What are the main features of the SP-550UZ?
The Olympus SP-550UZ is the world’s first 18x ultra-zoom digital camera. Its 4.7-84.2 mm f2.8-4.5 lens yields a 28-504mm zoom equivalent in 35mm format. To support such a long zoom ratio, the SP-550UZ incorporates Sensor Shift Image Stabilization that compensates for camera shake by gyroscopically sensing camera movement and constantly repositioning the 7.1 megapixel CCD sensor, resulting in sharper images in challenging shooting situations. Applying the Sensor Shift image Stabilization also enables shooting at lower shutter speeds in low-light situations and using lower ISOs for better image quality.
The SP-550UZ has an option for a 15 frames-per-second burst rate that also features Pre-capture technology. Pre-capture starts shooting images when the shutter button is depressed halfway, saving up to 5 shots in the buffer memory but not writing them to the memory card. The stored images are refreshed continuously until the shutter is fully depressed, at which time the sequence is saved to the memory card along with the frames captured after the shutter button is fully depressed. Pre-capture makes it possible to record moments that pass too quickly for the typical photographer to react. The SP-550UZ offers full creative control. In addition to three auto-exposure metering modes, it allows Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual exposure modes. In addition to standard autofocus, the camera offers Full Time Autofocus, Predictive Autofocus and Manual Focus options. The Macro and Super Macro modes offer extreme close-up capabilities. In Super Macro mode, the lens will focus to 0.4 inch; at that distance, a twenty-five cent coin would fill the frame.
The SP-550UZ also features a Scene mode with 22 preset scenes so settings tailored to specific shooting scenarios can be quickly applied. It can also record movies with or without sound at 30 or 15 frames per second.
Bright Capture technology allows shooting in low-light situations and capturing an image that’s clear and bright without a flash. And with ISOs up to 5000, the camera can capture images in marginal lighting situations.
Images can be framed and played back on either the high-resolution 2.5-inch LCD screen or the electronic viewfinder.
The camera uses xD-Picture Card media for removable memory. Using Olympus brand cards enables the Panorama function. Panoramic images can be stitched together in the bundled OLYMPUS Master 2 software.
Are any firmware updates available for the SP-550UZ?
Use the Update Camera function in the OLYMPUS Master 2 software packaged with your digital camera to find out whether firmware updates are available for your model. An Internet connection is required to perform the operation.
For detailed instructions on how to update the camera's firmware, click here.
Note: If multiple firmware updates are available for your model, it may not always be possible to update directly from the current firmware version in your camera to the latest available version. In such cases, updates must be applied in stages. For this reason, it is recommended that, after updating the camera firmware, you immediately check again for additional updates. Simply repeat the update procedure to apply subsequent updates.
How can I download images and movies from the camera to a computer?
Complete instructions may be downloaded by clicking here.
Adobe Reader® software is required to view the file. It is available as a free download from Adobe's web site. Click here to download the latest version.
What are the purposes of the different Record Modes?
The SP-550UZ has numerous quality setting options for capturing and saving the images in camera. While it is possible to always shoot at the higher quality settings and then process the images down to lower file sizes later using a computer, it may be more convenient in some situations to shoot at other than the higher-quality record modes.
- RAW is the highest-quality record mode available on the SP-550UZ, and it allows the photographer the most creative control in post-production. Images are saved to the memory card from the camera sensor with minimal image processing. Factors such as white balance, sharpness, contrast and color are unchanged so they can be modified later on a computer. Some photographers prefer to shoot RAW format all the time for all subjects, while others may shoot RAW in situations that may pose complicated exposure problems, such as wedding photography.
Each camera manufacturer has its own version of RAW tailored to its cameras; therefore, special software is required to process RAW files and convert them to other image file formats such as JPEG and TIFF. OLYMPUS Master and OLYMPUS Studio contain RAW processing and conversion software for the Olympus RAW format, whose file extension is *.orf. Third-party imaging software and operating systems may use RAW plug-ins or updates to process Olympus RAW files. Without them, they would not be able to read RAW images from Olympus digital cameras. Most photo kiosks, printers and photo labs cannot read unconverted RAW images.
When RAW is selected in the SP-550UZ, there are options for saving a JPEG copy of the image simultaneously at a selected quality setting.
