Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Review: Street 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 = OFF, 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.

When Olympus Malaysia asked me to review their latest flagship high-end compact digital camera, the Olympus Stylus XZ-2, I was unsure how to do so, because I have been shooting mainly with DSLR system, and more recently, micro 4/3 mirrorless system. I do have a budget basic point and shoot camera which I only use daily at work for documentation purposes, nothing artistic, or technically challenging. I have also heard many wonderful things about the predecessor flagship Olympus XZ-1, which I did have great interest in but never had a chance to use the camera extensively. I have just received the loaned unit yesterday, coincidentally today was a public holiday in Malaysia, thus the perfect opportunity for me to test and blog about this new XZ-2. 

This entry shall be the Part 1 of my review for Olympus Stylus XZ-2. In this entry, I shall explore the camera's capability in shooting under generally good lighting condition, with low ISO setting: how much detail can the combination of new 12Megapixels Back-Side Illuminated CMOS image sensor with the i.Zuiko lens capture? How does the camera handle, how good is the autofocus performance, and how does the camera fare for my usual shutter therapy session? I brought the Olympus XZ-2 to my favourite street hunting ground, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.

If you have not read my mini-preview of the Olympus XZ-2, please do so here (click). 

Fruit Market
ISO100, F/2.5, 1/125sec, Equivalent focal length: 112mm

Before we dive right into the review, allow me to clarify a few items. This review will be written from a photography-enthusiast’s point of view, because I am not a professional photographer. This will be a user experience based review, sharing on what I think and feel as I use the XZ-2 in real life shooting situations. Therefore, this is not a technical review as there will not be elaborative technical explanations, which can be easily accessible on many professional review websites such as DPreview and DXOmark. In addition to that, I will not be doing direct side by side image and performance comparisons between XZ-2 and any other cameras. Instead, I will share my opinion on how different the experience was shooting with the new XZ-2. In a nutshell, it is about what I can do with the camera, not what the camera can do by itself.


All manufacturers are fighting aggressively in the high-end digital compact camera market, surely XZ-2 faces strong competition from very much alike release from other manufacturers, such as Panasonic LX-7 and the Sony RX100. Both the Panasonic LX-7 and the Sony RX100 have received overwhelmingly positive response from reviews and also user reports, surpassing many general expectations from those cameras. Panasonic's Lumix line of compact cameras surely is no slouch, while Sony has always dared to push the boundaries with creative innovations and new technologies. So where does this new Olympus XZ-2 really stand in the face of such broad and stiff competition?

Olympus XZ-1, the predecessor of XZ-2 has been highly regarded as one of the best digital compact camera at its time, being the first compact camera to include a fast aperture F1.8 lens, as well as superior image quality even shooting at high ISO (which is subject to argument comparatively today, but at its time of release about 2 years ago, this statement was surely true). The camera also offers a wide variety of enthusiast's features and demands: full customization, built in body image stabilization, wireless flash control, built in accessory port to adapt an external electronic viewfinder, etc. Indeed, the XZ-1 received positive reviews and was one of the top considerations of serious digital compact camera. Therefore, it is no surprise that the new Olympus XZ-2, will not only replace the XZ-1 as the top of the line camera, but will also surpass the older XZ-1, in an ideal case, just about everything the XZ-1 can do, the XZ-2 should be able to do better. How much better, and will this new Olympus XZ-2 match or outperform its competing peers? That is not the answer for me to find out, but my review will cover how the XZ-2 respond to my own shooting needs and requirements from a camera. If you have been following my blog, I can be quite unforgiving if the camera is under-performing. 


The shooting location was Pudu, Kuala Lumpur. I covered the streets around the old shops area, as well as the open air wet market, which I have also used for most of my other review works for Olympus micro 4/3 camera and lenses. The sky was bright with cloud formation over the sky, causing slight overcast condition in certain times. Generally lighting was very good, and I was shooting with the lowest ISO sensitivity 100-200 only for the whole morning, and did not find the need to bump it up. Pudu provides plenty of subjects to be covered: people, old architecture, market vegetables and live poultry, etc. People are generally friendly here, hence shooting street portraits was easy. 

Watchful eyes
ISO200, F/1.9, 1/40sec, Equivalent focal length: 31mm

Soft fluffy clouds
ISO100, F/4.5, 1/1600sec, equivalent focal lenth: 28mm

Ready for Friday Prayers
ISO100, F/2.4, 1/250sec, equivalent focal length: 97mm

100% crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 1

100% crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 1

Very Friendly Gentlemen (since he was so friendly I went in even closer)
ISO100, F/2.5, 1/200sec, equvalent focal length: 112mm


Shooting at very low ISO settings, from ISO100-200, the results obtained from the Olympus XZ-2 was nothing short of impressive in terms of image resolution and amazing amount of details captured. Looking at the IMAGE SAMPLE 1 above, the 100% crops on the portrait of the friendly gentlement revealed all the fine lines on his face, even though the face appeared to be smooth to my naked eyes !! And further downward the frame, looking at the 100% crop of his blue shirt, the texture of the fabric was very detailed. 

