The Olympus SP-800UZ is an inexpensive 14-megapixel digital camera with a 30x optical zoom, 720p HD video recording, HDMI out and 2GB of built-in storage. However this camera does have its faults, including long shutter lag, poor image stabilization and mediocre battery life.
The Olympus SP-800UZ measures 4.2 x 2.9 x 3.2-inches (whd) and weighs about 15 ounces. It's pretty comfortable and easy to hold for most users, but some with larger fingers might have trouble using the controls on the camera's backside. The camera feels pretty solid too, but don't expect it to be able to handle any sizable drop.
On the backside, you'll find a scroll wheel with select button, a dedicated video record button and playback, menu and help buttons. The 3-inch LCD display is decently sized and has good quality, which is a good thing too because there's no optical viewfinder. This means that every shot you take has to be framed via the LCD display, which might turn some people off, especially when shooting in bright, outdoor settings.
In terms of ports, there's a multi-function connector for connecting the Olympus SP-800UZ to A/V out or a computer. There is also micro-HDMI supported too. Olympus includes 2GB of internal memory for storing photos, but a small portion of that is taken by a complete help manual installed on the device and the software for connecting the camera to a Windows computer. The camera does work with a Mac computer, but the included software is just Windows only. For more memory space, you can use SD or SDHC memory cards.
This camera from Olympus is a point-and-shoot camera, meaning that are no manual or semimanual controls. Instead, there are several preset shooting modes to choose from and these modes change the settings on the camera for you.
Some of the specifications of the Olympus SP-800UZ include a 14-megapixel resolution, a 30x optical zoom with f2.8-5.6 aperture and a 28-840mm 35mm equivalent focal length and mechanical and digital image stabilization. Images are saved in JPEG format and have a maximum resolution of 4288 x 3216-pixels and videos are saved in MPEG-4 format with a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720-pixels at 30 frames per second. This video resolution is 720p high-definition, which means you can show these HD videos on an HDTV by means of the mini-HDMI connection.
The camera does have a few special modes, like macro and super macro for shooting up close shots. The first macro mode produces good images but the super macro mode gives you much softer-looking images. There are 17 different shooting modes, including portrait, landscape, night, fireworks, etc. You can change the ISO and white balance settings while in Program Auto mode, but you don't get any more control than that. There is also a panorama mode, which lets you start a panorama and then pan the camera slightly under a visual target is in the center of the LCD screen and it will take the next shot. Once done, the camera stitches the photos together, but only at a resolution of 2-megapixels.
While the Olympus SP-800UZ does have some image stabilization features, it does a rather poor job, especially if you don't hold the camera completely still. If you don't do so and if you're zooming at any large distance, you're going to get soft and blurring photos.
The shutter lag on this camera is also quite poor because in dim light, expect to see about 2.4 seconds of shutter lag and in bright conditions, it's just less than 1 second. Shot-to-shot times aren't much better at almost 3 seconds and almost 4 seconds with flash.
In subjective image quality testing, images shot in well-lit conditions without much motion in the frame we of good quality, while images in low-light (such as indoors) were of poor quality. Images with motion in the frame were also of poor quality, which was very disappointing.
Video quality was decent and about the same of a pocket HD video camera and is good enough for Internet and social media use, but don't expect anything too special for HDTV viewing. One other note about video recording with this camera: you either can use the zoom and have no audio or have audio and no zooming.
The battery life for the Olympus SP-800UZ is another disappointment because since you have to always use the LCD display for framing your shots, the battery life is decreased by quite a bit. The CIPA rating says you'll get about 200 shots per charge on the rechargeable battery, but expect to get a less than that.