Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Review: Macro and Wide Angle Shooting

Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 2 
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = LOW, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. Minimal post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping and only minor exposure/contrast correction for better presentation.

This is Part 3 of my review series of Olympus Stylus XZ-2. If you have not read my Part 1 and Part 2 reviews earlier, please do so before proceeding with this blog entry. I have covered tests of image resolution at low ISO settings as well as high ISO noise performance of the Olympus XZ-2 in my previous reviews. 

In this Part 3 of my review saga, I brought the Olympus XZ-2 out for a little bit of macro shooting, and subsequently, doing some wide angle shooting. I figured that most people would buy the camera for a few main reasons: 1) travel compact camera, capturing landscape and scenery, as well as 2) general purpose everyday camera shooting, that is capable of close up shooting.. Now lets be sensible and not expect a small camera like XZ-2 to be able to capture extreme action sports or a ballet dance in a superbly dimly lit hall. It is my belief that a good compact camera should be able to fulfill these above-mentioned two purposes: shooting decent macro/close up and landscape photos. 

Therefore, in an uneventful Sunday afternoon I brought the Olympus XZ-2 to an open park near my place for a quick macro shooting session, capturing whatever tiny creatures (insects and spiders) that I could find, and after that, headed down to the city by train, to capture some urban landscape shots. While shooting macro and landscape, I shall be reviewing the following features/functions of the Olympus XZ-2
:
Super Macro Mode vs 4x Zoom Macro Shooting
Hybrid Control Ring - Conveniently control multiple important functions
920k dot LCD tillable screen - is the LCD scveen good enough?
HDR Scene mode
Battery Life of XZ-2

Super Macro, ISO320, F/1.8, 1/100sec, equivalent focal length 28mm
I admit depth of field was not enough for this damselfly, but as I stopped down the aperture, it flew away. 


One of the advantages of using a compact digital camera, is the ability of built-in macro/close up shooting function, that allows the camera to go very near the subject, while normally interchangeable camera systems would require macro lenses to do so. 

SUPER MACRO MODE

There are two ways to shoot macro with Olympus XZ-2, first being the obvious choice, using the super macro mode, enabled via the menu, and this option fixes the lens to 28mm equivalent focal length (which is the widest end) and allows the lens to focus on the subject as close as minimum 1cm from the lens. The second alternative, which also works considerably well, is using the normal shooting mode (super macro disabled) and zooming the lens to its longest tele-photo end at 112mm equivalent focal length, and go as close as possible to the subject (30cm from the lens). Both methods have their pros and cons, and I shall explore them more thoroughly. 

The advantage of using Super Macro mode is the ability to go very, very close to the subject, hence allowing for higher magnification, which is desirable for macro shooting. Nonetheless, getting too close to the subject will pose a few problems. Lighting is a very crucial factor in getting a good macro photograph, and pointing the lens so close to the subject, the lens actually would cast shadow on the subject, blocking much precious available light. Furthermore, shooting insects generally require some minimum working distance, getting too near the tiny creatures will surely scare them away. While super macro mode is a great implementation and a useful tool, no doubt, I dare say that it is not very practical for outdoor insect photography, which I usually shoot. In this entry, I managed to find some subjects that was kind enough not to fly away immediately and had a few photographs taken with the lens pointing dangerously close to them (2-3cm away). 

No Flash for Super Macro, not even external flash, or wireless flash
For some reasons, Olympus decided to disable the flash firing when Super macro mode is engaged. It might serve as a logical move since the built in flash would not be able to reach the subject when the lens is being placed just centimeters away from the subject. However, the inability to fire the built in pop up flash also rendered the wireless flash function of the camera useless. If the pop-up flash can be fired, I could at least use it to command my external flash, which could be fired off camera, into the direction of my subject, where lighting is a problem as I have mentioned earlier, shooting with super macro mode. Therefore, in this entry, I shot all my images with available light. Olympus should really consider enabling the flash even for super macro. Why cripple your own unique feature of wireless TTL flash that other manufacturers do not have?

No Manual Focusing when Shooting Super Macro Mode
Another surprise that I figured out while shooting in Super macro mode was that the manual focusing was disabled for reasons unknown. I would have preferred to work with manual focus for such extreme close up shooting. I had no choice but to rely on Autofocus while the super macro mode is used. 


