Olympus SP-550 UZ: 18x ultra zoom

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by Ken, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. Ken Weitzel wrote:
    If those images are to be believed, the 504mm zoom produces images of
    twice the linear dimension of the 432mm zoom images.

    What credibility can you give the rest of the review with glaring errors
    like that?

    David J Taylor, Jan 28, 2007
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  2. Ken

    ASAAR Guest

    DCResource has plenty of credibility. You're quibbling over a
    typo that shouldn't have gotten by you unless you were looking to
    find fault with something, either the review (not a review actually,
    but a 'first look') or the camera. If the SP550UZ's 18x zoom has an
    equivalent focal length of 504mm, the middle label (typical max on
    ultra zooms) can't be 432mm. The typical ultrazoom range is more
    like 10x, maybe 12x, and if you work out the approximate, expected
    focal lengths (504 x 10/18, 504 x 12/18) you get 280mm and 336mm,
    which are about 1/2 the linear dimension, and what you expected.

    Was this quibble at its root fueled by Olympus finally offering
    more than Panasonic? And the 550UZ don't need no stinking Li-Ion
    batteries. <g>
    ASAAR, Jan 28, 2007
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  3. Not at all. Attention was drawn to the three images, and it was
    immediately obvious that they were flawed. They were supposed to be
    illustrating a fundamental point about the camera - its extended zoom
    range - but as displayed the images give the false impression that the
    zoom was twice as great as with competing models. The middle image isn't
    even directly from the camera, but from "Photoshop magic". Surely more
    care should have been taken with this?

    I don't see that an f/4.5 lens is "more" than the f/2.8 lens of the
    Panasonic FZ20, but we haven't see side-by-side images. Although the
    wide-angle is nice, the use of four AA cells rather than a single package
    Li-ion battery, and the use of xD memory cards are both fairly negative
    factors for me.

    David J Taylor, Jan 28, 2007
  4. Ken

    ASAAR Guest

    You're avoiding the main point, which was that you transformed an
    innocent mistake (a typo, there was no 432mm lens) into something
    casting doubt on DCResource's credibility. As you noted, the nearly
    2 to 1 difference in the image magnifications couldn't be attributed
    to a 432mm vs 504mm lens. Is there a single other camera that your
    are aware of having a lens with close enough to the Olympus's 18x
    range that might have made 432mm seem reasonable? None that I'm
    aware of. By your own standard, since you also made a mistake in
    interpreting that page's results, what credibility can we give to
    any of your other replies?
    One of my points is that the mistake was so glaring, and the
    reason so obvious, that you should have caught it. But just because
    you made that mistake doesn't mean that everything else that you say
    is without credibility. My other point is that you went too far,
    saying that the rest of the review deserves no credibility because
    of one mistake. You probably noticed that I mentioned Panasonic in
    my last reply. I'll mention them again, because it's hard to avoid
    thinking that if the review/first-look was of new Panasonic camera
    and the same mistake was made, you'd have given DCResource a lot
    more slack. Most people have at least some favorable bias towards
    some brands, usually the cameras that they own, and that's both
    understandable and not a bad thing. Your bias, seen over a couple
    of years is far greater, almost extreme (I'm not even sure that the
    qualifier "almost" is needed), and as I indicated, may have fueled
    what appears to me to be an excessive, knee-jerk response. Yes, I
    agree that it would have been better if more care was taken in that
    "first look", but the mistake is no big thing, clearly wasn't
    intentional, and if you need only a single mistake to write off the
    credibility of any reviewer, no reviewer will meet your standard.
    None of them are perfect. One of my most recent replies criticized
    DPReview's excessive praise of the G7's "excellent" resolution. But
    I still find that DPReview's reviews and opinions have a lot of
    credibility, even though that "flawed" opinion of the G7 can't even
    be excused by it being mistake created by a typo.
    ASAAR, Jan 28, 2007
  5. ASAAR wrote:
    I'm simply making the point that something so fundamental should have been
    checked more carefully. It was more than just a "typo" - it was an
    incorrect image which leads to the possibility of incorrect conclusions
    being drawn by the reader.

    Were it just a typo, no problem. However, the reviewer himself has had to
    pay extra attention to the part involving those images as evidenced by his
    comments about "Photoshop magic" for the middle image.

    I hope this is soon corrected, and I look forward to seeing comparative
    images from this and other cameras.

    I agree that was a little strong, but it was my immediate reaction to
    seeing such a glaring error in what was supposed to be a core part of the
    "first look".

