Sunday, September 27, 2015

Olympus Stylus XZ-2, Three Years Later

About three years ago, I have reviewed the Olympus Stylus XZ-2, the then flagship compact camera from Olympus. Many of you may not know this, the Olympus XZ-2 reviews were the most popular blog entries with the highest number of page views. This was further reflected by the number of emails and messages I have received asking generally about XZ-2, even to this very day! I genuinely thought that it was a highly capable compact camera, packed with all the high end features from OM-D and PEN cameras such as Touch AF, Tilt LCD screen, super control panel and having an accessory port to use an external Electronic Viewfinder. The strength of the XZ-2 lies in that Zuiko lens, 28-112mm F1.8-2.5 which is extra bright, and delivers beautiful, sharp images. 

Why a compact camera? After all I am quite comfortable using the Micro Four Thirds system (and that Fuji X100 for a bit now), but compact cameras will always have that place in my heart. I started photography with point and shoot digital compact cameras (no I did not start with film, unfortunately). I used compact cameras for a span of four years, killing three in the process of learning photography. I had Kodak CX300, Kodak CX7430, and Kodak C875. Did I wish I have more controls? Did I wish the image quality was better? Did I wish I could do more with my Kodak compact cameras? Yes, yes, yes and yes to these questions. However, did I wish I had a DSLR during those compact camera years? Did I wish I have picked up a DSLR sooner? Nope. I never regretted using the compact cameras for four years, and I would have continued using so, as I was at my early learning stage, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience using the compact cameras with their restrictions and limitations. 

Digital cameras have come a long, long way now. The Olympus Stylus XZ-2 would have been the ultimate camera and I would have wished I had nothing more, if it existed during my early learning years with compact cameras. 

Why am I using the XZ-2 now? 

I guess, in a way, I am reminding myself that all the gear that are available and accessible to me now are more than sufficient for the kind of photography I am doing. 

I may not be able to speak for you, as your requirements and usage for photography may differ. For my own shutter therapy, I do not need a million megapixels, in fact the humble 12MP on the XZ-2 is plentiful. I do not use ridiculously high ISO numbers, I mostly stay below ISO400, and the XZ-2 allows me usable shooting up to ISO1600, hence lots of room to work with. Autofocus was not lightning fast like the newer OM-D cameras, but fast enough for shooting on the street, and generally the camera just works. The lens is amazing, with Image Stabilization built in. The camera shoots RAW, and I can run through my usual workflow with Olympus Viewer 3 in my post processing. 

Even after three years since its launch, I can pick up the XZ-2 and still be happy with it. 

Steel Bridge

Morning News

Portrait of a Stranger 1

The great thing about using a compact camera? You have admirable macro shooting capability built in. 

Curious Eyes


Vivid Colors

Portrait of a Stranger 2

Portrait of a Stranger 3

Wrong Direction



Gigantic Posters


The Great Malaysian haze

High Seat


Chinese Opera 1

Chinese Opera 2


Heavy Pancakes

pew pew
Special Thanks to Jackie

the weekend Hero

Did I wish I brought along the E-M5, or GM1 instead? Not a bit. 

I do admit that DSLR, Micro Four Thirds system or any other Mirrorless systems are generally infinitely more capable than the older compact cameras such as the Olympus XZ-2, but seriously, do we need all those capabilities in the photography that we do? 

Yes, in the consumer's mindset, more is always better: stronger, faster, more powerful and the race of advancement in technology and innovation to attain that elusive "best" camera and lens. 

I myself, am guilty of forever complaining about the things that I wish could have been better in all the cameras that I use. Sometimes, I think we should take a pause from all the frustration on what we do not have or what our gear cannot do for us , and just focus on what we can do with them. 


  1. As usual you'r pictures are nice to look at. About the article of the XZ-2 I recognize this. Having several camera's still like using the XZ-2 every once in a while.
    Mine's white and it surprises me every time I pick it up with the quality of the photo's. But don't let us talk to much, let us take pictures and look at them.
    Mine are here

    1. Hey Jos,
      Indeed the camera is still doing well, and thanks for sharing.

  2. Those pics are as good as from any of the other cameras, Robin, for me it's the image that really counts and man do you get the images! I bought an XZ-1 back in early 2011 and still love that camera! My travel photos as I moved through New Zealand still amaze me at the clarity and sharpness and although it won't do high ISO that well, most of the time it's not needed when you have an f1.8 lens, as you know. If I had to travel with only one small quality camera, I'd choose the upgrade of the XZ-2 and know I'd be traveling light with a terrific camera and get wonderful results. I use the XZ-1 to this day, alongside my EM-1 and for product pics to sell items on eBay or Gumtree it's perfect, quiet, vibration free and sharp. The photo of the cat is astonishing! Cheers, Robin, you've reminded me to upgrade to the XZ-2 while they're still around :)

    1. I'd think that the XZ-1 is still a great camera, and would stay with it! Of course XZ-2 is an upgrade but I would not think of XZ-1 as anything less. Considering you do have an E-M1 for situations that the XZ-1 may not deliver, I think you have got everything covered!

  3. PS, I use the Olympus VF-2 EVF with both the XZ-1 and EPL-1, making them even more usable cameras when the light is bright.

  4. I feel the same way about my LX5, this style of compact is still fun to use.

  5. Hi Robin, I always enjoy reading your blog posts and reviews. I'm an Olympus shooter going back to the late 1970's and have owned everything from the OM2n to the EM-1. My XZ-2 is my "go to" camera whenever I need something lightweight and portable. I ride my bike a lot and it is often found around my neck on my rides. Recently my wife and I traveled to France and Switzerland and while I took my EM-1 and various lenses, for practical reasons I needed a small camera most of the time and my XZ-2 delivered on that front. Back when Olympus was closing them out for under $300 in the U.S. that was probably one of the all-time great deals. I recently upgraded my EVF to the VF-4 from the VF-2 and that produced a noticeable improvement (I now use the VF-2 on my XZ-1). Keep up the good work!

  6. Hi Robin, thanks for the article, it is great reading about this camera. To tell you the truth, I bought it when it was on sale in Australia for $279 and I still love using it. The photos it produces are really nice and I love taking it with me on trips.

  7. Hi Robin, I also own an XZ-2 and it's a great travel light camera :-) Not parting with mine !

  8. Hi Robin, I also own an XZ-2 and it's a great travel light camera :-) Not parting with mine !

  9. Hi Robin, I picked up the XZ-2 last year and have been loving it! Would you happen to know if the WCON adapter for the XZ-1/1S would also work with the XZ-2 as well? Keep up the great work!

  10. Great pix and good point, Robin. I picked up a very cheap TZ-10 brand new 18 months ago. It has a smaller processor than the XZ-2 but I believe the same lens and it hasn't left my purse ever since. Love it especially for its macro and longer reach when travelling. Beautifully complements my GM5 which is also in my bag all the time.

  11. Hi I am really interested in the Olympus XZ-2. Right now it is an amazing deal on Lazada, going for only RM799. Is it suitable for product photography (I am a tech blogger) or should I go for a similarly priced E-PL5? Will really appreciate your advice.

  12. XZ-2 is a fantastic camera. I own it for 18 months. Superb macro capabilities, sharp images, plenty of controls, excellent tiltable touch screen. My only concern is that it is not good at night and especially at ISO values above 640, images look grainy.
    Recommended for product photography and generally still object images, landscape and macro.

  13. Hi Robin, you're one of my references for the Oly system. Does the XZ2 work smoothly with the VF-4 Finder? reds, GP