ZOOMING IN TO 112mm 

A more practical solution to shooting the insects would be going for the full zoom at 112mm. In this case, I have a few advantages over super macro shooting: at 112mm, I have 30cm working distance, which is good enough for some decent magnification if the insects are not too small, yet I have comfortable working distance not to easily scare them away. Moreover, at 112mm focal length, the background has better "compressed" effect, seeing less, hence producing better composed images. I also quite like how the full tele-photo end of 112mm renders the background out of focus, with creamy bokeh. 

VERY GOOD MACRO IMAGES

For a small compact cameras, this Olympus XZ-2 sure produces amazing macro shots. I am not expecting it to rival dedicated macro lenses, which is on a different category altogether  but the amazing resolution and details captured are evident on the macro samples. Also, the shallow depth of field, thanks to the F1.8-2.5 wide aperture opening of the i.Zuiko lens helps greatly in subject isolation. The bokeh quality is very good too, being creamy and smooth. 


ISO200, F/2.5, 1/80sec, Equivalent Focal Length: 112mm

ISO640, F/2.5, 1/80sec, Equivalent Focal Length: 112mm

The following two shots are comparisons between the same subject shot with full zoom at 112mm and Super Macro mode, subsequently. 

ISO200, F/2.5, 1/10sec (yikes, did not watch my shutter speed close enough), Equivalent focal length: 112mm

Super Macro, ISO250, F1.8, 1/30sec, Equivalent focal length: 28mm

CAMERA CONTROLS AND EASE OF USE

The following short demo video is to highlight several key features of the Olympus XZ-2:
Hybrid Control Ring - Options to control exposure parameter (aperture, shutter speed or exposure compensation), Zooming, or Manual Focusing
Super Control Panel with Touch Control 
Touch AF and Shutter Release



Hybrid Control Ring

Olympus introduced their first "hybrid control ring", which is the ring around the lens barrel, that has multi-function. By default the hybrid control ring will be set to control of your exposure setting. If you are shooting on Aperture Priority mode, the hybrid control ring will control the aperture F-number as you rotate it. The cool thing about the ring in this mode is that it clicks with every step up or down of aperture change (by 1/3 EV stop), hence if you are operating the camera quickly by feel, if you want to stop from F/1.8 to F/2, you will know by the count of one click as you rotate the hybrid ring. Similarly, if you are shooting Shutter Priority, the hybrid control ring by default will be controlling the shutter speed. 

Now this is the neat part, you can set the control lever to on and off, for quick change of functions of the hybrid control ring. The functions are fully customize-able. Logically, I set the hybrid control ring second function to Zoom. As I turned on the control lever, instead of controlling aperture or shutter speed, now I can use it to zoom the lens. While the control ring was set to zoom function, it no longer has the "clicky" feel, and the zooming mechanism is smooth and silent. This was quite a smart feature, using one ring for multiple quick controls. There are actually three functions that can be set with the hybrid control ring, 1) Exposure parameter (aperture of shutter speed), 2) Zoom 3) Manual focusing. You can have all three options, or disable any one of the options, by customizing the hybrid ring control functions in the menu. 

I find this hybrid control ring very, very convenient to use when shooting macro. Two most important thing I control during the shooting of macro would be the Aperture and also focusing. The hybrid control dial takes care of these two functions easily. On the other hand, the convenient Function button Fn2 at the lever is also fully customize-able for easy access to important controls. Since I was shooting macro, I set the button to access the "Super Macro" focusing mode. As you can see, if I want super macro mode, all I have to do is press the Fn2 button. If I need to change the aperture, I just twist the hybrid control ring. It was as simple as that. 

Super Control Panel

One of the wonderful things that Olympus has ever created, and got it right since the beginning of their earlier DSLR days, would be the super control panel. Super control panel lays all the important controls out at the camera LCD screen, including metering mode, focusing mode, drive mode, IS control, ISO setting, gradation setting, picture mode, sharpness  contrast and saturation controls,. JPEG/RAW, JPEG compression quality, and many more, all at a glance. You have two options in controlling these: either by the control arrow pad and the control dial on the right of the camera back, or you can "touch" the LCD screen directly. The addition of super control panel (which is also the main feature available for ALL Olympus DSLR, PEN and the OM-D cameras) is a HUGE welcome !!