When I first saw this on my computer screen (well, we never trusted the camera LCD display anyway, do we?) I was quite shocked to see this level of sharpness in the image. Indeed those images were not artifically sharpened, they are true details captured and resolved into the final photograph, and you can inspect the full resolution untouched files in the download section provided at the end of this blog entry. To be completely honest, not even the Olympus Zuiko 14-42mm kit lenses, both for the 4/3 DSLR system and Micro 4/3 system can resolve this much detail, looking close up at 100% view. I even doubt that the new Olympus 12-50mm kit lens for OM-D can deliver such clarity and sharpness. Of course, the XZ-2 will never come close to the incredible primes (12mm F2, 45mm F1.8, 60mm F2.8 macro, etc) but lets not get carried away with ridiculous comparisons, which is besides the point anyway. What I was surprised (a pleasant one indeed) to find out here was that the digital compact camera's i.Zuiko brand is not just a marketing stunt, in fact the Zuiko branding is living up to its legendary quality. Having a compact digital camera's lens which is even sharper than DSLR kit lenses surely is something not to be overlooked. The versatile zoom range of equivalent focal length 28mm to 112mm, as well as the bright open aperture at all focal length, F/1.8 at the widest end of 28mm, to a very decent F/2.5 at longest tele-end of 112mm: all these made even the digital compact camera seem like quite a compelling choice to own. 

That built in zoom lens, was sharp from its widest end of 28mm, all the way to the fullest zoom of 112mm, showing no deterioration of sharpness visible to me, even shooting at the widest aperture range. 

Perhaps the incredible sharpness is not due to the high quality Zuiko lens alone, but also the new 12MP sensor. Surely we can argue that there are many other cameras that offer higher megapixel count, but high megapixel is not as important as quality pixels, as demonstrated by the XZ-2. In fact, this was the first time I saw anything this stunning coming out from a compact camera, with almost no trace of smearing of details (which is a common issue with compact digital cameras). If we are talking about newer compact cameras with over-sized image sensor such as the Nikon 1 system and Sony RX100, then it is a different story, because of the much larger sensor size. 

Safe behind bars
ISO200, F/2.5, 1/200sec, equvailent focal length: 112mm

Piercing Eyes (Since the cat did not run away, I went closer)
ISO200, F/2.5, 1/250sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm

Shopping with Mum
ISO200, F/2.5, 1/200sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm

Another Friendly Stranger 
ISO100, F/2.5, 1/100sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm

Very Old and Weathered
ISO100, F/3.5, 1/320sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm

Facing the window
ISO100, F/1.8, 1/640sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm

Fingers and legs
ISO100, F/2.3, 1/500sec, equivalent focal length: 75mm

Seafood for dinner?
ISO100, F/2.5, 1/500sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm


Since the the earlier days of digital photography, Olympus has always been praised for their very optimized, and arguably having the best JPEG engine, producing amazing colors, with very optimized and balanced output, especially from their DSLR range of cameras, and moving into the micro 4/3 system as well. It is a great news to find that the same image processing engine, Trupic 6 used for the top of the line micro 4/3 system cameras from Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the PEN E-PL5, is the same one included for the Olympus XZ-2 which is producing the amazing colors for the images shown in this entry, something familiar to the Olympus community. 

As I have described before, the colors look very true to life, natural and "believable". Skin tone reproduction is very pleasing and comfortable to look at. I dare say that the color signature of this XZ-2 is very, very similar to what I have observed from the OM-D and the E-PL5, with the same richness and quality. Of course we can expect more detailed resolution on the micro 4/3 system due to larger sensor and better quality optics, as well as better dynamic range, but for the XZ-2's much smaller sized sensor, I would say it is doing quite a fine job. Having the famous Olympus color in this compact camera is one strong reason, good enough to even consider getting this camera instead of others !!


Looking at many sample images in this entry, for a compact camera with smaller sized sensor of 1/1,7 inch, I am quite pleased with the dynamic range of the images. The camera does quite well in preserving as much detail as possible in both the shadow and highlight region. This can be further enhanced if the shadow-adjustment "gradation" setting is enabled. For such small sensor being the limiting factor, surely I am not expecting miracles, but just take a look at some of the samples, with 100% crops, especially IMAGE SAMPLE 2 and 5, on the initial preview it seemed as if some areas have been overblown, but upon closer inspection, plenty of fine details are still well maintained. 


The first time I picked up the XZ-2, it felt very, very solid, and it was as expected, being the flagship high-end compact camera. The rubberized texture hand grip at the front of the camera, as well as the generous thumb rest added the feel of security as I held the camera, being able to grip it properly without the slightest feel of slippery. To be honest, the camera is not exactly very small, it seems to be about the same size as the PEN mini (without the kit lens of course), and the XZ-2 was not that light either. Being a more serious camera, weight is an advantage, helping you to stabilize the camera better (more weight means when you press the shutter button, the motion/vibration from the pressing is less significant). I quite like how the camera feels in hand, and I put a wrist strap instead of a neck strap when I was shooting with the XZ-2. 

All the buttons and controls feel responsive and assuring. There is no creakiness, or feeling of cheap components. I like the dual dial control of the XZ-2: one dial being the ring on the barrel of the lens, allowing quick control of either an exposure parameter of choice (Aperture, Shutter Speed, etc), or to zoom the lens. I set the front ring around the lens to control the aperture, because I was shooting in Aperture priority mode. There was already a dedicated power-zoom lever control at the top of the camera, placed around the shutter button, hence if you are a compact camera shooter, surely you will be more comfortable using the dedicated zoom lever. The second dial around the arrow pad at the back of the camera was set to control exposure compensation, which I almost never found the need to adjust, because the default metering was already quite reliable in this session's shooting. I set my metering to center-weighted average, which was the option which I usually use. 

