The Olympus SP-590 UltraZoom takes the SP-565UZ model from Fall 2008, and updates it with a redesigned body that’s trims six millimeters off the width, while adding six to the height, and a full 17 millimeters to the depth. The increase in size is very understandable, given that the strength of the SP-590’s zoom lens has simultaneously jumped from the previous 20x to a full 26x optical zoom. The Olympus ED-branded lens offers an extremely useful 26 – 676mm equivalent focal length range, meaning that all the added range as compared to the SP-565’s lens is at the telephoto end of the zoom. Maximum aperture varies from F2.8 – 5.0 across the zoom range. Impressively, the increase in zoom range has been achieved while keeping the weight of the camera exactly the same as that of the SP565. The Olympus SP590UZ also swaps the earlier model’s ten megapixel imager for a new twelve megapixel 1/2.33″ CCD imager.As you’d expect for a camera with such a powerful zoom, the SP590 has kept over the previous camera’s sensor-shift type mechanical image stabilization, and an electronic viewfinder with diopter correction (precise specifications unknown).
Another difference from the SP-565UZ is in the LCD display; where the ‘565 had a 2.5″ panel, the Olympus SP590 sports a 2.7″ LCD display. The dot resolution of the display is unchanged, at 230,000 approximately. Images are stored on xD-Picture Cards, or thanks to the inclusion of an MASD-1 microSD to xD-Picture Card adapter in the product bundle, on tiny microSD cards. Information on the Olympus SP590 UltraZoom’s internal memory – if any – was not available at press time. Autofocus is via contrast detection,, and as with the SP565, the Olympus SP590’s Face Detection system can detect 16 faces simultaneously, and is linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subjects’ faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. It also allows for tracking of a subject’s face as it moves around the frame,once detected. The Olympus SP590UZ can also be focused manually.
ISO sensitivity ranges from 80 to 1,600 equivalent controlled automatically or manually. By default, exposures are determined with Olympus’ Digital ESP multi-pattern metering, with options available for spot, center-weighted, or face detection-linked metering as well. Users can tweak their exposure with +/-2.0EV of exposure compensation, in 1/3EV steps. Shutter speeds range from 15 seconds to 1/2000 second and both aperture and shutter speed can be controlled manually – either separately or together. There’s also a bulb mode, for shutter speeds as long as eight minutes. The Olympus SP-590 UZ offers automatic or preset white balance control courtesy of six presets, plus a custom white balance mode. The Olympus SP590 also includes an eight mode internal flash, but unlike the SP-565 there’s no hot shoe for external flash strobes. When using the Olympus FL-36R or FL-50R flash strobes, the SP590 can control up to three wireless flash strobe groups with multiple strobes per group, however.
A couple of unusual features on the Olympus SP590 are among its so-called “pre-capture scene modes”. A Multiple Exposure mode allows two images to be overlaid upon each other, while a Soft Background Focus mode attempts to emulate the narrow depth-of-field of an SLR camera. Finally, a Beauty Mode softens shadows, and smooths wrinkles and blemishes on your subject’s face. It’s also possible to retouch images in-camera after capture using the Beauty Fix mode, and choosing from options such as Clear Skin, Dramatic Eye, or Sparkle Eye. As well as still images, the Olympus SP-590 UZ can capture movies at VGA or lower resolution, at a rate of 30 frames per second. The camera offers both high definition video with an optionally available HDMI cable, as well as USB computer connectivity (specific type unspecified). Power comes from four standard AA batteries. The Olympus SP-590 UZ ships from March 2009 in the USA, priced at $450.