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VINE VOICEon May 7, 2014
Got my camera today direct from Olympus. Been a long time Olympus owner and have owned many cameras, a couple of which were earlier Ultra-zoom models. My friends have SLR bodies with multiple lenses in order to cover the same range as the Ultra-zoom models on one lens. For $400 I have a camera that goes from 28mm to 1200mm+ and I don't have to fumble around with multiple lenses to do it. With built in Macro and Super-macro, this camera is everything between a small microscope and a small telescope.

Things to get used to:
Seems built a bit light, however most of the body is composite nylon and polycarbonate. Strong as all get out, but really light.
Dials/wheels can seem a bit flimsy to the touch, but that again is because of the composite materials.

Really cool new features:
Aperture priority - Been asking for this for years. Sometimes you need to manually set depth of field instead of trying to trick the electronics of the camera.
Manual Shutter - previous models could not do long exposures. This one is not totally manual, however the available open-shutter exposures are adequate for 90% of my needs.
Red-dot sight - At high magnification, trying to follow a moving object is darned near impossible. With the red-dot sight, so long as the dot is on the object, it is in the camera's field of view.
Side mounted telephoto control - In addition to the thumb lever on the shutter release, there is a second telephoto control on the left side of the lens. This feels much more like an SLR experience.
Holster case - Olympus makes a great holster style case made just for this camera. Great investment.

I am already in love with this camera and can't wait to get out in the field and start shooting. BTW - See my review on the SanDisk Extreme 64GB SDXC memory card. It is working in my camera perfectly and gives me over 7 hours of 1080 video or about 15,000 full resolution photo capacity.
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on August 25, 2014
My wife and I are NOT photography authorities. We were looking for a high zoom camera to take good vacation pictures and some nighttime shots. The camera filled those needs perfectly. We recently took the camera to Yosemite and took some photos from Glacier Point and could clearly see the people on top of Half Dome. We took photos of the moon that show craters clearly. We even have some close-up photos of a dragon fly that we were able to zoom and track using the red dot thing. We haven't used many of the features this camera offers but the ones that we have tried work magnificently.
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on May 15, 2014
Olympus has been a pioneer in the bridge camera long zoom lens digicam segment and their experience is evident in the Olympus SP100 EE 50X optical zoom digital camera. The laser (eagle eye) zoom aid is nothing short of phenomenal in it's implementation and usefulness. Designed mostly for outdoor use when you are zooming beyond the 20X range, you will find it much easier in capturing action photos and will eliminate the need to zoom wide to find the object you are tracking. It works just like a rifle laser sight and can even be adjusted for fine calibration with an adjustment knob next to the eye cup. The camera is very well built, lightweight and constructed of high quality plastics with a carbon fiber look and feel. The Controls are solid and the assignable function button and selection wheel allow you to customize the camera for your own personal shooting preference. I owned a Canon SX50 and can compare the image quality of photos taken against the Olympus SP100. The Olympus images are very sharp and clear and noise is kept under control up to 800 iso. Color rendition and white balance are accurate with vibrant colors throughout. Have not tested video and macro capabilities yet but will update in a later review. The camera is easy to grip and hold with plenty of grip texture and having the additional zoom control on the side of the lens barrel is also a nice feature. Olympus has clear winner on their hands in the ultra competitive long zoom digicam segment.
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on May 15, 2014
Suddenly, a Glut of 60x Bridge Cameras

When the Canon SX-50 appeared, it was largely heralded as an industry-leading small-sensor bridge camera, with the its massive 1200mm, 35mm focal length optical zoom. Since then, similar extremely long reach cameras have appeared from Sony, Fujifilm, Samsung, Olympus, Panasonic, and Nikon. Even the latest offerings of larger pocket cameras feature 24x to 30x zoom, such as the Olympus Stylus SH-50 iHS (24x), the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS (30x, 25-750mm 35mm equivalent), the 30x Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40, and the 30x Nikon Coolpix S9700.

It is easy to be misled about what a "SuperZoom" is supposed to be. PC Magazine has the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 classified as a "SuperZoom," despite its 8.3x (24-200mm) diminutive focal length range. While you might feel the camera is super, as is its price, its zoom range is clearly not.

As long as you don't expect miracles, given lots of light all of these cameras capture good to very good images, so long as you accept that small-sensors, though vastly improved, are a severe limitation on what is often called "critical image quality." At moderate zoom lengths, most do no better than many pocket cameras that have the same, or similar sensors and fairly dim lenses. It shouldn't be a great surprise, for the sensor size and lens brightness have a lot to do with what can be done.

