Olympus XZ-2 Review

4.5
November 1, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The Olympus XZ-2 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. JPEGs taken at the base sensitivity of ISO 100 exhibit great colour and nice tonality, and strike a good balance between noise reduction and detail retention.

High-ISO performance is broadly in line with what you could reasonably expect from a sensor of this size. In JPEGs, the effects of noise reduction become apparent at ISO 1600 and above, whilst the raw files contain quite a lot of noise (though they do retain detail better than the out-of-camera JPEGs). ISO 3200 is borderline usable for small prints, whereas the highest settings of ISO 6400 and 12800 are really only there to beef up the spec sheet.

Thankfully with an f/1.8-2.5 lens and sensor-shift image stabilisation on board, you will hardly ever need to shoot at these high sensitivity settings anyway. The fast lens not only allows you to use low ISOs in dim lighting, it also provides for good subject-background separation, something most digital compacts can't really achieve. Overall, a very strong performance for its class.

Noise

The base sensitivity setting is ISO 100, with the maximum being ISO 12800. You can dial in any value in between these two extremes in third-stop increments. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each “full” ISO setting.

JPEG RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The 4x i.Zuiko lens offers a fairly versatile focal range, as demonstrated by these examples.

28mm

112mm

Sharpening

The out-of-camera JPEGs are fairly sharp at the default sharpening setting, but still benefit from a little extra sharpening in a photo editor. Alternatively, you can change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your needs better. Here are two 100% crops - the right-hand image has had some extra sharpening applied.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

At full resolution, the Olympus XZ-2 allows you to choose from two JPG quality settings, Normal and Fine. Additionally, the camera supports raw capture, and simultaneous recording of JPEG and raw files is also possible.

12M Fine 5.52Mb) (100% Crop)

12M Normal (2.98Mb) (100% Crop)

   

12M RAW (18.4Mb) (100% Crop)

 
 

Chromatic Aberrations

The Olympus XZ-2 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Olympus XZ-2 has both a Macro and a Supermacro mode, albeit the zoom can only be used in the former. The shot below demonstrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case, a Compact Flash card.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The Olympus XZ-2 has a pop-up flash that can be raised manually by way of the sliding switch sitting in the top left corner of the camera's back plate. Apart from providing a bit of fill light for backlit subjects, this flash can also trigger up to three groups of wirelessly slaved FL-36R flashguns, which offer TTL flash exposure metering with the XZ-2. Note that because of the placement of the pop-up flash, extra care must be taken to prevent a finger from blocking the flash, particularly when holding the camera in portrait orientation. These shots of a white-coloured ceiling were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (28mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (112mm)

Forced Flash - Telephoto (112mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Flash settings caused any red-eye.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction Auto

Red-eye Reduction Auto (100% Crop)

Night

The Olympus XZ-2 allows you to dial in exposure times as long as 60 seconds, and has a Bulb mode for exposures lasting as long as 16 minutes, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The example below was taken at a shutter speed of 15 seconds at ISO 100.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Olympus XZ-2 has a sensor-shift image stabilisation mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at shutter speeds that are critically slow for the focal length used. To test this, we took 2 hand-held shots of the same subject at both ends of the zoom range with the same settings. The first shot was taken with image stabilisation turned off, the second with it turned on.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/8th / 28mm
     
1/6th / 112mm

Multiple Exposure

The Olympus XZ-2 can combine two seperate frames taken sequentially into one to create a multi-exposure picture.

Multiple Exposure

Backlight HDR

The Backlight HDR scene mode takes several images at various exposure levels and blends them into one with optimal exposure and dynamic range.

Backlight HDR On

Backlight HDR Off

Art Filters

The Olympus XZ-2 offers 11 Art Filters including Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy Film, Pinhole, Diorama and Dramatic Tone. These can be applied to both stills and movie clips.

Pop Art

Soft Focus

   

Pale&Light Color

Light Tone

   

Grainy Film

Pin Hole
   

Diorama

Cross Process
   

Gentle Sepia

Dramatic Tone
   

Key Line

 
 

Picture Modes

Olympus' Picture Modes are preset combinations of contrast, sharpness, gradation and saturation. There are five Picture Modes to choose from, including Vivid, Neutral, Muted, Portrait and Monotone. All of these can be tailored to your tastes.

Vivid

Neutral

   

Muted

Portrait

   

Monotone

 
 

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, compact, review, 1080p, 12 megapixel, hdmi, manual, touch-screen, RAW, olympus, touch screen, tilting, touch, 4x zoom, 3 inch, tilt, 4x, LCD, 4x lens, xz2, Olympus XZ-2, Olympus XZ-2 Review, xz-2, xz 2

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