    I am sorry that you don't like my references to cameras I own, but owning
    and using a camera is, I feel, a good starting point to recommend to
    someone whether it may meet their needs. It is that experience which make
    me prefer single Li-ion batteries over multiple AA cells, for example.

    I hope you are equally critical of those who simply regurgitate press
    releases with no direct hands-on experience of the kit involved.

    David J Taylor, Jan 28, 2007
  6. Ken

    Cgiorgio Guest

    For me the SP-550 UZ really has some similarities with Kodak, not the
    P-Series but the Z- superzoom series. The lens goes from 28 - 504 mm
    equivalent with a 1/2.5" Sensor. The Samsung Pro815 covers 28-420 mm with a
    1/ 2/3" sensor. If you you use a Panasonic with the 0,7 WA - converter lens
    you have a range 24.5 - 420, if you add the 1.7 tele conversion lens you
    have 24.5 - 710 mm with IS (you can select the conversion lens in the
    firmware) and a 1/1.8" sensor.

    Exclusive use of xD Picture cards, the missing external hot shoe or external
    flash connector, and the need for an extra adaptor tube to use filters or
    conversion lenses are signs that the new camera is aimed at the same group
    of users as the Kodak Z - series. It will take pictures most people are
    happy with, but the tiny sensor will cause problems under low light
    conditions. It does reduce the amount and weight of necessary glass and
    mechanics and finally manufacturing cost, if it is priced in the mass market
    range it might be successful. I doubt that many "more serious" amateurs will
    opt for it.

    It is far removed from the old E - series, but there is of course the DSLR
    range from Olympus which is incidentally using Li-Ion batteries.
    Cgiorgio, Jan 28, 2007
  7. Ken

    ASAAR Guest

    After all this you still don't get it? The image does *not*
    appear to be incorrect. As we both have noted, it is approximately
    the same magnification one would expect most of the other superzooms
    / ultrazooms to have, which is about the 2 to 1 difference that you
    estimated. Is the ratio of 18x to 10x not close to 2 to 1? The
    "typo" is in the 432mm label used for the image.

    I don't dislike most of your references to Panasonic cameras (and
    for the record, I think you've referred to more than the models you
    own). It's just that you go *waaaay* beyond simple fandon, but
    aggressively look for ways to promote them. I recall some of the
    hyperbolic statements you've made criticizing AA batteries, and
    these days when cameras are so efficient that a camera using 2 or 4
    AA batteries can often last for several days of shooting before
    needing to be swapped for a fresh set, your horror stories of
    juggling 8 to 12 of the round cells in the field, all yearning to
    roll away in different directions is just not realistic. That
    doesn't mean that you don't have good reasons to prefer Li-Ion
    batteries. But I've noticed that you go to such great lengths to
    promote your preferences that it's often hard to take you seriously.

    I've taken many pictures with the same set of AA cells in my Fuji
    over the last month and they aren't close to needing to be
    recharged. In fact, now that I'm using Eneloop type batteries, I
    don't even have to worry about them running down just by leaving
    them in the camera for a couple of months, since Sanyo's Eneloops
    (and RayOVac's Hybrids, and similar NiMH batteries sold under Radio
    Shack's label and others) have *much* lower self discharge rates
    than Li-Ion batteries. Try keeping an Li-Ion battery in a camera
    for 2 years without recharging it to see what happens. There's a
    good chance that before you've gotten to the halfway point the
    battery will be dead and won't be able to take a charge any more,
    and replacements are not nearly as inexpensive or easy to find.

    If you search for reviews using google, most of the hits will be
    links to press release mills. I haven't criticized them because I
    ignore them, and don't see any mention of them in the newsgroup
    other than perhaps some occasional spam which others are quick to
    shred. Despite owning and liking my Fuji, I'm probably one of the
    most outspoken critics of fanboy kinga, or haven't you noticed?
    ASAAR, Jan 28, 2007
  8. The cameras I have used had the AA cells on their own, not in a carrier,
    so changing batteries involved having four fresh and four used cells in
    near proximity at the same time. The cylindrical shape encouraged the
    cells to roll all over the shop. As you observe, a single battery package
    is far easier to handle.

    David J Taylor, Jan 28, 2007
  9. The image is /not/ representative of what the reviewer is trying to say:

    - most cameras have a tele zoom limit of 432mm and their image looks like

    - but the reviewed camera has a 504mm zoom, which make the image bigger,
    like this.

    and then presents the 504mm image as about twice the linear size of the
    432mm image.

