Olympus SP-565 UZ

      Photo Review 8.3

      In summary

      A compact digicam with a 20x optical zoom lens and advanced shooting modes.Olympus’s SP-565 UZ incorporates many of the features of the flagship model of the long-zoom range, the SP-570 UZ, in a cheaper, more compact body. It has the same 10-megapixel sensor and 20x optical zoom lens plus the same TruePic III image processor. Yet it weighs 72 grams less and is $100 cheaper than the SP-570 UZ. Its LCD monitor is also slightly smaller but has the same resolution as the flagship model. . . [more]

      Full review


      Olympus’s SP-565 UZ incorporates many of the features of the flagship model of the long-zoom range, the SP-570 UZ, in a cheaper, more compact body. It has the same 10-megapixel sensor and 20x optical zoom lens plus the same TruePic III image processor. Yet it weighs 72 grams less and is $100 cheaper than the SP-570 UZ. Its LCD monitor is also slightly smaller but has the same resolution as the flagship model.
      Build quality is fairly typical of the SP series. The plastic camera body is solid and reasonably well finished, with separate compartments for battery and memory card. The latter is located in the side panel towards the rear of the grip and has a snugly-fitting, hinged cover. The mode dial on the top panel moves positively with no unnecessary slack.


      Front view of the SP-565 UZ.

      The manually popped-up flash lifts well above the lens axis and appeared quite robust. The diopter-adjustable viewfinder is a big plus, with above-average viewing quality. Its ability to replicate displays presented on the LCD monitor is also genuinely useful. The LCD monitor is somewhat prone to fingermarking and like most other screens, difficult to use in bright sunlight. The plastic tripod socket is a bit of a let-down.


      Back view showing the LCD monitor and main control panel.

      The 4.6-92mm super telephoto lens covers a focal length range equivalent to 26-520mm in 35mm format. The zoom lever is a bit jumpier than we’d like for accurate focal length adjustment. Dual Shakeproof CCD-shift and high ISO stabilisation systems compensate for camera shake and enable faster shutter speeds to be used than would otherwise be possible. ISO settings as high as 6400 can be set, albeit at reduced (5MP) resolution.


      Top view showing the mode dial, shutter button and zoom lever and pop-up flash.

      The lens cap is cheaply built but will be adequate for most users – as long as it’s tethered to the camera with the supplied line. A slim but tightly-woven neck strap is supplied with the camera, along with four AA alkaline batteries and a MASD-1 adaptor that lets users use Micro SD cards in the camera instead of xD-Picture cards. (We hope this implies a speedy demise of the xD card type.)
      The SP-565 UZ’s TTL iESP autofocus system uses contrast detection and supports six AF modes: Spot AF, Face Detection AF, Full-Time AF, Selective AF, Target AF and Predictive AF. Manual focusing is also possible although, unlike the SP-570 UZ, the SP-565 UZ’s lens lacks an adjustable focusing ring. Instead, focus is set with the horizontal buttons on the arrow pad (see Control Limitations below for the problems this causes).
      Two Macro modes are provided: Macro and Super Macro. Both are engaged via the left button on the arrow pad. In Macro mode, the lens will focus down to 10 cm when the lens is in the wide position, while toggling to Super Macro allows the lens to focus to 1 cm. The zoom is set automatically in Super Macro mode.
      Like the SP-570 UZ, the new model comes with the latest Face Detect & Shadow Adjust Technology, which can identify up to 16 human faces in a frame and set focus and exposure to provide an optimal balance between faces and backgrounds. The SP-565UZ also offers fast continuous shooting at up to 13.5 frames per second – although resolution is reduced to 3 megapixels (2048 x 1536 pixels) at the highest speed settings. Up to 30 frames can be recorded with this setting.
      For action and wildlife photographers, a special Pre-Capture function automatically records 10 frames in the camera’s buffer memory when the shutter button is pressed. These are saved at 5-megapixel size (or lower) when the shutter is released. Recording ceases after 30 seconds.
      The SP-565 UZ also comes with a new Bird Shooting Mode, which combines the optimal AF mode with a fast shutter speed to ensure successful bird shots. With the optional teleconverter TCON-17 and Bird Shooting setting on the camera, photographers can achieve a focal length equivalent to 1200mm (47x zoom).
      Other Scene modes include Smile Shot, which releases the shutter automatically when a smiling face is detected and a Panorama mode for shooting panoramic sequences (an Olympus-branded memory card is required). Three settings are provided: combine-in-camera 1 and 2 and combine-in-PC. In each case, the camera shoots only three sequential frames. In the first combine-in-camera mode the images are stitched automatically. In the second mode, users can compose and select the shots before pressing the shutter. PC stitching is carried out with the bundled Olympus Master 2 software.