Super Macro, ISO200, F/1.8, 1/50sec. equivalent focal length: 28mm

ISO200, F/2.5, 1/80sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm

ISO100, F/2.5, 1/80sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm
IMAGE SAMPLE 1

100% Crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 1


FOCUSING WHILE SHOOTING MACRO

The autofocus performance was generally very good, and I almost never failed to lock focus. For larger insects, such as the grasshopper and butterfly, focus was locked almost immediately after the half press of the shutter button. However, for tinier insects like the spiders, the focusing was a little more difficult, sometimes, prioritizing the background instead. There are two ways to overcome this issue, which is not a severe one anyway: focus the camera on other subjects, something near, and then move the lens back to the main subject, and I found the lens would snap to focus immediately, or the more tedious option for control freaks: manual focus. I tried both options and they worked well. I preferred not to use the manual focus because I was relying on the rear LCD screen to shoot, and did not have an electronic viewfinder with me. 

The main challenge of focusing was not whether the camera can get it right or not. Before this shooting session, it rained quite heavily. Therefore it was quite a windy day, not very suitable for insect shooting. The grass and leaves that the insects were resting on were constantly swaying and moving due to the windy condition. The subjects can be seen rocking back and forth, or even left to right. It was indeed a challenge, but it was also just a quick session to test the general macro shooting capability. 

920K DOT RESOLUTION TILTABLE LCD SCREEN

Let me get straight to the point, of all newer Olympus cameras up to date, in comparison to OM-D E-M5, PEN E-PL5, the LCD screen on XZ-2 wins hands down, in terms of resolution, size and brightness. The default aspect ratio of the LCD screen was 3:2, hence viewing at shooting 4:3 ratio (the original full resolution) only has minimal crops at the sides. Image display was clear and crisp, and easy for quick review for focus accuracy. The clarity and brightness of the screen is commendable, the difference is evident, in comparison to OM-D and E-PL5. Perhaps the only screen that could rival or surpass this XZ-2's LCD would be the LCD screen on my Olympus DSLR E-5. The only complain I had about the LCD screen on the XZ-2, similar to the OM-D and E-PL5's screens, is the color balance. Somehow, the color balance just appears "warmer" with slight green cast. Nonetheless, it is surely good enough for quick judgement of white balance control. 


ISO100, F/2.5, 1/60sec, Equivalent focal length: 28mm

Super Macro, ISO100, F2.5, 1/250sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm
IMAGE SAMPLE 2

100% Crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 2

ISO125, F/2.5, 1/200sec, Equivalent focal length: 112mm
IMAGE SAMPLE 3
I know this is not a macro image but hey, I love cats !


100% Crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 3

ISO100, F/1.8, 1/25sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm

Alright, enough of macro, lets go for some wide angle shooting fun. Wide angle shooting is so much easier to do, with much less technical considerations such as macro shooting. Yet wide angle is probably the most used focal length of most compact camera shooters. After the short macro shooting session, I brought the Olympus XZ-2 to the city for some urban landscape shooting. 

28mm, IS IT WIDE ENOUGH?

The widest end of this XZ-2's zoom lens is 28mm equivalent focal length. Similarly, 28mm is the widest end for most zoom kit lenses offered as a bundle with DSLR's. With so many newer compact cameras offering wider and wider coverage, is this 28mm wide enough for general wide angle shooting?

The answer is quite subjective. In most shooting conditions, the 28mm is surely sufficient, in fact, it is more than enough, that I find myself zooming in a little bit to 30 or 35mm for a more natural looking perspective of the image. It all comes down to preference, just like a super zoom craze not too long ago, where all manufacturers were racing on pushing as much zoom as possible (with some staggering 30-40x optical zoom in the super-zoom camera category), this wide angle I am seeing as another craze too. It is just a phase, and as soon as people start to realize the wider the lens is, the more severe distortions and other image flaws (chromatic aberration, corner softness, etc), the phase might just die down. 

However, since this is not an interchangeable lens system, having a lens with maximum flexibility is important. 28mm may be sufficient for most shooting conditions, but having something slightly wider, say 24mm, would create a whole world of difference when you really do need to fit that extra bit more into the frame. If only it was a 24mm wide, with no compromise in image quality, it would have been perfect !

HOW IS THE 28mm WIDE ANGLE ON XZ-2?

