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Olympus SP 550 Ultra Zoom Gordon Laing, March 2007

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting

Olympus SP-550UZ noise level comparison

 

To measure and compare the Olympus SP-550UZ's noise levels we photographed the standard Gretag Macbeth ColorChecker with it and a number of rival models using their best quality JPEG and default image tone, sharpening and noise reduction settings. The SP-550UZ's noise reduction is on by default, but we've also included samples here with it off for comparison.

The crops are taken from the original images and presented here at 100%. To compare typical noise in skies and dark shadows the crops were taken from patches 3 and 24 respectively.


The Olympus SP-550UZ delivers fairly clean results set to its lowest 50 and 100 ISO settings, with only minimal texturing visible from noise and noise reduction. At 200 ISO this texture becomes more obvious and at 400 ISO it's quite clear. Increased to 800 ISO, the noise speckles have become quite obtrusive, although it's interesting to compare it against the Panasonic FZ50 at higher sensitivities as the latter begins to apply considerable noise reduction and smears out detail. If you previously thought the sensors in all cameras were the same, it's also interesting to compare the Nikon D40's results here. As a DSLR with a physically bigger sensor, its noise levels are kept low until the very highest sensitivities.

Set to 1600 ISO the SP-550UZ starts applying considerable noise reduction, then for 3200 and 5000 ISO, it also drops the resolution to 3 Megapixels. Even with the reduced resolution though, the results are unsurprisingly nasty at these frankly overly-ambitious settings. Since the plain coloured swatches of the Gretag Macbeth chart can mask a multitude of sins though, be sure to check our real-life outdoor results taken across the SP-550UZ's entire sensitivity range on the next page.


Olympus SP-550UZ
(NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ
(NR on / default)
Nikon D40
(NR off / default)
Panasonic DMC-FZ50
(standard NR)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 50 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 - 50 ISO not available
Panasonic FZ50 - 50 ISO not available
50 ISO
50 ISO
50 ISO not available
50 ISO not available
Olympus SP-550UZ at 100 ISO (NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 100 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 - 100 ISO not available
Panasonic FZ50 at 100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO not available
100 ISO
Olympus SP-550UZ at 200 ISO (NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 200 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 AT 200 ISO
Panasonic FZ50 at 200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
Olympus SP-550UZ at 400 ISO (NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 400 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 at 400 ISO - NR off
Panasonic FZ50 at 400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
Olympus SP-550UZ at 800 ISO (NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 800 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 at 800 ISO - NR off
Panasonic FZ50 at 800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
Olympus SP-550UZ at 1600 ISO (NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 1600 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 at 1600 ISO - NR off
Panasonic FZ50 at 1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
Olympus SP-550UZ at 3200 ISO (NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 3200 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 at 3200 ISO - NR off
Panasonic FZ50 at 3200 ISO
3200 ISO (3 mpixel)
3200 ISO (3 mpixel)
HI1 (3200 ISO)
3200 ISO
(High Sensitivity mode)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 5000 ISO (NR off)
Olympus SP-550UZ at 5000 ISO (NR enabled)
Nikon D40 - 5000 ISO not available
Panasonic FZ50 - 5000 ISO not available
5000 ISO (3 mpixel)
5000 ISO (3 mpixel)
5000 ISO not available
5000 ISO not available

Olympus SP-550UZ results continued...

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting
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