The XZ-2 enters into an already populated showground filled with a multitude of strong performers. On paper the XZ-2 has the specs to supersede the other brands, but do the promising specifications translate into an excellent photographic experience?
Power up time for the XZ-2 is fast - the screen was lit about 1 second after startup and a first shot can be taken almost immediately. Single shot-to-shot times ran about 1 second. The camera made 6 fps in "sequential" (continuous) drive at full resolution with JPEGs, and did the same for RAW/JPEG fine combinations. More importantly for continuous shooters, after an initial monitor blackout following the first shot, subsequent images are displayed without delays so tracking moving subjects is possible with the XZ-2.
Shutter lag on the XZ-2 was a very respectable 0.01 seconds, and AF acquisition time ran about 0.35 seconds.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Olympus Stylus XZ-2||0.01|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Olympus Stylus XZ-2||0.35|
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100||0.26|
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100||11.4|
|Olympus Stylus XZ-2||6|
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
Olympus' published flash guide states that at a wide angle the flash range is 2-36 feet and at the telephoto range is about 2-25 feet at 1600 ISO. Flash recycle times ran about 3 to 3.5 seconds.
Battery life is listed as approximately 310 shots when half are taken with flash. We experienced good results. Although we used the flash less then half of the time, we were able to take about 350 images from a fully charged battery.
There are five available focus mode settings. Autofocus - when the focus range is 60cm-infinity. The camera focuses quickly and easily. Macro AF- when the focus is 10cm at wide angle to 30cm at full telephoto. Supermacro AF - this function disables the zoom and the built-in flash, but allows you to focus as close as 1cm. Tracking AF - which tracks the selected subject as it moves across the frame. And manual focus - which allows the user to fully control the focal point.
To switch to Manual Focus, you pull the lever on front of the camera body. It automatically enlarges the center of the image for accurate focusing. Shutter lag in manual focus mode is insignificant. For those who prefer auto focus, there is an AF assist light that enables the camera to focus even in low light. This lamp can be disabled if necessary.
The Olympus XZ-2 has a compact pop-up flash that can be raised manually. Sliding the switch that sits in the top left corner of the back of the camera triggers the flash to rise.
Below the hot shoe is an accessory port identical to the one found on the Olympus E-P3 and E-PL2 models. This port allows you to attach several different accessories developed for the Olympus line of cameras, including the VF-2 and VF-3 electronic viewfinder, the SEMA-1 microphone adapter set and the MAL-1 macro lights. Unfortunately, only one of these can be attached at a time.
With Olympus designing the 4x zoom (28mm-112mm equivalent) of the XZ-2 specifically for the XZ line of cameras, you'd expect pretty good results. You will not be dissatisfied. Overall the XZ-2 glass gives a very dependable performance. With a minimum aperture of 1.8-2.5, this camera excels at the Bokeh effect similar to those that you get from the high-end DSLR lenses.
Those fast apertures at wide angle and telephoto speak for themselves, but aperture priority shooters may find themselves running out of shutter on bright days if they're working with the lens wide open. The XZ-2 shutter tops out at 1/2000th of a second and even with the ISO sensitivity at 100 you can start pushing into overexposure on a sunny day by going much below f/4. The camera features a built-in neutral density filter (disabled by default). This easily overlooked feature enables users to preserve otherwise unusable images and can be a saving grace on those sun-filled days.
Those fast apertures, however, are a blessing in low light as they allow you to shoot more without having to resort to higher ISO sensitivities, wherein allowing users to hand-hold the camera in dim environments where available light images are desired.
The Olympus XZ-2 can record full HD 1080p videos, and has a dedicated movie record button in the top right corner of the rear panel for one-touch video recording. Exposure compensation can be added before starting to record a video clip. You can use the optical zoom while filming. The camera can also apply any of the Art Filters to movies while recording. Like many other cameras, the XZ-2 does its best to keep the subject in focus while recording a video clip. The AF seems to hunt a bit, taking a sharp image in and out of focus on occasion, however, the overall quality of the video beyond acceptable. Movies are stored in MOV(MPEG-4AVC/H.264) format and videos are limited to 29 minutes.
Default images out of the XZ-2 are generally impressive, nice color rendition and sharpness.
Overall I thought still image quality was very good for a point and shoot camera. For folks who shoot in the manual modes, there are plenty of user inputs to adjust image output to your liking if the default product fails to meet your needs.
Here is a look at the Art Filters applied to a still scene - the filters can be applied to still images and video:
Pale and light color
Auto white balance was used for the majority of shots in this review and did a good job overall. The XZ-2 offers sunny, cloudy, shadow, incandescent, fluorescent and underwater WB presets along with a custom setting.
Just like the XZ-1,our expectations were that noise performance would be far superior to those in the point and shoot class. Surprisingly, I noticed the same loss of fine detail in the jump from 100 to 200 ISO as in the XZ-1. As we reported before, both images look the same small. At 400 ISO the detail drops slightly again.
Again, ISO 800 is a bit worse than 400, with fine details starting to smudge and more grain appearing. ISO 1600 takes another significant downturn, with widespread smudging of fine details and more grain - the Auto Zone coin is almost featureless at this point. ISO 3200 image quality rapidly decreasing. 6400 and 12,800 loses most of what fine details are left. You can also see that at 12,800 ISO we have maxed out our shutter speed at 1/2000th of a second. The image has become slightly overexposed.
One thing we noticed - when the noise reduction software was turned off, the camera did a much better job at retaining the fine details with less pixel smudging. Personally, I would prefer my camera render more grain than show pixel deterioration. Cleaning up the grain with post-production software is a far better alternative to using the in-camera noise reduction system.
Additional Sample Images
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