The 28mm widest end of the i.Zuiko lens for XZ-2 is excellent, with very good control over technical issues. It has very little chromatic aberration, barely visible to my eyes. Images are sharp corner to corner, which is something Olympus Zuiko lens is known for. I did not see any issue of vignetting or corner softness, which is quite impressive for a compact camera lens. In fact, barrel distortion seemed to be very well controlled, with lines appearing very straight even at edges and corners of the frame. Of course perspective distortion is not something that the camera can deal with, which only occurs naturally when shooting wide angle. I find very little to complain about the wide angle shooting with the XZ-2. 

ISO100, F/2.5, 1/100sec, Equivalent focal length 28mm

ISO100, F/3.2, 1/250sec, equivalent focal length 28mm

ISO100, F/2.8, 1/200sec, equivalent focal length 28mm

ISO100, F/2.8, 1/250sec, equivalent focal length 28mm


THE HDR SCENE MODE

An interesting inclusion to the XZ-2, the HDR Scene Mode, was quite intriguing. The Guide Info on the camera described the HDR mode to be used to counter strong back-lit situation. Therefore, I believe it is some processing trick to lift up the shadow details and suppress the highlight from being overblown, should a harsh back-lit situation was encountered. 

I took some samples with the HDR mode. To be honest, I do not quite like the output from the HDR processing done in camera. The HDR processing smears and blurs away fine details, giving the image the "water-color" look, probably due to very aggressive noise reduction. It does appear that the HDR is a single-shot processed file, not to be confused with multiple shots merged into one HDR. The color produced by the HDR did not look natural to me, and I much prefer the original file with some minor exposure and gradation adjustment to achieve better dynamic range. 

NORMAL MODE


HDR SCENE MODE 


TOP: NORMAL MODE
BOTTOM: HDR SCENE MODE 


BATTERY LIFE

The battery life was better than I have expected, for a compact camera. I have shot a total of 420 shots in my first street shooting session when the battery flattened out on me. In my second macro and landscape session, I have come close to about 500 shots. There was another shooting session, which I shall be blogging next, an event coverage, where I used the camera together with an external flash. In that session, I managed to fire close to 600 shots before the camera battery died off completely. The main reason why I can squeeze out so many shots in the event session, was due to the auto-preview being turned off, and I did a lot less chimping/reviewing of images. For typical usage, I can say a safe 400 shots per battery charge. However, do take note that if internal built in flash was used, and the electronic viewfinder is attached  battery life may be reduced significantly. For a compact camera (considering casual shooting, not serious, demanding conditions), the battery life for the XZ-2 is actually very good. 

ISO100, F2.1, 1/160sec

ISO100, F/2. 1/250sec
IMAGE SAMPLE 4

50% crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 4

10 full resolution sample images, selected from this blog entry can be downloaded via the following link, for your pixel-peeping pleasure. 




I have one more Part of review to go, and in the final part, I shall be focusing on what I wish could have been better in the XZ-2. 

Also, I have shot an entire event with the XZ-2, used in combination with the Olympus FL-50R flash. I shall post up the next part in a few days time !! 


If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to say something in the comment section on this blog entry, or email me directly at hamish7ian@gmail.com

75 comments:

  1. Shame about the flash disabled in super macro mode!

    Anyway, what a great example of using the macro feature of the camera!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Circle, I know !! I was so surprised it was disabled. I was all geared up for my usual wireless flash macro shooting.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, that was surprising. Great demonstration of the hybrid ring as well, particularly on using it for zooming as most of the videos I have seen on YT only focuses on the manual focusing mode and aperture changing mode.

      Hopefully Olympus will enable the wireless flash in super macro mode with a firmware update.

      Delete
    3. The hybrid control ring controls 3 functions, manual focus, zoom and exposure. And furthermore it can be further customized for your own preference.
      Lets Olympus Olympus hears this ! We need the wireless flash for super macro mode !! Also manual focusing.

      Delete
    4. @Circle

      Good Joke. The Super Macro mode ist for a Distance of 1 cm!!! Please... explain me how do you want to use a built-in flash in this distance?

      Delete
    5. Olympus has a 2 LED flexible macro-light (MAL-1) that fits in the expansion port of the PEN cams, it should work on the XZ-2
      that's probably why they disable the flash right ? Have you tried this accessory ?

      Speaking of accessories, can you use 55mm filters, VIVITAR / RAYNOX fish eye and 0.7 wide lens converters, besides the TCON-17 tele-converter ? That would turn in reality your dream of having that 24mm wide view or even more !