Yet, for outdoor and wildlife use, the appeal of getting in really close is undeniable. Faster shooting performance, longer battery life, RAW capture, and a larger, more stable camera in the hands is part of the appeal. To date, the only camera that I'm thoroughly pleased with in the majority of shooting circumstances isn't a super-dooper mega-zoom: it is the Panasonic FZ-200, that offers a constant F2.8 lens that the others cannot compete with, yet the 600mm reach of the FZ-200 while formidable and usable, isn't as attention-grabbing or hyperbole-grabbing as the 60x or 70x zoom.

The latest offerings add features (or gimmicks) that offer appeal, but have little to do with images. The Fujifilm S1 offers weather-proofing, the Olympus SP-100 offers a built-in dot sight, to cite two more recent examples. While the approximately $500 retail Sony HX400/B used to be considered pricey, more and more models are at least introduced at the $500 price-point.

Based on the last thirty or so non-system cameras I've evaluated, the actual image quality falls into a narrow range. This shouldn't surprise anyone, as the "bridge" small-sensor long zoom cameras all use dinky sensors and most have dim lenses as the focal length increases, with the exception of the FZ-200 constant F2.8 lens array Panasonic previously reviewed.

Currently selling at or near its $399, aside from the "red dot" gimmick, the Olympus SP-100 has little to offer compared against many similar cameras. The Fuji FinePix SL1000 sells for over $100 less, yet has a higher resolution LCD that tilts, and slightly better battery life. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 offers an even wider zoom range, 60x, yet also sells for $100 less. For the same dollars, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS offers an articulated LCD, a weaker video specification, but generally lower-noise, punchier images. In this class of camera, the value winner, the Fuji FinePix SL1000, although substantially less dollars, is a better featured camera. For that reason, the SP-100 that would have broken new ground three years ago, can only be considered middle of the road and a bit over-priced at this juncture. Like many cameras in this class they do almost everything except take great pictures.

The lack of a swiveling, fold-out, or articulated LCD is a stopper for the Olympus, as far as I'm concerned, for this type of camera, one of the reasons that the currently pricey SP-100 and the now-discounted Panasonic FZ-70 are less than desirable cameras. For the money, it is the Fuji SL1000, for images, the Canon SX-50 gets the nod (if you can live with the poor EVF and weak HD video spec), but for all-around use the Panasonic FZ-200 is still my most-often used camera in this form factor, due to the constant f2.8 lens and excellent video.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 10, 2014
After having had the Olympus SP-100 for a week, I'm concluding that it has standout features along with some weak areas. Overall, there's nothing I find to merit a ''WOW!!'' So I'm returning it and continuing the search for a camera that is better fit for my needs.

That said, here are my main thoughts on the positive side. There are of course, many features beyond these, but these are what stand out for me:

► Great and relatively quiet zoom. Having a zoom that go 50x optical and then all the way to 100x when you add the digital zoom adds an extra dimension to enjoying the places you visit. You not only use the camera to take picture, but you are able to use your camera like pair of binoculars. Check the moon picture I took at full 100x (50 optical and then 100x include digital zoom).

► Great Autofocus. Unlike an SLR, where you have manual focus, you're pretty much at the mercy of this cameras ability to quickly focus on objects whether close or far. I found this to be one of this camera's strengths over the Coolpix L830 which, to be fair, is close to $200 less. The Olympus snaps to focus with enough consistency that you don't really even think about it. It's worth the extra cost because the extra time a slower camera to find it's focus, is often going a perfect moment lost.

► Dot Sight is cool, but a bit over-hyped in order to differentiate it from competitors in the Super-Zoom category. I though this was going to be a ''Wow!'' feature, but it is only if you do a lot photography or videos of distant moving objects. What's more is that it forces you to use the LCD monitor, which, is counter productive in bright sunlight. This is a great feature for bird watchers and people taking sports action shots, but I doubt most people will use it very often.

Downsides:

✗ I was really disappointed that there's no tilting LCD monitor. It seems it should standard in a bridge camera which such advanced features. As well, many DSLRs have them.
✗ No Wifi file transfer. Many lower cost smaller point and shoots have this.
✗ Color distortion and noise at higher zoom. I had the opportunity to compare the photos taken by this camera along side those taking by a Fujifilm S-1. At the higher levels of zoom the Olympus had a weird bluish tint and along with a lot of noise. The Fujifilm's pictures had more natural hues and, as well, showed finer detail.