Fish Boys
ISO200, F/1.8, 1/800sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm

Lemang (local delicacy, made from glutinous rice)
ISO100, F/1.8, 1/250sec, equvalent focal length: 28mm

100% crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 2

ISO100, F/4.5, 1/500sec

Different heights
ISO200 (Mistakenly set, should have been 100), F/3.5, 1/2000sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm

100% crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 3

Cold drink on a hot day
ISO100, F/2.3, 1/250sec, equivalent focal length: 75mm

By the junk
ISO200, F/1.8, 1/400sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm


The Olympus XZ-2 performs very well in autofocus generally. The focusing was extremely fast at widest end of 28mm, but as I zoomed in to the longest end, 112mm, in some occasions, the lens hunts a little, but will always lock in focus. The camera never failed to focus, just that the performance was slightly slower, and perhaps had a little hunting issue at longer end of zoom, which is typcial for most compact cameras. In all honesty, even taking into consideration the hunting, the autofocus is still acceptable, and should not affect normal shooting operations. Lets face it, this is not a sports camera which requires instantaneous AF response. 

Surely, the XZ-2 still lags behind in AF speed if you compare to the Olympus OM-D (ok that is going to the extreme). I know, because the friend I was shooting alongside with in the same session at Pudu, Kelvin Ng, was using the OM-D. 

As I have little to complain about the AF performance, I however do have something to say about what happens after clicking the shutter button. If you turned off the preview, or set the preview for 1-2 sec only at the LCD screen playback after each shot, the operation of the camera is smooth, and there is no noticeable lag. However, my shooting workflow requires me to scrutinize my shots (ok I do pixel peep so sue me again), hence I set the LCD to immediately go into full review, where I can magnify the image and delete it on the spot, if I found it to be out of focus, or if I was not satisfied with the initial composition. Since I was dong a blog review, it was my top priority to make sure ALL my images come out with tack sharp accurate focus, hence I had to go through the rigorous routine of checking every single shot, immediately I have taken them. You see, when the XZ-2 was set to "Auto-Review", there was a lag of about 2 seconds, which you cannot do anything with the camera at all. After clicking the shutter button, the image was being previewed, only after 2 seconds, I can magnify the image, and delete it, and then take another shot. If suddenly another photography opportunity appeared within that 2 seconds, I would have missed it. 

I understand that the way to go around this problem is to OFF the preview entirely, but that was against my workflow, and is not an option. I am an engineer quality control is extremely important to me, and if I can on the spot know something is wrong, I will fix it and get the shot I wanted. All Olympus DSLR and micro 4/3 system cameras have INSTANT response with ZERO lag. Maybe I was expecting too much, but the lag did slow me down, and that is a bad thing. 

Other than this one issue that I had, everything else about the camera worked like a charm. 

End is Coming
ISO250, F/2.8, 1/80sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm

50% crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 4

Wrapped Alive
ISO100, F/1.8, 1/80sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm

Slacking Around
ISO200, F/1.8, 1/160sec, equivalent focal length: 28mm

Pink Snack
1SO100, F/2.2, 1/1000sec, equivalent focal length: 66mm

100% crop from IMAGE SAMPLE 5

A religious man. 
ISO100, F/2.5, 1/100sec, equvalent focal length: 112mm

Kelvin Ng, my shooting partner of the day. 
ISO100, F/2.5, 1/80sec, equivalent focal length: 112mm

11 full resolution sample images, straight out of camera (direct convert from RAW to JPEG via Olympus Viewer 2 software with no additional adjustments) can be downloaded via the following link, for your pixel-peeping pleasure. 


Does the Olympus XZ-2 qualify as a street camera? I'd say a definite yes. It is small enough to be discreet, light and easy to be carried with you everywhere, being comfortable to hold and handle for long walks, and the camera performs very well in quick focusing. Most importantly, the XZ-2 delivers amazing image quality for a compact camera, I do not think many compact cameras in this league can rival the impressive output. Furthermore, the camera has tilt screen which is very useful for odd angle composition, from extreme low angle, or above the head shooting. 


No, this is not the end of my review for the XZ-2. I have so much more to talk about this camera. High ISO shooting performance, flash usage, the 920k resolution LCD screen, macro shooting capability, etc.  There will be at least two more parts of reviews coming soon, but do allow me some time to go out, shoot, get as many photographs as I can, and compose my blog entries !!

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


  1. Amazing little camera, according to you, how it compares with the smaller sized (but bigger sensor) rx100?
    I feel that rx100 has a "too big" sensor, sony packed a not-that-good lens on it.
    What do you think about?

    PS: post some iso 400 800 1600 RAWtoJPEG pictures!!


    1. Please leave a name when you comment next time.
      Olympus approached me with their XZ-2, hence I reviewed it for them. If Sony wants a review from me, they should approach me. I have no money to splurge on a camera which I wont be using.
      The high ISO shooting is coming, as I have mentioned. I do need to go out and shoot, give me some time. I just got the camera in less than 24 hours from now !!

    2. I've had for a short time a Sony RX100, but it didn't feel comfortable in my hand. I was every tima affraid of letting is fall down on the street. But it kept amazing pictures of 20Mp. With also the possibility of getting a small part of the kept picture to magnify extremely.
      F.Bom The Netherlands, Europe

    3. Yeah, I tried the Sony RX100 too and I felt the same about it. Too small and fragile for normal everyday use. Also, the 20 megapixel sensor didn't realy impress me at all. Firstly, I don't need no 20 freaking megapixels! Secondly, the quality of al those small pixels cramped on a small sensor is mediocre. Back to the store it went.

  2. Hey Robin,

    thanks for this review.

    A couple of questions: is the shutter sound completely quiet? Did you manage to use the VF-2 with the camera?

    I'd also be interested in customisation options, putting "Myset" settings on buttons etc.


    Tobias W.

    1. Hey Tobias,
      The shutter was near silent, and no, I did not have the VF2. I am perfectly fine using the live view on the LCD screen. Yes, the camera is fully customizable !! Nonetheless, all i cared about would be quick access to three most important settings: Aperture/Shutter controls, the exposure compensation and ISO setting, all within the reach of function buttons and dual dials.