- SHQ images are the highest-quality JPEG images that can be shot with the SP-550UZ, and they create the largest JPEG files. When the camera processes a captured JPEG image and saves it to the memory card, it uses algorithms to discard some of the data to make the file smaller. The process of mathematically reducing a file’s size by discarding some of its data is called compression. When the image is opened on a computer, the JPEG algorithms reconstruct the discarded data. SHQ uses the lowest JPEG compression, with a fixed ratio of 1:2.7. SHQ is the best choice for general photography and for producing large prints.
- HQ and SQ are lower-quality JPEG formats, which create smaller files than SHQ. Unlike SHQ, the photographer has the option of setting compression ratios for HQ and SQ modes via the camera menu. HQ mode at a low compression is suitable for general photography and printing. SQ mode is suitable for small images in desktop publishing, images to be used on the Internet, and still images made for animated movies.
What is the purpose of the Scene mode?
The SP-550UZ has a Scene Mode (SCN on the Mode Dial) that optimizes the camera settings for specific shooting conditions. All of the settings applied in the 22 available Scenes can also be applied via controls in the camera menu, but applying them manually can be time-consuming. In addition, amateur photographers may not have a deep enough knowledge of photography to select the appropriate settings for some situations that advanced amateur and professional photographers would employ.
What is the histogram?
The histogram gives the photographer feedback on the distribution of the light and dark tones in the image. When it is enabled, it is displayed on the LCD screen or electronic viewfinder in real time.
The SP-550UZ has two types of histograms. The standard histogram displays the brightness range of the camera as a graph. The left side of the graph indicates highlights (red) and the right side of the graph indicates shadows (blue). On each end of the graph is a space indicating highlight and shadow values that fall outside of the camera’s brightness range and which will have no saved detail when the image is taken. The photographer has the option of changing settings such as Exposure Compensation, Contrast and Saturation to fit the tones within the histogram.
The SP-550UZ also has a DIRECT histogram option that displays areas in the viewed image that will be lacking detail in the saved image. Highlights with no detail are displayed in red, and shadows with no detail are displayed in blue.
The camera will also show the histogram of an image in the Playback Mode. Pressing the DISP. button will change the display of the image information. One of the displays shows a thumbnail of an image, exposure information, and the image histogram.
How many images can the SP-550UZ hold?
The chart below shows the approximate number of pictures at each available quality mode that the SP-550UZ can hold in its internal memory and on a variety of optional xD-Picture Card™ media. The camera can store pictures and movies in any combination of quality modes. All figures are approximate.
(H x W)
||Number of storable images1|
|xD-Picture Card™ media|
||3,072 x 2,304
||3,072 x 2,304
|3,072 x 2,048
||3,072 x 2,304
|3,072 x 2,048
||2,560 x 1,920
|2,560 x 1,920
|2,304 x 1,728
|2,304 x 1,728
|2,048 x 1,536
|2,048 x 1,536
||1,600 x 1,200
|1,600 x 1,200
|1,280 x 960
|1,280 x 960
|1,024 x 768
|1,024 x 768
|640 x 480
|640 x 480
||1,920 x 1,080
1 Capacity will be slightly less than shown if sound is recorded with still images. All figures are approximate.
2 RAW totals assume JPEG DUPLICATE SETTING is set to [OFF]. When it is set to [ON], a second image is saved with the RAW image file. The size of the second image depends on the image quality mode selected for the duplicate. RAW quality mode is not available in the Full Auto or SCN shooting modes, when DIGITAL ZOOM or FINE ZOOM is set to [ON], or when the DRIVE function is set to any value other than Single Frame.
How much movie recording time does the SP-550UZ have?
The amount of movie recording time depends on the Image Quality mode used to shoot the movies and the length of each shot. The two settings that comprise an Image Quality mode are image size and frame rate. Image size is the resolution of each frame in the movie and is measured in pixels. Frame rate is the number of movie frames that are stored per second of recording time.
The SHQ quality mode uses the largest image size and fastest frame rate, so it produces the highest-quality movie files; however, the files will be larger than recordings of equal duration that are shot using other quality modes. Therefore, SHQ mode will exhaust storage capacity more quickly.
