The Olympus XZ-2 is the update to the Olympus XZ-1 and sees a number of improvements and upgrades in comparison to the previous model, including a new 12 megapixel sensor, Full HD video recording, a new grip, a tilting screen and a front function switch. The camera also features the same processor (TruePic VI) and menu system as the Olympus Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras.
Olympus XZ-2 Features
With an updated design and interchangeable grip on the front, as well as the function switch on the front that can be used with the control wheel surrounding the lens, the XZ-2 is hoping you will take it much more seriously. With it comes an increased price compared to the previous model, so you would be forgiven if you are expecting improved performance from the camera.
12.3 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
Wide 4x optical zoom lens f/1.8-2.5
Optical image stabilisation
3inch tilting touch screen
RAW, Flash hot-shoe
Full HD video, stereo sound
ISO100 - 12800
1cm Super Macro
5fps continuous shooting
Fn1 / Fn2 button
Olympus XZ-2 Handling
Handling - The control wheel around the lens acts in two ways, the first is to let you change settings depending what mode you're in, and will click as it turns so that you're aware of how much you've turned it. The setting changed can also be set by pressing the front Fn2 button, this makes it easy to switch through the different settings and make adjustments. The second way the control wheel works, is by flicking the front switch surrounding the Fn1 button, the wheel becomes click-free letting you smoothly control manual focus or optical zoom. The front grip is an excellent addition and the rear rubber grip for your thumb works well to help give you a good grip of the camera.
The addition of the tilting touch screen makes the camera a little more bulky, but also helps adjust settings, such as focus position or touch focus. On top is the flash hot-shoe, as well as the Olympus Accessory Port 2, which is shared with the Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras so that you can add an electronic viewfinder or other accessories if wanted. Build quality is very good, although charging is through a USB cable and adapter, with the battery in the camera, which may disappoint some, especially if you want to use a second battery.
Menus – The camera uses the same menus as the Olympus PEN and Olympus OM-D E-M5 cameras, and for anyone who's used one of these camera, the menu system and operation of the camera should be extremely familiar to them. The custom menus give you extensive control over settings and options and can seem daunting at first glance, although thankfully they are colour coded, and there is built in help.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 340 shots according to Olympus / CIPA test results, we were able to take over 300 before the battery went flat. The battery is an updated model compared to the XZ-1 with higher battery rating of 1270mAh (vs 925mAh), and the battery is made by Sony.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
The camera focuses quickly and shutter response is very quick. The camera also shoots at 19fps at 5 megapixels. Full resolution JPEG shooting is at 5fps continuously for 25 shots before slowdown, although only 4 shots can be taken when shooting RAW, after this it takes roughly 6 seconds before you can go into playback mode, although it does let you shoot again after roughly 3 seconds.
Olympus XZ-2 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Olympus XZ-2 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - The camera is capable of taking a well exposed and detailed photo with excellent colour. Flash performance is reasonable, although the camera preferred to shoot without the flash, and when used was quite weak. A benefit of this is little to no red-eye in portrait photos.
Olympus XZ-2 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is very good for a 12 megapixel sensor, and the lens performs well at both the wide-angle or telephoto settings with detail to the corners of the image. The camera also has an impressive macro mode allowing you to place the subject roughly 1cm away from the front of the lens, in Super Macro focus mode. There is noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens, and there is some pincushion at the telephoto end, although purple fringing appeared to be fairly well controlled.
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is very low at ISO100 and ISO200 with some appearing at ISO400. Noise increases at ISO800 but is still relatively low, and detail is still present. At ISO1600 noise increases again, and fine detail is reduced. ISO3200 shows another increase in noise with chroma colour appearing (unatural banding of noise). Noise increases again at ISO6400 but colour saturation is still quite good. ISO12800 shows the highest levels of noise, as expected, and is best avoided.
Olympus XZ-2 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten or fluorescent lighting, with the camera giving the option to keep warm colour switched on. The tungsten preset gives a slight green cast under tungsten lighting, however the fluorescent preset struggled with our fluorescent lighting. For the majority of situations, including mixed lighting the AWB setting produced good results.
Olympus XZ-2 Digital filters
Digital Filters - There are a vast array of Art Filters on the Olympus camera, 11 in total, with each one having additional options, such as Pop Colour Bright, or Pop Colour Dark. On top of the Art Filters, you can also apply upto 5 other effects (examples are shown above). Panorama mode - Panoramic mode is not available, instead just a panoramic assist feature, allowing you to stitch them together on your computer. The camera has an automatic HDR mode that will take a series of images and combine them into one for extended dynamic range.
Video - The camera records full HD video with stereo sound, and occassionally hunted for focus in low light. Manual controls as well as manual focus is available which we used for this video.
The Olympus XZ-2 is an impressive upgrade over the original Olympus XZ-1, with addition grip, controls, and features as well as improved menus and image processing borrowed from the latest Olympus PEN cameras. The camera has grown in size, but makes up for this with additional controls and a tilting touch screen, a rarity on serious compact cameras. The addition of the latest Art Filters and effects also borrowed from the Olympus PEN cameras is a welcome addition and the dual function control ring surrounding the lens is a clever feature. The Olympus XZ-2 price is quite high, but value for money is quite good, as the camera has a number of features and expansion options beyond what is available on other serious compacts, and delivers very good to excellent image quality making the XZ-2 worth some very serious consideration, and comes highly recommended.
The Olympux XZ-2 is an advanced compact camera that delivers high image quality with great handling and controls.
Olympus XZ-2 Pros
3 inch tilting touch screen
Great image quality
Updated grip and handling
Bright f/1.8 - f/2.5 lens, with 1cm macro
Shares features and controls from PEN series
Updated menu system
2 year warranty
Extensive Art Filters and effects
Control wheel can be used smoothly for focus
Olympus XZ-2 Cons
Barrel distortion at wide end
Lacks auto-panoramic mode
The Panasonic Lumix TZ70 offers a 30x optical zoom lens, built-in Wi-Fi, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder as well as a lower resolution 12.1 megapixel sensor. Say what? Yes, a lower resolution sensor.
3 Mar 2015 8:44AM