Olympus XZ-2 review: How does this compact camera stack up against its popular predecessor, the XZ-1?


posted Monday, July 15, 2013 at 7:54 AM EST

Improving upon its popular predecessor with several key upgrades, the Olympus XZ-2 boasts a brand new 12-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor but thankfully keeps the fast, bright f/1.8-2.5 iZUIKO zoom lens which made the XZ-1 stand out against other enthusiast compact cameras. The XZ-2's 4x zoom lens maintains a wide maximum aperture across its 28-112mm equivalent range, and paired with the new sensor -- which replaces a 10-megapixel CCD -- we found the camera delivered sharp, detailed images even in low-light situations.

Other enhancements to the Olympus flagship compact include a three-inch, articulating LCD touchscreen that -- though not a great performer in direct sunlight -- provides a great deal of shooting flexibility and makes on-the-fly settings changes easy using the camera's Super Control Panel. And while the XZ-2 doesn't come with an electronic viewfinder, we were happy that you can still add on an Olympus accessory EVF, or if you prefer an accessory flash and stereo microphone. Perhaps the niftiest new feature on the XZ-2 is the ridged Control Ring that encircles the lens and serves two key purposes: It can be used to change the aperture or, by toggling a switch, manually focus the camera. We think it's a brilliant stroke of functionality and ergonomics.

The Olympus XZ-2 follows on from the popular XZ-1, and that leaves it with some mighty big shoes to fill. How does it fare? Read our Olympus XZ-2 review, and find out!

Overall, we found the Olympus XZ-2 to be fun to use and lightning fast, with negligible shutter lag and almost-instant, accurate autofocus. It's packed with a ton of advanced photographic features and functionality, ranging from full PASM shooting control to RAW file capture to an excellent Macro mode. We thought its movie features were limited, but the compact does capture Full 1080p HD video at 30p.

One major disappointment with the XZ-2 is that image quality (and print quality) falls off as ISO rises, with noticeable detail loss at ISO 800 and above, and significant noise and smudging at ISO 3200 and up. It's also pricier than many other enthusiast-level compact cameras, and even just as expensive as some entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

So what's our final verdict on the camera? Is it a major improvement over the XZ-1? To find out, you'll have to read our in-depth Olympus XZ-2 review where you can see performance testing results, image quality analysis, a full gallery of images and more.