Choosing a super-zoom camera (part 3)

3/26/2012 9:21:06 AM

Choosing a super-zoom camera (part 3)

Nikon Coolpix P500


3 stars

$421 VAT included

P500 includes many interesting functions, with 36x zoom, articulated 3” display screen, 921,000 pixel, 1080p videos and options for completely slow motion video. Lacking of pan head and raw shooting disappoint so much. It even doesn’t have direction sensor for automatic rotation of portrait photos. Short battery life with 220 pictures as well as you can’t use this battery once you charge another battery. 

Available manual focus and a dial wheel support your setting changing easily. There are two zoom levers: one covers the shooting button, one is on the side of lense. The latter seems to be useless, because the former 2 speed control, faster zoom with stronger force. We like the dedicated buttons for ISO speed and white balance most, which requires you to access the menu.

 1080p videos are excellent, besides, the noise from focus motors and zoom doesn’t intrude mjuch into the soundtrack. However, the digital stabilization during the video recording can’t eliminate the camera shake in distant zoom and hand-holding.

8fps burst mode is limited in 5 shoots, but another mode can take 16 pictures with 1,2fps speed. Other options are continously 2MP 25 pictures in 60fps speed, or 1MP 50 shoots in 120fps. Slow motion videos, from 1,280x720 in 60fps to 320x240 in 240fps, increase the significant flexibilities to take pictures of the pass-by subjects. P500 is fast response in normal condition with quick autofocus and 1,7 seconds break during shooting.

36x zoom sounds impressive but it isn’t the most razor-sharp lense. It delivers the good result in wide angle test but distant taking pictures have the optical wrong colour appearance and not as bright as Canon SX40 HS hoặc Panasonic 24x about the distant details. It cann’t be compared with above cameras about the noise, blurred details and much shadows in ISO 800. It is not the worst yet the most excellent in the house. The price is competitive but slow motion videos is the only outstanding point of P500.


Comment: Lenses sacrify for the sharpness in zoom view, but this camera lack many interesting functions.

Digital superzoom camera: 12MP (4.000x3.000), 36x optical zoom, LCD 3” (921,000 pixel), SDXC card slot (102MB built-in), Li-ion battery, 84x116x103mm, 494g, 2 years RTB warranty.

Olympus SP-810UZ


3 stars

$295 including VAT


SP-810UZ stands out more than most SLR-styled ultra-zoom digital cameras. Without electronic viewfinder, manual exposure or manual focus and the minimal number of physical controls, it is just a point-and-shoot camera with super zoom. This is not entire criticism, and of course, it surely is large zoom. Its 864mm telephoto focal length (equivalent) is the longest out of those ultra-zoom cameras. Its simple point-and-shoot characteristic also reflected in the price.

The 720p video resolution and the fixed zoom while recording is hardly forgivable, and its 3-inch widescreen LCD’s 230,000 pixel resolution has slightly inferior quality. The navigation Pad also plays as a dial to enter its settings, but it is underrated because the menu system prioritizes visual flourishes more than quick performance.

The photographic options are typical point-and-shoot type, with white balance, ISO speed and so on, including many creative effects such as pinhole camera. However, there is no mobile focus point. Telephoto mode creates a shallow depth of field, which is great for moving the eye to the main subject, but only when this camera focuses on the right thing. On SP-810UZ, the focus is either fixed at the center or selected by this camera.

Image quality under artificial lighting is horrendous. Flashy orange colors and noise reduction destroyed many details. Shooting outdoors proved to be more competitive. It could not compare to the fresh and smooth details of the best ultra-zoom cameras around; the autofocus and optical stabilisation is unreliable at a full extent distance. The SP-810UZ could not match the Panasonic FZ48, but it is £100 cheaper. If you want to capture distant subjects in clear, bright lighting (and spend as little money as possible), it is a fair choice.


Verdict. Limited control and poor image quality in low lighting, but outdoors photography with a tight budget, SP-810UZ is a logical choice.

Ultra-zoom digital camera. 14 megapixels (4.288x3.216), 36x optical zoom (24-864mm), 3-inch LCD (230.000 pixel), SDXC slot (14MB internal), Li-ion battery, 76x107x74mm, 413g, one-year RTB warranty.


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