Olympus SP 620UZ - Low-Cost Super Zoom Camera

12/27/2012 6:17:16 PM

Bridge on a budget: We trial Olympus’s low-cost super zoom

The successor to the Olympus SP-610UZ bucks the recent trend set by the increasingly premium-priced super zooms trickling into the market by offering a big zoom lens for a surprisingly small price. On paper, this new super zoom looks set to offer some impressive features, with a 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor matching up to the camera’s colossal 21x optical zoom lens, complete with Dual Image Stabilization technology to help combat shaky shots at longer focal lengths and/or in low light. The equivalent focal range that the lens covers is 25 – 525m m (on a 35mm model), making this a highly versatile camera that’s priced very competitively indeed.

Olympus SP-620UZ

Olympus SP-620UZ

In the hand, the plastic outer shell available in a black or sliver finish – that clads the SP-620UZ’s relatively petite body is really the only aspect that hints at any sort of cost-cutting on the manufacturer’s part. That said, the extra weight provided by the four AA batteries required to power the camera lends a reassuring sense of balance, particularly when the lens is extended to its maximum telephoto setting. The gently curved front grip is very generous and features a rubberized section for added comfort and a more secure grip on the camera/ when coupled with the smooth, sculpted area for your thumb around the back, the SP-620UZ proves comfortable to shoot with for extended periods of time.

Size-wise, this super zoom is surprisingly compact, in spite of the lens it packs into its diminutive body. When powered-down, the 21x zoom optic folds away into a relatively small housing that protrudes from the front panel to extend just past the outer edge of the front grip. You might be able to cram it into a large coat pocket, but most of the time you’re more likely to want to make good use of the included neck strap to keep the camera to hand. Directly above the lens housing is a built-in pop-up flash unit. It’s manually operated, so you simply flip it up whenever you want to put it to work. The flash sits relatively high above the lens, which helps to combat red-eye when shooting portraits and provides adequate power for most everyday photography at close quarters.

The LCD offers a middling resolution of 230,000 dots, which is adequate but not thrillingly detailed when viewing photos

The LCD offers a middling resolution of 230,000 dots, which is adequate but not thrillingly detailed when viewing photos

The top panel is home to nothing more than a small silver power button and a zoom-lever encased shutter release, with the remainder of the controls located on the back panel. Alongside the 3-inch LCD there’s just a one touch movie button that gives direct access to the camera’s HD (720p) film mode, plus a scrolling four way d-pad and playback and Menu/Help buttons. The up/down arrow keys on the d-pad provide quick shortcuts to the camera’s on-screen information display (choose from full shooting information, a clean screen or a useful compositional grip and live histogram) and the Delete function in playback mode respectively.

As with some of the other recent Olympus launches, pressing either the left/right arrow keys or the central OK button on the d-pad activates the on-screen Quick menu. In the absence of a physical mode dial, this is your only means of accessing the range of exposure modes that the SP-620UZ has to offer, in addition to other key settings. Beginners are well catered for, with the Olympus ‘intelligent’ iAuto mode that takes care of all of the exposure settings for you, as well as a selection of 16 scene modes to cover a range of photographic situations. If you opt for the latter, you can manually select from Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Sports and Night Scene, in addition to some more unusual options including Cat, Dog, the flattering Beauty Shot mode and more besides. Scrolling through the menu to get to the mode that you want can be a bit of a tiresome process, but – on a more positive note – the fact that you get a short description of what each mode is designed to do is a useful feature that will make the SP-620UZ easier for new owners to get to grips with.

Getting creative

If you like to get creative with your shots, there are in-camera editing options to help you customize your stills and movies. The latest range of Olympus Magic Filters makes a welcome addition to the features on offer, with 11 different styles to choose from. Our particular favorites include the atmospheric Pin Hole, funky Miniature and the quirky Fragmented filters, although there’s plenty more to explore besides.

