The Olympus XZ-1 would be a notable entry into the high end compact digital field if only for its fast lens, but throw in a dose of excellent still image quality and the camera commands serious consideration. It starts reasonably fast and acquires focus and shoots in similar fashion. Menus are intuitive and simple and the camera is a bit smaller and lighter than its chief competitors. The zoom range is decent, there are RAW shooting options and a handy one-touch video capture interface.
As good as the still image quality is out of the XZ-1, the video doesn't seem up to par with the P7000 and G12. It has moments where it seems to compete on fairly even terms, but overall leaves the impression of being a bit softer than the other guys. Clip length is on the short side - only 7 minutes at HD resolution. And then there's noise performance that, while a bit better than the average compact digital, also looks to be a bit worse than the main competition, at least once sensitivities reach 400 ISO and up.
If you're an Olympus fan they've given you a worthy addition to the top of the digital compact food chain, and if you're in the market for a camera in this class but haven't made up your mind, do yourself a favor and take a good look at the XZ-1 before making the purchase. If you're a manual mode shooter who can make use of that fast lens you'll be happy you did.
Design/Ease of Use
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