    That's the way I read it, not a typo but an incorrect image. Sorry if I'm
    reading it wrong.

    David J Taylor, Jan 28, 2007
  10. ASAAR wrote:
    I'm delighted to hear that AA batteries, and camera power drain, are such
    as to allow this today. My experience is based on earlier models, and
    drove me away from the 4 x AA format.

    I do wish that a campaign for "standard" Li-ion cells could be launched
    and succeed, and I feel that the cost of the custom Li-ion cells is higher
    than it should be.

    David J Taylor, Jan 28, 2007
  11. Ken

    ASAAR Guest

    You mean that you just found out? These very efficient cameras
    have been available from Canon and Fuji for at least a couple of
    years. Other manufacturers too, including Kodak, but I don't know
    if they've been available as long as the ones from Canon and Fuji.
    You don't recall the many accounts I've told of the results I got
    when I first tested the Fuji S5100 (early 2005) and got over 600
    shots from a set of alkaline batteries? This included the CIPA test
    for the first 220 shots or so, which required full powered flash for
    50% of the shots and use of the LCD instead of an optical
    viewfinder. A good number of Canon A610/A620 owners spoke of taking
    many shots over many months, and still not needing to replace the
    first set of alkaline batteries they installed. Your experience
    with earlier cameras using alkaline or NiMH AA batteries is valid,
    some of them had truly atrocious battery life. But eventually that
    changed, and these days the only edge Li-Ion batteries have is a
    slight saving of weight. Even for use in cold weather, AA lithium
    batteries are usable at temperatures well below the point where
    Li-Ion batteries chill out.

    Back to my first sentence above. Did you really just find out? I
    find it quite plausible that you and almost everyone else had no
    idea two years ago that there were very efficient, battery-frugal
    cameras available and include myself in that group. But for the
    last 18 months, surely for the last year, it would be hard for this
    to have escaped the notice of any regular rpd newsgroupies.

    A sentiment that I share and have stated several times. My cell
    phone works very well and I'd like to be able to use it for at least
    another 10 years. But it's being replaced by a new model, and
    despite costing far more than the a new camera+battery+charger, new
    replacement batteries are unavailable from the cell phone provider.
    I might be able to purchase one directly from Nokia, but their
    battery prices are even higher. The original, full list price that
    I paid for the phone was $59.95. The batteries last about 18
    months, and the last time I checked, Nokia sold them for $50. Cell
    phones are the modern equivalent of razors. The profit is in
    selling blades, service plans and (if phones aren't swapped
    regularly for new models) batteries. Some of the smallest cell
    phones do need very slim Li-Ion batteries, but most of the ones I
    see people using are quite a bit larger than mine, and could easily
    hold 2 AA or 3 AAA cells. I'm sure that there would be a good sized
    market for phones that could use standard NiMH batteries, but it
    won't happen, because selling cell phones with built-in obsolescence
    is far more important than keeping their sizes as small as possible.
    ASAAR, Jan 28, 2007
  12. Ken

    Cgiorgio Guest

    I do wish that a campaign for "standard" Li-ion cells could beYou are right, just check for a "compatible" Li-ion battery on eBay. It is
    very likely that you find a compatible one there. In case you decide for the
    cheapest models, buy a fire extinguisher as well, they might have those Sony
    Cgiorgio, Jan 28, 2007
  13. Ken

    John Turco Guest

    Hello, Paul:

    Yeah, I'm sure that the hordes of outsourced, point-&-shoot digicams
    from "Nikon, Olympus, etc.," are so much better than Kodak's own
    outsourced products. :-J

    Seriously, the vast majority of today's cameras are truly made by OEM
    outfits, other than the big-name photographic equipment manufacturers,
    themselves. (And, let's face it, Kodak has been the biggest of those
    names, traditionally.)

    Hence, the real point is, there's little difference between the main
    players in the current digital marketplace...and Kodak stacks up, very
    competitively, against any of them.

    John Turco <>
    John Turco, Jan 29, 2007
  14. Ken

    Just D Guest

    "John Turco"
    Well, according to some publications, believe or not, the sensor used in the
    Nikon D80 made by Sony and used by Sony as well in its own model, don't
    remember which one.

    Just D.
    Just D, Jan 29, 2007
  15. So even Olympus outsources like crazy now?

    Man, back in the day, when I got the C5050 Oly, I thought it was
    heads above most of the rest of the field.

