Olympus XZ-1 Review . Part 1

XZ-1. (Shot with E-PL2, SOOC)

XZ-1. (Shot with E-PL2, SOOC)

XZ-1. (Shot with E-PL2, SOOC)


I am reviewing the XZ-1 compact point and shoot digital camera from a professional photographer point of view. All my opinions are entirely personal. I always do my best to be fair, to point out the weaknesses I find. I may not be the fussiest person on earth to nick pick on each camera’s weaknesses cause I am a strong believer in “Overcoming the Limitations of your Camera”. I am NOT writing this review in the most technical engineering way like dpreview.com

I’m writing this as a user, with a background of using various formats film cameras, various brands of DSLRs, mirrorless digital cameras and digital compacts. My first DSLR was the 6MP Canon D60. (NOT the current 60D in case you got it mixed up). My first camera was the Canon A-1.

I believe Images SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) is the BEST way to show.

Even before going into details… I CAN’T WAIT to TELL YOU that: “Finally I have found a compact digital which can give me ABSOLUTELY CLEAN ISO1600 file, and at F1.8, focusing at night IS FASTER than the Olympus PEN E-PL2 with it’s NEW 14-42mm mk2 lens! In fact, there were situations when the PEN could not achieve focus and the XZ-1 DID at the snap of fingers!!!”

shot in lowlight mode, ISO320, F1.8, 1/30sec

Aperture Priority, ISO1600, F1.8, 1/30sec.

Aperture Priority, ISO1600, F2.5 at 112mm, 1/1600sec.

100% Crop from the above image, I can't find any noise!

Amazing Image Stabilization!!! Shot is Shutter Priority Mode, 1/2sec, ISO100, F4.5.

Pinhole Art Filter

Genting Highlands, iAuto Mode, ISO100, F2.5, 1/200sec.

I assure you, ALL images are SOOC. The only thing I did was adding watermark. I have selected a few images to put here. There are MORE in my flickr site in High Resolution for pixel-peepers! However, due to restrictions from Olympus to post original resolution pre-production images online, you will need to have a Flickr Account, ADD me, SEND me a message, and I’ll make sure you can see them.


96 thoughts

  1. Holicool

    January 15, 2011

    Hello David! Thank you for the preview. Looks extremely promising 🙂 I just sent you a request to be part of your contacts on Flickr. Cannot wait to see your other shots!

  2. Holicool

    January 15, 2011

    My apologies for the upcoming (amateurish) question, but will it be possible to take pictures with long exposure (let’s say 10 secs+) with such a bright objective/aperture? I am a fan of long exposure shots at night, hence this question.

  3. added you in flickr (kalash10), may I see the complete set. tnx

  4. Hi James, I could not find oliver_pen. If you could follow the link on my blog post and add me in flickr instead, it’ll be great! Thanks!

  5. Yes, Holicool, you can still shoot long exposures by stopping down aperture to smaller apertures like F22 or adding a ND (neutral density) filter to the lens.

  6. Holicool

    January 19, 2011

    Thanks “Admin” (David? :), but F2.2 is still quite bright. Long exposure at 80 ISO might mean only a very few seconds of exposure I presume. This would be rather frustrating :-/ Adding a filter is definitely an option, but well – then the whole concept of having compact camera does not make much sense anymore (to me at least 🙂

  7. freakfiech

    January 19, 2011

    Hello,there !

    I’m also quite interested in the XZ-1 – can you add me in Flickr?
    Name: freakfiech

    best regards

  8. Hi David –

    I would love to see your Olympus XZ-1 photos – my flick name is vicfei – I have added you as a contact –



  9. Hello Holicool,

    When doing a long exposure you can always set the aperture to an opening smaller than f2.2 such as f8 or f16 or as Admin said f22. The camera allows you to choose what ever aperture you want. I hope this helps.

  10. Freakfiech, I can’t seem to locate you in Flickr, pls add me by following the link in my post instead, Thank You!

  11. freakfiech

    January 20, 2011

    Hi David,
    I added you as mentioned in the Hotlink “Mysimplestcamera”$
    I’m awaiting your reply

  12. Hi David
    I’ve added you and hope to see the pics esp at high iso and bokeh effect.

    Same last name.

  13. Thanks, check ur flickr. For the XZ-1, it’s a compact with a small sensor, so you won’t see much bokeh. For really nice bokeh, you still need bigger sensors… and the bigger the sensor, the blurrer the bokeh.

  14. I would love to see your XZ-1 set, sent request my user name is jasopeterso

  15. Broogino

    January 24, 2011

    Thanks for this review.
    I’ve added you in FlickR (broogino)
    Could I see your XZ-1 pictures ?

  16. Dave Sakkas

    January 26, 2011

    Hi David, Can you allow me to view your Olympus XZ-1 pictures on Flickr please? My Account is Davesoton, and I have added you as a contact. Dave

  17. Wilson Chong

    January 27, 2011

    Great review… can’t wait for Part 2!