      As an idea, for an additional part to your excellent reviews on the XZ-2, why not to include accessories and extension lenses/filters, after all expandability is also a very important point when you buy a premium cam. For example did you ever used the included ND filter (or an external one) to make this dreamy looking waterfall and creak photos ?

      Thanks a lot Robin for these reviews, you helped me to decide between the Fuji X10 and XZ-2.

      T.K.

      Delete
  2. wow Robin, u r really putting a lot of effort in testing this small gem ;0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Eric,
      Yes I did !! This Olympus XZ-2 just screams attention !

      Delete
  3. Again, thanks for the review, those shots are really good, I do agree with you if this was a 24 mm camera it would be actually perfect for my needs, I am gearing more towards this camera than the lx7 with 24 mm, but dull pic colors (main reason I held from buying it and wait for the xz-2) or the rx100

    Would you know how good this camera would be with running objects (children)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Robin,
      Yeah 24mm would have been so much better.
      I have not tested the camera on moving subjects tho. Even entry level DSLR would suffer to track moving subjects, hence I would not expect the XZ-2 to outperform them.

      Delete
  4. I never thought this compact perform very well in bug shooting. Very impressive indeed! I'm quite surprise with the Hybrid control ring feature that can control zoom with it. Look like Olympus do design this compact towards the enthusiast market. If only Olympus put another O-MD like dial at the top it will be almost perfect enthusiast compact to remind myself of Olympus C5050z. Other feature that I envy is the battery life of 420-500 shot. My trustful XZ-1 only manage until 350 shot. One thing to ask about video recording on XZ-2. Is there any issue when capturing video towards bright light such as street lamp?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello ashraf,
      I shall not make any comments on the video shooting. I am very unfamiliar with video handling and how to record a good video, hence any comment I make will be meaningless. Do forgive me.
      Indeed the hybrid control ring is a good function, being able to zoom with it. I think control dial at the arrow pad, coupled with use together with the hybrid control ring would be a good enough option to replace the top dial on OMD.

      Delete
  5. do you have any facebook page about your photograph?
    it's so awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I don't have. You can follow my blog here.

      Delete
  6. Hello Robin,

    is the XZ-1 limited to F8 like XZ-1?

    Gerrit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Gerrit,
      Yes, it is fixed at F8, but it has built in ND filter to go down 3 more stops.

      Delete
    2. Robin, Another excellent report. I always have a special interest in the practical macro features of a camera. It drives me crazy when so many compact camera reviews only look at the closeup capability at the widest angle, which is often 1 or 2 cm. How close you can get is NOT the measure of a good macro, but that is what people are often led to believe. To me, what is important is how small an object you can get when fully zoomed in (112mm in this case) as "working distance" is what you want. The Canon G series was always good at this. WIth my old G9 at 3x zoom (about 90mm equiv) it will focus on a 1.25" object (classic macro size) at 2.5" working distance.

      So anyway... I am curious as to how small an object will "fill the screen" when you are using the Oly at 112mm and minimum focusing distance (about 30cm I think you mentioned)??? Thanks!

      Delete
    3. Hello Peter F,
      Thanks for the kind compliments.
      Oh dear, now I have no way of telling the "magnification factor", since I have no way of calculating it accurately. Even my estimation would not be very useful, but I would say the magfnification factor, based on my shooting experience with Olympus macro lenses, is quite close to 0.2-0.3x factor (relative to 1:1 full macro). That is a conservative approach.

      Delete
    4. Hi Robin, didn't mean to complicate life hehe. With the LX5 in macro mode at full zoom of 90mm-equiv the minimum focus distance is 30 cm and I can capture something as small as 120mm across. It sounds like the Olympus behind a 112mm-equiv lens can capture something of a similar size (without cropping).

      Peter F.

      Delete
    5. Hey Peter F, if that is the case, with Olympus 112mm, at similar 30mm working distance, it should have slightly better magnification !! At at F2.5 wide aperture, it is bright enough for most shooting, without bumping up ISO unnecessarily !

      Delete
  7. I've read all 3 part of your review on the xz-2. XZ-2 really is pushing the boundaries of compact camera world, it really is a camera not to be taken lightly on it's capabilities. Not to forget the marvelously acclaimed RX-100. And to you also Robin, keep up your splendid work over there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Amir,
      thanks.for the kind words ! I agree this Olympus XZ2 should not.be taken lightly.

