Olympus XZ-1 Full Review - Cameras For Photographers
Specifications 2:


Weight (inc. Battery) [?]:

Wide Angle [?]:

Max. Focal Length [?]:

Zoom Range [?]:

Sensor Size:

Low Light Support [?]:

Image Stabilization [?]:
sensor shift

Raw Format Support [?]:

Manual Exposure [?]:

Video Resolution [?]:

Optical Zoom In Video [?]:

Stereo Sound [?]:

Battery Life [?]:
320 shots

Flip Lcd [?]:

Touch Screen [?]:

Viewfinder [?]:

Freeze / Water / Shock - Proof [?]:

Dimensions (w-h-d) [?]:
110.6 x 64.8 x 42.3 mm

Macro Distance [?]:
1 cm

Built-in Wireless [?]:

Built-in GPS [?]:

Direct Video Button [?]:

Panorama [?]:
sweep panorama

Rank: [?]

Initial Price:
$499 (change: $150, 30%)

Last Price Change:
$30 (9%) (Nov 27th)

Last Lowest Price:

Support this site by purchasing accessories for the Olympus XZ-1:

Olympus XZ-1 - Full Review

Last Lowest Price: $349
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The Olympus XZ-1 was an excellent high-end point-and-shoot camera. Read on to see how well it keeps up today.
Olympus XZ-1 (photo: Olympus)
Important Note: the XZ-1 was replaced by the Olympus Stylus XZ-2 (compare ).

The XZ-1's Price Watch:

In the beginning of 2011, when the XZ-1 was announced and hit the markets, it was considered one of the best (*the* best, by some) compact cameras available. Many months later, with the arrival of some newer models, the XZ-1 has some serious competition to face.

It has a fast lens (meaning a large maximum aperture), a larger than average imaging sensor, manual controls and RAW format support, placing it high at the top of the mountain. However, it's far from being alone up there - see the Feature Graph to visualize how it relates to other high-end models.

Strengths & Improvements

First and foremost - the lens. With an extra large maximum aperture setting of f/1.8 at the wide end and an unrivaled f/2.5 at the long end, the XZ-1's lens is the brightest compact camera lens there is.

Behind the lens sits a relatively large 1/1.63" CCD sensor, which is aimed at high image quality, high dynamic range and low noise levels at high ISO's.

On top of that, the XZ-1 supports RAW format shooting and offers full manual control over focus and exposure, with Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual modes and an option of selecting of the auto focus point in the frame or manual focus.

Build Quality & Handling

In general, the menu system of the XZ-1 is not easy to handle. Navigation is far from intuitive and its logic takes time to get accustomed to. Its lens ring is handy for direct control over various settings, using the otherwise useless left hand. However, unlike the lens ring of the S100, the XZ-1's lens ring has a specific preset function in each mode which can't be customized.


Focus Speed: Focusing with the XZ-1 is a pleasure. It's quick to lock on in most situations, partially due to the ongoing prefocusing of the camera.

Operation: The settings of the XZ-1 are confusing, to say the least. On top of the non-intuitive navigation, the different settings are inconsistent in their bahaviour when switching modes and between shots.
For example, after taking a shot in macro mode with a timer, the macro is on for the next shot but the timer isn't. Moreover, focus points must be reselected in each and every mode.

Some of the frequently used functions require much too many button presses, like the ISO and White Balance, which must be navigated to throughout the menu, or the macro mode, which requires selecting the focus points, then clicking on 'info' and then choosing 'macro'.

Image Stabilization: Being a sensor-shift mechanism it is expected not to function as well as an optical image stabilization system, and there are no surprises here. It manages to allow speeds as low as 1/6th of a second at 112mm, which could be considered impressive, but when compared to the Canon PowerShot SX40's sharp images at 1/5th second at 840mm, the impression is deflated.

Battery Life: With a declared average of 320 shots per charge, the XZ-1 is far ahead of the S100's meager 200 shots and the Fuji X10's 270 shots, but it is shaded by the Panasonic LX5's 400 shots per charge.

Image Quality

Colors & Contrast: Overall, the XZ-1 produces pleasing images, with good color and contrast. It has the ordinary weakness of warmness in auto white balance in indoor lighting, but it also adds extra warm colors and some under-exposure in the late afternoons. Compared to some of the simpler but much newer point and shoots, as well as other high-end models available today, the XZ-1 loses some of its sparkle it had when it was first introduced.

