Olympus SP-570UZ vs Nikon D300 plus Nikkor 70-300mm VR at Full Telephoto Zoom

First published on: Thursday, 15 May 2008

I’m contemplating selling off my Nikon 70-300mm VR zoom lens as I don’t make much use of the telephoto end in my day-to-day shooting.

Now that I have the Olympus SP-570UZ, I was curious how well the Olympus would do against my digital SLR rig at full telephoto zoom.

The SP-570UZ goes to 520mm at max telephoto, while the Nikon D300 plus Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens can achieve 450mm if you factor in the 1.5x crop of the sensor.

Both cameras were left in Auto everything, maximum JPEG quality.

Below are the resized versions of the quick comparison. Click the photo to see the full-sized, original pictures.

Olympus SP-570UZ, 520mm, 1/640 sec, f/4.5, ISO100:
Resized -- Olympus SP-570UZ at full telephoto zoom P5150004.JPG

Nikon D300 + 70-300mm VR, 1/500 sec, f/11, ISO400 (this was an oversight — I should have selected ISO200, the base ISO of the D300):
Resized -- Nikon D300 plus 70-300mm VR at full telephoto zoom DSC_5037.JPG

Comparing full-sized originals, the D300 photo has:

  1. A wider angle of view (remember, it’s 450mm on the D300 vs 520mm on the SP-570UZ).

  2. More detail. Plus, the detail is more refined, and sharper.

  3. Less chromatic aberration (the the D300 has a built-in, automatic lateral CA reduction feature).

  4. Less noise, despite being shot at ISO 400.

I guess the conclusion on image quality favors the D300 + 70-300mm VR, wouldn’t you agree? At a glance though, you might not notice that the D300 images are better by simply looking at the resized versions.

As a side note, I knew this would be the result even before I purchased the SP-570UZ. In terms of outright image quality, the current crop of digicams with their small sensors cannot beat their digital SLR brethren outfitted with good lenses.

But the SP-570UZ excels in other areas, namely its portability and flexibility of its huge zoom range. The image quality might not stand up to extremely close scrutiny but for my purposes, it does a great job.

And hey, the SP-570UZ can shoot movies too, at 26mm or 520mm, and that’s no mean feat.

The D300 can’t shoot movies, and only zooms in the 70 to 300 mm range with the lens used in this comparison.

Just to put things into perspective, here’s how the two will look like side-by-side.

SP-570UZ on the left, Nikon D300 + 70-300mm VR on the right, with the lens hood on:
Olympus SP-570UZ and the Nikon D300 plus Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens (with the lens hood on) side-by-side IMG_0269.JPG

SP-570UZ on the left, Nikon D300 + 70-300mm VR on the right, with the hood off:
Olympus SP-570UZ and the Nikon D300 plus Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens (with the lens hood off) side-by-side IMG_0270.JPG

Get the D300 rig if you want bragging rights based on the size of the equipment. Or if you really need image quality that can stand up to close inspection.

Here’s the almighty dollar perspective:

  1. Olympus SP-570UZ: $405.88 USD

  2. Nikon D300, body only: $1,664.99 USD
    Nikon 70-300mm VR lens: $479.00 USD
    Total: $2,143.99 USD

Bottom line, get the equipment that meets your needs at the price point you’re comfortable with.


Nikon 70-300mm VR – Main page.

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