Olympus ultra-zooms

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Called ultra-zooms by Olympus, the SP-800UZ is said to be the world’s smallest 30x wide-angle optical-zoom, while the SP-600UZ is 15x. These are the equivalent of 28-840 mm for the 800UZ, and 28-420 mm on the 600UZ.

Both the shoot 720p HD videos, with the 800UZ delivering 16:9 format for playback on your high-definition television or laptop.

AF Tracking technology locks focus on fast-moving subjects, continuously adjusting focus and brightness. There’s even a specially designed “Pet Mode” for animal lovers.

In-camera Art Filters, which debuted on Olympus DSLRs last year, are found as Magic Filters on the UZs: Pop Art enhances and saturate colours to create vivid, high-impact pictures; Pin Hole reduces the peripheral brightness of an image as though it were shot through a pin hole; Fish-Eye emulates the wide-angle of a fish-eye lens by taking extremely wide, hemispherical images and magnifying the center of the frame; and Drawing, which can turn an image into a sketch outline for children to colour.

Beauty Mode enables you to soften shadows and smooth wrinkles or blemishes on your subject’s face – in-camera and before capture. Additionally, subtle edits can be made post-capture using the Beauty Fix mode. Choose “Clear Skin” to smooth a person’s complexion, “Dramatic Eye” to slightly emphasize the eyes, and “Sparkle Eye” to brighten and enhance the contrast of the iris and pupils. You also can apply all three edits at once.

The two cameras offer Shadow Adjustment Technology, which compensates for extreme contrast where the shadow areas are underexposed and lack visible detail.

The 800UZ offers a 14-megapixel image sensor, and the 600UZ a 12-megapixel image sensor, working with the TruePic III image processor. Olympus says the processor produces crystal clear photos using all the pixel information for each image to deliver superior picture quality with more accurate colours, true-to-life flesh tones and faster processing speeds. TruePic III is also said to capture crisp, clear images at high ISO settings, traditionally associated with increasing image noise or producing grainy photos.

Dual Image Stabilization combines two technologies – mechanical Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization and Digital Image Stabilization. The mechanical Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization adjusts the internal image sensor to compensate for camera movement, even in low-light conditions when shutter speeds are slower. Digital Image Stabilization freezes the action with high ISO sensitivity and fast shutter speeds.

Face Detection handles up to 16 faces within the frame and automatically focuses and optimizes exposure.

Intelligent Auto Mode automatically identifies what you are shooting (i.e., Portrait, Night + Portrait, Landscape, Macro and Sports) and adjusts the camera’s settings to capture the best quality results. In-Camera Panorama mode captures three images and stitches them together to create one panoramic picture. Press the shutter button and slowly pan across a scene; the second and third images will be captured automatically and stitched together with the first image. You can use  Olympus [ib] Software to stitch up to 10 images together.

The SP-800UZ has a 3-inch LCD monitor, the SP-600UZ a 2.7-inch LCD.

The new SP cameras have the instruction manual saved on the cameras’ internal memory. No paper!

SP-800UZ estimated street price: $349.99, SP-600UZ: $249.99.

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