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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 19 January 2012
I am simply wowed by this compact camera.

I was originally looking to buy my first DSLR, but having handled them decided that the massive increase in bulk and the necessity of carrying additional lenses was too big a price to pay for improved image quality. So I searched long and hard for the best possible compact camera, and I believe I've finally found it!

Jpegs for me are stunning, out of this world. They simply can't be compared to any other compact I've used before (of late Panasonic TZs). I'm generally shooting at 100 ISO, outside. But in the darkest of British January days it's more than adequate, occasionally 200, and I'm not sure I'll ever need to go above 400, even indoors. This, the brightest of lenses copes where other compacts would find it necessary to go way above this. So, superb jpegs. Will I eventually shoot raw? Maybe, if a shot dictates this, but it won't be the norm for me at this stage.

I was a little worried the camera might be too big, but not at all. Size is perfect. Yes the S100 is smaller but unless size is your main priority, forget even comparing the two. The XZ-1 ranks supreme, and the lens alone leaves other compacts in its wake. It's just fractionally bigger than my TZ20 but it's still very neat and compact. It still slips into a shirt or coat pocket easily and I love the fact that it can.

The macro (down to 1cm) produces fantastic results.

The removable lens cap is no problem at all for me. It's exactly the same as it would for anyone using a DSLR or compact system camera with interchangeable lenses - the lens cap is simply removed and popped into your pocket. If that's not acceptable, Olympus provide you with a tie so that it remains attached to the camera. I actually quite like it as it is!

Operation is delightfully straightforward. Select aperture or shutter priority on the mode dial and then use the wonderful rotating lens dial to set the required stop. Yes you can use iAuto, but this camera will soon have you switching to a mode in which you'll have more input - it's really not that difficult and it will do wonders for your creativity!

Art filters are great fun and can inspire you to create some impressive effects.

There's no dedicated ae/af button but a half press of the button locks focus, so you can then recompose - personally this is enough for me.

I haven't found battery life a problem at all, and find 300 images or more on one charge perfectly adequate.

So impressed am I with this wonderful camera, that now I know it's going to be a long-term partnership, I'm thinking of purchasing the VF2 viewfinder. Expensive but likely to make the camera as complete as I would like, and the reviews for it look favourable. The ability to add such a great viewfinder is yet another of the XZ-1's advantages over any of its rivals (It's far superior to the Panasonic.).

We all want a DSLR in a compact form but that's not going to happen anytime soon. Major compromises still remain. But given all the limitations of a compact, the XZ-1 comes so close to being the very best of compromises.

So if, like me, you've agonised for far too long on which camera to buy and found yourself going round and round in circles, do yourself a favour - buy the XZ-1. It's sublime. It's a joy to use. It's an incredible performer. It will grow with you. You will grow with it. It's fun. It will provide you with stunningly sharp images combined with heart-warming Olympus colours that are to die for. It will inspire your work and take your photography to exciting new levels. You will love it.
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on 9 April 2011
Like many people, I have bought several compact cameras to compliment my DSLR and have largely been disappointed - to the regular benefit of my children. The XZ-1 is exactly what I have been looking for and for once, the kids are going to lose out!

The lens is remarkable and exposures to date have been stunningly accurate - Photoshop is seldom tempted to `auto-enhance'. Screen resolution and colour rendition is outstanding.

Like many (semi) compacts, there is still a short but irritating delay between pressing the button and exposing the picture. My only serious criticism however, is the vulnerability of the `mode dial' on the top surface of the camera. This is very subject to accidental re-positioning and I wish there was a menu option to prevent further alteration once it is set!

The optional viewfinder is an expensive but worthwhile addition. Just need someone to bring out a soft case to accommodate it whilst attached to the hot shoe!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 March 2011
Colour Name: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have used Olympus cameras for over thirty years, including the OM10, OM2n film cameras and the compact digital FE-190. The XZ-1 has a professional look, feel and weight.

First impressions straight out of the box:
The camera comes with a shortish neck strap, battery, USB/power cable, an AV cable (not HDMI), a CD containing software, and a basic setting up booklet in 29 languages. As soon as the camera is set up it is obvious that it has a wealth of features and information from the number of icons that are immediately displayed on both sides and the bottom of the screen, with two or three additional items along the upper edge. The camera uses its own rechargeable battery, which is charged in situ using a small mains adapter, or from a computer via the USB cable. There is also a micro HDMI socket.