All in all - the Olympus SP-100 is a worthy choice in the crowded Super Zoom / Bridge Camera category. But there are trade-offs and feature omissions that I'm not willing to do without.
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on October 28, 2014
I bought this SP100 Olympus camera to replace a Nikon P510 that did a POOR job on fast action shots (out of focus) - galloping horses was my subject. Previous version of an Olympus I owned did well but was 18X zoom so I gave Olympus another opportunity. This pic shows 11 hooves off the ground. Taken from 95 yards away. Liking the camera very much but the manual sucks. Too much emphasis on brevity and small print.
A few months later, found a problem. Flashing orange camera image while trying to photo a dark subject. Flash would not fire in a pitch black room. Returned the camera to Olympus who did an incomplete analysis and returned the camera in same condition. Their suggestion is that I not use the iAuto mode. I should use the P mode. I'm pretty sure I paid full price which should have included a working iAuto mode.
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on July 30, 2014
I am a long time Olympus super zoom user. After Olympus went belly up the didn't come out with a new super zoom. I've always owned Olympus for my super zooms. I tried a Nikon and it was so lame. The quality just wasn't there. I have tried Canon and Nikon and none of their cameras come close to the quality of Olympus super zooms. I'm heading out on an 11 day pack pack trip and had to consider weight. I'm leaving my DSLR home and taking this camera. It isn't quite as good but good enough and the weight and ease of use is worth it on go light trips. I use it for mt. bike trips and casual day trips. If I can take the weight or am doing a specific photo shoot then I take the DSLR and all the lenses.

It has a tripod attachment and I have done low light and night photos with good results.
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on August 15, 2014
Really fun very useful camera . It zooms in on every thing I want to capture from a distance . I got a great Super Moon picture , bigger than any others I saw on Face Book & got many complements . Details were so clear . Took some pictures of a sun flower plant taller then the house . Zoomed in on one of the flowers & got really good colors & details . This camera takes very good low light pictures whether I use the zoom or close up . As a passenger in my daughters car I took pictures of Amish country using the sport setting in SCN . I zoomed in on the pretty flowers , buildings & corn fields as we flew by . I got really good sharp pictures . I love how the panoramic works , so different and better then any I've ever used . The different setting for the many different pictures I take are so helpful .I've been learning the many new things this camera does & I'm so exited when I can get out & experiment . Took pictures at an out side party , Didn't use the flash once & got clear sharp pictures some close and some zoomed in on as if the were taken close . Very happy with this camera .
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on September 13, 2014
Okay so this camera is a late arrival in a full field. But it has a huge advantage for people who actually use it for wildlife photography. The dot sight. I have several friends who have the Canon SX50. I see the trouble they have using their camera at full zoom. They have to zoom out then zoom back in to get the subject in frame. The dot sight eliminates the need to do this and works really great.

What else is there to say? The camera is full featured and at the high end of the price range in the field. But if you are going to do wildlife photography and especially birds or other fast moving stuff the dot sight is a game changer. Resolution is excellent and so is depth of field at the high zoom. Lots of detail even at high ISO values in spite of them being more grainy.

These cameras defy the idea that a bigger sensor is better. Even with the 1/2.3 cmos sensor which is tiny compared to a full sized DSLR it works well with these mega zoom lenses and the resolution if fabulous. Perhaps if you spend ten times as much you will see an improvement, but not until you get to that level.

I find a monopod is essential to keeping the subject in frame at maximum optical zoom.

What don't I like?

The electronic viewfinder is too small, but this is a fault shared by all cameras in the field. Olympus makes fabulous EVFs and should put one in this camera even if it adds some bucks. A good high resolution EVF is far better than an optical view finder because it is WYSIWYG. It really helps with exposure. Also the internal continuous panorama function requires a monopod or tripod where there is visible horizon because any lack of steadiness results in a wavy panorama. Olympus has a great panorama system in the E and PEN series which uses their free with purchase photo editing software. They should have stuck with that for this camera.

In conclusion, if you want a camera to take pictures of birds or other action at a distance, I would say the Olympus SP-100 is the stand out in the field. The dot sight really does make it that much better.
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on December 10, 2014
This camera is tremendous fun. The dot sight makes it possible to take pictures of flying birds and moving animals which I do regularly. I have better, more professional cameras, but I don't have any camera I enjoy using more.
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