Olympus and Kodak Push Superzoom Range At CES

2009 CES Kodak News Olympus Uncategorized

Another Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has come and gone. Spread out before us are all the hyped new gadgets that we’ll no doubt have to wait months to get our hands on. As much as innovation is the focus, so is upping the technological ante. This year one of those antes was digital camera zoom range, once again redefining the term “superzoom.” Olympus and Kodak said, “I see your 18x zoom lens, and raise you 6x.”

Olympus SP-590 and Kodak Z908 Superzoom Digital Cameras
Olympus SP-590 and Kodak Z908 Superzoom Digital Cameras

The superzoom category includes all digital cameras with a zoom range of 10x or more. As one would imagine, what night be considered a huge zoom range one year can easily fall into the category of convention the next. While DSLR-toting pros have mostly been left out of the zoom range race — due to the compromise in optical quality – consumers have been treated to a progressive increase in focal length range over the years. Five years ago focal range topped out at about 10x (12x if you count the seldom seen Konica Minolta Dimage Z5). In October of 2007 Olympus released the SP-560 UZ (Ultra Zoom) with an industry-leading 18x range. March of the following year Olympus released the SP-570 with a formidable 20x zoom. Of comparable cameras only the Nikon Coolpix P80 came close with a range of 18x.

The 4x “superzoom” of the early 2000s seems laughable compared to the 18x-20x of today’s standards.

Current standards, however, are about to change significantly. At CES, Kodak announced the April 2009 release of its 12MP EasyShare Z980, armed with a 24x Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon Image Stabilized Optical Zoom Lens (26mm-624mm).

Unfortunately for Kodak, the EasyShare Z980 won’t have the opportunity to bask in the shine of superiority. One year after they released the 20x Olympus SP-570 – and one month before the 24x Kodak Z980 hits the streets – Olympus continues their superzoom dominance with the12-megapixel SP-590 digital camera, armed with a 26-676mm 26x zoom lens (35mm focal length equivalent).

Kodak Z908 Digital Camera Announcement >>
Olympus SP-590 Ultra Zoom Digital Camera Announcement >>

Related Content:
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  • A.M.D.A. says:

    Simply amazing zoom range…

    But let’s wait and see how the image quality stands up. I would imagine that there would be increased chromatic aberrations, loss of sharpness – especially around the corners, and pronounced barrel/pincushion distortions.

    For some people this might be acceptable tradeoffs, considering the incredible versatility of a 24x or 26x optical zoom. For me, I consider 12x to be a good balace between optical quality and zoom versatility.

  • VinceMCamiolo says:

    Exactly, A.M.D.A. Precisely why pro-level lenses never have particularly impressive zoom ranges. My two main lenses are a 17-55 and 70-200. Outside of that I’d prefer to stick with prime lenses. And it’s all about the quality.

    But for consumers looking to take some shots of birds at the backyard bird feeder, or a child at a soccer game to email friends and family, these cameras are pretty exciting.

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