One thing I noticed immediately when handling the camera was that the lid of the flash gun is in exactly the position I place my forefinger, when holding the camera with my left hand, while making adjustments with the right. Relatively quickly this ceases to become an issue but initially it is a little unnerving since the lid is smooth and moves slightly (because when the flash is used, it springs up like a jack-in-the-box). By contrast, on the right hand side, there is a small rubber mat which provides excellent grip, so that the camera can be held one handed with ease. The mode dial is well-positioned and easily adjusted.

User Manual:
An essential item in the package for a camera as fully featured as this one is the User Manual on the enclosed CD. The CD also contains software for both PC and Macintosh computers. The instruction manual is in PDF format and at 95 pages appears to be comprehensive. I found it useful at the start to print out the pages that gave details of the controls and the information that can be displayed on the screen when the camera is switched on. After a week of frequent daily use, I am still learning and experimenting with the many features. The more I use the camera, the more impressed I am with it.

After setting the Mode dial (2 x auto, 3 x manual modes, custom setup, low light, scene modes and art filters) the wheel controller on the rear of the camera becomes the centre of operations for making further selections. The small outer ring can be rotated as well as 'tipped' to select items. In the centre is the OK button, which is used to confirm a selection but also gives access to a number of menus, depending upon the Mode settings. The metal control ring surrounding the lens can also be used to make adjustments. There are sufficient options here to provide many hours of experimentation. Other controls include buttons for Movie, Review, Menu and Info.

In my opinion, this is an expensive camera to use simply for snaps, although it will perform this role admirably and with a wide range of pre-set scene mode settings (eight more than on the FE-190): e-Portrait, Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night+Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Multi-Exposure, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, Underwater Wide, Underwater Macro, Pet, and Panorama. The panorama setting takes three frames, then knits them together in the camera to make a 'school photo' type extended picture. The self-portrait on the XZ-1 produced an almost unbelievably sharp image, far sharper than the FE-190. There are a number of in-camera informational screens with tips and examples to aid the user.

Features and functions:
There is not the space here to list the detail of all the features but the following refer to my personal use for the camera (you may plan to use it differently):
Great stuff I use all the time: focus grid; zoom (28-112mm equivalent); macro settings (down to 1cm); image stabilisation; electronic viewfinder accessory (sold separately).
Advanced features I shall use frequently: manual shutter ('bulb' + 60 sec to 1/2000 sec (auto gives1/4000 sec)) and aperture control (f1.8-8.0).
Advanced features I shall use occasionally: video; panorama; manual ISO selection.
Advanced features I shall probably not have a use for: histogram; high speed AF tracking; selectable aspect ratios; image size and compression settings (I leave this on LF); RAW settings; wireless flash control.
'Fun' features I am unlikely to use: the art filters (though these seem to be popular with other people).

What it does for me:
For me the most exciting functions are the manual controls for aperture and shutter speed. The focus grid is extremely useful for choosing which area(s) of the shot are used for autofocus. This camera's low light capability is quite amazing: it functioned when conditions were much darker than I expected, it exposed perfectly and still the autofocus was precise. Together with the terrific macro and extra-macro facility of the superb lens, these features put the camera straight into another league, bridging the gap between a compact and a DSLR. In fact, all the features I required of an SLR and lost when I moved to the FE-190, I have gained back and more with the XZ-1.

Why do I always choose Olympus cameras? Because I believe the lenses and metering are second to none. When I used the Olympus 35 mm film cameras, it was essential to be able to rely on those two factors because it was impossible to see the picture until it was developed. Now, with digital technology, those same features are just as important in obtaining a high quality result. This camera combines low light and close up excellence with ease of use and very extensive flexibility: a huge amount of camera in a small space.

Olympus VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder - Black (available as a separate item, reviewed here by request)
Extremely useful accessory
A small and well-crafted piece of kit, whose external simplicity belies its functionality and sharp, bright image. It plugs into the hot shoe and accessory slots at the top of the camera and is powered from the camera. Pressing a single button toggles between viewfinder and camera back screen (monitor). It does not interfere with using the built in flash. The VF-2 can be used on other Olympus cameras, so if you own more than one camera, a single viewfinder could be used on each compatible unit. The only reason for dropping a star here is the price -in my opinion the quality is 5*.

