Olympus XZ-2 Review

November 1, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |


Olympus have principally added a better image sensor, touchscreen functionality, removable grip, a versatile tilting LCD screen, FlashAir technology, clever lens control ring and more customisable controls to their premium compact camera. It may be a little bigger than its predecessor, so much so that it's now a stretch to call it pocketable, and the price has substantially risen, but in most regards the XZ-2 in an excellent successor to the already high-performing XZ-1.

The XZ-2 performs even better than its excellent predecessor in the image quality department, owing to that fast and sharp i.Zuiko lens, a new back illuminated CMOS sensor and the same TruPic VI image processor used in th PEN range, all of which combines to turn out JPEGs with very pleasing colours, excellent sharpness and good overall tonality. High ISO is also much improved compared to the previous XZ-1, and with an f/1.8-2.5 lens and image stabilisation on board, the XZ-2 can certainly cope with most lighting environments. Video, on the other hand, is still 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.

The XZ-2 ticks most of the boxes that any experienced photographer is looking for - “sensible” 12 megapixel count, a very fast lens, raw file support, a reliable 35 multi-point AF system and a well implemented manual exposure mode complete with an optional live histogram. Add in the high-resolution, tilting LCD screen, touchscreen controls, the innovative lens control ring, 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 portable camera that you can take pretty much anywhere.

Perhaps the biggest threat to the Olympus XZ-2 is not its main premium compact rivals - the Sony Cyber-shot RX100, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7, Canon PowerShot G1X and Samsung EX2F, for example - but the new breed of compact system cameras, including Olympus' own E-PL5 that we recently reviewed. With the size and the price of the XZ-2 both increasing for 2013, those two boundaries are no longer quite so clear cut. Still, so much choice is definitely a good thing, and the new Olympus XZ-2 makes a great case for a place on your shopping shortlist...

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 3.5