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Olympus SP-500UZ
Olympus SP-500UZ

Hey! You should know that Olympus has released a newer version of this product: the Olympus SP-600UZ.

Olympus SP-500UZ

We've given the SP-500UZ a grade of C.

Editor's Review

Check out the newer SP-600UZ model. Here's what we had to say about the SP-500UZ when it was released in August 2005:

The Olympus SP-500 Ultra Zoom takes is a still camera that is keenly aware of motion. One of the more alluring features of the SP-500 Ultra Zoom is the predictive autofocus, which anticipates the location of a moving object at the decisive moment. This allows for clearer, more accurate photos of sporting events and always active children. The 10x optical zoom and 6 megapixel sensor are more than enough to deliver sharp, highly detailed photographs of your subjects at long distances while the Super Macro mode has you covered for extreme close-ups as close as 3cm away.


  • 6 megapixels
  • 10x optical zoom / 5x digital zoom
  • autofocus
  • manual and program exposure
  • JPEG and RAW file formats
  • ISO 80-400
  • 4 "AA" batteries or 2 CR-V3 lithium batteries
  • movie mode with sound
  • Part Number: 225720
  • UPC: 050332156173
  • Release Date: Aug 31, 2005

Shop for SP-500UZ Accessories

Olympus SP-500UZ Reviews

Olympus SP-500UZ Reviews by Digital Camera-HQ Users

  • 5.0 out of 5
Problems fixed (Allen Steinburg — 04/23/2009)

My previous problems caused by downloading the Olympus updates etc; has been resolved. I contacted the Olympus head office and mentioned the problems with the camera and Henry's Photo who sold me the camera. I felt that Olympus Corp. was responsive and of great help in resolving my camera issues. Camera was shipped to Olympus and repaired at their expence and returned very quickly.

  • 1.0 out of 5
Be aware of upgrading your Olympus camera online.... (Ken — 04/14/2008)

I was very disappointed with the lack of concern by Olympus.
I tried to upgrade my camera online and ended up with a camera that does not work at all. The camera is useless.
I contacted Olympus via email (Tech help) and they were not responsive. I also sent a letter to the corporate office and displayed a "could care less" attitude.
I spoke to Olympus representative and asking what Olympus would do for me...nothing, if I paid, they would take a look at it.
They were unwilling to accept responsibility for the risk in upgrading the camera online.
In surfing the internet I found others which experienced the same, so I was not alone.
Olympus did not care that I had purchased their products since the early 1990s...but not longer.
There are a lot of other camera makers out there.
Making a camera or any other product for that matter, is one thing...standing behind it is another.

  • 2.0 out of 5
To slow (Robert Tolentino — 10/29/2007)

The camera takes great pictures of stationary objects with the camera on a tripod. For family photography it is poor to say the least. It takes 2 to 5 seconds after pushing the shutter to actually capture an image. 90% of the pictures come out blurred, off center or out of the frame entirely. I am using diposable cameras and getting better results. Both Circuit City and an Olympus rep said "Its only costs $350" implying this level of performance is all I should expect. I downloaded and installed the update and have worked with the Olympus rep going through all the menues with no improvment. I have petitioned Olympus and Circuit City to buy it back or at least exchange it for another brand.

  • 1.0 out of 5
Poor Product, Bad Service (Allen Steinburg — 12/22/2006)

I have owned this camera for eight months without much trouble until now. I downloaded the camera updates which caused a problem with the camera firmware. I returned the camera the Henry`s Photo who forwarded it on the authorized repair shop. I was informed that there was a hairline crack on the underside of the camera and that the warranty was voided. I was also informed that this was a common problem with this model of camera but it made no difference. That wasn`t why I sent it in for repair. It was going to cost $318.00 to repair and that is almost the cost of the camera and Henry's washed their hands of the matter. This is one lost customer.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Flash Bang Wallop What A Picture (Stuart C Bean — 12/09/2006)

This is a great camera.
This camera has an incredibly large range of uses. Primarily I use my camera for takingclose up shots of electronic circuits and components for build and quality procedure manuals for an electronic manufacturing plant. It wipes the floor with other companies photos taken with much more professional "expensive" cameras on close up shots, low light shots, I realy haven't found a flaw in the cameras ability in this use.
My secondary use is as photographer at functions in our local pubs. Again the camera stands out miles on portraits and shots of dancing. I even use it to take photos of fireworks although slighly harder to set up to get the good effect once done the outcome is amazing. What is more the battery life I find is absolutely phenominal for the amount of functions and the screen size. A great camera all round certainly worth the small price tag.