The VF-2 is perfect for use in bright sunlight, where the monitor on the camera itself is difficult to use for setting up and reviewing shots without dodging into a shady spot to do so.

The viewfinder is a very useful addition for anyone, like me, who is longsighted and for those used to an SLR type viewfinder. The great thing about a digital camera with a display screen is being able to review (playback) pictures as you go. If you are longsighted, you end up holding the camera at arms length to be able to focus your eyes on the screen on the back of the camera, or resort to your reading glasses. The electronic viewfinder shows all the information you would otherwise see on the screen on the back of the camera. You can adjust the focus to your individual eyesight by simply rotating the rubber 'dioptre' ring.

Since having the viewfinder, I am using it as the preferred method for operating the camera. It is also useful for macro work and has the added feature that it can be tilted through up to 90 degrees.

Minor negative factors: firstly that it does add to the overall size of the camera and prevents the use of the hot shoe to mount and/or trigger an additional flash unit. The flash issue is probably not a problem, as the built-in flash can be used to wirelessly trigger up to three other flash units. When the review (playback) button is pressed, the camera reverts to monitor view, instead of the image remaining in the viewfinder.

In summary:
Cons - adds to the overall size of the camera, costs half as much as an XZ-1 camera (March 2011).
Pros - a real advantage in bright sunlight, especially useful for long-sighted users, can be transferred between cameras, great for macro shots, has a tiltable eyepiece, does not get in the way of the camera's built-in flash unit, comes with its own storage pouch.
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on 20 May 2011
I have used many cameras including a pair of Pentax 35mm SLR's. I then went for compact digital point and shoot cameras for many years and have taken thousands of digital photographs because the camera was usually with me when I was anywhere interesting. For me the key is being able to keep a camera on a belt loop so it is handy when the right opertunity arrives. In the end the soft images of the point and shoot cameras where really annoying me so I went in search of something better. The xz-1 for me is the perfect balance of sharo image, sensible zoom (landscape through to portrait shots) and compact size. I have the Lowepro Dublin 30 bag which is ideal as the smallest possible belt pouch that fits the xz-1. The photographs are sharp and I have had loads of fun with the manual controls and the art filters (grainy monochrome and dramatic are giving great results). I have the in camera sharpness turned up one notch and I just shoot JPEG. LEft in Auto mode the camera produces saturated colours and good exposure consistently. The manual controls take a little time to learn and I had to learn to go into the menu and put the photo mode back to default because it does not forget your settings when you power down. I did look at the Canon S95 and I prefer the size and the video quality of the Canon but the stills quality of the Olympus blows it away.
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on 31 March 2011
If you are on the market, like me, for a small camera that you can carry around with you all the time, that would also produce high quality images if not all than most of the time, and unwilling to spend £1500 on Leica X1 you know your choices are very limited.

So far there were only tree cameras that I narrowed down - Canon PowerShot G12, Panasonic Lumix LX5, and Nikon Coolpix P7000 but none of them appealed to me, for different reason.

Canon and Nikon are too large and look errr, odd and bulky, and Panasonic produces strange, sometimes unnatural colours.

I was awaiting for the forthcoming Fujifilm FinePix X100 Digital Camera, but it looks like it will be difficult to get for a while due to low production after the quake and very high demand, so no price reductions quite for some time, and £900 is still a lot for a regular person who just wants to make good pictures of his kids and some views from the trips.

Olympus XZ-1 comes as a very good and reasonable choice. It has larger image sensor and very wide and bright lens that lets lots of light through. As a result all images are of a very high quality, both on screen and in print. It is easy to operate, especially if you shoot in automatic settings like me. Good speed and decent battery life. Very light to carry around. Have only been using it for a few days but very positive results so far. Will update this review once (if) I hit some major drawback.

Some people note that it has not-so-good video recording, but I am not using as as I have a dedicated, and very good Sanyo camera for that (which does poor still images, which only proves the point that every product can only excel at one thing).