  3. One Word... IMPRESSIVE! and excellent illustrative photos as always.

  4. You know, Olympus should give you these cameras and lenses for free. I'm not kidding, you are the best possible infomercial/commercial for their product. I don't know how you do it (a raindance, voodoo, or lovingly caressing the camera?) but you crank out incredible shots each and every time. To my eyes, these shots are -for on-line viewing- at the very least comparable if not indistinguishable from DSLR's. I know, I know, a DSLR with the larger sensor will always have superior IQ with big enlargements, but this is just AMAZING quality. And not everybody prints murals.

    I see not only fantastic sharpness and detail, I see that Robinesque sparkle, beautiful color, and to top it all off, great bokeh as well, even with this small sensor. No doubt courtesy of that lovely fast Oly glass on this camera. Wonderful pictures, as always, Robin. Exquisite work! I am looking forward to reading more of your review.

    This camera is a masterpiece!

    1. Thanks Andre, but honestly, the signature Olympus color and the sharpness of Zuiko lens contributed to the look of the images, and as much as I want to acknowledge the "robinesque" look, I can't achieve the same with my new Sony !!

      The camera is indeed a masterpiece.

  5. Nice colours from XZ2 camera and matches the usual Olympus colours, I see! Looks like it definitely outperforms my LX5 in detail capture with its new sensor at these iso settings in this first review.
    Could be a difficult choice for some people between this XZ2 camera and the EPM2 as price is set about the same. Would come down to overall size preference and lightweight convenience of an advanced compact with f1.8 lens, over m43 pen mini with kit. XZ2 is impressive and will compete well indeed against the other brands in its usual class of advanced compact camera. Great work Olympus!

    1. Thanks Adrian V.
      I do think that overall the E-PM2 would be a more compelling choice, image quality wise it is still miles ahead, coupled with more capable lenses. Of course if it was just the kit lens, this XZ-2 is a great alternative.

  6. Impressive pictures and statement.
    Thanks a lot for your efforts!

    1. Thanks Anonymous,
      please leave a name when you comment next.

  7. Would it be possible for you to compare the OM-D or a PEN with 14-42mm kit lens vs the XZ-2 side-by-side in real life conditions?

    The faster lens (2 to 2 2/3 of a stop faster from 28-84mm eq.) of the XZ-2 will offset the better ISO performance of the OM-D or a PEN with 14-42mm due to the slower aperture of the MFT kit lens and it will be interesting to see if the difference between the two kits would still be big or not.

    It is also okay if you can't because I am sure your review will still be awesome!

    1. Hello Circle,
      Thanks for the kind words, but I shall not be making the comparison. The main reason is that those cameras are from different categories. I make my conclusions based on my own experience with both cameras. The best I could do, which I already did, was provide image asmples, full size, unedited for download.

    2. It's ok. Will be waiting for the ISO test, and how about trying to use the XZ-2 with a wireless flash? I think the flash sync goes up to 1/2000 if I'm not mistaken.

    3. Yes, the sync does go up to 1/2000sec, since it is using electronic shutter.
      I might be trying out the wireless flash, but if that is the case, it means I will be shooting macro. I shall decide on that soon.

    4. Hopefully you do. That would be hitting two birds with one stone if you do. You get to see macro performance of the lens and wireless flash performance.

  8. Wow this camera was not on my radar, but I'll have to keep an eye on it now. Very surprised at the wonderful sharpness and colors. I felt the XZ-1 was a bit noisy even at ISO 100, but the XZ-2 shots look much better. Very happy you are reviewing this camera.

    On an unrelated note, Olympus France has apparently confirmed the E-PL5 has no low pass AA filter. Can you ask your Olympus contacts if they can confirm this? Thank you Robin!

    1. you say XZ-1 is noisy but i think you can't see nr artifacts all over XZ-2 jpegs? XZ-1 definetely provides better sharpness, more detail and less noise!

    2. Hello Wataru,
      Indeed the XZ-2 is a surprise. Do take note that my contacts in Olympus are the marketing people, they are the ones liaising with me, hence they would not have technical information readily. If I do hear about anything I shall blog about it here.

    3. Hello Hakann,
      I am not too sure about XZ-1, but the XZ-2 looks very good at low ISO. Yes, definitely better details, that is for sure, but I don't think it was noise you were referring to. It could be sharpening artifacts? You can download the full size images and inspect it.

  9. Hi Robin,
    Excellent pictures and nice review. It was well worth the read and entertaining as well (love the real life shots)... I don't have any ideas to buy the xz-2. but the picture quality is on par with some entry level DSLR. It might be an interesting second compact camera many dslr shooters. Looking to read part two of your review. Happy shooting with the xz-2.

    1. Thanks Johan, I would not say the image quality is on par with DSLR, but only the sharpness at low ISO setting (ISO100-200). BUt indeed it is a compelling choice to have alongside a DSLR !

  10. Photos are great,,,, thanks for great review.

    As for the image quality, i strongly believe XZ-1 is sharper at per pixel level! You can easily get all these shots with a XZ-1 without any problem and you can get better sharpnes at %100 view.

    1. Hello Hakann,
      That is not for me to conclude but I have seen XZ-1 images before, and it was not nearly as sharp. Pixel level I strongly believe the XZ-2 is better.

    2. at this point, you're definetely, %100 wrong.I downloaded full resolutions of these photos and compared my XZ-1 photos...I've been using XZ-1 more than a year and i can easily say at iso100, XZ-1 is much more detailed and sharper than XZ-2...also, jpeg or Nr artifacts are all over the photos as you view them at %100... give me your mail adress and i'll send you some really sharp photos without any artifacts shot with XZ-1 :)

    3. After reviewing the samples you have sent me, I am not wrong. My suspicion is your noise filter setting. You must have set it to default "standard" in your camera, hence blurring the artifacts away. I set mine to "OFF", hence more fine details captured, with some artifacts as well.

