When first opening the box of the SP-550UZ, it is obvious that this is no typical consumer digital camera. Unlike my personal compact digital, this camera feels professional and deserves to be exposed to more than the occasional shot of friends and family. One of the first things that caught my eye about this camera was its impeccable design. The large display screen is accompanied by smart button placement and great ergonomics. A few of the notable but likely unnoticed features are definitely the small things like the thumb placement area that comes out slightly from the camera which makes gripping the camera much easier and more secure.
This dedication to detail makes this camera a great departure for those seeking a more advanced camera or those who simply want something that is easier to carry than a digital SLR. The camera’s 30 built-in modes including “landscape portrait”, “snow”, “fireworks”, and “underwater macro”, to name a few, offer great options for those who aren’t quite ready to switch over the somewhat daunting “M” or “manual” setting of the camera for new photographers.
The lens itself is a definitely the draw of this camera with 18x optical zoom. For many, who don’t need the complete flexibility of an SLR, this is a great alternative. This lens will cover the majority of shooting situations with great results, in my opinion. The press release also boasts the shooting speed at up to 15 frames per second. However, my favorite part of this camera has to be the dual-image stabilization. I’ve had a few cameras in the past that you could forget capturing a decent image without the flash on and I definitely had quite the opposite experience with this one.
Despite all this camera’s great qualities, there are a few definite areas of criticism and/or improvement that should be taken into consideration. For me, (and presumably a few others) using this camera means switching from an SD to an xD memory card. Also, the camera does not come with a rechargeable battery pack, but rather relies on 4 AA batteries. These are heavy and not to mention expensive so investing in rechargeable batteries and a charger are a definitely must, in my opinion. It is important to take these two added costs into consideration when buying this camera, which currently retails for around $500 (as of March 2007).
Another important bit of information about this camera – Do not forego the camera strap! Without it, the lens cap flies with off and on the ground, floor, or even down a cliff or the Grand Canyon if you’re not careful.
Nonetheless, this is a well-designed camera with some great features that are sure to be imitated and is definitely one to look into in the “prosumer” market.
-Review by Molly.
April 4, 2007