Customer Review

207 of 231 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good camera.. Best in class, with one exception..., February 16, 2011
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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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Comments

Tracked by 10 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 42 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 16, 2011 6:09:47 PM PST
Nameless says:
This is interesting because I am also considering this camera. Were all the pics that looked soft taken indoors in low light? Did you have the same issue on any outdoor shots? Do you have any of the shots posted online (flikr?) that I can take a look at? The initial reviews on image quality from DPR have been pretty good, so this is surprising.

Also, shooting in RAW will generally give you softer pics than JPEG since the camera doesn't perform any in-camera sharpening on RAW images. So this could be why your RAW images look soft.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 7:46:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 16, 2011 7:49:51 PM PST
Radio Man says:
Yes had the same issue outdoors as well. I don't want to exaggerate it's not like the pictures have no detail, they are actually rather good and above average. It's just overall..yes even outside, the pictures look almost TOO smooth, SOFT. Again back to my dog (you gotta love dogs :) (Good subject though) Well same shots taken with my LX5 show his individual hair OUTSIDE much sharper than the XZ-1 did outdoors. XZ-1 pics look almost more like a painting..I am greatly exaggerating but trying to explain that soft pic look. Also I'm truly not trying to knock he XZ-1. However I did not mention I took a bunch of pics of houses, trees, cars on my street. It happened to be a very bright day...most of the pics taken with the XZ-1 had really bad blown highlights...the LX5 pics looked SO much better NOT over exposed like the XZ-1'S pics. Of course I could have just tuned down the exposure compensation out doors and probably the XZ-1'S pics would not look so over exposed. But too much fiddling just to get some decent boring street pics? I have NO reason to knock this camera..my first digital cameras were Olympus.I think it was the CZ2020 then a CZ3000 I may have the CZ wrong. Owned an E-P1 too..all WONDERFUL cameras. The XZ-1 is actually VERY good..but back to my point, the soft almost smeared pics just kill this camera for me sadly. I recall my Canon S90 to take SHARP pics, the LX5 does.and my TL 500 that I already miss took sharper pics with probably better color, especially skin tones than this XZ-1. Being the XZ-1 is more expensive than all the other similar 10 megapixel cams..to me it ought to cost the least, not the most.

This is way off subject but one ought to consider the Sony Nex-5 or even Nex-3. I have the NEX5..it's not that crazy bigger, not heavy, but the pics from the NEX vs any of these little cameras is like Night and Day. That said there is a place for these smaller cams....too bad the XZ-1'S pics are just so darn soft-ish..it could have been THE best. I don't have any pics posted anywhere from the xz-1 at this time sorry. I also read some great reviews on this camera..so maybe I just got a defective one?...I don't think so though!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 10:44:57 PM PST
You did not maybe get a defective unit, you positively got a defective unit. This camera is tack sharp at 400iso and below especially in raw. Also this camera does have control over sharpening,are you sure you had a XZ-1? Can you please post one of these soft pictures? Or any picture taken with this camera. Check out the review at Dpreview iso 400 and below blow away the S95 and LX5 and in raw it is even sharper. I own a LX5 and love it besides the bad skin tones and color cast.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2011 6:18:24 AM PST
I preordered my xz-1 but right now i am very confused , video quality is better on the lx-5 and the lx5 is a good camera overall, i really don´t know what to do, save some $usd getting the lx5 or try the xz-1 .

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2011 7:32:25 AM PST
Radio Man says:
Hey thanks for your comment. I changed my whole review based on your comment that you CAN change in camera sharpness. 'Don't know how I missed that feature!!" Perhaps I do have a slightly defective XZ-1 cause I stand by the fact at default setting my pictures are still rather soft, as per my review. But as I wrote in the review, after cranking up the sharpness level IN camera I am now generally pleased with it's output..and pictures are looking rather sharp but with much less noise than my LX5. Thanks for your very helpful comment.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2011 7:36:53 AM PST
Radio Man says:
Alvaro..seems you can't go wrong with either camera. The LX5 is a "great" camera overall..but so is the XZ-1 it seems. If money is a big issue so far I am NOT seeing!! that the XZ-1 deserves such a premium price over the LX5. But most pro reviews seem to be pointing towards the XZ-1 as best despite MY review. So, good luck with your choice..both are really good little cameras! You really can't go wrong with either.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2011 7:47:56 AM PST
Radio Man Thanks for your feedback .. i think i will stay with the xz-1.

Posted on Feb 17, 2011 7:48:13 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 17, 2011 7:58:48 AM PST
nikos_01 says:
Thank you for your informative review. Actually, yours is the first one, as another two people have posted their reviews here without owning (and thus extensively - or at all) used the camera.