PS. I've updated the firmware straight away as it seems there were some focus problems with earlier models.
PPS. There is a new contender for this camera coming - Fujifilm X10, but at £500 it will be quite a bit more expensive.
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on 13 April 2011
If you are in the slightest interested in this camera, do not hesitate: buy it! I have had Olympus cameras since 1977, and only film SLR or DSLR. I made a mistake, I forgot to stay forever young, and age and illness made the manipulation of lenses decidedly frustrating. Then Olympus produced this XZ-1 and all my problems were solved, without any loss in the enjoyment I get from using a camera. Sometimes it feels like the camera is using me, encouraging me to try different shots, different scene modes, different art-filter modes; that is a wonderful feeling and I hope you get to feel it.

The build quality is astounding, not far from what I expect to see on cameras costing twice the price or more, and the image quality is equally astounding.

If you have never used an advanced camera before, keep it simple, use only the automatic settings, and you will be very proud of yourself. Then bring in the more advanced functions as and when you feel you would like to add a dimension to your photography, and you will learn how to produce work which will transform you from "snapper" to "amateur photographer". If you are an experienced photographer, looking for an ever-ready compact to keep in a jacket pocket,(although I keep mine in my shirt pocket with the strap around my neck), even just a second camera, not only will the XZ-1 do what you want and better than you probably expected, it will amuse you.

A local marina was running an event for classic vessels, and they all look so beautiful in coarse grain effect black and white, thanks to the Grainy Film filter, while it was fun to accentuate the age difference between the classics and the newer vessels around the marina using the Pop Art Filter to make the colours, in particular the hulls and their reflections in the blue sea, literally "pop" out at the viewer. Anyone with this camera and just enough experience to use two of its special effects could have had as much fun as me, and produced equal or better results. Seriously!

A few tips: don't worry about significantly losing image quality of you need to turn the "digital zoom" on, since the camera is set up to create "RAW" picture files which allow for a lot of manipulation before image quality goes to the dogs; the memory card should be a class 6, size 16 or 32 giga-bytes; do not forget to attach the lens cap to the strap, using the provided loop, otherwise if you do not remove it before turning the camera on it will be removed by the lens, and you need it handy, not lost somewhere...

And visit the Amazon Community Photography discussions if you need more advice!
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on 17 March 2011
I wanted something lighter that my Nikon D300, and the XZ-1 is certainly that. A fantastic fast lens, which really operates in low light. I take pictures mostly RAW formats, which is one reason why I chose the XZ-1 but the JPEGS are excellent and the panorama is amazing! and the various 'Art' filters are fun.
I have only had it a few days, taken lots of photos the battery is still going strong, and I think its a great camera and everything I wanted especially in the quality of the pictures. I especially like the way the 1.8 lens gets a bitingly sharp subject and the background nicely out of focus.
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Colour Name: Black|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a former 'general snapper' (with a mid-range Sony Cybershot permanently set to 'Auto' mode) this represents something of a major `step up' for me in photography terms. Whilst this remains a 'compact' rather than a full SLR camera I found it to be an incredibly flexible camera loaded with features and options that allow a high degree of freedom and creativity (should you wish to use them).

Once charged (which takes several hours) you'll need to insert an SD card (not supplied) as the internal memory is very small indeed (however they're so cheap these days this isn't a major consideration: I bought this 8GB one).

There is a wide variety of shooting modes ranging from 'Auto' (automatic) through to fully customisable ones which allow you to alter shutter speed, aperture, ISO and so on. Additionally there are shooting aids such as stability control and face tracking (all of which can be turned on or off depending on your preference). The menu system that enables you to select various settings I initially found to be quite bewildering but stick with it as it will become more intuitive with practice. I strongly recommend that you take the trouble to read the manual on the accompanying software as I guarantee that you will overlook probably more than half of the features and capabilities of this camera if you don't (it may be long at over ninety pages but you'll be glad you did).

It wasn't long before I ditched the full 'auto' mode in favour of other more creative modes. That is not to say that the 'auto' mode is not sufficient for most tasks - it is (results even on this mode are generally very good) but this Olympus really comes into its own when used with a bit more effort from the user.

The images I have managed to produce so far are impressive; so impressive in fact that I flatter myself by thinking that if I hadn't taken them myself I'd assume they'd be the work of a pro (or pretty keen amateur at least). Images are incredibly sharp and have natural colour, the ability to adjust focal lengths gives pleasing differences to the depth of the pictures and the white balance (which I've not tinkered with so far) is that good that it takes fantastic pictures even in very low light conditions even without flash. I was particularly impressed with how well it takes portraits - even at extremely close 'super-macro' (less than 2cm) range. There are also a number of gimmicky 'art filters' such as `pin-hole camera effect', `soft focus' and so on but actually they're quite fun to use too. General settings for particular scene and daylight conditions (such as cloudy day/snow/sunny etc) can also be accessed via the dial on the top (which determines all shooting modes) which allows optimal settings for the shot but, should you wish to, these settings may be further tailored to your needs as necessary.

