We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.
Olympus offers up a simple point and shoot camera with the SP-320. This one features a somewhat small (for today) 7.1 megapixel resolution. It has an optical zoom of 3x and a built-in flash. The ISO range is very small from 64 to 800. View your images on the 2.5 inch LCD screen. There are some very basic in camera editing features available like Red-Eye and titles. It stores images on xD Picture Cards. PictBridge support is available so you can print photos directly off of the camera.
– 7.1 megapixels
– 3x optical zoom
– Built-in flash
– ISO 64 – 800
– 2.5 inch LCD screen
– PictBridge support
Digital Trends’ digital camera buying tips:
Memory card buying tips
Name Brand: Buying a name brand memory card can sometimes cost an extra few dollars, but along with the name comes a trustworthy company, a good warranty, a generous exchange policy and a reputation for stability – something that’s much more critical than it sounds.
Speed: Not all Flash Memory cards are created equal. Some are terribly slow and others are turbo charged for high-end digital photography. True high-speed Flash Memory cards will have their speed ratings prominently displayed, whether on the card itself, the product packaging or both. You’ll see ratings like 80X, 133X, 266X, or perhaps 8MB/second, 20MB/second or 40MB/second. If you don’t see this number, inquire with a sales rep. If they don’t know or if the manufacturer hides this info, don’t buy the card. Look for a card that has at least a 9MB/second or 60X rating. Why is this speed important? If you’re taking numerous photos in succession, you don’t want the camera to stop taking photos so it can slooowwly save the images to the memory card.
Storage capacity: There are many factors that affect how many photos you can store on a single card – how many “megapixels” the camera is rated for, whether you’ve selected highest-quality photo settings or if you’ve set your camera to take slightly smaller photos. For example, an 8 megapixel Canon point-and-shoot camera can fit around 2,200 high-quality photos on an 8GB Secure Digital card. By this standard, even a 1GB memory card could hold up to 275 high quality photos. A whopping 16GB card could hold nearly 4,400 pics! That’s a lot!
Don’t Buy Til You Try
One final bit of advice. Never, ever buy a camera purely on its specs or a few positive reviews. What looks good on paper, and what feels good to one person, isn’t necessarily going to be the perfect camera for you. Patronize shops that allow you to spend a lot of hands-on time with your prospective models. Cameras are extremely touchy-feely products, and the truth is that most of them include similar feature sets and take decent pictures. But they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and you’ll be spending many hours with one of them in your hands. Long-term comfort is perhaps the most important factor of all.
What about shooting video?
Within the past few years, video has gone from a novel sideshow that yielded almost unusably bad results, to a legitimate secondary purpose for many point-and-shoot cameras. Although you probablt won’t want to replace your dedicated camcorder with a camera that also shoots video, many will do the job just fine for short, impromptu clips.
First off, pay attention to the resolution a camera can capture – VGA (640 x 480) is now common on point-and-shoot cams, while 720p is getting more frequent and 1080p sometimes crops up on DSLRs. Video in the AVCHD format – the same type real digital camcorders shoot – is preferable to other formats. Pay attention to the encoding bitrate, measured in megabits per second (mbps). The higher the rate, the more detailed the videos will look, although they will take up more space on your storage card as well.
What about memory cards?
There is no universal memory card to fit all digital cameras – not yet, anyway. Based on internal politics, design considerations and financial reasons, individual camera manufacturers typically adopt a particular style of Flash Memory card for their cameras. Some manufacturers will even split their alliances – one type of memory card for professional-level cameras, and another type of memory card for consumer level cameras. When buying a new Flash Memory card, remember which camera you have and the type of card it requires. Some camera snobs (like your humble writer) will even selectively buy a digital camera based on the type of Flash Memory card they prefer to use!
The most common types of Flash Memory cards are:
Compact Flash, or CF – Roughly the size of a silver dollar (though not round), the CF card is one of the earliest types of Flash Memory cards and is most often used in professional or semi-pro digital cameras.
Secure Digital, or SD – Roughly the size of a postage stamp, the SD Card is available in a wide range of storage capacities. It’s inexpensive, durable and amazingly lightweight.
Memory Stick or Memory Stick Pro – About the size of a small stick of gum, the Memory Stick is meant for Sony Digital cameras.
XD-Picture, or XD Card – Typically found in Fuji and Olympus cameras, the XD Card is about 40% smaller than the SD card.
Flexibility and Options: SLR or Point-n-Shoot?
Lens Flexibility: Point-and-shoot cameras offer a wide variety of zoom lenses from the basic 3x up to 26x. If you’re thinking compact, you have many options, but we recommend starting out with a basic wide-angle view (28mm or so) then multiplying that to your heart’s content. A 24x model like the Nikon Coolpix P90 even offers 28-624mm options so you can take nice group shots and zoom into subjects you can barely recognize. There are many small cameras with wide focal ranges that are easily toted around-a huge plus for point-and-shoots.
Contrastingly, DSLRs are far from compact and typically are supplied with a 3x kit lens. From there you can go crazy, spending a small fortune on interchangeable lenses. Canon and Nikon, the two biggest DSLR sellers by far, each have over 65 to choose from. And these lenses use finer glass than point-and-shoots, adding to overall quality advantage of DSLRs. The downside is that they are much heavier, bulkier and require at least a backpack to lug everything around. Still, for the professional or prosumer, DSLR is the natural fit.
Options: Most point-and-shoot digital cameras offer limited manual options for adjusting aperture (f/stops) and shutter speeds. Granted, the vast majority of amateur paparazzi out there couldn’t care less about this small range of potential adjustments, and will be perfectly happy firing away in Auto mode. But while DSLRs have Auto settings too, they also let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz by adjusting depth of field, blurring subjects and going wherever the creative muse takes you. If you’re looking to get more creative with photos, a DSLR is the right choice.