  • 2.0 out of 5
Very disappointed (gayle Wehrli — 12/06/2006)

We purchased this camera after our HP was dropped and became useless. We did a lot of research and our camera shop where we make many purchases seemed to be pushing this model. We even went to a class to learn how to use all the different scene modes and should have been suspicious when other class members brought their blurry photos and wondered what they had done wrong. Turns out they didn't do anything wrong. Our HP ran rings around this one when it came to picture clarity and ease of use. The scene modes were useless. The best photos we got out of the 933 we took on our trip to Italy in Oct were all done on the auto setting. I took a lot of photos indoors at the Vatican and almost none of them is worth printing. It is not a convenient trip camera because of the size. But the biggest drawback to me is how slow it is to focus before you can take a picture. Action shots are worthless. I would not recommend this to a family that just wants to capture some fun moments. Just takes too long. No stabilization feature at all. The sales clerk seemed to want us to believe that more digital zoom was more important than stabilization even though we told him exactly the settings in which we would be using the camera. My advice: don't spend the money on this one (they have come down a lot in price though) if you want fast, clear photo taking. I would definitely buy something with stabilization especially if you have kids or are taking photos on the run.

  • 2.0 out of 5
Disgraceful Camera (W Hogg — 11/20/2006)

I owned & still own a C700 and have had nothing but praise for it and besides 2.1 mega pixels it's pictures are great especially using zoom. I then bought a SP500UZ and and really disappointed in it. Blurry pictures, grainy pictures, let's not talk about so called action shots. Compared to the C700 it's a toy and a waste of money.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Reply to Battery Problems (Garrett Eastman — 10/03/2006)

I have had my camera for over a year now and love it. I use ni-cad, rechargeable batteries in the camera, and carry 4 more fully charged in my camera bag. I also carry a low priced charger for long trips. There may be internal leakage in the electronics inside the camera as I have taken several hundred pictures with no problems before changing batteries, then recharging the first set. I have had no problems and it has been a great camera for general use.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Great Cam (Anuo — 09/28/2006)

Really great Camera. I wanted to go for the 510 which had the image stab. feature but unfortunately the market in India is still not that open and thus settled for this.
The flash in auto mode is awesome. I could take a picture of a picture which was in near darkness at around 10 feet away and could make out the picture clearly.
Video in the indoor setting during the evenings with the lights is very very grainy.
I have tried the various scene modes and am very very happy with the shots that came out.
I used the cam for my niece's bday party and the shots are great.
Am not a pro at all but reading about photography from various websites including this one, am now moving into the manual modes and i am sure the shots will come out fine.

The only drawback i found in the cam is lack of Image stabilisation, which however doesnt bother me too much. my pics are all still and i presume in the manual mode, moving object should be pretty clear depending on the settings.

For any newbie wanting to buy the cam, i would say go for it. but remember to get yourself a backup of 4 recharable batteries as the battery life seems to be a bit on the lower side.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Excellent camera (Peter Popov — 09/19/2006)