In movie mode, the SP-550UZ can, in most cases, record continuously up to approximately the capacity of the storage medium. When using Standard or Type M xD-Picture Card™ media, the maximum recording time per movie in the SHQ quality mode is 15 seconds.
The chart below shows the maximum continuous movie recording time available in each quality mode when using either the camera's internal memory or Type M+ or Type H xD-Picture Card media. The chart assumes that the memory medium has been freshly formatted.
(W x H)
|Recording time per movie (h:mm:ss) with Sound1|
|xD-Picture Card™ media (Type M+ or Type H)|
||640 x 480
||640 x 480
||320 x 240
||320 x 240
1 Recording times will be slightly longer if sound is not recorded. All times are approximate and are calculated based on storage capacity; they are not a guarantee of battery life.
2 The maximum length per movie when recording in the SHQ quality mode using Standard or Type M xD-Picture Card media is 15 seconds.
Where can I find the documentation for my camera?
The SP-550UZ is packaged with a printed Instruction Manual that includes a Quick Start Guide. If lost, replacement documentation can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking here.
Adobe Reader® is required to view the PDF files. The software is available as a free download from Adobe's Web site.
Where can I get an electronic copy of the instruction manual?
A PDF version of the documentation can be downloaded by clicking here.
Adobe Reader® is required to view PDF files. This software is available as a free download from Adobe's Web site.
How do I update the camera's firmware?
Digital cameras are controlled by internal software called “firmware.” Firmware dictates the functionality of the product and the features that are available. Some digital cameras have the flexibility to change, improve or add functionality by downloading and applying firmware updates.
Olympus digital cameras are thoroughly tested for full functionality prior to shipment. Updated Olympus firmware versions offer little or no functionality changes; they are typically offered due to changes in electronic components during camera production.
Complete instructions for updating camera firmware may be downloaded by clicking here.
Adobe Reader® software is required to view the file. It is available as a free download from Adobe's web site. Click here to download the latest version.
How do I insert the memory card into the camera?
To insert the memory card into the camera, do the following.
- Power off the camera.
- Open the card cover on the right side of the camera.
- Hold the memory card so that the gold contact area is facing the back of the camera and the notch is facing up.
- Insert the card into the card slot as shown below. Push the card gently straight in until it clicks.
What are the P, A, S and M modes on the Mode Dial? How are they used?
The P, A, S and M modes are the Advanced Shooting modes. These are essentially non-AUTO modes that allow the photographer more creative control by enabling more control over shutter speed and f-stop settings. Briefly, the Advanced Shooting modes and their applications are as follows:
- P (Program shooting) – Allows shooting using an aperture and shutter speed set by the camera. In many respects it is similar to the AUTO mode. Unlike the AUTO shooting mode, the program shooting mode allows full access to the menu settings for greater creative control of the camera.
- A (Aperture priority shooting) – Allows the aperture to be set manually, thereby giving the photographer control over depth-of-field. This mode also uses Program Shift, so the photographer can select any aperture in the range of the lens using the up/down arrow buttons. The camera compensates for the exposure by changing the shutter speed automatically as the f-stops are changed. The Aperture priority shooting mode automatically enables the Exposure Compensation function, which is controlled by the left/right arrow buttons.
- S (Shutter priority shooting) – Allows the shutter speed to be set manually, thereby giving the photographer control over stopping action or reducing camera shake. This mode also uses Program Shift, so the photographer can select any shutter speed in the range of the camera body using the up/down arrow buttons. The camera compensates for the exposure by changing the aperture automatically as the shutter speeds are changed. The Shutter priority mode automatically enables the Exposure Compensation function, which is controlled by the left/right arrow buttons.
- M (Manual shooting) – Allows the photographer to set the shutter speed and aperture independently of each other. Program Shift is not applied in this mode. Exposure is determined by testing or by using a light meter. In the Manual shooting mode, the shutter speed is set using the up/down arrow buttons, and the aperture is set using the left/right arrow buttons. The effect of changes in the shutter speed and aperture are shown on the LCD screen or in the electronic viewfinder. The values of underexposure and overexposure are displayed in the upper right of the screen display where the Exposure Compensation values are displayed in the P, A and S shooting modes.
