By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
One of the most interesting segments in photography right now are high-performing compact digital cameras that can manage manual controls and shoot RAW format photos in a small form factor. The Olympus XZ-1 features a low-light loving iZuiko f1.8-2.5 lens and a host of features derived from its DSLR and PEN line of cameras.
They say that the best camera is the one you have with you. The Olympus XZ-1 (549.99) is a highly portable, aluminum-clad camera you won’t think twice about taking around. Despite its small size, Olympus packed a lot of intelligence and features in the XZ-1 which would appeal to intermediate shooters and even seasoned pros.
The XZ-1 is designed for fast deployment and cuts down on the number of controls and buttons.
A control ring around the front of the lens and the wheel controller on the back provide immediate access to the most important manual settings like ISO, aperture and shutter speed to make it easy to adjust the camera on the move.
A quick button on the rear for video recording ensures instantaneous recording.
The iZuiko f1.8-2.5 lens is the jewel of this camera. A 1.8 lens is fast and great for portraiture and low light conditions (with an ISO rating of 100-3200) but is also an excellent all around lens and ideal for this type of camera.
The lens, coupled with the 1/1.63-inch CCD sensor makes it easier to take better photos in low-light conditions as well as de-focus the background for better, more dramatic portraits.
For our tests, we took the Olympus Xz-1 to the first of Toronto Blue Jays game and took a series of action and crowd shots as well as photos of the surrounding areas.
The camera’s handling is straightforward and intuitive. Olympus offers a wide range of truly useful pre-set modes as well as a bunch of kitschy but fun effects.
Many of these effects can also be used in tandem with the video recording function to add a bit of visual flavour to the videos.
There were times, however, when the camera’s performance was a bit laggy in terms of focusing. Although rare, there were instances where the XZ-1 felt like it was jamming up. We resolved this by taking out the batter to restart the camera.
Olympus is entering a segment of the camera industry that’s already got a lot of competition brewing. Canon, Nikon and Panasonic have been slugging it out with their respective models.
The XZ-1 offers users another high-quality compact camera that’s ideal for most conditions. We wish it had an optical viewfinder but seeing as none of the Olympus PEN cameras have one either, we don’t expect this feature to be built in anytime soon. The XZ-1 does come with an accessory port which can accomodate an electronic viewfinder and an external microphone so you can build around it as needed.
The price is a bit on the high side over $500 but no one else is rocking that iZuiko f1.8-2.5 lens and good glass costs.The XZ-1 is a pleasure to use and gives great results, an impressive model for any users who want a capable compact camera with advanced functions.