Olympus XZ-1 per se and compared to Samsung EX1

stratokaster

Top Veteran
Dec 27, 2010
Kiev, Ukraine
Pavel
I had a chance to play with Olympus XZ-1 for a week and I'd like to offer my take on this camera.



First of all, I can say that I really like its handling. It's a very simple camera, it has even less options than admittedly spartan Samsung EX1. But unlike EX1, it has very few physical controls. Actually, I'm fine with it because its menu is organized very well. And I just LOVE the control ring around the lens - it naturally falls into my left hand when I'm supporting the camera. Also, compared to EX1, it displays 3-channel histogram while shooting!!! It's invaluable if you're trying to expose to the right, otherwise it's very easy to blow out individual channels.

But the greatest feature of Olympus XZ-1 is its lens. It seems as sharp and contrasty as Samsung EX1. And It has a lot of character. I don't know how to describe it, but I simply like the images it produces. I think Olympus might have added quite a bit of its magic dust into the glass.









And, of course, those wonderful Olympus colors, especially the famous 'Olympus blue.'





As owners of Samsung EX1 know, this camera has an almost unnatural ability to recover lost details from both shadows and highlights. Alas, Olympus XZ-1 can't match it because its sensor is quite a bit noisier. Also, left to its own devices, it has a tendency to overexpose, so it's better to watch your histogram carefully.

Unlike EX1, it features a useful video mode. Videos are recorded in HD resolution at 30 fps, it's possible to use SEMA-1 to connect an external microphone.

[video=youtube;TOZspy2cau8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOZspy2cau8[/video]

Overall, this is a very good camera. But can it replace Samsung EX1 for me? I think not. I prefer wider to longer, and EX1's swivel screen is an invaluable asset for street photography. But if you are thinking about getting a XZ-1, have no doubt - this is a wonderful camera and I sincerely recommend it.
 

BBW

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
betwixt and between
BB
Pavel, I'm sure I'm not alone in appreciating your views comparing these two cameras...and giving the kudos to Olympus where due - I do love and miss those Oly blues!

Will you keep this camera? I can see what you mean about "magic dust" - especially in that closeup of the bent reeds/grasses and I really, really, really like that image you took looking up with the clothes on the line - that is a great one, Pavel. A keeper for sure.
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
Very nice! Thanks for the review and the photos. That second photo of the white flowers is very impressive coming from a point and shoot.

How is the auto focus speed of the Oly? And how is the auto focus speed of the Samsung?
 

stratokaster

Top Veteran
Dec 27, 2010
Kiev, Ukraine
Pavel
Armanius, they're comparable and both relatively speedy for compact cameras. However, EX1's autofocus is more consistent - XZ-1 often tends to focus on the background, especially if it's rather contrasty. There's a trick to circumvent this behaviour - you first have to focus on something closer than your subject and then it will refocus correctly.
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
Can you change the focus point in the Oly to center point, lock focus, and then recompose? I think I read somewhere that it's not possible to lock exposure though. Hopefully, you can lock focus at least.
 

summerkl

Veteran
Oct 11, 2010
Vancouver, Canada
Kevin
Thanks for the quick review. I've had my eye on this camera as my vacation/travel camera. These real world examples are very helpful.

How do you find the indoor shots with that fast lens?
 
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stillshunter

Super Moderator Emeritus
Nov 5, 2010
Down Under
Mark
Thanks for the quick review. I've had my eye on this camera as my vacation/travel camera. These real world examples are very helpful.
I was thinking about the XZ-1 for precisely the same reason. That lens had me sold and the smearing issue put me right off.... But your samples show no such smearing. :doh: Hmmmm....I may have made a rash choice....

Thanks for the mini-review, looks promising. As BB asked, be keen to know if you choose to hold onto it.
 
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stratokaster

Top Veteran
Dec 27, 2010
Kiev, Ukraine
Pavel
Olympus XZ-1 in low light

This photo was taken almost in the dark. The scene was lit by orange-yellow sodium lights. I used ISO 400, f/1.8 and 1/20 shutter speed, but the photo turned out seriously underexposed and I pushed it in Lightroom exactly one stop - so think of it as an equivalent of ISO 800. I also applied some (not excessive) noise reduction and sharpening.



In my opinion, this is a very decent performance for a small-sensor camera, although I can achieve marginally better results with Samsung EX1. You can see full-size image here: http://photo.torba.com/images/pavel.urusov/f/jiQ3NYwdl3CYm4M5Laxh.jpg
 
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