Truly this camera is very versatile and is probably the perfect bridge between a digital compact and a 'full' digital SLR camera (it wouldn't surprise me if camera enthusiasts have one of these as a 'back up' for their regular cameras). It's worth bearing in mind that this camera can also be enhanced through a range of accessories. For example you can accessorise this with the optional Olympus VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder that really enhances the clarity of the viewed image (`live' and in 'playback') and makes manual focusing that much more precise (at a cost mind: an eye-watering extra two hundred pounds). That being said the large 3" OLED (not LCD note) display on the rear of the camera is bright and crisp enough for most people (although may be harder to read in bright light conditions).

I should add that the only disappointing aspect of this camera was the supplied software which I have since uninstalled. Why? Well one of the photo-editing suites simply would not download form the disk on to either of my computers (they just 'gave up' half way through the process each time I tried). This I could live with as it was not the main photo-editing software that is supplied (that being Olympus's own 'Ib' software). I found the 'Ib' software itself slow and fiddly and the user interface unresponsive and generally annoying. I have now gone back to using Picasa3 which, while not being as fully featured, is a pleasure to use by comparison. Besides, because the images the XZ-1 produces are so good I have never once needed to edit them or retouch them anyway (other than cropping them).

In conclusion this is high quality, impressively built and engineered camera that is versatile and which - crucially - takes some cracking pictures. Whether you're a casual snapper (as I was) or someone wishing to take things to the next level I have no hesitation in recommending it. Brilliant.
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The following is my review of the XZ-1 which i've had for a good few days and have been using and enjoying!
It is the best digital compact I've ever used, and bar some niggles is worth every penny, I'll cut to the bottom line;

*** if you're looking for a compact carry anywhere stylish compact camera which produces brilliant photographs and is well built, cool looking and has a superb lens with auto as well as manual controls - nothing beats this! It beats the Canon S95 and the Lumix LX5!***

If you want to read my thoughts, read on...

The first thing that I notice is that it's larger than my previous digital compact (a Fuji F200EXR) looks better, feels better, more intuitive to use and is much quicker at everything!

I'm glad there's a normal lens cap, but a shame no filter thread to screw on a UV filter to protect the lovely lens.

It feels like a proper camera, so much so that I keep instinctively putting it to my eye expecting a Viewfinder!

I eventually slotted on my Contax G Finder (21mm finder but is more than adequate to compose the 28mm iZuiko with) and it now feels more natural.

I'm spoilt - my main camera is a Contax G and my main compact is a Contax Tvs III - both solid titanium and built like tanks - the XZ 1 isn't up to that standard. it is much better built than the Fuji F200EXR but I expected it to be - it's far more expensive for starters and it IS well built with a nice expensive look and feel.

The wobbly lens annoys me, so much so that i'm scared that if I merely bump it against anything it'll screw up - is it really fragile?

I wanted a digi compact as my Fuji died, for basic snaps, for the odd crafted photograph, and slip in the pocket carry round camera.

I don't use my Contax TVS this way as I never waste film on snaps - so digital is the sensible option.

taking photos with the XZ-1 is very nice, it's very quick to turn on, to focus (than the Fuji) and to set up.

it took me 2 minutes to set it up, and I didn't bother with the manual.
Piss easy to set up - everything is intuitive and ergonomically laid out - I set ISO 100, A priority, WB Shade, 1 centre focus point and centre weighted metering. File type and off I went! Menus are very well laid out and I can now switch it on and shoot without bothering with them unless I really need to, as the camera has saved my settings on A priority.

I didn't have any problems with it not having a dedicated ISO button - I only ever shoot in iso 100 anyway, and 200 or 400 if I want extra speed - but I doubtt I'll need 200 or 400 often.

The lens ring is brilliant - in Aperture priority its a simple matter of turning it!

