Field Test: Olympus XZ-1


zaren

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#1
I have very fond memories of Olympus compact cameras, both film and digital. Some of the cameras I have owned and used before include; Olympus mju II (35mm/2.8 film compact), Olympus C4000 (4mp 32-96mm/f2.8) and the Olympus 5060 (5mp 27mm-110mm/f2.8-4.8). The Zuiko lenses on the Olympus cameras give very sharp images and excellent colour rendition.

The Olympus C4000 was a favourite of mine for shooting street and candids because of its fast constant f2.8 maximum aperture over the entire zoom range. It was with reluctance that I upgraded to the C5060 to gain the wide angle (27mm) but at the expense of a slower lens at the tele end (f4.8 at 110mm). The fastest lens in an olympus compact was the 35mm-105mm/f1.8-2.6 of the C4040/C5050 models.

The latest XZ-1 from Olympus, with its beautiful fast lens (28-112mm/f1.8-2.5), has certainly perked my interest and certainly looks like I can fall in love again with Olympus compacts again after a hiatus of more than five years. I am not going to go into the detailed specifications of the camera, as they have been covered in other review threads. Instead, I will be describing my experience of using the camera in the field.

First up, some shots outdoors as a I did a quick walkabout in Holland Village.


Colours and skin-tones are natural and pleasing.


backlit subject, cropped 50% from original 10mp photo


The lens is plenty sharp, and details are finely captured...just check out the veins popping out of this guy's arms!


this was a grab shot as the sliding glass door of the shopping centre opened for a few seconds, the XZ-1 was responsive enough to frame the image and shoot.
 

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zaren

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I brought the XZ-1 to a wedding dinner to try out some indoor photography. The XZ-1 just about manages to fit into my trouser pocket, and feels sightly slimmer than the Panasonic LX-5.


group shots at the dinner table were a breeze, shot without flash under ambient lighting. (28mm, 1/30s, f1.8, iso 250). Even at f1.8, there is plenty of depth of field to capture details of whole ballroom.


Very good white balance, sharpness, colours and skin tones, and very little image noise.


another shot of the couple, this time at maximum telephoto of 112mm, shot wide open at f2.5 at 1/40s, iso 200, no flash.


This was tough shot for the XZ-1, shot handheld in dim lighting without flash at iso 200. Due to the slow shutter speed of 1/10s, there is motion blur of the dancing couple.

In auto iso mode, the XZ-1 tends to ramp up iso very slowly, to maximise image quality. Therefore, most of the shots are at iso 200 or lower. If you want greater control of shutter speed, to freeze motion for example, then shoot in shutter priority mode.
 

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zaren

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some night shots next, taken at Clarke Quay.


iso 100, 1/6s at 28mm, handheld.


iso 100, 1/6s at 28mm, handheld.

Generally, i found that it was easy to get handheld low-light shots from the XZ-1 of static objects, with decent results.
 

zaren

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Macro mode and art filters...

soft focus


grainy b&w


pinhole


dramatic tone


pop art
 

werend

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#5
These things looked pretty good, and some that I can learn, and I hope to learn more on it!
 

zaren

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These things looked pretty good, and some that I can learn, and I hope to learn more on it!
Thx....we are all here to learn and improve our photography, and enjoy it in the process! :)
 

zaren

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outdoor shots using art filters...

normal


soft focus


grainy film


pinhole
 

zaren

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#8
diorama


dramatic tone


pop art



The dramatic tone art filter in particular adds a lot of mood and contrast to an otherwise normal scene.
 

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zaren

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#9
Macro shot, handheld without flash, taken in super macro mode:

Full image


100% magnification image crop


Excellent colour and detail can be seen in the macro shot, with the tiny words "MONETARYAUTHORITYOFSINGAPORE" clearly legible in the 100% magnification crop.
 

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zaren

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#10
Conclusions

The XZ-1 is a great compact camera which is perfect for candid and street photography, and also for handheld low-light shooting, due to its very fast zoom lens. In the shooting situations where I tested the camera, the XZ-1 consistently delivered clean, sharp and detailed images with very good colours. Highly recommended.
 

Jul 14, 2008
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#11
Hi TS

Just to check what the mode you use for taking during the wedding dinner? Auto or?

I plan to get 1
 

Feb 22, 2004
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#12
Is there any way to include the f-stop as well? Like the shot of the girl reading the newspaper with wounded knees :thumbsup: It seems to have incredible dof - a good and bad thing - guess that's the price for a small sensor camera. It looks like of all the enthusiast compact cameras the IQ of the Oly looks to be the best. Need to borrow one someday and test it.:sweat:
 

zaren

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#13
Hi TS

Just to check what the mode you use for taking during the wedding dinner? Auto or?

I plan to get 1
Hi Blackwolf,

The wedding dinner pics were shot in P mode.

Cheers,
z.
 

zaren

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#14
Is there any way to include the f-stop as well? Like the shot of the girl reading the newspaper with wounded knees :thumbsup: It seems to have incredible dof - a good and bad thing - guess that's the price for a small sensor camera. It looks like of all the enthusiast compact cameras the IQ of the Oly looks to be the best. Need to borrow one someday and test it.:sweat:
The girl was shot at f2.5
yes, the dof is quite incredible. the IQ is also excellent :)
 

zaren

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#16
nice shots! did you do any additional sharpening? or is it the in-cam sharpening? looks a tad oversharp to me.. my eyes are bleeding haha
yes, some additional sharpening was applied in irfanview using the default settings, after the pics were resized to 800x600 pixels.

your eyes are fine. :)
 

undergrd

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Jun 16, 2007
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#17
Hi TS,

Can I check with you, when you shoot indoor with ISO400 onwards, do you feel that there is a high noise reduction applied to the pic? I tried my frez cam and felt that there was like a lost of details in the picture....
 

spy77

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What's the street price har?
its 680 at alan's with extra batt thrown in...just went to see.
TS - hows the use one the menu? easy to set or lots of steps? I turned on, saw the menu...had a headache... :)
 

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