cameras

Olympus Stylus XZ-2 iHS Digital Camera Review

The XZ-2 is a solid upgrade to the beloved XZ-1, but it falls behind in terms of image quality.

October 31, 2012
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Lens & Sensor

Like many other recent high-end compact cameras, the XZ-2 boasts an incredibly bright zoom lens. Though it's unchanged from the one used on the XZ-1, it remains one of the most outstanding designs on the market today, at least in terms of specifications. Its aperture ranges from f/1.8 on the wide end to a still-wide f/2.5 at full telephoto. Granted, the lens zoom ratio is only 4x (28-112mm effective), but it's still on roughly the same track as the lens in Canon's new PowerShot G15, which claims a 5x (28-140mm effective) zoom with a f/1.8-2.8 aperture range. These two are by far the brightest cameras on the block throughout their focal ranges.

The 1/1.7-inch 12-megapixel CMOS sensor represents a change from the 10-megapixel CCD unit found in the XZ-1. Keeping up with the Joneses, the XZ-2 sensor's size, pixel count, and ISO sensitivity range all match the G15's sensor spec for spec. There are a few larger imaging sensors on the compact camera market today, from the Fuji XF1 and X10's 2/3-inch model to the massive 1.5-inch outlier found in the Canon G1 X, but 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensors are essentially par for the course in this category these days.

Viewfinder

While the XZ-2 does not have a built-in optical viewfinder, as does the Canon G15, it can accept the tried and true Olympus VF-2 and VF-3 electronic viewfinders—the same EVFs that can be used with the earlier XZ-1 and several of the company's PEN-series Micro Four Thirds bodies.

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Display(s)

The XZ-2's rear LCD is 3 inches on the diagonal, like most high-end camera screens these days, and offers a resolution of 920,000 dots. Relative to the G15, it has a couple of big advantages. First, it can tilt through about 130 degrees of motion (80 degrees up and 50 degrees down), which can be a great help in composing shots. While we prefer full flip-out 'n' tilt-style screens, Olympus's tilt-only solution is nevertheless a big improvement over the fixed screen on Canon's G15, at least in terms of versatility.

Second, the screen is touch-sensitive. Olympus's touchscreen implementation on the XZ-2 is virtually identical to what you'd find on the flagship OM-D, and that's a very good thing indeed. It allows you to touch the screen to focus or shoot, and also to manipulate or page between images during playback. And it's a capacitive screen, which means it's extremely responsive (like any modern smartphone).

Flash

As with virtually every other advanced compact, the XZ-2's pop-up flash is positioned atop the far left edge of the camera. It's tiny, not very powerful, and doesn't extend very high above the lens, but it gets the job done for quick snaps. Luckily, since the XZ-2 has a full hot shoe (along with Olympus's standard accessory port) it can accept a number of add-on flashes for more serious strobist use.

Flash Photo
The pop-up flash is small and unobtrusive, but gets the job done for casual snaps.

Connectivity

Though some cameras in its class offer more advanced options, the XZ-2 has only two ports: HDMI and a proprietary USB 2.0 jack that can either send data or video/audio.

Battery

The XZ-2 is powered by the proprietary Li-90B lithium ion battery pack, which it inherited from the TG-1 waterproof camera. This cell provides 1270mAh of juice for roughly 310 shots on a charge. Though it's a bigger battery, that's actually 10 shots less than the XZ-1 could manage, and it lags the G15 by about 40 shots.

Battery Photo
The XZ-2 accepts the Li-90B lithium ion cell, also used in the recent TG-1 iHS.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Product Tour
  3. Hardware
  4. Photo Gallery
  5. Image Quality
  6. Sharpness
  7. Color
  8. Noise Reduction
  9. Dynamic Range
  10. Low Light
  11. Distortion
  12. Video
  13. Usability
  14. Ease of Use
  15. Handling
  16. Controls
  17. Speed
  18. Features
  19. Extras
  20. Video Features
  21. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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