ISO Range: Its 1/1.63" CCD sensor is larger than most compact cameras' sensors, and it's even slightly larger than the S100's 1/1.7" CMOS sensor, supposed to provide better colors, larger dynamic range and lower noise levels at high ISO's.
However, being a CCD sensor rather than a CMOS one, its output at high ISO's is somewhat disappointing.

ISO 400 is clean enough for any usage and even ISO 800 retains enough details for online viewing as well as printing.

At ISO 1600, there's a drop in detail and a jump in noise levels, together with washed-out colors apparent even when viewing on screen. ISO 3200 is for emergencies only, not to mention ISO 6400 which should be avoided entirely.

White Balance: In day light, white balance is handled very well by the XZ-1, but that is nothing special. As mentioned above, images tend to be warm and a bit underexposed in incandescent lighting, requiring exposure compensation and manual white balance for better results.

Advanced Features

When the XZ-1 was born, 720p video was still acceptable in a high-end camera and automatic panoramas were just making their first steps, mostly in Sony's. Today, however, the XZ-1 is crying for a successor with an up to date feature list.

The Panorama mode, being one the XZ-1's 'coolest' features, could be described as a nice try (with a sinister wink). It does work, but it takes only three shots and only horizontally, so it's not possible swiping the camera rotated 90 degrees across the horizon to get a better proportioned image.

But the worst part about it is the time it takes to create such a panorama - once you're done swiping, it takes the camera somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds to process the images into a single panorama, during which the camera is useless.

The Competition

The Olympus XZ-1 faces competition from a handful of very potent rivals, all of them offering more advanced features, newer sensors (most of them moved to CMOS), but slower lenses, especially when zoomed in.

The closest in lens and apertures parameters is the FujiFilm FinePix X10 (compare ). Sharing the same 28-112mm zoom range and not-so-far-off f/2.0-f/2.8, compared to the XZ-1's f/1.8-f/2.5. However the X10 has CMOS sensor which is much better than the XZ-1 CCD, producing much lower noise levels at high ISO's.

Another two closely related cameras are the Canon PowerShot S100 (compare ) and Panasonic Lumix DMC LX5 (compare ), with the LX5 resembling the XZ-1 the most in terms of shape and size. The S100, on the other hand offers a much more compact body than the XZ-1, at the cost of a much slower lens at the long end of the zoom.

Who is it not for?

If you're looking for a simple-to-use camera, the XZ-1 isn't your primary candidate.

Who is it for?

If you're looking for a high-end point-and-shoot with the fastest lens and shallowest depth-of-field available, the XZ-1 is exactly that.


Image Quality: 8.5
Performance: 8
Build & Handling: 8
Advanced Features: 8.5
EyalG's Total: 8.25

Last Lowest Price: $349
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Zoom Capabilities:

Images are shown from the shortest focal length (wide angle) to the longest (telephoto).
Digital Zoom is shown by 'x' factor:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.

Image Stabilization Capabilities:

Here's an example of the same image taken with and without image stabilization:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.

High ISO Performance:

See how the XZ-1 performs in various ISO sensitivities:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.

In-Camera Effects:

The XZ-1 offers these creative effects, see what they look like:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.

Optical Zoom During Video:

In Your Hand:

Sample Images (hand held, out of camera, with no post processing):

1/60 sec, f/1.8, 28mm, ISO 160

1/250 sec, f/2.5, 28mm, ISO 100

1/320 sec, f/2.8, 28mm, ISO 100

1/800 sec, f/4, 28mm, ISO 100

1/500 sec, f/3.2, 28mm, ISO 100

1/200 sec, f/2.5, 112mm, ISO 200

1/800 sec, f/3.5, 28mm, ISO 100

1/13 sec, f/2.5, 112mm, ISO 200

Sample Panorama:


Automatically compared to similar cameras, based on specifications:

Low Light:

Wide Angle:

Zoom Range:


Other Features:


Total Rank:




Olympus XZ-1
Olympus XZ-1 Eyal Gurevitch August 28, 2012 $349 60 100

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  • See the list of all Compact Cameras .
  • See the list of all Low Light Cameras .

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