ReviewGist Report for Olympus XZ-1
Olympus opens 2011 with the release of a groundbreaking compact camera in January: the Olympus XZ-1. In this report, we will tackle the key features of the XZ-1 and go into deeper examination as we round up numerous reviews from sites such as Imaging Resource, Digital Camera Resource Page, PC Magazine, Digital Camera Review, Digital Photography Review and CNet among others. We will also offer some buying advice to aid you in making the right choice.
What the Manufacturer Says
The Olympus XZ-1 is claimed to be the first compact camera to be equipped with ZUIKO lens, which was previously known to be available only for SLRs. Touted to be a lens of superior performance, the 4x wide-angle i.ZUIKO digital lens is said to accommodate adequate light with minimal flaring. At 28 mm, the maximum aperture is f/1.8 while on the telephoto end of 112 mm, it maxes at f/2.5. As such, it is able to achieve an excellent depth of field wherein more emphasis is being placed on the subject.
In conjunction to the i.ZUIKO lens, Olympus has also loaded the XZ-1 with a 10 megapixel 1/1.63" CCD Sensor and TruePic V image processor. The sensor is claimed to put the XZ-1 on the forefront of point-and-shoot cameras since the size of its CCD sensors are said to be larger for its kind, and therefore better. Meanwhile, the TruePic V image processor allows for enhanced overall color accuracy and noise reduction.
Other attractions of the XZ-1 are the following:
1. High-Definition Video System
2. Dual Image Stabilization, best in keeping blur to zero or a minimum when capturing fast-moving subjects
3. 3-inch, 610k Organic LED display, which is a huge notch ahead of typical LCDs
4. 18 scene modes, unique among these are Multi Exposure, Panorama and e-Portrait
5. Connection port for accessories like electronic viewfinder, external flash and external microphone for a clearer audio in movie captures
6. ISO of up to 6400
7. Front lens control ring for easier and optimal control when shooting in manual modes
8. 6 art filters for enhancing both images and videosc
What the Reviews Say
Photos captured with the XZ-1 were very commendable, according to most reviews. The stills were said to be natural in color and sharp in detail. 'Digital Camera Review' though had detected a quantity of noise at lower ISOs. 'Infosync' particularly points out that sharp lines aren't at all that distinct at lower ISOs.
Some experts had positive feedback regarding the XZ-1's video system. 'Digital Photography Review' observed that it records at 30 frames per seconds in 720p. While 'PC Magazine' compares the quality of XZ-1's video function to that of camcorders, 'Digital Camera Review' was rather disapproving in this area and stated that it was unnaturally soft and the length of clips was very limited.
Most experts remarked quite positively about the speed performance of the i.ZUIKO lens. The XZ-1 was found to excel even in low-light conditions, as credited to its AF illuminator and impressive light accommodation. However, experts at DCRP were not too happy with the Face detection results.
Most experts agreed that its 3-inch OLED display allows better playback of images. And it's not only the images that were said to look better on the monitor but the entire menu system as well. 'Infosync' lauded the improved color-coded menu structure. But other experts reported otherwise - 'Imaging Resource' noticed that fonts and icons aren't very readable due to its sizes and 'T3' even found the menu system puzzling.
According to 'Digital Photography Review', the 610k display was discovered to be power-efficient. And while some reviews praised the monitor's notable brightness, others on the other hand said it's a disadvantage. 'Digital Camera Resource Page' explained that the monitor may be hard to view in bright conditions.
Quite a few experts rated the ISO capability as satisfactory in that images at low ISO settings were said to be fine. 'Digital Camera Review' insisted though that at such settings, there is a noticeable amount of noise. Furthermore, 'Digital Photography Review' pointed the inconvenience of an indirect access to the ISO command and thus, adjusting would be a bit hassling.
Whether in a matte black or white finish, reviews commended the XZ-1 for its slim and sleek body.
Reviewers generally extolled the XZ-1's 1/1.8-2.5 aperture range. 'Good Gear Guide' mentioned that such wide aperture range goes beyond the usual capacities of majority of compact cameras in the market.
The i.ZUIKO digital lens turned out remarkable with the experts which puts this new Olympus addition squarely in the new generation of point-and-shoots inching towards the power of DSLRs.
Combining the power of the fast i.ZUIKO lens, high-sensitivity sensor, TruePic V image processor, beautiful OLED display and manual controls - the XZ-1 is a very accomplised offering by Olympus.
Even though the Olympus XZ-1 is a very accomplished compact point and shoot, its price point and size are both too big to fit in the compact camera class. And if you are comfortable with that size and price, the XZ-1 is then in the neighbourhood of the definitely advanced entry level DSLR's and interchangeable lens cameras.
Simply put, if compacts are what you crave then the Canon Powershot S95 might offer you a better bang for the buck, but if you do have the money to spend the Sony NEX-5(and NEX-3) will offer you much better performance.