Coming Soon: Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Review

I have just came home from a meeting with Olympus Malaysia this evening, and I brought home a loaned unit of the new Olympus Stylus XZ-2, the flagship compact digital camera from Olympus, which was announced at the same time alongside the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and PEN E-PM2 during Photokina just last month. The new XZ-2 shall supersede the older XZ-1, which proved to be one of Olympus' success, being highly regarded as one of the best high-end enthusiast's digital compact camera in class at its time. And yes, Olympus Malaysia has requested me to review this XZ-2, and I shall be bringing this camera out for test shoots in the coming few days. This will be my first time reviewing a compact digital camera, but rest assured I come from a strong background of shooting with point and shoot cameras and I have killed a record of 3 compact cameras in a span of 4 years usage (2004-2008). 

Olympus Stylus XZ-2

After taking the shot I realized how dusty the camera was, with grease smears on the smooth camera body. I initially wanted to cleaned it and take another shot, but I thought the "used" look was quite interesting, and added character to the camera. Alright, alright, I was lazy. What? Who said I can't be lazy?

The Key Specifications and Highlights of the Olympus Stylus XZ-2

1) i.Zuiko lens, 6-24mm F1.8-2.5 (Equivalent 28-112mm)
Zuiko is a great brand Olympus only used on very high performance lenses, used for their DSLR range of lenses, and also micro 4/3 lenses. The XZ-series are the only compact camera from Olympus to have the Zuko branding. Therefore, the i.Zuiko means serious business. 

2) New 12Megapixels, 1/1.7 inch image sensor
The new 12MP sensor replaces the old 10MP sensor on XZ-1, promising better image quality output  with better high ISO handling. The image sensor uses Back-Side Illuminated CMOS technology. We shall get to testing that in real world shooting soon. ISO range from ISO 100 to 12,800. 

3) Trupic 6 Image Processor
This is the same image processing engine built into the higher end cameras from Olympus, such as the new PEN E-PL5 and even the OM-D E-M5, thus delivering similar color reproduction and rich detail in the photographs. Olympus has been well known to have the best JPEG engines, and producing impressive images straight out of camera. 

4) Tilt screen and Touch AF
The XZ-2 has been equipped with that tilt screen very similar to the E-PL3, tilting upwards and downwards for difficult composition. More interestingly, the LCD screen comes in 920k resolution, which is much better than even the OM-D and any other PEN series camera up to date. Furthermore, the touch AF release from the LCD monitor as seen on OM-D and E-PL5, is also available on XZ-2. You can just touch at any area on the LCD screen during live view, and the camera will immediately focus and snap the photograph, almost instantaneously. 

5) Full Customization with two Function Buttons
The camera is fully customizable with two separate function buttons (Fn1 and Fn2), with the Fn2 button being placed in front of the camera, very near the lens, for quick controls. The controls can be set to many important functions that are regularly used, such as WB control, ISO setting, JPEG/RAW options, flash EV controls, etc. Moreover, under the Fn2 button, there is a dedicated control lever which can trigger AF/MF functions, or can also be used for controling the lens barrel ring to either aperture control or zooming of the lens. The XZ-2 also has dual control dials, one being the ring around the lens in front of the camera, and the second one is the dial around the arrow pads below the thumb rest at the back of the camera. 

6) Olympus Image Share
When used with Flash-Air SD card, the camera sports a new wi-fi capability feature that quickly transfers images out of the camera to Android or IOS enabled devices (smartphones of tablets). 

The camera also comes with usual Olympus features, such as In Body Built-in Image Stabilization, Art Filters, accessory port with the hot-shoe, enabling use of external flash and electronic viewfinders and full HD video recording. 

More photographs of the XZ-2 which I have taken just now:

The tilting screen, very useful in allowing for waist level shooting, or low angle composition. 

That thumb rest is a very good addition to aid in overall handling/comfort of using the camera. Function Fn1 button and control dials, placed strategically within reach of the thumb for quick operation. Very well thought out layout. 
The second function button Fn2, located near the lens, with a lever control, both customizable for various functions and controls. Take note the position of the function button and lever, still within quick reach from the fingers gripping the camera. 

Tomorrow is a public holiday in Malaysia, and I cannot wait to bring this camera out for shooting !! Olympus XZ-2 review shall be coming up very, very soon.  


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi Robin, Like my LX5, one really nice advantage of the XZ-2 is the hotshoe that works so well with the flashes m43 users already have. At a recent wedding (me as a family member)and to blend in with all the cell phone photographers, I carried the LX5 in one suit pocket and the Olympus 36R flash in the other suit pocket. I did get a couple of questions about what system I was using as I doubt anyone had ever seen such a large flash on a compact camera. A couple of people asked if I were using a "mini dSLR".

    Anyway I am sure the 36R works just as well on the XZ2 (if not better) as on the LX5. The results of a compact camera indoors when well-lit with a good flash can be spectacular... other than the too-much-depth-of-field issue, even when shot wide open. The flash operates in TTL mode and seems to sync perfectly with higher shutter speeds. (Is that because of the electronic shutter?)