      Delete
  8. Excellent macros Robin! The XZ-2 is and art tool in your hands! In wide angle, I really liked the photo of the sunlight coming in through the skylight illuminating the red lanterns. Shame that flash or external flash is disabled in super macro and also that HDR clearly smudges details and changes color. However I am optimistic in Olympus as they really herd when they corrected the XZ-1 flaws in this excellent photographic machine. These are easily fixable in a software update. Please Olympus...

    Keep up your good work and excellent eye! You just earned a new fan in your blog!

    Cheers

    Rob

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Rob,
      Thanks for such kind comments. I think in the face of such stiff competitions these days, it is only prudent to listen to customer's feedback !! After all XZ-1 was their first serious compact camera, hence having improved it based on consumer's feedback surely will make it even better.

      Delete
  9. Robin,
    Thank you so much for your extensive macro review and also teaching me that you don't have to be so close to do macro! Is the disabled flash something that can be fixed in a firmware update? I agree, it's a shame it isn't 24mm since I do a lot of landscape - but then that is what my bridge camera is for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sherri,
      It was my pleasure doing the review.
      There are several ways to go about doing macro, surely there are even more interesting options available (close up filter, for example).
      I am not sure if the disabled flash can be fixed with firmware update. Lets hope it is possible !

      Delete
  10. You review is slowly convincing me that I made the right choice to wait for the XZ-2 instead of buying the LX7 or the RX100 right away. But I can't help thinking that you could also have convinced me to buy one of these two cameras, if you had reviewed them. You could take great pictures, even with crappy cameras, you're just a good photographer! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello chafouin,
      Thanks for the kind compliments !! Surely, coming from a long history of being an Olympus user myself, I can testify that there are many good reasons to get the XZ-2 !!

      Delete
  11. Great reviews so far. Would you consider replacing your Sony with the XZ-2 or perhaps picking up the XZ-1 (now heavily discounted to around $200 US) plus the EVF which would be a fairly affordable combo?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Wataru,
      Thanks for your kind comments. However the reason I picked up the Sony DSLR system was to be a backup system for paid assignment use. I don't think clients would be happy seeing me shooting with an XZ-2 or XZ-1 !!

      Delete
  12. Donald W Leitzel10/31/2012 05:33:00 AM

    Robin

    Thank you for your usual objective reviews on the XZ-2. I have not had the chance to see the camera yet. I did however have the chance to see the EPM-2 and the 60mm macro.

    I think I will consider buying the 60mm macro, I have been using my ancient 55mm macro lens from my OM kit. I works well with my EP-1.

    Or I may buy an XZ-2 if the wireless flash issue is resolved. I only have a limited budget for camera gear.

    Thank you again for your reviews.

    Don,from America.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Donald,
      If you already have a micro 4/3 body, that 60mm macro is a must have, if you really want to shoot macro with your camera. It just does everything so well, and way better than what the XZ-2 can do !!
      If you are getting the XZ-2, it should not be solely for the macro only.

      Delete
  13. May i know how much time you have spent on writing this review? i think must be very long time. Have you tried the internal ND filter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Dreamie,
      Now that you have mentioned, it did feel like I spent exceedingly more time on this particular part of review !!
      I accidentally activated the ND filter for one of the shots above, the black and white shot of the old building and a bicycle coming by. Nonetheless, I did not find the need to use the ND filter. You know I don't purposely try out a feature unless i find a need for it.

      Delete
  14. Good sharing review and attractive photos. Looking forward the final part of your review.
    I would be interested in the result if you apply the HDR mode in highly contrast situation (e.g. in a tunnel or inside a home with sunlight outside).
    Also, according the Olympus site, this camera features so called 'Smart Panorama' function which should be similar to Sony's sweep panorama. Have you tried that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Yau,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      I did try the hdr mode in high contrast situation, it did not really improve the exposure balance by much. I believe simple highlight and shadow tweaking in post-processing will yield better results.
      The smart panorama requires you to take multiple shots separately, not one sweep like Sony.

      Delete
  15. Hi Robin,
    Again excellent review with nice pics and writing... I prefer these real life testing to charts and numbers (which also have their usefulness). It seems that this review will help many people decide when choosing the xz2.
    Else what's the dish you photographed called? It looks yummy... I can recognize 100 year old eggs in it or so...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Johan,
      Thanks again for the kind compliments.
      That was porridge with assorted condiments, chicken, pork, egg, and century egg. The 100 year old egg, we call locally as century egg.