      Control Limitations
      Despite offering aperture- and shutter-priority AE plus manual control, the SP-565 UZ places lots of restrictions on how you can use many camera settings – and most aren’t mentioned in the user manual supplied with the camera. To take a few examples: you can’t access AF mode settings when AF Predict is set to On, and when the AF mode is set to Area, you can’t change any of the settings accessed via the arrow pad because the arrow pad is used for positioning the AF area sensor.


      The arrow pad is used to position the focus senro in Area focus mode, which means you can’t access functions set with these buttons.
      Consequently, when setting up our Imatest tests for this camera we had to toggle through the following sequence:
      1. Use the Menu button to access the Camera menu and set the AF mode to Spot.
      2. Exit the menu and use the vertical buttons to set the desired lens aperture. Lock it in by pressing the OK/Func. button.
      3. Engage the self-timer by pressing the lowest button on the arrow pad.
      4. Go back to the Camera menu and change the AF mode to Area.
      5. Take the shot.
      This sequence had to be repeated each time we changed the lens aperture.
      There’s nothing in the instruction manual to suggest this problem might exist and attempts to register an appropriate sequence of settings in one of the four My Mode memories were fraught with difficulties. Every time you try to lock settings in with the OK/Func. or Custom buttons, the focus area position moves back to the centre of the frame. The same situation applies if you try to change settings when using the AF Area mode in the other shooting modes.


      This message can become depressingly familiar when you are trying to adjust several sets of controls together.

      Similarly, you can’t combine manual focusing with any of the settings accessed via the arrow pad so you have to work around it by locking in the aperture and shutter speed settings (plus the self-timer if required) and then adjusting the focus. The flash can’t be used with manual focusing in any shooting mode and auto flash and red-eye reduction flash can’t be used in the S and M modes, regardless of the focus setting.
      Other restrictions are slightly more logical. For example, you can’t adjust the focal length in Super Macro mode and you can only use the digital zoom while shooting a movie clip (to prevent the sound of the zoom motor from being recorded). At high ISO settings, image resolution changes automatically, dropping to 5M at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400. You can’t set these high ISO settings when the Fine Zoom or Digital Zoom are set to On and the Auto and High ISO Auto settings are not available in the Manual shooting mode.
      These restrictions are unlikely to affect point-and-shooters who will generally stick with the full auto and scene modes. Some hobbyist users may also be unconcerned. However, as a photo enthusiast we found them annoying because they made the camera more laborious to operate by immobilizing some important camera controls.

      Image Sizes
      The SP-565 UZ offers seven image sizes for JPEGs, along with two compression levels, Fine and Normal. Raw capture is also supported at the largest image size and a raw file can be combined with any of the JPEG sizes and compression levels. Typical file sizes are presented in the table below.

      Image size

      Image quality

      Approx. File size

      3648 x 2736

      RAW, 12-bit


      JPEG Fine


      JPEG Normal


      2560 x 1920

      JPEG Fine


      JPEG Normal


      2048 x 1536

      JPEG Fine


      JPEG Normal


      1600 x 1200

      JPEG Fine


      JPEG Normal



      1280 x 960

      JPEG Fine


      JPEG Normal


      640 x 480

      JPEG Fine


      JPEG Normal


      1920 x 1080

      JPEG Fine


      JPEG Normal


      Strangely, although the SP-565 UZ offers a ‘widescreen’ format still image for playing back on HD TV sets, it doesn’t support HD video recording. Only two video frame sizes are supported: VGA and QVGA, each at 30 and 15 frames/second. The maximum file size for movies is 2GB, regardless of the capacity of the card, and the maximum clip length is 40 seconds. Typical recording capacities for a 1GB card are shown in the table below.

      Movie setting

      Frame rate

      Maximum length on 1GB card

      VGA 640 X 480

      30 fps

      9 minutes and 25 seconds

      15 fps

      18 minutes and 44 seconds

      QVGA 320 x 240

      30 fps

      25 minutes and 26 seconds

      15 fps

      50 minutes and 7 seconds

      You can enter playback mode by either pressing the quick review button or selecting playback on the mode dial. The SP-565 UZ provides a standard suite of playback settings, including single and index views, slideshows and shooting data overlays. Pushing the zoom lever to the left in playback mode toggles through these various options, including a thumbnail plus histogram if Histogram is switched on in the shooting menu.


