When I was in the market for a new camera that had just a bit more zoom my attention turned to the Nikon P600, a popular and shiny mega zoom camera. It had many of the features I wanted, except the price…..
I stopped at a local electronics shop here in town, Haku Man Bolt (literally 1 million volts!), and found they had the display model of an Olympus camera I had not heard about. I tried it out and liked the price point so got it. It was an Olympus SP-100EE, noted for having a targeting sight to use with the 50X zoom.
Compared to the Nikon the zoom was about the same, and resolution also. I will not avoid the fact that the Nikon’s picture resolution is most likely better. They just have a really good color balance and processing capability on their cameras. This Olympus has a few features that I really like though.
1.You can set the camera to be on USB charge and still use the camera. Very useful for long videos, using the interval setting, etc. Many cameras just don’t allow you to do this anymore and it is a big help when the need for power arises.
2. Weight-this is where I would usually be negative about a camera, but this one saved me hundreds of dollars! I once left the Olympus on the roof of my car and drove for 10 kilometers until a person jumped out of their car and told me there was a camera on the roof of my car! A lighter camera would have fallen off long before. Also the lens has a really solid rubber ring that is very wide and must have helped the camera cling in place.
3. Video quality-at first I thought the image quality was not as good as I wanted it to be, but the video quality is definitely good enough. Especially with the stabilization it makes a very clear, steady imaging of your scene.
4. Tough-along the weight lines one of the things I like about the Olympus is that the body is metal. Nikon makes good cameras, but the bodies are tending toward plastic now to save weight but it also means they can brake more easily. I love hiking and have dropped this camera on rocks, tree trunks and bumped my daughters head a few times, and it has held up very well (no daughters were injured for this review).
5. Zoom speed- As noted by other reviewers the zoom speed, especially in video mode, is really slow on the Nikon, but not the Olympus. It zooms and focuses much faster and also features a focus lock in the main menu and on a button on the front side by the lens.
There are many negative with the Olympus SP-100EE, to be honest. Image quality is not what I was expecting-especially in low light. Nikons are much better at low light, no doubt about it. But this camera has a gimmick that is actually useful-what they call their Dot Sight. Basically it is a separate screen built between the body and pop up flash that shows a target bull’s eye in red.
This correlates to the center of your zooming lens. This is excellent for taking pictures of wild life and fast moving objects that would be impossible to catch with the viewfinder-and it really works. I have used it countless times, especially for pictures of birds. For this feature a wild life photographer would really find it a gem. It is the only camera on the market with this feature, and might only ever be!
Imperfect as cameras can be the Olympus SP-100EE has its charms. After a year I find using it more often and understanding its advantages, while coping with its weaknesses. It’s a relationship I am happy with, because the pictures tell the story.