  11. How did you feel about the touchscreen? That is really the feature that differenciate this camera from the others, and that could justify its relatively high price.

    The touch focus-and-shutter is something that seems really interesting for street photography, did you use it or only relied on auto-focus or predefined focus point?

    Thanks for the review!

    1. Hey Chafouin,
      The touchscreen is a great addition, the response was very quick, and combined with the quiet shutter it is very good for street photography if you want to be discreet. I used autofocus most of the time, mainly because I want to be extremely sure that I have my subject in focus. We all know that the best way to hold a camera steady, is by using BOTH hands, with the proper holding techniques.

  12. I just downloaded photos at full resolution, for example, look at background of portrait shots of the gentleman,,there's to much NR or Jpeg artifacts.Take same photo with a XZ-1, you wont see it...CCD at base iso with these small sensors are still way to go..simply much sharper than any CMOS!

    1. Hakann,
      I am not sure about you, but coming from a long history of Olympus use, the sharpening or JPEG artifacts is very normal for Olympus files. It is something that you live with. If you want a clean image, set the Noise Filter to Low or Standard, and you have a SMOOTH clean file.
      To me, comparing to DSLR files, the image sensor is very sharp, compared to ANY other compact cameras. Those are NOT nosie reduction artifacts clearly, because those are NOT smearing of details.

    2. Harkann,
      I have just downloaded some samples of XZ-1 full size images since you are being very insistent that XZ-1 is better. Unfortunately, in my eyes, XZ-2 has improved a lot. I am not sure how you came to your conclusions, but really, XZ-1 seems softer, and there is evident "smearing" of details even at ISO100. You see the artifacts on XZ-2 files, it is highly possible due to the lack of noise filter !! Hence massive amount of details, together with sharpening artifacts (most cameras have their own default sharpening).

      I certainly do not see the same amount of details captured by XZ-1. Please show some images (full size) which demonstrates that XZ-1 has better low ISO sharpness and details, with no smearing, and artifacts? I am interested to see which image you were referring to.

    3. I'll show you my own photos..I'm a XZ-1 user for more than a year and extremely satisfied with XZ-1..send me your mail adress or let me know how can i post photos here? thanks,,,

    4. my email address is easily found. I have specified it in this blog entry, and in "contact".

    5. Hello Robin, i just sent you two e-mails with my xZ-1 samples...waiting for your comments. thanks.

    6. I have seen your samples. As I have written in the reply of my email:

      My obervsations:

      1) XZ-1 files are smeared with strong traces of noise reduction, blurred details even at iso100. It is evident when you refer to compare 1. fabric details on the lady's shirt and coat, even under bright sun, has completely no fine details., even though under focus.

      2) XZ-2 files has less noise reduction, hence the files has stronger jpeg artifacts, which is true. You cannot have both. Its either your noise reduction is stronger, you get blurrer details and no artifacts, or you have less reductions, you get more "fine" details and more artifacts. Look at compare 2. Not fair I know because man's skin is rough. But look at his brows and lashes. each fine line and detail is well captured. and also look at his camera strap, every dot of fine detail is there. All these fine details are smeared away in the XZ-1 files.

      3) You have different settings than what I have. I set all my camera settings to default: sharpening, contrast = 0. Image parameter = natural. In your photos, as I have inspected, you set sharpness +1, contrast to + 1, and image parameter "vivid". By default, the camera already applied strong sharpening on VIVID and you added some more +1. That is a false perceived sharpness, same with processing. If I set to vivid and then added +1 sharpness, you get the answer: my images on the XZ-2 will be even sharper.

      bear in mind there are two different sharpness: processed sharpness and fine details resolution. In XZ-1, the sharpness seemed forced and processed. but surely I have demonstrated, in XZ-2, the fine details level is quite impressive.

      4) Macro shots: you have seen my previous reviews on the macro. Are you sure you want to use macro shots as demonstrations? I have not even shown you my macro shots yet.

      5) Different shooting conditions: your portraits are shot directly under hot sun (something which should be avoided, but I shall not judge). When shooting under direct sunlight, the contrast level is higher (stronger cast of shadow/highlight), hence another false percerved sharpness. I shot portraits on my blog under shade, hence flatter lighting.

      You can blur details away, and add processing to sharpness, so you wont get artifacts, as you have seen on XZ-1, but you cannot gain back lost details. In XZ-2, you are given MASSIVe amount of fine details captured, if you don't like the artifacts, you can add noise filter. I set my noise filter off.

      I am not saying XZ-1 is bad. it is a wonderful camera. But XZ_2 has improved miles ahead in terms of capturing details.

  13. Haha...Robinesque! As always. very detail review! It is an amazing little camera. But looking at the price tag and size, I think the coming EPM2 is a better choice? Maybe?

    1. Kelvin, if the user needs interchangeable lens system, surely the E-PM2 is better, but if you already have DSLR, or you don't intend to get something interchangeable lens, and digital compact camera is sufficient, then XZ-2 is a good choice. A lot of people are happy with just one camera, I know because I was a compact camera user for 4 years !!

  14. Hi Robin,
    I am very interested in XZ-2's video performance. XZ-1 video performance was bad. The autofocus seems to be constantly hunting. Please check out XZ-2's video performance. thanks,

    1. hello Corian,
      I am sorry I will not be doing any video review of the XZ-2.

  15. Thanks for the review, I would be awaiting to see results for higher ISO, and specifically night shots (city lights, walk around, indoors), moving objects (children running around) and long exposure (waterfalls and those nice night shots some cameras can produce). I was about to buy the rx100, but the tilt screen, touch screen and ND built in are more for me than the features of the Sony, but I want to take clear night shots and so far the rx100 seems to be the way without getting into the interchangeable lens game.