When the Mode Dial is set to AUTO, why are some of the menu options deactivated (grayed-out)?
In the AUTO shooting mode, the camera operates with a minimum of input from the user. Many shooting functions are controlled entirely by the camera; the photographer cannot change their settings. Therefore, the menu options that control those settings are deactivated (grayed-out) in AUTO mode.
How do I decide which ISO setting to use?
Think of the ISO speeds as film speeds. Low ISOs such as 50 and 100 are better-suited to situations in which there is a lot of light – outdoors scenes, for example. Higher ISOs, such as 400 and 800, would be used outdoors where there is plenty of light and fast shutter speeds are desired – sports and air shows, for example – or indoors for available light shooting. ISO 1600 or 3200 would be used where there are very low light levels, such as indoors or at night.
The AUTO and Scene modes automatically set the ISO.
The automatic settings make Night Scene convenient for night shots, but I want more creative control. How should I set up the camera?
The SP-550UZ has numerous options that give the photographer extensive control over exposure factors. Creative night photography involves using the camera’s manual settings.
Two accessories are essential for night photography. The first is a steady tripod or camera clamp to stabilize the camera during the long exposures involved in night photography. The other accessory is a cable release. The SP-550UZ uses the RM-UC1 Remote Cable Release (Item # 260237), which can be purchased from authorized dealers or online directly from The Olympus Store. Click here to order.
The cable release is plugged into the camera’s USB connector. The release button can be locked down for long BULB exposures.
To set the camera up for night shooting,
- Turn the Mode Dial to the M (Manual) shooting mode. In this mode the shutter speed and f-stop are entered manually—there is no auto exposure. Use the left and right arrow buttons on the keypad to select the desired aperture. Use the up and down arrow buttons to set the shutter speed to BULB. In the BULB setting the shutter will remain open as long as the shutter button is depressed or the Remote Cable Release button is depressed or locked.
- Find the appropriate WB (white balance) setting for the shot. Because night scenes have mixed light sources, you may have to experiment with different settings to find a desirable color balance. The WB setting, like the rest of the settings listed below, can be found in the CAMERA MENU.
- ISO is also subject to testing, depending on the exposure time used. ISO 200 or 400 would be a good place to start.
- FOCUS MODE should be set to MF (Manual Focus) because autofocus isn’t practical for time-exposure night photography. When you close the menu, you will see a focusing scale on the left side of the LCD screen. Use the up/down arrow buttons to manually focus the lens. A great feature of the SP-550UZ is that when you are manually focusing, the LCD screen shows an enlarged area of the image to assist in fine focusing.
- SHARPNESS should be set to –5. This is the minimum sharpening the camera can apply. Since night images are usually post-processed, it is best to begin with an unsharpened image because each step of post-processing of a JPEG image recompresses the image a little bit, degrading the image.
- NOISE REDUCT. should be set to ON. Long night exposures create noise and hot pixels because the sensor heats up during the exposure. NOISE REDUCT. exposes a second dark frame with the same exposure time as the original image. The camera then compares the two images and subtracts the noise and hot pixels from the first frame, thereby saving a cleaner image.
It’s a good idea to keep some notes on your tests and final settings for future night shoots. Remember to reset your camera to its normal settings after your night shoot. You can also preserve your settings for future night photography by creating a My Mode profile.
The SP-550UZ has six focusing modes. Which should I use?
With six focusing modes, photographers have great flexibility in setting up the camera for diverse shooting situations. The following descriptions will help you determine the best mode for each shot.
- iESP: This is the factory default autofocus mode. The camera itself determines which subject within the screen to focus on. Even when the subject is not in the center of the screen, focusing is possible. However, since the camera has no way of knowing what the subject is, it may not select the intended subject.
- SPOT: In this mode, the camera focuses on the subject within the AF target mark, which is in the center of the frame. If the main subject is not in the center of the frame, the AF target mark can be positioned on the subject by aiming the camera, pressing the shutter button halfway to lock the autofocus on the subject and then recomposing the shot. Press the shutter button all the way down to capture the image.
- AREA: When this option is enabled, the AF target mark can be repositioned to numerous points in the frame using the arrow buttons on the four-way keypad. You can shoot at any time in this mode. Pressing the [OK/FUNC] button returns the AF target mark to the center of the image.