    I am hoping you'll get a chance to test the Xz-2 with your FL-36R.

    Can't wait for your review!!!! Olympus treats you well, for sure *grin* But I have also come to know that your review will be well balanced.


    1. Hey Peter,
      Very important point you have highlighted there, the hot shoe mount is a very significant feature, and it sure allows the camera to be more flexible especially shooting in less than ideal lighting condition. Adding an external flash surely can save lives in photography world !!
      Yes, I will be using the flash with the XZ-2, you will see it in my reviews. Unfortunately my 36R died (I think it is still alive but there was a burning smell) so I have a 50R now.

    2. Robin, haha. A saying here is "alive and well". But a burning smell definitely puts it into the "alive and not so well category". The 50R will look quite something 'atop the XZ-2. Love to see a pic of the combo. It kind of illustrates how much of photography is about the light and not the camera.


  3. This looks like a sweet little compact. The control dial on the front lens barrel seems to be improved, and the tilt screen looks like fun too. A worthy upgrade of the xz-1, I think.

    1. Hey Jim,
      I have no means to comparing this camera to XZ-1, since I have no extensive experience with it but I am sure the new 12MP sensor and also the upgraded Lcd screen are both very good reasons to upgrade !!

  4. Olympus is so mean . I am having the XZ-1 for almost a year and is a camera I take with me everywhere. Really enjoy that camera and never fail me in any of my shots. easy to carry around and great for street shooting. nobody pays any attention to me. haha.

    Robin, I am sure u will enjoy that new camera n happy shutter therapy mate

    1. Hey Daniel,
      But I think it has been almost two years since XZ-1 was released !! And all other manufacturers have also updated their high-end compact cameras with the latest releases.

  5. From my experience of having the XZ-1, the compact truly performed in every condition. The only downside is the high ISO performance. It only usable until ISO 800. Hope this new baby will counter all the issue from XZ-1. Looking forward for you review!

    1. Hey Ashraf,
      I sure have expectations that the XZ-2 will perform well !!

  6. Hi Robin: I had used the XZ1 for only one day before returning it, and wanted to love it but found it not quite right in a few spots, and bought the LX5 soon after. XZ1's back LCD colour was off and final jpeg image colour a bit too saturated for my tastes, despite being in Natural colour setting (final image colours were actually different saturation than on my EPL1). Maybe others feel differently. However looks like they addressed some of the issues with this new model. Love the 920k screen, new body design much better than old, tilt screen, new bsi CMOS sensor (should have different colour response with this sensor and better AF speed compared to CCD sensor) and fast f1.8 lens (fast lens works great with no flash indoors in moderate room light on my LX5 and should be very good with this camera). I will be very interested in seeing the colour response in images, especially skin tones in colour on XZ2.
    Compared to m43, this XZ2 camera is very compact and lightweight (without added m43 lens) and should deliver very good results in decent light. Please also try at 400, 800, 1600 iso so we can see how compares to m43 larger sensor.

    1. Hello Adrian,
      It is strange that you did not like the XZ-1, I never hear any complains from my friends who are using it. However Kirk Tuck was sent a unit from Olympus and after using it for a bit he did return it to Olympus and refused to review it on his blog. So I can see how some people might not quite like the XZ-1.
      I do think the XZ-2 is different somehow. I am sure they have listened to the feedback from the XZ-1 users and do their best to fix the shortcomings. We shall see how this camera performs !

  7. Hi Robin, it is nice to hear that you are given a chance to try out x-z2. I really hope that you can have opportunity to test e-pm2 as well since I would like to have it..
    Anyway I also cannot wait to know the result from x-z2 test.. Happy snaping ya..- idamshah

  8. Thanks for this nice introduction. I just wished the LCD would be side-hinging - cam could be perfect. (And it's not self-portraits i'm thinking of.)

  9. Hi Robin, does the Quick Start Guide provide information about (customizing) the control ring on the front? The user manual
    is inconclusive about that. TIA.

  10. Hi Robin,

    Influenced by your review, I bought an xz2 last week. May I know if flashgun Nissin 622 MKII can be used on the hotshoe in place of Olympus 36R//50R. Does it discharges within the permissible voltage of 24v. One other thing, I still am unable to display the Super Control Panel. Your response is very much appreciated. Thanks.

    Khalik Hasan

  11. Hi Anonymous Khalik,

    Another poster has stated that third-party flash units will also work with the XZ-2 as long as voltage is 24v or less. Regarding the Super Control Panel, you can display it by pressing the Info button at bottom right corner while viewing the default control panel. Then after pressing OK button again, thereafter you will always get the Super Control Panel every time you press OK. To view the default control panel again, you do a similar process. While viewing the Super Control Panel, press the Info button again. Then after you exit with the OK button, you will thereafter always get the default control panel instead of the Super Control Panel. Hope this helps.

    Kharrahou Qumag