Olympus XZ-1 Review
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The Olympus XZ-1 - the first Olympus digital camera to sport an f/1.8 lens since the C-5050Z of 2002 - is a small but very serious photographic tool. The camera ticks all the boxes that any experienced photographer is looking for - “sensible” pixel count, a very fast lens, raw file support, a reliable multi-point AF system and a well implemented manual exposure mode complete with an optional live histogram. Add in a gorgeous OLED screen, an effective image stabilisation system and an image processor that's fast enough to avoid any major freeze-ups even when shooting RAW+JPEG simultaneously, and you have a very capable yet easily portable camera that you can take pretty much anywhere. And we haven't even mentioned that it's probably the closest thing to a system camera, accepting accessories ranging from an external viewfinder through hotshoe-mounted and wirelessly controlled flashguns to macro LED lights and more. At the same time, it also offers an easy-to-use iAuto mode complete with a live guide for complete beginners.
The XZ-1 also fares well in the image quality department, owing to that fast and sharp i.Zuiko lens and a well calibrated image processor that turns out JPEGs with very pleasing colours and good overall tonality. A high-ISO king it is not, but with an f/1.8-2.5 lens and image stabilisation on board, it does not really have to be anyway. Video, on the other hand, is more of a mixed bag. It's good to be able to use the optical zoom while filming and apply Art Filters to the footage in-camera, but in a product of this calibre you would expect user selectable frame rates and full manual control over video exposure.
If there's ever going to be an Olympus XZ-2, I would like to see only minor improvements to the design, including a dedicated ISO button and perhaps more internal storage with the ability to save images simultaneously to the on-board memory and the memory card for instant backup.
In summary the Olympus XZ-1 is a very attractive and well thought-out - if a bit expensive - digital compact camera that appeals to a wide range of users and presents a real threat to the likes of the Canon Powershot S95, Panasonic Lumix LX5 and Samsung EX1.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||3.5|