- MF (Manual Focus): Manual focus is set in the FOCUS MODE option in the CAMERA MENU. Manual focus can be used creatively to focus on a specific subject or during time-lapse still image shooting. When manual focus is enabled, a focusing distance scale is displayed running vertically on the left side of the LCD screen or in the electronic viewfinder. The distance setting is controlled by the up/down arrow buttons on the keypad. While focusing, the central area of the image is enlarged for more accurate focus. Pressing the [OK/FUNC] button sets the focus. Pressing [OK/FUNC] again refocuses.
- FULLTIME AF: This mode keeps the subject in front of the lens in focus at all times without having to press the shutter button halfway. The focusing time is reduced, resulting in much shorter shutter lag. Also, the subject is automatically kept in focus during movie recording.
When the QUICK SHUTTER Scene is enabled, FULLTIME AF is automatically enabled to reduce shutter lag.
- AF PREDICT: This is the SP-550UZ's application of Predictive Autofocus technology. The camera observes the movement of a subject moving toward or away from the camera and predicts its position at the moment of exposure. When activated, position the AF target mark on the subject and press the shutter button halfway to engage AF PREDICT. When the moving subject reaches the desired position in the frame, press the shutter button all the way down to take the picture.
The subject I want in focus doesn’t line up with the AF frame in the viewfinder. How do I get the camera to focus on the subject?
The AFL (Autofocus Lock) function enables the photographer to prefocus on a specific subject, lock the focus and then recompose the image and shoot the picture. To do this:
- Position the AF frame on the autofocus subject and press the shutter button halfway until the AF Lock lamp appears. It is a green dot in the upper left corner of the LCD screen or electronic viewfinder.
- While holding the shutter button in the halfway position, recompose the image and press the shutter button all the way to shoot the picture.
At first this may seem to be a cumbersome procedure, but with practice it can become a fluid movement.
How do I use the different metering modes?
The SP-550UZ provides three metering options that allow the photographer to have greater control over exposure. The metering modes are set in the CAMERA MENU. Descriptions and applications of the metering modes are detailed below:
||ESP metering is recommended for general use. The camera meters the brightness at the center of the monitor and the surrounding area separately to capture an image with balanced brightness. When taking pictures against a strong backlight, the center of the image may appear dark.|
||Spot metering measures the exposure using a very small area in the center of the monitor and can be used to meter a backlit subject. Spot metering must be used very carefully because the brightness within the subject area on which the metering spot is centered can dramatically influence the final exposure.|
||Center-weighted Average metering provides average metering between the subject and the background lighting, placing more weight on the center of the frame. Use this mode when you do not want the light level of the background to affect the exposure value of the main subject.|
What is the purpose of Exposure Compensation?
Metering systems in cameras measure light but do not have a way of determining what the subject matter is, so the exposure decisions the metering system makes may not always be appropriate for the subject matter. This phenomenon is called subject failure. As with Spot metering, the human touch may be required to arrive at correct exposures. Exposure Compensation allows the photographer to set up the camera to under- or overexpose in specific situations.
Exposure Compensation is enabled by pressing the Up arrow button on the keypad. The values are changed using the Left and Right arrow buttons. Exposure Compensation is disabled by pressing the Up arrow button a second time.
The Exposure Compensation setting is shown on the LCD’s control panel or the electronic viewfinder. It looks like this:
In the example, Exposure Compensation is set to underexpose one f-stop. The function can be set to under- or overexpose up to two f-stops in 1/3-stop increments.
It is important that you set the compensation back to 0.0 before shooting subjects in other conditions so the subjects will be properly exposed.
In the FLASH menu, what is the purpose of the SLAVE function?
Even though the SP-550UZ doesn’t have a PC sync cord connector, it can be used with studio strobes and off-camera flashes equipped with slave triggers. A slave trigger will fire a flash unit when it detects another flash firing. When the SP-550UZ's FLASH setting is set to SLAVE, its built-in flash will fire in sync with slaved flash units.
The SLAVE function has 10 power settings so that the camera’s built-in flash can be set from a minimum flash output (1) to full power output (10). This gives the photographer the option of using the camera flash only as a trigger for the slaved flashes or as the main light, using the slaved flashes for fill light.
