The SP-610UZ is Olympus' latest budget-concious superzoom, following up the able-bodied but uninspiring SP-600UZ. The megapixel count has been upped to 14 and the zoom to 22x, but we expect the middling image quality and performance to stay roughly the same. The 22x optical zoom lens is the main attraction here, starting at 28mm and a maximum aperture of f/3.3. Pricier glass often comes with larger apertures, but with the SP-610’s $229 price tag, this is par for the course. (By way of comparison, the similarly priced Nikon L120 has a 21x lens with an f/3.1 aperture – pretty similar.) The SP-610UZ can focus on objects as close as one-third from the lens for up-close and personal macro shots. The sensor-shift image stabilization should be helpful in combating hand-shake blur out at the telephoto end.
The SP-610 packs in 30 shooting modes, including 720p video, “magic filters” for artsy effects, and an in-camera panorama stitching mode that stitches three shots into one. It also includes 3D image capture; it's sort of like a panorama-assist mode, where the camera “ghosts” a shifted image to get the software-assisted effect to work. Of course this will only be useful if you have a 3D-capable television or computer monitor. Otherwise, you can just ignore that mode.
Unlike most superzooms, the SP-610 lacks an optical viewfinder. It does have the same boxy form-factor and small hand-grip, so it'll still be relatively comfortable to hold, but it's LCD-only for composing shots. Continuous shooting tops out at 1.1 shots per second at full resolution, though it can crank out 11.8 frames per second at 3 megapixels. Olympus threw in tracking autofocus too. Like all superzooms, it might look like a serious dSLR, but keep in mind that it's more like a point-and-shoot with a big lens. The SP-610 could turn out to be a perfectly fine budget superzoom, but it's worth waiting for some reviews on this one.