    1. I shall be getting into high ISO shooting in my coming review entries. No worries !

  16. hi robin,
    since i have e-pl1 i always cek your blog, and read ever since about u're inspire shooting theraphy :)
    now i had e-pl3 the 20mm lumix, and 45mm m.zuiko, great lens ...
    i must say, that xz-2 has some nice bokeh for point n shoot camera ...
    o and i wanna ask some thing, it is true that m.zuiko 17mm f1.8 will come out ?

    thx robin, keep the good work ...

    1. Hello Denie,
      Thanks for the kind compliments, and your support on my blog. I appreciate it.
      Yes the 17mm should be out by the end of this year !

  17. Robin, thanks for an excellent and entertaining partial review! Also (let me repeat the others) the images are great, sometimes mouthwatering and the captions delightful. Would have been nice sometimes to get a comparison with Kevin's OM-D results (regarding bokeh and 100 % crop impression).

    Please take your time publishing more parts. Do not rush, but let your impressions sink before posting.

    Bokeh and 100 % detail stunned me here. This could be my next travel cam (when traveling, i am a traveler, not a photographer, so the big kit holidays on a shelf at home). (If only the XZ-2's LCD would hinge side-ways.)

    Terimah kasih again!

    1. Hello h n,
      Thanks for the kind compliments. Comparing with OM-D is actually not the right thing to do, if I were to do comparisons, I should be comparing the XZ-2 against other compact camera, not the OM-D which is regarded to beat even the best APS-C DSLR out there.
      I shall be working on the next part soon. Stay tuned !!

  18. Wow, so the 17 mm f/1.8 is coming this year...nice.

    The XZ-1 is on Amazon in the US for $199, if only it had the image quality of the new XZ-2. The XZ-2 images, at least these, appear to be better than the kit lens on MFT. I don't like any of the MFT zooms, even the 12-35 Panasonic, is just not got enough for me.

    1. Agreed with you JP, the kit zooms are nothing to write home about. Even the new panasonic 12-35mm is just mediocre.
      Yes, looking forward to the 17mm !!

  19. Thanks for the review, Robin. I just picked up an LX7 and have been very happy with it; it looks like the XZ-2 would have been a good alternative. I do like some of the unique features of the LX7 (aperture ring, built-in ND filter), and it also appears to have an excellent lens -- which is really necessary for these tiny sensors. (I use it to complement my E-M5, so that I can always have a flexible camera on me.)

    1. The XZ-2's lens ring can be used to control aperture too, and it also has a built-in ND filter

    2. I think these days all the serious high end compacts has something around the lens, a ring to control zoom and aperture.

  20. Robin,

    Thank you so much! Your reviews and photos are amazing. I have been waiting for a review of the XZ-2 so I can decide between that and the LX7. Due to the way I shoot (telephoto one second - macro the next) I don't want to change lenses (also it rains a lot here) so I usually carry a bridge camera (I'm about to get the FZ200). However, I've been looking for a compact that I can carry with me everywhere and also will be able to capture things in lower light (especially macro). I can't wait for the rest of the review since I'm planning a big photo tour to New Zealand at the end of February.

    1. Thanks Sherri,

      I shall be doing my best for the coming entries !! I am thinking of macro !!

    2. FZ200 на малых ISO имеет приличное количество шума.

  21. Hoboken-Michelle10/28/2012 05:31:00 AM


    Perhaps it is now possible to directly compare the Canon G1-X with the new XZ-2, especially since there is a surprise sale of the camera in NYC (Adorama) for only $569.


    1. Hello Hoboken-Michelle,
      I am sorry I do not have budget to purchase cameras that I do not need or use. And I have no access to that camera, as far as I remmember none of my friends have it.

  22. Hi!

    My Panasonic compact has drawn it's final breath (or what you should call it when sand has entered the lens and keep it from working) and I am actually looking for a new camera. I will await you second and possibly third scrutiny of this camera before deciding but right now I am really tempted to just order one and be done with it. I was looking at the LX7 and Sonys RX100 but I have been waiting for the verdict on Olympus offering since I am an OM-D shooter. I guess the flash for my OM-D will work with this compact as well.
    As usual you have written a great article! Looking forward to the rest!

    With My best regards

    Stefan Schmidt

    1. Hey Stefan,
      One of my coming reviews, I will use the FL-50R on nthe XZ-2. And yes, if you shoot OMD, if you Olympus Olympus color, and the wonderful zuiko lens quality, surely you will love the XZ-2 !!

  23. Hi Robin,

    You take Cool images!!!
    Camera is just a tool, your skill and feel of the capture is the engine of making good image.
    I definitely can feel the XZ-2 has Olympus signature (color and sharpness) and it seems at least on par or even better than my sold Fuiji X10.

    1. Thanks Edward for the kind words.
      Indeed the XZ-2 has Olympus signature: great colors and sharpness !!

  24. Wow.. the portraits looks like 45 mm f 1.8 lens . Love the detail and the color ^,^
    Great shoots Mr. Robin

    1. Thanks Indri, but I believe the 45mm is still sharper, and produces much better bokeh !

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Hi Robin. Lovely pictures. Appreciate your work very much. Nice to see how friendly and warm hearted the people are supporting your shutter therapy. How would you evaluate the ooc quality of the xz-2 pictures without any postprocessing and compared to the e-pl5 with the kit lens? Which one is better for a beginner? I'm thinking of buying it as a present for my daughter and in the beginning she would use the jpeg output with automatic settings. Thanks in advance for your feedback. Looking forward for the next part of your review.