The SP-550UZ has AUTO White Balance, so why is it necessary to have white balance presets?
Having white balance presets grants the photographer more creative control. For one thing, daylight can be warm or cold. On a sunny day, early and late light has a warmer appearance than when the sun is high. The AUTO White Balance option might color correct for that warmth, thus taking away the ambience. Using the Sunny day setting will preserve that warmth. The AUTO White Balance will also diminish the red, yellow and orange colors in a sunset, so it is advisable to use the Sunny day setting when shooting sunsets.
On cloudy days, the light seems colder because the clouds absorb the warmer red and yellow frequencies of the sunlight coming from above the clouds. Therefore, there is a Cloudy day setting in the presets to record the images with a warmer appearance. Creatively, the Cloudy day preset can be used on a sunny day to give images a more “golden” appearance, or it can be used to make a sunset warmer.
The Tungsten light setting compensates for the yellowish color cast of indoor lighting and candle light. The Tungsten light setting should be used for shooting subjects being lit with floodlights, for example, for posting to an Internet auction site. Creatively, the Tungsten light preset can be used outdoors in daylight to make the images appear more blue—giving a surreal feeling of coldness and moodiness.
The three Fluorescent lamp presets provide options for different types of fluorescent lights. These presets are valuable when photographing in business and office environments. It is advisable to shoot test shots to find the correct fluorescent preset for the shooting environment before doing available light photography under fluorescent light.
With so many White Balance settings available, why and when should I use One-Touch White Balance?
There are many light sources and situations that are not covered by Auto White Balance or the other settings in the White Balance menu. Many noncontinuous light sources, such as fluorescent, mercury vapor and sodium vapor lights, do not have all of the colors of the spectrum. There are also situations in which many different types of lights are used in one environment. These do not neatly fit into what the camera firmware knows about white balance, so it is necessary to “educate” the camera about the specific light balance by shooting a white reference subject such as a white card and saving the data in the White Balance menu as a One-Touch White Balance.
How should I set up the SP-550UZ to shoot in black and white or sepia tone?
The SP-550UZ always shoots in color; however, a color image can be converted to a black and white or sepia tone image using options in the EDIT menu.
To convert an image to black and white or sepia tone:
- In the Playback mode, select the image to be converted.
- Press [MENU], and then open the EDIT menu.
- Using the down arrow button, select BLACK & WHITE or SEPIA.
- Press the [OK/FUNC] button to preview the conversion, and then press [OK/FUNC] again to apply the conversion.
The camera will write the converted image to the memory card at the same quality setting as the original image. The original image will remain unchanged.
Is it possible to take time-lapse photo sequences with the SP-550UZ?
Yes, the SP-550UZ can be used for time-lapse photography. This technique is useful for photographing moving clouds, flowers opening or wildlife interacting at a feeding station.
The TIME LAPSE function is selectable from the CAMERA MENU when using the P, A, S and M shooting modes. The TIME LAPSE option enables shooting from 2 to 99 images at intervals of 1 to 99 minutes in one-minute increments.
It is recommended to use a tripod or camera clamp to position the camera for the time-lapse sequence. Because the length of a time-lapse sequence may exceed the battery life of the four AA batteries the camera holds, it is also recommended to power the camera with the C-7AU Digital Camera AC Adapter (Item: #200685-410), which is available for purchase from authorized dealers or online directly from The Olympus Store. Click here to order.
In addition, the MF (Manual Focus) mode should be used to prevent the camera from changing focus during the time-lapse sequence.
If the intention of the time-lapse sequence is to convert the images into a movie, use the SQ2 640 x 480 record mode to accommodate the frame rate a movie requires. The finished time-lapse sequence can be converted to a movie at various frame rates using third-party software such as QuickTime® Pro.
I want to use a lens filter with the SP-550UZ. What is the diameter of the filter thread?
The SP-550UZ does not have a filter thread. The grooves on the interior of the lens front are used to control the lens; lens filters cannot be attached to this thread.
Filters with 55mm diameter can be attached to the SP-550UZ via the CLA-10 Lens Tube Adapter, sold separately. However, it is not recommended because vignetting may occur in the corners of the image when the camera is set to wide angle positions. Images taken with the SP-550UZ while using filters are not supported by Olympus.