    I'd hate to think they no longer care about quality.

    Anyways, thanks very much. I appreciate the post
    Paul D. Sullivan, Jan 29, 2007
  16. ASAAR wrote:
    Battery life is only one aspect, though. My major complaint has always
    been the four separate AA cells versus the single Li-ion battery. The
    single unit is far more convenient to use both in the field and when
    recharging, and it is less likely to suffer from the issues of individual
    cells failing. The relatively short shelf life is the drawback.

    David J Taylor, Jan 29, 2007
  17. What surprises me is the no-one from the USA - one of the consumer rights
    campaigners - has actively taken this on. I think they would be the group
    most likely to achieve a result. Although, perhaps the EU might as

    You may be right about the profit model, though.

    David J Taylor, Jan 29, 2007
  18. Ken

    ASAAR Guest

    Sheesh. Off you go into new directions. I'm well aware that
    you've never quite got along with AA cells. I brought that up,
    didn't I? Whether you like or dislike AA cells has no bearing on
    what I was wondering, which was how the extremely long battery life
    of AA cells could have escaped your notice for so long. This was
    the aspect I'd have expected you to comment on, even if there are a
    dozen other aspects of AA vs Li-Ion batteries that you might wish to
    delve into next. You might as well have said "Battery life is only
    one aspect, though. One which I will now deftly sidestep."

    You may not recall them, BTW, but some of your previous reasons
    for not liking AA cells are no longer valid, or perhaps I should say
    that they never were particularly valid, but now should be of
    practically no concern. Do you remember what they were?
    ASAAR, Jan 29, 2007
  19. Yes, I have been aware that the capacity of AA NiMH cells has been
    increasing for some time, but I've not had any reason to check how well
    the claimed 2500mAh or 2700mAh capacities actually stand up in practice.
    My highest capacity AA cells are 2100mAh so, yes, there has been a useful
    increase since then.

    In-camera life hasn't really been an issue with the current cameras - on
    battery in the camera and one space just in case have kept me going these
    last two or three years. Occasionally, I need the second battery, but
    carrying it isn't an issue. On some short trips away I don't even take
    the charger.

    I am never sure how much credence to give to battery life measurements -
    at least in as far as how much they relate to real use. Probably the
    comparitive tests such as those by DP Review (or whatever) should give a
    useful comparison between cameras, but just because they say "300 shots"
    doesn't mean that you will get 300 shots. I would need experience using a
    camera in the field before I felt happy not having spare batteries with

    Of course, as technology advances, the factors affecting a decision will
    change, so it doesn't surprise me that the outcome of the decision might
    change as well.

    Sorry, but I don't have a computer memory, so I can't recall precisely
    what I said some time ago, and I think that's a good thing to be honest!
    We should move on.

    David J Taylor, Jan 29, 2007
  20. Ken

    ASAAR Guest

    Wow, you're a tough nut to crack. The increase in NiMH capacity
    is *not* what I was talking about, and the way you deftly parry
    every attempt to get you to address what I'm talking about seems to
    indicate that it's intentional on your part, as if you've had
    special training in the National School for Spin. The change from
    the extremely poor performance of cameras that used AA batteries
    several years ago (whether alkaline or NiMH) to the excellent
    performance that they get today could in no way be attributed to any
    increase in battery capacity. In fact, alkaline battery capacity is
    relatively unchanged. The real increases have been with the NiMH
    batteries. In the last three or four years NiMH battery capacity
    may have increased by roughly 40%. Over that same period, it has
    been the cameras, not the batteries that have improved tremendously,
    and it has amounted to increases of many hundreds of percent,
    perhaps more than 1000% in the number of shots that can now be
    taken. Several years ago it wasn't unusual to hear of cameras that
    couldn't take more than a couple dozen shots before the batteries
    would need to be recharged. Two years ago some Canon and Fuji
    cameras were able to take well over 1,000 shots per charge. THAT is
    what I'm surprised that you've not been aware of.

    I don't recall anyone posting messages saying "wow, my NiMH
    batteries now can take 400% more shots". They've all talked about
    the great battery life of their new *cameras*, such as several that
    described using lowly alkaline batteries in their Canon A610/A620,
    took hundreds of shots over a 4 to 6 month period and had not yet
    seen a "battery low" warning indication. As you seem to follow most
    threads here, I find it *very* hard to believe that you haven't been
    aware of this. One might suspect that it's part of a defensive
    debating technique.
    ASAAR, Jan 29, 2007
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