June 25, 2011
I bought this camera fully aware that its video (quality, focus, resolution, and bulky outdated file format) were well behind the industry.
I was willing to overlook the video flaws because I have a modern smartphone that takes very good video, so I can use that instead.
What I wanted was good quality images even in low light, and this camera delivers.
However, I found a few unpleasant surprises, some of which may not matter to others, but they are a disappointment to me.
Your needs may be different from mine. I like to do stealth shooting (candid shots) so I have some special preferences.
1) I like to shoot with the screen off, and this camera apparently has no way to do that. Having the screen off draws less attention, and lengthens battery life.
2) When shooting, the camera makes a very audible (though pleasing) mechanical clicking sound. Not an issue for most people, but not good for stealth. This can be eliminated in High2 burst mode, but that mode takes pictures that are only 2 megapixels.
3) Features in settings are strangely limited. For example the burst modes are very constrained. I would like to be able to just hold down the button, and have the camera continue to take pictures, at a fairly steady pace. It could even be a slow pace. But this camera can't do that without going to a special mode and compromising image size. Otherwise I have to keep re-pressing and half-releasing the button, which is a skill it's going take a while to master, and something that makes camera shake more likely.
4) The entire camera locks up gratuitously in a couple of situations. One is when writing data to the SD (Class 10 SHDC in my case) card. This happens for example after taking several pictures in burst mode, or after taking video. Another is when the cable is connected, such as when charging. Even when charging is finished, you can't even play with settings while the power cable is connected. This is when the cable isn't even connected to a computer, so it's not like some sync may be happening. It's just the simple case of charging from the wall outlet.
5) Along with what everyone else has said about video, there is also the astonishing limitation on file size, 2GB maximum, which effectively also sets a length limit on videos, to 7 minutes maximum at the preferred HD resolution. This is almost inexcusable, when videos are widely used to document things like hour-long school performances. Imagine going to your child's school play and having to chop it up into 7-minute segments at unpredictable points. There are better file systems that have been around for ages that support more than 2GB, so it's hard to imagine what the engineers at Olympus are smoking.
6) Software does not have a Mac version! Amazing! But in a bad way.
A lot of the other amazing features on this camera are standard these days on many cameras. So I don't share the enthusiasm some other reviewers do about them. They are great, but not special. Panorama in particular is disappointing because it is arbitrarily limited to three shots, meaning you cannot do a 360 degree panorama even if you try.
The main thing is the image quality, which is great. I do love the camera even though it has some negatives as I mentioned. I would absolutely recommend it if you are willing to live with those flaws in exchange for the amazing lens speed it has and the resulting great pictures.
June 14, 2011
The photo mode is good and still images are strong and punchy. The camera is easy to use and quite compact. The camera feels fast and responsive in operation.
But the video mode is simply unacceptable. The camera constantly hunts for focus, such that a large part of most videos are barely usable. This happens even in high contrast situations and even if the subject is not moving much.
Even when it is in focus the video is pretty soft. Audio recording is quite good, it is just video images that are poor.
Overall this is a great stills camera that is let down by it's poor video mode.
Only other comments are: 1) it would be nice to have an ISO button, 2) it would be nice to have a built-in lens cap. But these are minor niggles.
May 06, 2011
Olympus hit a home run with this camera.
The f1.8 lens captures some amazing images with sharpness and true color reproduction that many large DSLRs can't match.
Compact size allows you to pocket this camera and take it anywhere.
I have captured images with this camera for almost three months and friends are amazed at the picture quality.
Low light performance is excellent without the flash.
-Low light performance from the sensitive f1.8 lens
-Compactness - easily fits in a pocket
-Built in Art filters produce dramatic effects
-Sharp OLED screen shows detailed images even in sun light
-Works well with Eye-Fi card to transfer images over WiFi and post pictures to social networking sites
-Focus is fast
-Digital zoom yields good quality images when the subject is far
-Supports Olympus hot shoe flashes and accessories
-Ability to charge camera with USB cable or power with portable battery
-Front rotating lens wheel allows quick changing of camera settings
-Great manual controls allow full creativity
-External view finder provides sharp images while allowing you to brace the camera
-Excellent color sharpness and reproduction
-Battery seems to drain faster with Eye-Fi card so purchase a second battery
-Unit is easily powered on, especially when play button is pressed twice or when holding camera
-HD movie quality not as sharp as expected
-No filter screw for UV and other filters
-Sometimes panoramic mode would not recognize that you were panning the camera
-No display integration with Eye-Fi to show progress (hopefully future firmware will allow full integration)
Overall, this is an excellent camera for low light image capture. You will forget about the camera's built in flash.
Future models will hopefully incorporate a 14+ MP image sensor, a wider and longer lens, 3D image capture, and support filter attachments.
You can't go wrong for the money if you are looking for a compact DSLR camera to capture low light images.
Please see my attached photos. The images really tell the story and demonstrate the performance of the Olympus XZ-1.
May 04, 2011
The super-bright F1.8-2.5 lens does more than let you keep the ISO settings down in low light
All-in-all, it means the XZ-1 offers similar control over depth-of-field and a more flexible focal length range than most DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with their kit lenses
April 25, 2011
Bought the camera to take on a Mexico family vacation. Tried camera over Easter weekend to test features. Very impressed with picture quality, ease of use, menu & speed. I originally was going to purchase a S95; after researching online, glad I made decision with Olympus.
April 22, 2011
This camera is built like a little tank. Heavy little sucker that delivers awesome photos. I'm so glad I purchased this gem. Can't believe Olympus does not include a battery charger. Whats with that OLYMPUS? All in all its absolutely a real pleasure to use this camera.
April 20, 2011
Love, the quality of the images and build of this camera. Cery versatile and easy to use.
April 19, 2011
I chose this camera after a year of searching to replace my DSLR whose lens I had become disatisfied with. I wanted a portable camera with an excellent lens and I had to wait a while. I still haven't read the manual yet, but the camera produces excellent results out of the box. I've only been switching between iauto and aperture priority modes so far. That's all that's been needed
April 17, 2011
Underwater photo guy
I won' repeat what has been said about the photo quality. It looks just great. Maybe, with the next go-around, you could up the resolution to 12-13 mp. That would be a sweet spot. If this were just photos only, it would be a 5 star review. I hope my comments get some feedback at the company.
You market this as an underwater camera, complete with housing, wide and macro wet lens adapters, and underwater modes. But, you have crippled two essential features for underwater photographers.
Why is the video crippled? A camera at this level of quality and price point should offer two video options: 1080p at 24 fps for maximum quality, and 720p at 60fps for motion capture and slow motion playback. Also, colors are weak, clips are limited in length, and the optical (sensor) IS does not work in video, only an electronic IS that degrades quality.
Olympus, there is just no excuse . . . . I am using this camera for underwater photo and video and it is fully a professional level tool for photos. The crippled video is inexcusable.
Also, why can't the flash fire in super-macro mode? That mode is very useful underwater and the flash is necessary to trigger the off-camera slave flashes. Everyone knows the on-camera flash won't work for the actual subject, but that is no excuse for disabling it for those of us using off-camera strobes for lighting.
These things are critical in an underwater camera, and I am sure many people would welcome the video upgrade for all types of shooting.
This could be the most versatile uw system going if you could fix the video and flash features.
The video and flash issue could be fixed with a firmware update. I, for one, would be willing to pay a reasonable price for such an update if it is complicated to do.
Please, do not wait until the next version, to include these upgrades, because that will entail a new camera, and a new housing if you change the control design.
April 16, 2011
it's a v.good camera,easy to use ,easy to navigate menu.