    Ali Faruk

    1. Hello, Ali

      Just a little suggestion. How old is your daughter? If she is very young I would guess that the XZ-2 might not be the perfect camera for her. Lots of advanced settings and (probably) a rather fragile construction. I guess she might have wy more fun with one of the cameras in the tough series, for example the TG-1. With that camera, she will be able to take underwater shots, she can climb a tree and shoot people on the ground and so on, and if she drops the camera, she'll just need to find it, it will probably still work perfectly.

    2. hello Ali,
      I agree with Rasmus. Both the E-PL5 and XZ-2 will be a little overwhelming for entry level users, especially if you do not know what ISO, aperture and shutter speed are, how to control them.
      Perhaps there are simpler and beginner-friendly cameras? I have not been into the compact camera world for a while now, hence I may not be the right person to give you any recommendations.

  27. Hi, Robin

    Thank you so very much! Have you done the second round testing yet? We are waiting for it. Haha. Not sure if this is a right question: How do you feel between XZ-2 and RX100? I already have a XZ-1, G12 (gave to a friend) ,OMD. Nikone D700 was just broken. Now I really want a good compact to carry on every day. Do you have a recommendation for a best compact camera.
    Warm regards
    Li from Beijing

    1. Hello Li,
      I shall refrain myself from giving recommendations for compact cameras, because I am not very well versed with the newer releases, and I have not tried anything else besides this Olympus XZ-2.
      I am working on Part 2 now. Will be up soon.

  28. Hi Robin,

    Always enjoyed your Olympus camera/lens reviews. I have always been a big Nikon fan, still use a D800E. But I found myself spent a lot more time with my OMD EM-5 these days. Your reviews really convinced me to give these little cameras a second look. I am so glad I did! My hiking trips now got so much easier. :)

    While I am reading this, I notice your complaint about the delay between taking picture and magnifying the image for sharpness review. I worked exactly the same way: I almost always immediately magnify and review the image after each shot. (Surprised, I am an engineer in my day job.) However, I had the same problem with my E-M5! Often my E-M5 would show the image on LCD while it is in the middle of writing the image to SD card. If I attempt to magnify the image, my E-M5 would exit image review mode and jump into photo taking mode. Worse, it would accept my command dial turning as adjustment for aperture or shutter. Among everything, this (and the tiny Play button) is the biggest issue I have with my E-M5. Is this not what you experienced with your E-M5? I tried with faster SD cards, that did not help much...

    -Steve from Seattle

    1. Hello Steve,
      Thanks for your kind compliments, and I am glad you are enjoying the OMD.

      I did not have the same problem when using the OM-D, I set the playback to "Auto-Review", meaning that instead of just previewing and cannot do anything while the image was being displayed, the "auto-review" will immediately go to the playback mode. I am not sure if you have configured this, go to the preview setting "you can set to OFF, 2 sec, 3 sec, etc" then there is an option of "Auto Review". I think this should be able to solve your problem.

    2. Thanks, Robin. I already set my OM-D preview setting to "Auto-Review" and the camera jumps into preview mode on LCD as soon as the photo is taken. But there are one or two seconds where I can see the SD card sign flashing at the top-left corner. If I turn the command dial (trying to magnify the preview) while the SD sign is still flashing, my camera would exit preview mode and jump into photo taking mode. The command dial turning will end up adjusting aperture or shutter! That was super annoying. But if I wait a second or two after the SD sign disappears, command dial turning works as expected to magnify the preview.

    3. Hello again Steve,
      That is very strange. Perhaps the memory card was not fast enough? That was only my assumption but I did not face such problem using OM-D at all.

    4. Hi Robin, just want to update you on this particular E-M5 subject. I contacted Olympus service. They confirmed this behavior/bug, and stated "What you are experiencing a normal behavior of this camera. Until the picture is saved, you are prevented from 'zooming' in on the picture itself. And, any input on your part on the dial will exit playback and return you to the point you are ready to take another picture. " I guess I am more impatient than most people.

  29. nice post, pa Cik...as always...love that "Piercing Eyes" photo
    i just hope you get another calling in your heart that you get some interest to photo hunt in more beautiful place...hehehe...

    oiya...i just got my TG-1 earlier this month...still try to figure it out how to maximize it but so far i love the super macro mode...the AF in underwater scene still missed it marks (i want to shoot the reef it focus on the fish..or something like that)..if only it have the center focus like DSLR this would very useful...i'll send you the link to my photo album after my trip to Ambon 8-)

    1. Thanks for the compliments konikonaku ! That TG-1 is also a great camera, being much tougher !!

  30. Thanks for posting this. The XZ-2 looks really fantastic. The tilting LCD is much needed, just wish they could push it further to make it like C7070.

    Just a few questions. Are there any improvements in the zooming in and out speed? is the selectable metering settings still available for the AEL? Is the IS activated in live view or only after taking a shot?

    It does seems a little pricey now we have so much going for the E-PL5.

    Thanks again

    1. Hello KL Tan,
      The zooming by using the control ring on the lens barrel is very smooth and fast. I have no issue with it. I have not used an XZ-1 so I cannot compare, but so far I find the zooming to be quite efficient.
      Yes, metering settings (spot, center-weighted, etc) is available for AEL. I have no idea honestly, whether the IS is activated full time or during the shot is taken. But I would believe that it is activated when you half press the shutter button, a logical chocie to conserve battery life.
      E-PL5 body and kit seems cheap, but if you want better capabilities, you need better lenses. The future spending should be put into consideration as well, because after getting a micro 4/3 body, you will be opened to a world of great Zuiko lenses.