The CLA-10 Lens Tube Adapter is available from authorized Olympus dealers and also online from The Olympus Store. To purchase the CLA-10 (Item #202104), click here.
Does Olympus offer any conversion lenses for the SP-550UZ?
Olympus offers the TCON-17 Telephoto Conversion Lens for use with the SP-550UZ. The lens increases the magnification of the subject by 1.7x when the camera is at the extreme telephoto zoom. The CLA-10 Lens Tube Adapter, sold separately, is required to attach the TCON-17 to the SP-550UZ.
Both accessories are available from authorized Olympus dealers or online directly from The Olympus Store. To purchase the TCON-17 Telephoto Conversion Lens (Item #200862), click here. To purchase the CLA-10 Lens Tube Adapter (Item #202104), click here.
Does the SP-550UZ support the Olympus wireless RC flash system?
Does Olympus offer a remote cable release for the SP-550UZ?
The RM-UC1 Remote Cable Release is the electronic cable release for the SP-550UZ.
The RM-UC1 connects to the same USB port on the camera that is used to connect the camera to a computer via the bundled USB cable. The RM-UC1 has a sliding lock to lock the cable release for BULB exposures.
The RM-UC1 is available from authorized Olympus dealers and online directly from The Olympus Store. To order the RM-UC1 (Item #260237), click here.
When I look through the viewfinder, the image does not appear to be sharp. Why?
You may need to adjust the viewfinder’s diopter to your vision. To the left of the viewfinder eyepiece cup is the diopter adjustment dial. While looking through the viewfinder, rotate the diopter adjustment dial until you can see the AF frame clearly in the center of the viewfinder.
I can’t get a sharp image using the NIGHT SCENE or NIGHT+PORTRAIT scenes. What am I doing wrong?
The NIGHT SCENE and NIGHT+PORTRAIT scenes are meant to take timed exposures of skylines and city streets by leaving the shutter open for several seconds. Therefore, it is necessary to stabilize the camera by bracing it against something solid or – ideally – by using a tripod or camera clamp.
Sometimes when I’m shooting in dim light I have difficulty getting the camera to focus. What can I do?
Digital cameras autofocus by detecting differences in the contrast between light and dark areas of the image projected onto the sensor. If the light is dim or the image has somewhat flat contrast, the camera may have difficulty focusing. The SP-550UZ has an AF Illuminator feature that uses the flash to illuminate the subject just before the exposure is made, thereby assuring autofocus.
To enable the AF Illuminator:
- Press the [MENU] button in any shooting mode.
- CAMERA MENU is selected by default. Press the [OK/FUNC] button.
- Using the Down arrow button on the keypad, toggle down to AF ILLUMINAT.
- Toggle right, and select ON.
- Press [OK/FUNC] again to activate the setting.
- Exit the menu.
When I try to select the PANORAMA option in the CAMERA MENU, the option is grayed out. Why?
The PANORAMA option in the SP-550UZ requires an Olympus xD-Picture Card memory card to function. When a series of panoramic shots are captured in the SP-550UZ, the images are “tagged” with information that the bundled OLYMPUS Master software uses to Auto-Stitch the images together into an almost seamless single image. There is software in the Olympus xD-Picture Card media that is part of the data algorithms the camera uses to save the images to the card as elements in a panoramic image. Therefore, a non-Olympus xD-Picture Card, CompactFlash, or Microdrive media will not enable the PANORAMA option.
When I have my images printed to 4X6 prints, the top and bottom of the pictures are cut off. Is there a way to setup the camera so this doesn’t happen?
In the default setting, the SP-560UZ shoots in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which approximates the shape of an 8 x 10-inch print. A 4 x 6-inch print, however, has a 3:2 aspect ratio.
When an image shot in the 4:3 aspect ratio is printed as a 4” x 6” print, some of the image detail falls outside of the printable area defined by the borders of a 3:2 frame. This detail, located at the top and the bottom of the picture, is trimmed off before printing.
Both the SHQ and HQ Record Modes have an option to set up the camera to shoot in the 3:2 aspect ratio. The option is accessed from the IMAGE QUALITY menu. There you will see a blue arrow to the right of each of the Record Modes. Select SHQ or HQ, and then press the right arrow key to view the options available for that mode. When the 3:2 option is selected, the camera will be set up to shoot in the aspect ratio appropriate for 4” x 6” and 3.5” x 5” prints.