      The front page of the playback menu.


      Single-frame playback with shooting data.


      One of the index playback options.


      Playback with histogram and shooting data.

      Playback zoom, which is accessed via the zoom lever, provides up to approximately 10x magnification for checking focusing.


      Playback zoom.
      The SP-565 UZ also supports slideshow playback (with optional ‘canned’ music), a calendar display showing the dates on which pictures were taken and in-camera raw file editing. The latter produces JPEG copies of ORF.RAW files in the camera and allows users to adjust the image quality, white balance, Picture Mode, sharpness, contrast and saturation settings. The new image is saved separately.
      Other playback functions include trimming, resizing (to VGA or QVGA size), colour editing (B&W and sepia conversion plus saturation adjustment) and a two Perfect Fix controls: red-eye correction and lighting adjustment.


      Before and after images showing the effects of the Lighting Fix setting.

      You can selectively blur the background behind a human subject with the Face Focus setting and extract still frames from movie clips. The standard Protect and DPOF tags (for automated printing) are also provided.

      The SP-565 UZ comes with Olympus Master 2 software, a fairly basic file organiser/browser with raw file conversion facilities. The latter are limited and fairly clunky but users of Adobe’s latest Photoshop and Photoshop Elements software can substitute Adobe Camera Raw, the latest version of which (v. 4.6) includes support for the SP-565 UZ’s raw files.


      The browser window in Olympus Master 2.


      Raw file conversion adjustments in Olympus Master 2.

      Capture lag and imprecise focusing were the main problems we encountered when shooting with the test camera. Both resulted in less than 30% of shots of moving subjects being usable (some examples are provided at the end of this review). However, power management appeared to be very good. The battery indicator on the monitor still showed plenty of power remaining at the end of our tests, which involved more than 300 shots.
      In optimal conditions, the test camera delivered bright and sharp-looking pictures with natural-looking colours and plenty of detail. However, subjects in shadow often appeared flat-looking and with moderately strong backlighting, veiling flare reduced image contrast and colour saturation.
      In situations with a wide brightness range, switching on the Shadow Adjust function (accessed via the Delete button) produced a significant improvement in the recorded dynamic range. Two examples are shown below.


      A typical outdoor shot with the Shadow Adjust function. More highlight and shadow detail is visible than would have been recorded without this in-camera adjustment. (7.7mm focal length, ISO 64, 1/160 second at f/5.6)


      A typical wide-brightness-range subject with parts in sun and the rest in shade. Dynamic range compression is less that would otherwise have occurred. (15.2mm focal length, ISO 64, 1/160 second at f/5.6)

      The face detection system performed very well and even enabled the camera to focus on subjects in the corner of the frame. An example is presented below.


      An example of the face detection system’s ability to focus on a subject near the edge of the frame. (92mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/4.5)

      Imatest confirmed our subjective assessments of colour accuracy and showed performance to be slightly better than average for a small-sensor digicam. Saturation levels were close to average. However, Photo Review’s Imatest tests showed overall resolution to be below expectations for a 10-megapixel digicam – for both ORF.RAW and JPEG files. Although the raw files were closer to acceptable resolution levels than the JPEGs, they were still below par for the camera’s resolution.
      Resolution declined sharply at ISO 1600 and remained low at higher ISO settings (where camera resolution is set lower). The results of Photo Review’s tests are shown in the graph below.


      This decline was also obvious in our test shots although, interestingly, shooting raw files enabled us to produce slightly better images at ISO 1600 than our JPEG files (the differences can be seen in the Sample Images section below). However, image quality remained relatively low, even when raw files were converted into 16-bit TIFFs.
      Imatest showed lateral chromatic aberration to be negligible at mid-range focal length settings and low at both longer and shorter focal lengths. Some coloured fringing was seen in outdoor shots when they were enlarged to 100%.