  31. Surprisingly sharp, with little noise. Really impressive for a compact. And yes, I doubt the M.Zuiko Mk.II m4/3 14-42 can match that. Some of the shadows reveal some tiny amounts of artifacting (prolly from the sensor,) but the amount of resolved detail forces you to focus on what matters most. An improvement over my now-old Panny LX5? Hmm, now that's tough :)

    And yes, as a fellow Oly owner, Olympus really does color well :)

    1. What the new XZ-2 does is quite impressive for high ISO shooting, much better than most of yesterday's compact cameras.

  32. Hi Robin,

    I have seen your picture review for Olumpus EPL5 & XZ2. One word to describe " Fantastic"...

    I was confuse EPM2 & EPL5. Both of them in terms of spec everything are same unless EPL5 have LCD to tilt/flip. Am I right?

    I have EPL1 with me for a year but I found the shutter speed very slow especially when I take photo for my kids. They are so active and difficult for me to focus them. I also have difficulty to fire in low light/dark room. I'm not pro in camera, I just learn the basic course for DSLR. So, I need a camera that can capture my kids in fast movement, low light and bokeh effect. I like to take close up picture too...I will still support Olympus coz they have the best lens...my others friends intro me NEX 5N or 7 but the lens so.so.only.

    Please give me your advice, for aunty like me which camera suit me? Thanks in advance...

    1. Hello Kittymum,
      I think you have emailed me earlier. I shall reply you in email.

  33. These Pictures looks amazing.
    But what about high ISO?

    1. And now there is Part 3. Go to the sidebar for quick navigation.

  34. Hi Robin,
    As usual superb photos, thank you for sharing them :)
    The camera seems to be a complete package. While I don't think the high-ISO matches its main rival RX100, overall image quality and colors are superior to my eyes :). I was a long time sony/minolta shooter, mainly due to the colors, but a few years ago I got an E-PL1, and that's where my Olympus gear passion started :) and that led me to your blog.


    1. Hello RTI,
      Thanks for staying with me and my blog for such a long time !! I am still using the E-PL1, and I am loving that camera. Yes, there is something about that camera, it just does things so well, despite some shortcomings (slow AF).

  35. Ulfric M douglas11/01/2012 05:32:00 AM

    Nice review, but I loved the chicken wrapped in newspaper!

    With so many Pens in your history, why no VF-2?

    1. Hello Ulfric,
      I only have one PEN, which is the E-PL1. Thanks for the kind compliments.

  36. I love this review I love the pictures you take you make this camera looks so impressive you are definitely in master I am really shocked by the quality of this camera

    1. I am just an ordinary user, but surely the camera is impressive !!

  37. very nice review, what nice little cam. even pocket cam isn't my style

    1. Of course, everyone has their own preferences. For those who like compact camera, XZ-2 is a great choice.

  38. A very nice and interesting report. Great quality pictures and for me worth considering in the compact camera class on Olympus to rise. A blog is a lot of time and work. Thank you for your trouble. / Ein sehr schöner und interessanter Bericht. Tolle Qualitätsbilder und für mich eine Überlegung wert in der Kompaktkameraklasse auf Olympus um zu steigen. Ein Blog bedeutet viel Zeit und Arbeit. Danke für ihre Mühe.

    1. Hello Rudolf,
      Thanks for the comment, you were right, it took me plenty of time and effort to put together the photos and contents on this blog, but you know what, I enjoyed every single bit of doing them, from shooting and sharing my thoughts !! All I hope is my readers enjoy what I have blogged here too.

  39. hello robin,
    I enjoyed the article and I think many readers do the same.
    i wish you "good light".

  40. Hello robin, do you have any shots of low light (moon lit) macro shots in super macro mode (and/or objects that are about 1-2cm from the lens)?

    I wanna see if The XZ-2 has anything worth upgrading from my previous XZ-1 in such situations

  41. Пишет Виктор. Привет Робин! На сколько выстрелов хватает батареи при включенном мониторе и при работе с встоенной вспышкой. Какое количество кадров он может делать сразу? Спасибо.

  42. Hello,
    how is bokeh of XZ-2 comparing to XZ-1 ,,,same ? thanks to same great zuiko lens or better thanks to new sensor?
    thanks, this answer is very critical for me!

  43. Fantastic pictures, i was going to pull the trigger on the new canon G15 until i read your review and saw your pictures.
    I find your blog refreshing and inspirational, it is nice that you take the time to answer most of the questions thrown to you in a diplomatic and professional way. Cheers,

  44. Am an old rusted on Nikon man who once ventured out and brought an XA2 which might have been my best camera ever given that I could always have it with me, and man did it produce. So last year I bought my 2nd youngest an XZ1 and am so impressed am seriously thinking of jumping to the OMD-5 or even the E-PM2 for myself.
    Thanks for the review. You have confirmed what I was thinking. Rather than go with the Sony rx 100, the micro 4/3 Olys have the sensors and the lenses to keep an olld man happy and shooting for a long time

  45. Hi,
    Great review, great pictures !
    In the next part, please review low light condition, and shutter speed needed for the night

    Thx a lot

    1. Please read ALL parts of my review. There are 4 separate parts. I am sure you will find what you are looking for.

  46. How to avoid warm pictures from olympus xz-2?
    is that possible? in setting?

  47. Great review, very in depth. This camera does feel great, I love the front control ring. I am ready to buy, but am concerrend on the lack of cable release / remote. Will the RM-UC1 remote work on this camera too?
    Bob Miller
    Denver, CO

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  50. Thanks a lot, Robin, for your fantastic user reviews. I just love them because they are real-world stuff without too much technical jargon. I first read this review on XZ-2 and bought the camera and I also went for OM-D after reading your review on that! Keep up the good and interesting work.

    Best wishes from Finland!


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