The preview image seen on the LCD screen and the electronic viewfinder will show black bands above and below the image, defining the image area of the 3:2 aspect ratio.
I went on vacation and used several memory cards. Now, when I’m downloading the images onto my computer and trying to save them, I get a message that says, “Image file_name.jpg already exists. Replace it with the new file?” What’s going on?
The SP-550UZ has two settings for creating file names for the images it captures:
- AUTO - Even when a new card is inserted, the folder numbers are retained from the previous card. If the new card contains an image file whose number coincides with one saved on the previous card, the new card’s file numbers start at the number following the highest number on the previous card.
Put simply, the camera picks up where it left off when naming files.
- RESET - When a new card is inserted, the folder numbers start at 100 and the file numbers start at 0001. If a card containing images is inserted, the file numbers start at the number following the highest file number on the card. If the card has been formatted, the file names will start with 0001.
Put simply, the card starts naming files anew beginning at 0001. At some point, the computer will start seeing duplicate numbers. When multiple cards are downloaded in this setting, each duplicate file name will have to be renamed individually or else the like-named files will overwrite their predecessors when they are saved to the computer. The original images will no longer be viewable.
My camera is connected to my TV with the video cable to play back my photos, but I don’t see any images.
TVs have AV (Audio Visual) input channels (usually found below Channel 2) to play images and videos from digital cameras and camcorders. Using the TV channel selector, move downward through the channels until you see the camera menu on the TV screen. The display on the camera LCD screen or Electronic Viewfinder will be blacked out.
If the image quality on the TV screen appears to be distorted, the camera may be set to a video output format that is incompatible with your TV. In the SETUP menu, check the VIDEO OUT setting. In North America, the setting should be NTSC.
My images are blurry even though I have the camera mounted on a tripod and the Image Stabilizer function is set to ON. Why?
The SP-550UZ features both Sensor Shift Image Stabilization and Digital Image Stabilization. The former is a mechanical technology that actually shifts the image sensor to compensate for camera motion during image capture. The latter boosts ISO and shutter speed in order to allow the camera to shoot more quickly in low-light conditions, which minimizes blur caused by subject or camera motion because the shutter is open for a shorter duration.
When Sensor Shift Image Stabilization is active, the camera actively tracks its own position relative to that of the subject in order to apply the proper compensation to stabilize the image. Image stabilization may overcompensate when the camera is mounted to a tripod. For this reason, it is recommended that Sensor Shift Image Stabilization be disabled when the camera is mounted to a tripod.
Sensor Shift Image Stabilization may be disabled in either of two ways:
- Press the Image Stabilizer button (hand icon), and then use the arrow pad to choose OFF.
- Press the [MENU] button to display the top menu. Use the arrow pad to select CAMERA MENU, and then press the [OK] button. Use the arrow pad to select IMAGE STABILIZER, located on the third page of the Camera Menu, and then press [OK]. Use the arrow pad to select OFF. Finally, press [MENU] repeatedly to exit the menu.
Note: The SP-550UZ Instruction Manual erroneously indicates that the Image Stabilizer menu selection controls the Digital Image Stabilization function. It actually controls the Sensor Shift Image Stabilization function.
When recording movies in the SHQ image quality mode, I am restricted to 15 seconds of recording time per movie. Why?
In SHQ mode, the SP-550UZ records movies with VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels) and a frame rate of 30 frames per second. Recording this much data, this quickly, requires a large amount of camera memory and a very quick write time.
Olympus’ Type M+ and Type H xD-Picture Card media are high-speed cards and are able to process this volume of information with no loss in quality. Other commercially available media, including Type M and Standard type xD-Picture Card media, are not able to do so. For this reason, this model limits movie recording in SHQ mode to 15 seconds when using media other than Type M+ or Type H cards. The 15-second restriction guarantees that the camera will be able to process the data properly and produce a smooth, error-free movie during playback.
Keep in mind that there is no restriction on movie recording length, other than the capacity of the storage media, when recording in the HQ (320 x 240 pixels) mode.