      Delete
  16. Great review, Robin, with excellent pictures to go with it. This little camera sure packs a punch! I am really impressed. Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Andre for the kind comments !!

      Delete
  17. Hi Robin,
    Very impressed with your XZ2 review and excellent photos. The ISO 1250 shot of the man at the charcoal grill has just sold another XZ2 (future business). I've been playing around with photography since the 1980s, but I'm on a learning curve with digital and get a bit lost with some of the techno-babble. Been using an XZ1 for well over a year, mainly shooting things to put on Panoramio.com. I love the camera, but, of course, like the mark 1 version of any digital camera it has its faults, like the mode dial that has to be held in position with sticky tape to stop it being accidentally turned and that fiddly and difficult to use manual focus. As for the XZ1 being better than the XZ2? All I can say about that is there's no way my XZ1 and me could produce images of the quality you and your XZ2 did for your review. Look forward to part 4.
    Greetings from Scotland!

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Chris !!
      Nice to hear from someone in Scotland !! Thanks for the kind comments too.
      I find the mode dial of the XZ-2 quite decent in quality, it clicks in place and won't move on its own like you have described. I did not use XZ-1 long enough to reaslize this issue, but rest assured the mode dial feels very reassuring and safe to work with. It locks in place when you switch to another mode with the safe "click". I hope that answers your questions !!
      The best way, is to hold the camera in your hands, and try it out !!! I am sure Olympus listened to the complains and improved this in XZ-2, it would be foolish to use the same faulty one which everyone hated !

      Delete
  18. Robin -- I continue to be astonished at the quality of photography you achieve with virtually any camera. I doubt that I would have paid much attention to the XZ-1 (have an OM-D and awaiting an EPL5) but your review is an eye-opener. Amazing macro stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks David for the kind words. Indeed the XZ-2 should not be over-looked !

      Delete
  19. Love your review. Fantastic work!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Robin,Some nice images out of the xz-2.It's amazing how good an image you can get out of a $600 camera when a single lens could cost more!My brother recently bought a lumix DMC-FZ200 and took some moon images which turned out way better than I could get with my OMD at 150mm.I would have to spend as much as his camera just for a bigger zoom to get as good a shot,I am starting to think it's more efficient to buy a few new cameras than to build up a single system. Scary thought!!!
    Yours Tony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey Tony,
      Thanks for the kind compliments !! Sometimes the mentality that bigger is better is not really applicable !!

      Delete
  21. Thanks for all your efforts with the XZ-2 - anyone who likes cats and XZ cameras can't be all bad. :) I think the XZ-1 is great, but you've got me thinking about an upgrade to the XZ-2. If only the price wasn't so high. Well, nobody said this hobby was cheap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see you are also a cat lover !!
      Yes, nobody said photography is a cheap hobby !

      Delete
  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Для Тони Юпп!
    можно выслать снимки LUMIX DMC-FZ200 на мой
    e-mail:vik50.50@mail.ru для Виктора

    ReplyDelete
  26. For Robin Wong!
    All the pictures of course class, but you're shooting in very bright light, and there is a picture on when the weather is overcast and a little light to really evaluate the performance of the camera. Regards, Victor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Victor, please read ALL PARTS of my review. Thanks

      Delete
  27. For Tony Jupp!
    You can send pictures LUMIX DMC-FZ200 in my
    e-mail: vik50.50 @ mail.ru for Victor

    ReplyDelete
  28. Fantastic pictures and review Robin Wong, has helped me a lot to select the camera that I want!
    but I'm still undecided between Olympus Xz-2 and Nikon P7700 !!!
    I love taking pictures of insects and animals (macro) wich one do you recomend?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Robin,

    I just made a reply under Circle's comment but
    just must add that Olympus should hire you to show off this camera and listen to your comments on how to make it better. Great work !

    T.K.

    ReplyDelete
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  34. Hey Robin,
    a very helpful review you did here! Thanks for the insights about the macro modes. A shame you can't use manual focus in macro mode though. Would have been the knockout feature to me for all the other compact cameras right away. Turns out deciding on a new point-n-shoot is not the easiest thing in 2013. ;)
    Cheers from Austria, Susy

    ReplyDelete
  35. thank you for your review!

    But in my XZ2 i can use manual focus in super macro …
    Can you give us some tips, how can you shoot so good and SHARP photos ?
    Is there any general settings in Olympus viewer 2 ?

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