I am amateur photographer with more than 40 years of experience and thousands of slides and negatives. I used good analog cameras: Nikomat FT with 43-86 mm zoom lens and Olympus with 35-105 mm lens. This is my first digital camera, and I have chosen it because of the expected excellent (Olympus) zoom optics, satisfactory number of pixels and the availability of manual modes. I used the camera very intensively during my vacation and I got excellent results at quite different light conditions, mostly outdoors but also indoors (without using the flash). I even tried some of the preprogrammed regimes (scenes) and find them useful. I do not consider the lack of movement compensation a serious drawback even for the most telephoto shots (of course outdoors in good weather).
I did not try the camera capabilities to process pictures since I used my laptop for this purpose. I shoot several video clips for trial and think that their quality is satisfactory for documentary purposes ������ if I want better quality I may use my camcorder.
Of course I am seeing some drawbacks: no diopter compensation of the viewfinder, no numerical indication of the actual zoom position, no shoe for external flash unit, no lens hood. But most of the features of this camera may be found in semiprofessional digital SLRs at at least three times greater price.
To sum it up: I think that this camera, built by a traditional camera manufacturer, is an excellent choice for an advanced amateur photographer looking for a versatile and quality camera.

  • 1.0 out of 5
crap battery life (Cornel — 09/17/2006)

Do not buy this camera, worst battery life ever. Very frustrating. Want to buy another camera and through this one in the bin, just because of this. Can not believe other people except this.

  • 2.0 out of 5
Sports photos are BAD! (G Bates — 09/14/2006)

I was really excited when I ordered this one because our earlier Olympus -Camedia C-3040 (which is only 3.3 mp) is a wonderful camera and does outstanding sports shots. So as a yearbook camera - this one isn't doing what we need. Any suggestions?

  • 5.0 out of 5
my sp-500uz (roger whalan — 09/07/2006)

What a great camera. Took it to Egypt and Kenya and it gave me some great memories. The 10x optical zoom did some amazing things. I was really surprised at the clarity of my shots.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Good camera (Bogdan Rosu — 09/01/2006)

Is a good camera for its price. My opinion

  • 2.0 out of 5
Software is disgraceful (Roy Himes — 08/28/2006)

I suspect most cameras have similar capability and quality of pictures, for example Nikon vs Olympus. I have owned an old Olympus digital camera for six years that I was very happy with and recently bought an new SP-500UZ. The software is terrible it is worse than useless. All it does is transfer images and it does that horribly. Olympus expects that you will upgrade the software but I spent a lot of money on the camera and do not want to spend more for what is likely to be more of the same crap.

  • 4.0 out of 5
It a good camera,Excellent (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have no problem with this camera. All shot taken are good.As long you have a steady hand forget about stabilizer.

  • 4.0 out of 5
Great color and resolution (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have been using this camera for more than a month. I shoot primarily still objects, so image stabilizer is not a big issue for me, plus my hand is quite steady.
What I like:
1) Very nice colors and good color rendition
2) Very good sharpness of still objects
3) Good shots without a flash (one of the custom modes)
4) Great macro and super macro shots (although, good light is necessary!)
5) Very comfortable hand grip
6) Much cheaper than similar competitor cameras (Canon S2, Lumix etc)
What I dislike is problems with focusing in low-light conditions. Everything else is not an issue.
However, image stabilizing is what all other competitors offer, and that��s why I am giving it 4, not five only because it does not have the stabilizer, which, in my view, is the only major disadvantage of this camera if compared to the competition. In addition, Olympus offers almost the same set of features at the price, which is 100 dollars lower than Canon S2 (at least in my country)

  • 2.0 out of 5
great stills,lousy motion shots (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

the Olympus SP-500 has many features but the lack of an image stabilizer is ludicrous at best, the instruction manual is significantly less than forth coming explain benefits of features. I am on my third camera having had mechanical problems with 1st two. Olympus states "there must have been a bad batch".Zoom is extraordinary if you ca n hold it steady enough, however forget pictures from moving cars or boats. I will most likely return this camera one more time and select another brand with stabilization.