The SP-620UZ also offers panorama enthusiasts 3 different options for capturing wider scenes, although unfortunately none of them really compares to the impressively simple-to-use Sweep Panorama features seen on some rival models. What you do get is the opportunity to work in Auto mode, where you’re required to line up two targets in-between frames. Once aligned, the camera fires the shutter automatically, before moving onto the next. Results in this mode are okay on the whole, but none of our test shots was completely free from ghosting or some sort of evidence of slight misalignment. You can also use the ‘old school’ method that you may be familiar with if you’ve previously owned an older compact camera: you use a ghost image of a portion of the previous frame to line up the next. Finally, more advanced Pano photographers can choose to shoot frames individually and combine them on a computer manually later.

Olympus SP-620 UZ features.

Olympus SP-620 UZ features.

As is becoming popular on many of the latest launches, this super zoom boasts a 3D shooting mode, which takes two shots of your subject from different angles and combines them to create a result that’s suitable for viewing on 3D-enabled TVs and monitors. While there’s not much else in the way of manual functionality, the SP-620UZ does provide a Program Auto mode, which offers the greatest level of control over settings. The options available are all accessed via the Quick Menu, providing the opportunity to tweak settings including the macro mode, self-timer, white balance and ISO.

Another couple of areas where the manufacturer has cut back to keep the price tag low include the screen, which – although ‘good enough’ for most everyday scenarios – sports a rather unremarkable 230,000-dot resolution and pretty restricted vertical viewing angle. The decision to offer 720p HD movie recording capability instead of the Full HD mode boasted by some of its peers is another feature that may be a deal-breaker for budding movie enthusiasts, although – on the whole – results are good enough to satisfy more casual users.

In terms of image quality, the camera performs reasonably well, producing faithfully-colored images with just enough saturation to give them a lift. Detail is also good, although some softness is to be expected when boosting the sensitivity above ISO 400. Noise is generally well-controlled, with usable results being produced right up to ISO 800; even ISO 1600 at a push if you don’t mind sacrificing finer details.

The lens does suffer a little from distortion at its maximum wide and telephoto settings in particular, but that’s to be expected from a zoom lens on a camera at this price point. Chromatic aberration is a particularly prominent feature unfortunately, especially when looking more closely at the edges of shots. More positively however, the camera’s Macro and Super Macro modes are both excellent, generating crisp shots with bags of fine detail.


With so many alternative super zooms and Compact System Cameras to choose from at the moment, the SP-620UZ faces some very stiff competition. It may not beat its rivals in every respect when it comes to its feature-set and image quality, however – viewed on its own – it does offer a very versatile focal range and a simplified handling experience that’s perfect for beginners on a budget. If you want a ‘no-frills’, decent everyday camera with enough reach to cover a variety of photographic opportunities is one to consider.


·         Price: $270

·         Megapixels: 16

·         Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CCD

·         LCD: 3-inch, 230,000-dots

·         ISO: Auto, High Auto, ISO 80-1600

·         Video: HD, 1280 x 720 (30fps)

·         Memory cards: SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS speed class not supported), 59MB internal

·         Weight: 435g (inc. batt & card)

·         Dimensions: 109.7 x 74.3 x 73.7mm

·         Web:

·         Total: 7/10


PS4 game trailer XBox One game trailer
WiiU game trailer 3ds game trailer
Top 10 Video Game
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #10 'NETHER DOOM!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #9 'KING SLIME!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #2 'LAVA LOBBERS!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Minecraft Mods - MAD PACK #3 'OBSIDIAN LONGSWORD!' with Vikkstar & Pete (Minecraft Mod - Mad Pack 2)
-   Total War: Warhammer [PC] Demigryph Trailer
-   Minecraft | MINIONS MOVIE MOD! (Despicable Me, Minions Movie)
-   Minecraft | Crazy Craft 3.0 - Ep 3! "TITANS ATTACK"
-   Minecraft | Crazy Craft 3.0 - Ep 2! "THIEVING FROM THE CRAZIES"
-   Minecraft | MORPH HIDE AND SEEK - Minions Despicable Me Mod
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 92 "IS JOE DEAD?!"
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 93 "JEDI STRIKE BACK"
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 94 "TATOOINE PLANET DESTRUCTION"
-   Minecraft | Dream Craft - Star Wars Modded Survival Ep 95 "TATOOINE CAPTIVES"
-   Hitman [PS4/XOne/PC] Alpha Gameplay Trailer
-   Satellite Reign [PC] Release Date Trailer
Game of War | Kate Upton Commercial