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Customer Review

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This camera is a joy to use., February 25, 2011
The XZ-1 is a terrific camera, one tat meets my expectations since the mockup of the camera was shown last fall at Photokina. I have previously owned a Panasonic LX3 (since upgraded to the LX5) and also own a Canon S90 (since upgraded to the S95), so I feel qualified that I can objectively compare the Olympus XZ-1 to those two cameras in the same premium fixed-lens genre. I have had the XZ-1 for over a week and have taken dozens of photos with it so far. The photo quality of the XZ-1 is excellent! Photos have nice color and most camera controls are very intuitive. I especially like the built-in neutral density filter that is easy to toggle on and off. The menu system is more simplified that both the Panasonic and Canon, which while lacking some in-depth customization functions is very easy to navigate - another nice feature is that the camera remembers what function you last used, a very handy time saver. The panoramic picture mode is simple to use and works far better than the Canon's stitch assist mode. The front control ring around the lens is taken from the S90 but both it and the rear control dial operate far better than on the S90. I have yet to use video so cannot comment on that though the dedicated video start/stop button seems convenient. The size of the camera is more in line with the LX3/LX5 than the S90/S95; this is not a bad thing as the S90 is very compact yet also more difficult to hold (even with an aftermarket grip added to the S90 I am always fearful of dropping it due to its size and my fingers are usually in the way of its motorized flash). As for quibbles: manual focus on the XZ-1 is via an enlarged screen box that would benefit greatly by the addition of a distance scale; also it would be nice if the camera shipped with an AC battery charger in addition to the USB charger (I have already ordered the Olympus AC charger and a spare battery). Overall I am very pleased with the XZ-1's image quality and ease of use.

Update: I have had this camera for two months now and have taken hundreds of photos with it so thought I should update my review based on usage experience.

The Good: Camera is well built and shows no wear, macro shots are terrific, lens is very good, JPEG colors are good and pleasing to the eye, outdoor daylight shots are generally quite acceptable, controls are fairly straight forward, like the built-in ND filter a lot.

The Bad: As many others have stated the noise, especially in low light shots, is noticeable and sometimes downright unacceptable. I hope Olympus addresses the noise issue in a firmware update soon; manual focus mode is not that useful because there is no distance scale and trying to focus with the scroll wheel and an enlarged box on the screen is not very easy - especially in bright outdoor lighting.

Other: Have yet to find a decent case for it that is not too large or too snug a fit. I tried a Tamrac Digital II case but it was a good deal larger than the camera which kind of defeats the point of carrying a premium compact camera, also tried a Lowepro Dublin 30, but that case is thin and not rigid enough to easily slide the camera into. Ended up ordering a leather case off eBay from Hong Kong - at $11 bucks including shipping its not a bad deal, however the case is still about a half inch wider than it needs to be, but it is much better than the other two cases I tried. Based on some reviews of other users I think I will try some shots saved in RAW and JPEG to see if it is worth the hassle of adjusting the RAW photos to reduce noise in low light shots.

Based on the noise issue in low light and not terribly useful manual focus I think 4.5 stars in more appropriate for this camera. My dream camera is something like the XZ-1 in terms of size and lens specification with an APS-C sized sensor. Olympus please make one for me. In the interim how about a firmware update for less noise in low light and a manual focus scale.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 26, 2011 6:19:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2011 6:36:37 AM PST
Radio Man says:
Good review thx. Just one you notice that the jpegs overall are using too much in camera noise reduction? I had written a review on this camera...and noise reduction or smearing on jpegs especially above iso200 are a problem unless you shoot raw. I see some smearing even at iso100 on skin, faces, for example.

UNLESS, you love REALLY smooth almost airbrushed type pictures but much less details in skin, hair, wrinkles that sort of thing.

For out door stuff I don't notice the smearing as much as with portrait work. I had some comments almost like it was TEAM OLYMPUS against me, stating this camera is tack sharp. I googled around if you use the Comparometer on Imaging resource...put the XZ-1 in one side..put an s95 or LX5 in the other.

When you go to just 200iso you will see already the XZ-1 is already showing much less detail on the model's clothes, but the s95 and lx5 are much more sharp. Go to 400iso/800isothe difference is even greater..look at the threads in the clothing..they almost disappear on the XZ-1 vs the S95/LX5 they show more noise but much more DETAIL. Look at the wall behind the model..the XZ-1's shots show very little detail in the paint on the wall (Sort of a sponge paint design I guess), both S95 and LX5 show the wall paint has a lot of different details in the paint, the XZ-1' shots make the wall look almost silky smooth..and that's not the way it should look.. I'll put the link here with the . replaced by the word DOT so it hopefully doesn't get deleted. I LOVE the XZ-1 on balance, love the lack of distortion in the lens vs the others, but don't know why others and reviewers don't see this jpeg smearing problem more. You WILL see it clearly using the Comparometer especially when you look at 200/400iso etc..compared to other cameras in this class.

Overall I love this xz-1 and it would be great if Olympus might add an in camera noise reduction adjustment setting IN camera. If so..this would REALLY be in it's own class in my opinion.
Check it out:
Your eyes will tell you, don't have to listen to my OPINION..

http://www.imaging-resource (DOT) com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2011 9:49:00 AM PST
J. H. Smith says:
Tes I would tend to agree that noise handling in some situation results in less sharp pictures than the Canon S90/S95. The LX 3 camera I had was of slightly better build quality than the Olympus and Canon, and took some great pictures, but not consistently. The quality of some photos from the LX3 were simply amazing, but not always. Also I prefer the colors from the S90 over the LX3. The Olympus XZ-1 colors are very pleasing to me. I generally try to keep most all my shots under 200 ISO if I can, and personally am a bit perplexed at the current quest by many for higher ISO performance, i.e. 1600, 3200, etc. I also agree with you that I hope Olympus offers some noise tweaking in a firmware update, along with adding a distance scale for manual focus. Enjoy your XZ-1.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2011 7:47:45 PM PST
Radio Man says:
J. H. Well I have been using the XZ-1 more and more and I am really starting to feel it's WAY best in class now. I had an LX3 way back..I also had a few great pics from it..but I never good get skin tones right OVERALL. I feel the LX5 is a big step up from the LX3 Color wise but the XZ-1 sort of blows them both away "most times on color accuracy" and pleasing output overall. I also try and keep shots under 200iso with these small cameras that's one huge advantage of the XZ-1S fast bright lens. I am finding the noise reduction in the XZ-1 really interesting though. Things like text can be super sharp at the same time skin tones can just be too perfect. It's not just wife loves her new perfect skin in a lot of the XZ-1's pictures But not to exaggerate in most cases jpeg output looks GREAT.I just usualy use raw if I really want the BEST out of the XZ-1 and then I can lower the noise reduction or completely turn it off. Then the pictures from my XZ-1 seem to be in a MUCH higher class than any thing I was able to get out of my S90,LX5, and TL 500. I'm REALLY happy with the Olympus now.a tad of smudging SOMETIMES and all. For REALLY low light pics..I think you just can't beat a full sized sensor a true DSLR, a NEX-5 and to some degree the Micro Fours. Overall though as a back up camera I just LOVE this xz-1.

Posted on Oct 28, 2013 11:58:41 AM PDT
Over two years ago you commented that you wished that Olympus would do a firmware update to address the noise issues with this camera. I understand that they have done several firmware revisions, so can you advise if they did in fact improve the noise problem? Thanks and good review.
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