The Olympus Stylus 550 WP is an economically priced, waterproof to three meters point-and-shoot with an effective 10 megapixel sensor, an equivalent 38-114mm f/3.5-5.0 3X zoom lens that delivers surprisingly good prints up to 8 x 10 inches even at ISO 400, and is a perfect camera choice for a child or teenager or an adult on a budget.
My Best In Class Pick
Olympus Stylus 550 WP
The Olympus Stylus 550 WP produces suprisingly good images for an under $200 camera, but it’s no speed demon. Power-up to First Shot takes over three seconds! Shutter lag with full auto-focus averages about one. And with a Shot-to-Shot time of a hair under four seconds, rapid sequence shots are out of the question. But if you can get past its slowness, the 550 WP really isn’t all that bad of a camera.
True, it doesn’t have a lot of the features one is accustomed to finding in pricier point-and-shoots like optical image stabilization, long battery life, a fast super wide to tele zoom, HD video, etc. However, if you’re not a feature freak, the 550 WP does have enough suitable features to make your picture taking easy. For example, there are seventeen Shooting modes, seven White Balance settings, Shutter Speeds from 1/2 to 1/1000 second, ISOs 100 to 1600, plus Auto; two Autofocus modes, including Face Detection; four AVI movie modes with sound: 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 at either 30 or 15 frames per second; and a 10-shot Panorama assist mode. There’s also a integrated flash (careful or you’ll cover it with your finger) and 14.8 megabytes of internal memory.
The 6.7 – 20.1mm (38 – 114mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.0 3X zoom lens is a modest performer and well suited to this low cost camera. It does exhibits slight barrel distortion at the wide setting progressing to slight pincushion at tele. Nothing serious, though. Its main caveat is image softness in the corners which occurs at all focal lengths, but due to the 4:3 image sensor format the corners mostly get cropped out when typical sized prints are made. In any case, the softness is slight to moderate and probably wouldn’t be noticeable in normal use. Otherwise, it produces generally sharp images with noise well controlled up to ISO 400. After that image quality degrades rapidly. Overall image color balance is good as is auto-exposure.
So, if you’re looking for an economical, waterproof camera for general watersports–at three meters max depth, it’s not a dive camera–or for just playing around in the swimming pool, then the Olympus Stylus 550 WP might just be the camera you’re looking for.
- +Low noise up to ISO 400
- -No optical viewfinder
- -No true image stabilization
- -Not Shock or Freezeproof
- -Images soft in corners
- -Slow operating
- -Battery life
- -Battery life
Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices
|Product||Olympus Stylus 550 WP||Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP|
Close Effective Sensor Resolution The Effective Sensor Resolution tells you the total number of pixels that are recorded when you take a picture. The units are MP, which stands for megapixels or millions of pixels. For outstanding fine compression prints, 3MP is required for 5x7's, 7.1MP for 8x10's, and 10.9MP for 11x14's. The effective sensor resolution is only one of many important factors that will determine the quality of the photograph when displayed or printed at different sizes.
|10.0 megapixels||10.0 megapixels|
Close Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent) The 35 mm equivalent focal length is a measure that indicates the angle of view of a particular combination of a camera lens and the sensor size. The term originates from the time when the vast majority of photography was done with 35 mm film. On any 35 mm film camera, a 30 mm or less lens is considered a wide-angle lens.
|38 mm||35 mm|
Close Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent) The 35 mm equivalent focal length is a measure that indicates the angle of view of a particular combination of a camera lens and the sensor size. The term originates from the time when the vast majority of photography was done with 35 mm film. Larger max focal lengths make distant objects appear more magnified.
|114 mm||105 mm|
Close Max Aperture (wide-angle) The aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that determines the amount of light falling onto the sensor. The maximum aperture (wide-angle) is the largest possible size at the wide-angle limit of the zoom lens. The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number, the ratio of focal length to effective aperture diameter. A lower f-number denotes a greater aperture opening, which allows more light to reach the image sensor.
Close Max Aperture (tele-photo) The aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that determines the amount of light falling onto the sensor. The maximum aperture (tele-photo) is the largest possible size at the tele-photo limit of the zoom lens. The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number, the ratio of focal length to effective aperture diameter. A lower f-number denotes a greater aperture opening, which allows more light to reach the image sensor.
|Min Focus Distance (not macro)||19.7 in.||23.6 in.|
|Min Focus Distance (macro)||2.8 in.||3.1 in.|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/1000 sec.||1/1000 sec.|
|Min ISO Setting||100||64|
|Max ISO Setting||1600||1600|
Close Image Stabilization Available Image stabilization features are designed to reduce the blur that results from normal, minute shaking of a lens due to hand-held shooting. However, image stabilization does not prevent motion blur caused by the movement of the subject or by extreme movements of the camera.
Close Face Detection Available Face detection technology will try to set the focus, exposure, and color balance so that faces appear sharp, well-exposed, and with the proper color.
|Power to First Shot Time||3.3 sec.||2.2 sec.|
Close Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time) This is the time from fully pressing the shutter button until the image is captured. Longer shutter lag times make it more difficult to capture the desired moment.
|1.0 sec. average||0.67 sec. average|
|HD Video Available||No||No|
|Max Video Resolution||640 x 480 pixels||640 x 480 pixels|
|Max Video Frame Rate (max resolution)||30 fps||30 fps|
Close Viewfinder Available A viewfinder is a window that you look through to compose the picture. Some cameras do not have a viewfinder and instead use the LCD display. The LCD display may be difficult to see in bright light and may make it more difficult to capture fast-moving subjects because of the time required to update the display.
Close LCD Screen Size The LCD Screen Size is the length of the miniature LCD monitor measured diagonally.
|2.5 in.||2.7 in.|
|LCD Screen Resolution||230,000 pixels||230,000 pixels|
|Storage Media||xD, microSD||SDHC, SD, xD|
|Size (W x H x D)||3.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 in.||3.6 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.|
|Weight (with batteries)||5.3 oz.||3.9 oz. w/o battery|
|Battery Life||140 shots||200 shots|
Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP
The 10 megapixel Fujifilm Finepix Z33WP is a small, economical, waterproof (to 3 meters) camera with about the same specifications, features and price as the Olympus Stylus 550 WP, and is faster operating, but only marginally so. The controls are easy to operate, the battery is rated for 200 exposures, and it has a large 2.7” LCD. The lens, a Fujinon 6.3 - 8.9mm (35 - 105mm 35mm equivalent) f/3.7-4.2, is its primary failing exhibiting objectionable image softness in the corners to the point that it is readily apparent even in a 4” x 6” print. And even though there is little if any barrel or pincushion distortion regardless of focal length, image detail even at the lowest ISOs, 64 or 100, is already quite soft with further degradation due to noise as the ISO increases with images above ISO 400 looking more like illustrations than photographs. Overall color and auto-exposure are good.
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP
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