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- Olympus Stylus XZ-2 iHS
- The XZ-2 is a solid upgrade to the beloved XZ-1, but it falls behind in terms of image quality.
Olympus Stylus XZ-2 iHS Digital Camera Review$599.99
The XZ-2's mode dial marches in lock-step with the competition, offering the usual PASM modes as well as iAuto, ART, and SCN settings. Also present are two user-customizable modes, which are handy if you use a particular configuration or two on a regular basis.
In good light, the XZ-2 focuses quickly and very accurately, though it will often fail when trying to lock on to low-contrast targets. To a certain extent, this characteristic is shared by all contrast-detect autofocus systems (and therefore all compact cameras). However, the XZ-2 fails more often than some of its competitors (most notably the Canon G15). In dimmer light, it uses its orangey-red AF assist light early and often, but even so it often has trouble locking on when the illumination drops below a certain level.
The XZ-2's manual focusing action is superb for a compact camera, thanks in large part to a sharp LCD and the excellent feel of the "analog" lens ring. Sure, it would have been better if Olympus had seen fit to include focus peaking technology (which helpfully outlines the edges of in-focus objects), but we suppose we can always hope for a firmware update.
Like any advanced compact worth its salt, the XZ-2 offers RAW capture, as well as RAW+JPEG. As you'd expect from Olympus, the RAW+JPEG functionality is totally granular, allowing you to choose Large Fine, Large Normal, Medium Normal, or Small Normal JPEGs to go with your RAWs. Those, incidentally, are also the size and quality options available when shooting JPEG-only. In addition to these options, you can choose from four different aspect ratios: 4:3 (default), 3:2 (DSLR-style), 16:9 (widescreen), and 1:1 (square). In total, there are 16 different resolution options.