The ultra zoom category has a new leader. Olympus has announced a new 10-megapixel bridge camera that will feature the world's first 20x wide optical zoom lens. That's the focal equivalent of a 26-520mm lens on a 35mm SLR.

Helping to avoid camera shake and blur at longer focal lengths is Olympus' proprietary Dual Image Stabilisation technology. The general photographic rule of thumb is that shutter speed must correlate to the focal length of the lens in use to avoid blur. However, Olympus' Dual Image Stabilisation technology does away with all that, allowing users to get away with slower shutter speeds and still achieve pin-sharp images.

Six focus modes

In addition to fully automatic mode, the SP-570 UZ can also be used in aperture priority, shutter priority or in fully manual mode. There are a total of 23 programmed auto modes covering most situations and eventualities from 'Candle-lit' to 'Sports' via 'Fireworks' and 'Beach'. When used in sequential shooting mode the camera can shoot up to 15fps.

There are six focus modes including Single AF, Face Detection AF, Predictive AF, Manual Focus, Macro and Super Macro. In Super Macro mode the camera can be used as close as 1cm away from the subject. The SP-570 UZ also offers a choice of three metering modes including multi-area, centred and spot.

Elsewhere, the SP-570 UZ boasts an ISO range of 50-3200, with an option for a reduced pixel mode of 6400. There's also a choice of three metering modes including multi-area, centred and spot.

Wireless operation

Framing and reviewing duties are taken care of by a 2.7-inch LCD screen on the back of the camera, and in addition to the built-in flash, the SP-570 UZ also sports a hot-shoe to hook-up an external flash. The camera can be set-up to be operated wirelessly as well.

In addition to standard JPEG files, the SP-570 UZ can record images as RAW files too for creative post-production and extra piece of mind when shooting important events like weddings.

All in all, the Olympus SP-570 UZ looks like a lot of camera for the money. It will be available in the UK from March, at a cost of £390.