210 of 235 people found the following review helpful
Very good camera.. Best in class, with one exception...
, February 16, 2011
I was very much looking forward to this XZ-1 for a long time. Seemed to have the BEST of all the similar cameras in this category, put into ONE camera. I have owned the Canon S90, Samsung TL-500, and STILL own the LX5. All of these cameras are rather good and certainly way better than an average point and shoot, especially if you want a lot of control over the camera.
The XZ-1 does have a rather amazing lens..in that it is very fast(bright) throughout it's entire range..impressive. It is true I found that being able to shoot with the 1.8 aperture in doors..I did not have to use a very high iso, yet the shutter speed was indeed faster than my LX5 with same settings for example.
Faster shutter speed did result in mostly really good indoor pictures without the usual slow shutter blurriness, THOUGH all pics indoors in even rather good light tended to be a bit dark oddly enough until I cranked up exposure compensation.
The image stabilization on the XZ-1 seems really WAY above average as well.
HOWEVER doing a ton of side by side pics vs my LX5 or even JUST looking at the output of the XZ-1, jpeg pictures at default setting look "somewhat" soft, if you use the default Natural setting(With no adjustments as to sharpness, contrast etc.)! I mean even at iso100 my pictures look..too soft, airbrushed looking SLIGHTLY. In camera somewhat aggressive Noise reduction is that one exception I listed in the title.
Living with his camera for a while it is obvious Olympus chose to use too much noise reduction at ALL isos!.But,the overall output in most cases is almost amazing for a camera in this class. There is just a bit of slight softness especially on skin especially now and then it seems. If I shoot raw..then take off, or lower the noise reduction, finally the pictures become MUCH more sharp. As you raise the iso..Olympus uses more and more noise reduction to it's jpegs as all manufacturers will do. Not uncommon, but now I find I'm almost always shooting in jpeg PLUS raw just to have the option to do away with so much UNNEEDED noise reduction which will cause smudging/smearing as iso rises above 200iso..some even at iso100. One may not notice this as much or AT all if you are shooting general scenery out doors. It's more noticeable I find on portrait work.
You can check out the Comparometer at Imaging resource. Instead of just my OPINION,
I replaced the . with a DOT so hopefully the link does not get deleted..
Put the XZ-1 on one side..put an S95/ TL500, LX5 or a G12 etc on the other. Check different ISOS and see if you don't agree the XZ-1 starts losing too much detail vs the other cameras 200iso and above. You will notice it most easily on the clothing, the threads become blurred vs most of the competition. Even the wall paint becomes much more blurred vs most of the other cameras DUE to noise reduction..
However overall the jpegs from the XZ-1 are generally REALLY good with great looking color and the detail is not that bad, actually GOOD..but COULD be so much better with lower aggressive noise reduction..that's all I'm saying.
Using raw..there is a ton of GOOD detail and not much noise in fairly good light till you get to about 400/500iso...if you want the VERY best out of this XZ-1
Vs my LX5 the LX5 almost always has more detail AND noise, but most of the LX5's jpegs look sharper at same iso. HOWEVER OVERALL, the pics from the XZ-1 just LOOK WAY WAY better as to the WHOLE picture, dynamic range, IQ, almost no lens distortion, GREAT corner to corner sharpness, lack of purple fringing...nice rather accurate color overall..it beats the LX5 and my S90 that I owned.
Bokeh (Blurred background) is amazing on this camera if that's important to you. I never knew a camera with a small sensor (compared to a full sized or micro four's sensor) could give you so much depth of field with that great blurred background.
The battery life is above average.
Video: I didn't do much video recording but what I did record looked VERY good.
In summary in my opinion, At default picture JPEG setting vs an LX5, S95, or even the TL-500, I am finding the XZ-1 to be best in class (Except again..stronger overall noise reduction than all the others.)
Each camera though in this category seems to have some strong points, some weaknesses.
Use raw on the XZ-1 this camera looks REALLY really good and on balance, JUST may really be the best of the crop here. Jpegs DO look VERY good too..just you will see night and day sharpness if you chose to shoot raw and take OFF the noise reduction, when you want that extra detail. Noise reduction can not be changed IN camera.
Since owning and using this camera A LOT now..I feel confident in saying it's probably the best camera in this 10meg smallish pocketable category. I like this camera so much now I bumped it up to 5 stars from it's initial 4 star rating I gave it. If Olympus can include IN camera noise reduction adjustment, perhaps in a future firmware update this camera has no competition in this category in my opinion!
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