture are also correctly exposed.
• 6.9cm/2.7” HyperCrystal II LCD with a bright display even in brilliant sunlight and at extreme angles (230,000 dots)
• Built-in flash and wireless flash control directly from the camera body
• Liven up your memories with movie recording with sound (up to VGA resolution at 30fps)
• xD-Picture Card and microSD Card*** compatible

*35mm camera equivalent
**in 3.0 Megapixel mode

Advanced Face Detection Technology

A technology that searches for faces in a composition and recognises them as the main subject. It then automatically puts them in focus and optimally adjusts exposure to create an image that’s sharp in the right places and ideally exposed. Advanced Face Detection Technology can detect up to 16 faces.

Beauty Mode

Beauty mode touches up the appearance of subjects even while the shot is being taken. This feature recognises faces and automatically makes skin on the face and adjacent areas appear smoother, brighter and more youthful.

Dual Image Stabilisation

Providing two-fold protection, this special function helps to avoid image blur caused by camera shake or fast-moving subjects. It combines high ISO values with a CCD-based mechanical image stabiliser, where a built-in gyro sensor detects camera movement and adjusts the CCD accordingly.


A high-grade, fully-transmissive technology used in LCDs, which employs an additional layer at the bottom of the LCD to reflect light from external light sources. This enhances the brightness of the LCD, so even in direct sunlight images are displayed sharply and improved contrast compared to that of conventional displays. Also, it provides for particularly wide viewing angles without glare or shadow, so images can be framed from a variety of angles and viewed by several people at once.

microSD compatibility

A special attachment comes bundled with this camera which provides for microSD Card compatibility in addition to xD-Picture Card.

Multi Exposure

Multiple exposures are possible within the camera using this setting. It allows users to create a composite image of two photos by superimposing one image on another.

Perfect Shot Preview

Allows the effect of various settings to be previewed before shooting. Users can therefore be confident of capturing the image perfectly. The image appears in a multi-frame window on the LCD in real-time, making it easy to compare options and take the best possible shot.

Shadow Adjustment Technology

A technology designed to improve exposure for pictures with dark areas. Using a sensor that works much like the human eye, dark parts of a composition (e.g. a shadow under a tree) are identified and the camera then adjusts the exposure settings accordingly for those areas. The result is a more realistic and detailed picture.

Wireless Flash Control

The user can control wireless flash units remotely – eliminating the need for extra cables – by using the built-in flash as the system’s master unit. Control options include the ability to independently regulate flash mode and compensation settings, four channel settings to avoid interference as well as a wide range of brightness levels.


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