  18. Mark Collins

    January 28, 2011

    Hi David

    Whilst I agree that there is no noise in the ISO1600 shot of the singer as shown in the 100% crop there are noise reduction artifacts and personally I prefer less NR and more noise (so I tend to shoot RAW). Of the competitors the Panasonic LX5 shows more agressive NR so their 100% crop looks worse but the Canon S95 has the best compromise that I have seen.

    Notwithstanding that argument I think that the lens on the XZ-1 beats all of the others hands-down and is easily the best zoom lens on a compact camera to date and I would buy it based on that over the S95.

  19. Cosmicsausage

    January 29, 2011

    Thanks for the preview. Please add me to XZ-1 photos on flickr: cosmicsausage. Thanks!

  20. thanks for the article. I just added you as a contact; my flickr ID is nutellajar.

  21. Thanks for the preview. Please add me to XZ-1 photos on flickr: effoworld Thanks!
    i m french 😉

  22. Wow. this is what I’m looking for. I need a digital pocket to take landscape. and I think this XZ-1 is the best choice. thanks a lot for the preview.

  23. Ankur Jain

    February 7, 2011

    Hi David. I am interested in the high res pictures of the XZ-1. I am deciding between the XZ-1 and the LX-5. Leaning towards the XZ-1.
    Please add me (unkoolios as flickr profile name). Thanks much.

  24. kadiritu

    February 7, 2011

    I could not find you at flickr. Can you add me: kadiritu my nickname

  25. Hello,

    Thanks for your effort… my question is, is it made in japan? it’s important to me 🙂

  26. Elaka Farmor

    February 11, 2011

    Can you manually change (like the LX5) ISO, shutter speed and brightness(exposure) in the “movie mode” ?

  27. henry chua

    February 15, 2011

    Hi David, I’m not use to Flickr, tried to add you so to be able to view the high resolution picture taken from your Olympus XZ-1. Thanks n cheers. Henry

  28. Hakan, it’s NOT made in Japan. It’s made in China.

  29. Elaka,

    You set your mode (P/A/S/M), ISO, etc before pressing the video-record button. AF is automatically tracking when shooting video.

  30. Henry,

    Just follow the instructions in Flickr.com to create a free account and click on my link (in my blog post) to add me.

  31. Hi David,
    I just added you on Flickr (jelTeam). Can you give me access for your sample photos?

  32. Hi,
    I’m looking to get a decent p&s, the XZ-1 and LX5 are the contenders at the moment. Can I have access to your XZ-1 photos please ?
    I have added you as a contact.

  33. Raymond

    March 10, 2011

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the preview. Do you think XZ-1 is easier and better for a beginner compared to PEN E-PL2? How does XZ-1 compare to Panasonic LX5 and Canon Powershot S95? Look forward to your comment. TQ – Raymond

  34. Raymond,

    It depends how steep the beginner wants the learning curve to be. From easiest to hardest, in my opinion, will be XZ-1 to PEN to DSLR. If the beginner is serious about learning photography, get a camera with interchangeable lens. That will serve you for a long time. The XZ-1 is a clear winner in image quality as compared to LX5 and S95.

  35. hi,

    am considering the XZ-1, would like to look at the hi-res pic taken by you with this camera, pls.

  36. hi David,

    i’m interested in XZ-1 & consider getting it, can I have access to your hi res photos taken with this camera?



    March 23, 2011

    Hi David, I bought the xz-1 a few days ago,, it is really fast, well made, with excellent image quality in most situations. The only complain that I have is the poor quality of the HD video. I wonder why Olympus couldnt offer better video results to the owners of this good (and expensive) camera. The Casio EX-FH100 that I also use, produces videos of much-much greater quality compared to the xz-1.

  38. varvara

    March 23, 2011

    Hi, I just add you in my contact. I am interested with the sample that you take with XZ-1 too. Thanks in advance. 🙂

  39. Hi David,

    Would be grateful if you can add me to your flickr account, mine is munro14. I was about to order the Canon G12, but this looks seriously tempting with the larger sensor & faster lens.



  40. thoersi

    April 29, 2011

    just like the SOOC.. your review is the most direct & sincere one.. 🙂 I just bought this camera one day before my trip to Hong Kong last week.. before i read your review today.. it performs flawlessly.. it’s been awhile since the last time i used a compact camera.. this one really worth the money.. please add me to your flickr.. thoersi.argeswara

    thank you!

  41. Chris

    June 9, 2011

    Hi David

    I’ve added you as a contact in Flickr. I am looking for a new compact and would like to see the images you’ve captured with the XZ-1. My Flickr ID is exreuterman, thank you.

  42. hansieta

    June 15, 2011

    Hi David,

    I’ve added you as a contact in Flickr and my ID is hansieta. I would like to see your XZ-1 pictures. Thanks.

  43. hi david chua,

    im planning to buy this wonderful camera, and i just wanna ask if you can put the date in the pictures produce by the camera? tnx

  44. No erwin, I don’t think you can. The dates are in the EXIF files though.

  45. I would like to enquire about the iauto, you still can manually to adjust the shutter speed, AF and iso. Every i used the iauto, i facing problem like very bright during day time and the imej very blur. please guide me. Thank you.

  46. I have read several good stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you put to create any such great informative web site.

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