  • 2.0 out of 5
terrible action pictures - no image stabilization (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have a daughter that is active in sports. Soccer pictures are not terrible that word is not harsh enough. The soccer pictures I have taken I had to delete (ALL OF THEM!!!) It is a white blurry no recognition of anything on the pic. As you follow the kids down the field kicking the ball the lack of image stabilization causes the picture to be one big white blur. Now I know how people make pictures and claim a ghost was in it!!! Regret buying this camera I wish I knew how much I needed image stabilization before I bought it. Honestly - I wonder why Olympus would even make a camera that doesn't have image stabilization !!!! Waste of money. Don't buy if you have active kids, you'll have to buy a second camera for those pictures like I have had to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 5.0 out of 5
great for all photographers (lewis — 03/17/2006)

i am only a kid of 12 years of age but i am into photography in a big way i have recently got back from a trip in australia were there were many good photo chances even though im only extremely ametuear i can stil use the automatic and im learning quikly about all the other functions avalible on this camera though i do find it difficult im sure if i was more experienced i could get better quality pictures

bottom line :- this camera is of great quality and is great for keen photographers as it offers many function and great quality it is also great for those of my standard as it has full automatic control

  • 3.0 out of 5
Great Photo Quality (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I am not an advanced photographer, I prefer something that can be used in auto mode and provide great photos. Photo quality is excellent but I have had problems with shutter speed. Sent to Olympus and was told it was fine. Have adjusted the shutter speed myself, but no luck. Often get the backside of my 18 month old by the time the picture takes, even worse when using the red-eye. If using for stills, it's awesome; if using for moving objects, it's horrible.

  • 4.0 out of 5
Good Camera (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

Main attribute is it's optical 10x zoom and color saturation which is spot on. Also the seemingly endless combination of features will keep you busy and creative. The lack of an image stabilizer is the main weakness. Otherwise a good camera.

  • 4.0 out of 5
Awesome (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

this thing works so good it works i use it to do the interviews and college stuff

  • 5.0 out of 5
Who can ask for anything more?!! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have taken several hundred pictures since I got this camera when it first came out. I could not be happier! The picture quality, ease of use and long zoom make it perfect for my favorite nature photos. In response to the previous writer who said he had trouble with batteries. I have not experienced that problem. I have gotten excellent battery life from this camera and I leave the batteries in the camera all the time. Some days my camera will stay on all day, just going to sleep between photo opportunities, and the batteries still keep going. I highly recommend this camera for beginners and the more experienced!

  • 5.0 out of 5
Great product & good battery life (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I've taken and viewed many pictures now and am still on the same batteries (4-AA's **Does not use CR-V3's as stated in review**). I love the 10X zoom and all the other modes besides "AUTO". This is a camera for all users!!! I have not needed or tried useing the movie and sound modes as of yet.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Unbelievable Features and Quality for the Price (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

This is an unbelievable camera for the price that you pay. For $300 you get everything you could ask for; manual settings, 6 megapixels, 10x optical zoom and 50x total zoom, plus the ability to add lenses if you want. The picture quality is excellent and with 4 2500 mah NiMH batteries I've taken well over 400 pictures without having to recharge (all pictures were taken without flash at the HQ or SHQ setting using the LCD screen at least 96% of the time) and the battery meter on the camera shows battery strength at full. I have no complaints what so ever and I give this camera a 5 star!

  • 3.0 out of 5
Battery problems (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I love the camera and the features. The batteries that came with the camera lasted two days, the second set lasted about 3 days and I only took 30 photos. I now am taking the batteries out of the camera between shooting sessions. I would love to know if anyone else has experienced this problem. I have owned two other Olympus cameras with no problems and long battery life.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Great Camera (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I really like the auto mode settings. The 10x zoom and the 6 meg pix makes this a great cam for great pictures. So far I have no neg about this Camera. I give this a 5 star.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Excellent Digital Camera (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have been in possession of this new camera for less than a week, and during this brief time I have found this camera to be user friendly, diverse in its operative methods (both automatic and manual operation), and excellent in its high resolution picture quality. Moreover, it has a great feel (similar to the feel of an SLR). The fact that it boasts no less than 21 automatic scene shooting modes makes it ideal for the photographer on-the-go. From what I can tell, these shooting modes appear to be accurate in terms of what they are supposed to do. For the advanced photographer, the basic manual options are present and appear to work well. Overall, I give this camera a five star rating!