It's great that you own both the LX5 and the XZ-1. I hope you could make some more comments, as I have been looking to buy either of them, but all these reviews have been quite confusing (especially since the XZ-1 has just come out and it's hard to decide without any real users' comments).

It would be great if you could make a comparative comment about the following points:

- AutoFocus speed. How do they compare?

- at their widest angle setting, how less wideangle does the XZ-1 seem compared to LX5?
I love wideangle, but is the overall difference that significant? Is there a chance you could post a couple of wide angle picture of the same subject, one taken with the LX5, the other one taken with the XZ-1? It's annoying cause it's been absolutely impossible to find either of these cameras in a store to go and actually handle them and see what they are like.

- from pictures that I've seen on flickr, LX5 seems to have less contrast, almost as if the pictures have a subtle grey veil over them, with colder colours. I love the XZ-1 colours and contrast. Do you find the same between your cameras?

- how long does the battery last in real life? (not only number of shots, but generally having the camera standby, viewing previously taken pictures, etc), i.e. in real life, travel conditions.

- I've seen on the web that it's not that small. Could you also comment on this? In the summer, when somebody does not wear a coat with roomy pockets, is it possible to pop it in your jeans' back pocket? How do the two compare?

Do you have a flickr or other web location where somebody can see your pictures?

Thanks again for your review, and enjoy photography!

Nikos.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2011 9:56:17 AM PST
shopper 4 says:
That is why I didn't cancel my Amazon pre-order and buy from another vendor when they had it in stock. It was tempting but Amazon return/exchange policy is too good to pass up.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2011 2:03:31 PM PST
Radio Man says:
Nikos, Thanks for the nice comments. Sorry I don't have any place to upload pictures at this time. Maybe l'll get on Fliker or a photo bucket presently I don't have an account at either spot to post.

As to some of your questions:
Auto Focus speed. How do they compare? I've only had the XZ-1 two days but so far to be honest I can't see any difference re: focus speed.],they are both EXCELLENT and VERY fast!

- at their widest angle setting, how less wide angle does the XZ-1 seem compared to LX5?:

This is a GREAT question and one reason I wasn't DONE with just owning the LX5.. The XZ-1 yes..does not get as wide What is it 28mm vs 24mm on the LX5? But what I hated about the LX5 is at widest angle I always saw a LOT of barrel distortion. I'm not a total techy..but things tend to look a bit/alot crooked till you zoom in a bit on the LX5. That distortion tens to negate the extra wide angle..it has. Its so bad I RARELY use the LX5 at it's widest angle. The XZ-1's lens seems superior as to any type of distortion..and at widest angle it seems much BETTER than the LX5. Again it's actually a wee bit LESS wide 28mm vs 24mm but I am finding it's wide angle is more usable because of corner to corner sharpness BETTER than LX5, and very little or no lens distortion at wide angle.

As to colors I have to say the XZ-1'S colors though vivid seem to be more accurate than the LX5..I agree LX5 has a tiny bit of a what looks like coldish color especially as to skin tones especially..I am liking the XZ-1 more and more. As to contrast..hard to say..before I used in camera sharpening in the XZ-1, I actually felt an almost sort of haze on it's pictures. Cranking up the sharpness seems to give the impression of a bit more contrast on the XZ-1..if anything though the LX5 may have a bit more contrasty type pics..without using in camera adjustments.

I can't comment so much on the battery on the XZ-1 as so far it has not died..and I took a LOT of shots. Only had it 2 days. The LX5 though has a SUPER battery..and I have to think the LX5 is the winner re: battery, but the XZ-1 seems already above average TONS better than the S90 I assume the S95 was same =BAD battery life.

As to camera SIZE The Olympus seems to be roughly same size as the LX5 and Samsung TL500. REALLY none of these are SUPER pocket-able..the winner THERE is clearly the Canon S95 but the XZ-1 is NOT that large..it feels well made..I am liking it more and more. You can maybe squeeze it into a LARGE pocket..haa just don't sit on it by mistake.:)

I'd also like to say in an earlier comment I had talked about it over exposing really bad on a bright sunny day. Turns out I was the problem. The lens is so bright I accidentally had the aperture wide open at 1.8..and the shutter speed could not get fast enough to let less light in. In fact I used it outdoors again today..pushed the aperture up to about f4 and the pictures looked GREAT no blown highlights or over exposure.

I am REALLY liking this camera more and more... Hope that answers most of your questions..JUST my opinions and how I see it.
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