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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Sharpness

Despite the change from a 10-megapixel CCD sensor to a new 12-megapixel CMOS unit, the XZ-2 performs nearly identically to its predecessor with regard to sharpness. It's not the sharpest sensor/lens combination we've ever seen, but it's solidly in the ballpark of "very good" performance. Generally speaking, it's sharpest at full wide angle, dropping off a bit in the middle focal lengths, and then picking up again toward full telephoto. In the real world, it produced very pleasing results at low ISO settings, before noise and noise reduction crash the party.

It's also worth noting that, unlike many recent advanced compacts, the XZ-2 doesn't seem to apply excessive in-camera sharpening to its JPEGs. In-camera sharpening is like salt: you can always add it, but you can never take it away. While we've seen sky-high oversharpening numbers from cameras like the Samsung EX2F and Canon G15, Olympus tones it down. Those cameras' sharpness figures ranged from 130% to 150% of normal, producing ugly dark outlines around high-contrast objects. In contrast, the XZ-2 rarely rises above 110%, and as a result, the photos you get out of it look a good deal more natural on a per-pixel level.

The XZ-2 also lets you adjust the sharpness level of each JPEG color mode (on a scale of ±2 adjustments from "normal"), so you can make the camera behave however you please. Of course, you can always shoot RAW to get the sensor's pure output and shortcut the sharpening issue entirely. More on how we test sharpness.

Science Section 3 Images
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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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