The recently introduced Olympus XZ-1 becomes that company's "...ultra-compact flagship camera and first of a new series... developed for the photographer or enthusiast who is looking for the ultimate high-quality, high-performance premium compact camera."
With Canon's G12 and Nikon's P7000 offering better than average compact digital noise performance, excellent compact digital image quality and a RAW shooting capability (not to mention a near-DSLR MSRP of $500), it was probably only a matter of time before Olympus threw their hat into this ring.
The XZ-1 offers 10 megapixel resolution on a 1/1.63-inch CCD sensor that is slightly larger than that of the Canon and Nikon competition and can capture images in RAW, JPEG or RAW/JPEG combinations. Video is 720p HD, and the camera features TruePic V image processing technology - TruePic V is also found in Olympus's PEN series cameras. Native ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 6400 and there are the obligatory compact digital automatic and scene shooting modes, along with full manual controls and a high resolution, 3.0-inch OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) monitor. The 4x iZuiko zoom lens covers the 28 to 112mm focal range in 35mm equivalents, and was specifically designed and built for use in a compact camera. Here's the view at both ends of that zoom:
But the big news with this lens is its speed - a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture at wide angle slows only slightly to f/2.5 at telephoto. Eschewing the built-in optical viewfinders of the Canon and Nikon models, the XZ-1 comes in a bit smaller and a fair amount lighter - still a large compact digital, but not quite on the scale of those other guys. An electronic viewfinder that mounts on the camera's hot shoe is an optional accessory. The XZ-1 uses SD/SDHC/SDXC memory media and there are about 54MB of internal memory. Olympus includes a lens cap, lens cap strap, Lithium-ion battery and charger, USB/Video multi-cable, shoulder strap, CD-ROM software and printed quick start user's manual with each camera.
First order of business for the XZ-1 owner (or reviewer) is to attach the lens cap to the camera with the provided lens cap strap - powering up the XZ-1 with the lens cap in place launches it off the body. With our lens cap accounted for and another winter storm taking aim on us here in southern California, let's get some shooting done before the wet weather arrives.
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