      Digital zoom shots were very good for the degree of magnification involved, although traces of interpolation artefacts could be seen in shots. The Macro mode produced good results, particularly with longer focal lengths where it was possible to achieve attractively blurred backgrounds. The Super macro setting delivered dramatic extreme close-ups – but with a very narrow depth-of-focus.
      The flash was capable of illuminating an average-sized room at all ISO settings and exposures were even throughout the ISO range. Flash close-ups also showed even exposures, with the main differences between shots taken with low and high ISO settings relating to overall sharpness and contrast levels. Flash recycling times ranged from 7 to 8 seconds with fresh batteries.
      The auto white balance setting delivered close-to-neutral colours under daylight fluorescent lighting but failed to remove the orange cast of incandescent lights. The Daylight Fluorescent pre-set produced neutral colours but the incandescent pre-set over-corrected slightly. Manual measurements delivered neutral colours with both types of lighting.
      The test camera took just under two seconds to power up and we measured an average capture lag of 0.55 seconds. Instantaneous capture was possible with pre-focusing. It took 2.4 seconds to process each JPEG image, 4.9 seconds to process a raw file and 6.5 seconds to process each RAW+JPEG pair of images.
      In the continuous shooting mode, the test camera recorded four high-resolution JPEGs in 3.5 seconds. It took 6.6 seconds to process this burst. In Hi1 mode, the camera captured eleven 5M shots in 1.4 seconds. It took 10.3 seconds to process this burst. With the Hi2 mode a burst of 20 3M shots was recorded in 1.5 seconds. It took 12.7 seconds to process this burst.

      JPEG files


      ORF.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Olympus Master 2.




      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Macro mode, wide-angle setting.


      Macro mode, telephoto setting.


      Super Macro mode.


      Digital zoom.


      Flash close-up: ISO 64, focal length 35.9mm, 1/200 second at f/4.4.


      Flash close-up: ISO 6400, focal length 35.9mm, 1/200 second at f/4.4.


      Night shot: ISO 100, focal length 8.1mm, 15 seconds at f/3.4.


      Night shot: ISO 1600, focal length 8.1mm, 4 seconds at f/8.


      Night shot: ISO 1600, focal length 8.1mm, 4 seconds at f/8. ORF.RAW file converted to JPEG.


      ISO 64, focal length 16mm, 1/320 second at f/4.


      ISO 125, focal length 92mm, 1/125 second at f/4.5.


      ISO 100, focal length 92mm, 1/200 second at f/4.5. (note the effect of veiling flare.)


      ISO 200, focal length 40.9mm, 1/80 second at f/4.4.


      ISO 80, focal length 21mm, 1/125 second at f/4.2.




      Image sensor: 6.13 x 4.6 mm CCD with (10 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 4.6-92mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom (26-520mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 20x optical, up to 5x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ Raw, JPEG (Exif 2.21); Movies – AVI Motion JPEG with sound
      Image Sizes: Stills ““ 3648 x 2736, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480, 1920 x 1080; Movies ““ 640 x 480 at 30 or 15 fps; 320 x 240 at 30 fps
      Shutter speed range: 1/2 sec. – 1/2000 sec. (up to 4 sec. in night mode); Manual 15 to 1/2000 sec.
      Image Stabilisation: CCD-shift type plus ISO boosting
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection; Focus modes: iESP Auto, Spot AF, Face Detection AF, Full-Time AF, Selective AF, Target AF, AF Lock, Predictive AF, Manual, Macro, Super Macro; range 10 cm to infinity; super macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: iESP, Spot, Centre-weighted metering
      Shooting modes: Auto, P, A. S and M, My Mode, Movie plus 25 Scene pre-sets (Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Sport, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light, Sunset, Fireworks, Multi-fireworks, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Smile shot, Beach, Snow, Bird watching, Pre-Capture Movie, Quick shutter)
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 50 – 6400 (5MP above ISO 1600)
      White balance: Auto, One Touch, Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten, Fluorescent 1 ““ 3 plus WB adjustment of +/- 7 steps red/blue
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Fill-in+Red eye reduction, Slow synchro, Off; range ““ up to 4.5 metres
      Sequence shooting: Standard: 4 frames (JPEG 10M/Fine) at 0.8 frames/second; up to 13.5 fps at 3M resolution.
      Storage Media: 48MB Internal Memory plus xD-Picture card expansion slot; Micro SD via MASD-1 Micro SD adapter (included)
      Viewfinder: EVF with 100% field-of-view coverage
      LCD monitor: 2.5-inch TFT LCD with 230,000 pixels
      Power supply: 4 x AA batteries; CIPA rated for up to 410 shots/charge with NiMH batteries
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 116 x 83.3 x 80.8 mm
      Weight: 373 grams (without batteries and card)






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