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Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Serious Compact Review

This is serious. This is the Olympus Stylus XZ-2, a noticeable upgrade to the XZ-1, but how does it perform? Find out in our review.

|  Olympus XZ-2 in Compact Cameras
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Olympus Stylus XZ-2

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

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

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.

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

Key Features

  • 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
  • Removeable grip

Olympus XZ-2 Handling

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

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.

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

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.

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

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.

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

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.

  Olympus XZ-2 Sony RX100
Shutter Response 0.05 0.0
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2 0.3
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2 0.3
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.2 2.2
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.1 0.9
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.5 2.1
Continuous Shooting
(shots before slow down)
5fps (25 shots) 7fps (speed priority mode, 15 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1fps 1.6s
Continuous Shooting - RAW 5fps (4 shots) 4fps (13 shots)

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.

Olympus XZ-2 ISO test images

ISO100 - 1/40 sec | f/2.4 | 18.9 mm | High-Res
ISO3200 - 1/500 sec | f/3.5 | 18.9 mm | High-Res
ISO6400 - 1/640 sec | f/4.5 | 18.9 mm | High-Res

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.

Additional videos can be seen on our YouTube channel, including one with optical zoom.

Value For Money

The Olympus XZ-2 is up against a number of competitors, and is at the more expensive end of the market, in between the Panasonic Lumix LX7 and Nikon Coolpix P7700, although only the Samsung EX2F, Nikon Coolpix P7700, Canon Powershot G1 X and Olympus XZ-2 feature tilting or swivelling screens. Details can be found below:

Camera MP Sensor Size Lens Price
Nikon Coolpix P310 (lacks RAW) 16 1/2.33 inch f/1.8 4.2x £199
BenQ G1 (lacks RAW) 14 1/2.33 inch f/1.8 4.6x £203
Olympus XZ-1 (previous model) 10 1/1.63 inch f/1.8 4x £229
Canon Powershot S100 12 1/1.7 inch f/2.0 5x £309
Fujifilm FinePix X10 12 2/3 inch f/2.0 4x £338
Samsung EX2F 12.4 1/1.7 inch f/1.4 3.3x £379
Panasonic Lumix LX7 10mp 1/1.7 inch f/1.4 3.8x £384
Ricoh GR Digital IV 10 1/1.7 inch f/1.9 28mm £399
Olympus XZ-2 12 1/1.7 inch f/1.8 4x £429
Nikon Coolpix P7700 12 1/1.7 inch f/2.0 7.1x £449
Canon Powershot G15 12 1/1.7 inch f/1.8 5x £529
Large sensor compacts:        
Canon Powershot G1 X 14.3 1.5 inch f/2.8 4x £449
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 20.2 1 inch sensor f/1.8 3.6x £479
Fujifilm X100 12 APS-C sensor f/2.0 28mm £599
Sigma DP1 Merrill 15.3/46 APS-C Foveon f/2.8 28mm £799
Sigma DP2 Merrill 15.3/46 APS-C Foveon f/2.8 45mm £799
Leica X2 16 APS-C f/2.8 35mm £1499

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Olympus XZ-2 Verdict

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
Electronic level
Accessory port

Olympus XZ-2 Cons

Barrel distortion at wide end
Lacks auto-panoramic mode
USB charger


Olympus XZ-2 Specifications

Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/2.5
35mm equivalent28mm - 112mm
Optical Zoom4x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)3968
Pixels (H)2976
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/1.7 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution920,000 dots
Touch ScreenYes
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Manual
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLi-90B
Battery Life (CIPA rating)340shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsBody, Lens cap, Li-90B , F-2AC , USB cable, Video Multi cable, Shoulder strap, CD-ROM(OLYMPUS Viewer2), Instruction manual, Warranty car

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Photographs taken using the Olympus XZ-2

FootstepsView from Bandstand, DartmouthBoundless SeaFUNGUS AMONGS AMONG US iithere's a fungus among usLunchOrb weaverPretty in pinkAutumn delightCosmosCommon Buckeye

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Paul Morgan 21 19.6k 6 England
21 Nov 2012 1:06AM
Josh how well will this camera perform with external flash in M mode using a dumb lead, will flash sync at all shutter speeds without using FP.

I take it this camera has a fairly decent leaf shutter.
21 Nov 2012 7:48AM
As always, woman is PERFECT and camera is not Smile

Thanks for review.
25 Jan 2013 6:26AM
I am a bit confused that you don't list any of this camera's expected strong points as strong points: Fast AF, bright lens, good macro. This worries me, because those are the selling points for me, that make me consider replacing my Canon S95 with an XZ-2. The Canon has distubingly slow AF speed, poor macro and although the lens is bright at wide angle (f/2.0) it falls to f/4.9 at tele (and the latest S model is even worse). Comparing to that, 0.2s AF, f/1.8 - f/2.5, and 1 cm macro sound like a great improvement.

But if these features did not impress you, should I take it that they weren't as good as the numbers show?
joshwa Plus
11 927 1 United Kingdom
25 Jan 2013 9:11AM
Hi Ingemar,

These features are impressive, the pros for this camera are very long, and we should have added these into the pros list. As an update to the XZ-1 we try and focus on what the differences are a lot of the time. The XZ-2 is one of our highest scoring cameras in this category:


25 Jan 2013 12:08PM
Thanks, Josh, for the clarification. That makes perfect sense. The XZ-1 did perform similarily, so then I guess that not mentioning them means that the old features aren't lost (which could rather qualify as a minus if they had).

The test is good, covers the product well.
14 Apr 2013 11:19PM
I've had an XZ1 for two years and reckon that the main problem with it is that the image sensor in it just isn't in the same league as the superb Zuiko lens. This has now been rectified with a better sensor in the XZ2. The lens is clearly designed for optimum performance at wider apertures and I'm certain that it produces sharper images at f3.5 than it does at f7.
Andy_Curtis 8 808 United Kingdom
30 Jun 2014 12:49PM
Tempted to get this for my trip to Florida next year as a "Park camera", small enough to fit into a pocket when going on theme ark rides. I will not be taking my EM5 into the parks as I cannot take that on the rides, or in my pocket
26 Jun 2015 12:56PM
i just love this camera. the more i use it the better we get. bought it for $200 refurbished with i year warranty. what a steal for such quality. there is a slight learning curve with this camera since i like to experiment a lot, although it take great images in iAuto and scene modes. i also own a Oly PM-2 with kit and Panny 20mm lens and a Canon KissX4 with a plethora of lenses. i'm finding the XZ-2 the camera i'm reaching for more and more often. GrinGrinGrin

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