Natural colour setting is great, punchy vibrant colours. The photo's come out well exposed and sharp - ok, there isn;t a huge amount of latitude, I think the F200EXR Fuji edges the Oly in terms of latitude as I have had a few washed out skies, in conditions where the Fuji managed some detail in the sky.

Pictures are sharp, well exposed, but 100% zoomed shows excessive noise reduction - but I don't care! Ok, I'm never going to get the quality my Contaxes give me, but I expected as much, and the camera ticks every box I purchased it for.

The shutter sound is pleasing, zooming is quick, Macro and super macro are also pretty good. Art filters are fun - I haven't used them properly as yet, but I've plenty of time for that.

Locking exposure is quick and easy and accurate - it works like Focus lock does and both lock simultaneously.

All in all, expensive, but a very good camera which can be used creatively and quickly, its well built, looks super cool, makes great photos and has a very fast versatile lens.

All it needs is a built in VF and it'd be hard to beat!!


I have realised RAW is the way to go - time consuming and a pain in the arse post processing in it (using Olympus Viewer) but the quality is better, there more control and most of all - there's more latitude with RAw and sharpness and less noise reduction as on Olympus XZ-1 in cam Jpegs.

Distant objects such as trees in a landscape look fuzzy with incam Jpegs, shooting in raw gives more detail!

So in cam Jpegs are pretty good for snaps but could do with less noise reduction for more controlled and composed photographs though for Portraits - SUPERB! Fill flash works a treat - It's just distant objects (such as distant trees in a landscape image) which suffer from excessive noise reduction - the lens has massive amounts of resolving power - as Macro photo's are extremely detailed!

I took it to South Wales and the Brecon Beacons this weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed using it!

I left it at ISO 100,The following I can tweak in RAW but I left it in Natural Colour, but chopped and changed WB from shadow to Auto. Nice and warm using shade WB setting.

I found the spot metering superb! Enabled me to grab some really good exposures, especially in doors - nice effects such as light from windows and lamps in a church.

The metering tends to be spot - of course you have got to shift the camera and lock exposure/focus to set it, but even so, the matrix evaluative metering is very good and almost foolproof.

The handling is brilliant - again, I was very impressed with the speed and silence with which you can switch it on and off!

The shutter has a wonderful cluck cluck sound and the camera really is a joy to use!

Macro and s.Macro are super detailed and sharp!

Exposures were very good, latitude - for a digi was pretty good too!
It's quick, accurate focus, I used it solely on Aperture priority mode and used it just like my Contax G - turning the ring depending upon which aperture I require - of course, I was thinking in 35mm terms, so most of the time I doubt it made any difference between f8 and f4 - but I'm a creature of habit!

It's a million miles better than my Fuji F200EXR - in every single way (though in terms of latitude, I think the Fuji has a slight edge - but then again, the Fuji has the edge at ISO 400 - and at ISO 100 ((my comfort zone)) the Oly blows the Fuji away!)


It NEEDS a VF. It really does - the ergonomics, handling and feel are very advanced/ very old skool too, I kept on wanting to put it to my eye (I soon removed the G finder as I couldnt be asked slotting it in and out when putting the cam into my pocket)

It also needs a dedicated WB button and could do with a dedicated ISO button and could do with a switch so one can shift from macro to normal.
Also it could do with another switch so one can shift from spor to matrix metering -

An exposure Lock button (rather than a focus/exposure combined) button would be nice - these buttons I have mentioned are essential for a compact which will be used by advanced photographers, they save time and effort and are an aid to quick sure shooting.

Apart from that, near as perfect a digital camera I've ever used!
Blows the Fuji away, and also blew away (in terms of handling and feel) my (now sold) Lumix GH1

If Olympus managed a decent (Ricoh GR1v sized) VF in thisit'd be very hard to beat!

With a version 2 Olympus could add on the dedicated buttons I mentioned and add a noise reduction feature so that jpegs aren;t processed too much (which is as mentioned always when you're photographing distant landscapes)

Adding a VF2 would be an option, but the big thing sticking out at the top beats the object of this camera and adds bulk - BUT for those wanting a VF I suppose it's the only option! :(

Unless Oly can design a smaller sleeker product to fit flush against the top surface.

****UPDATE AUGUST 15th 2011****

Well after a few months using this camera I can happily and gladly say that it is EXCELLENT!
I've worked out how to get THE BEST from it now, and the results are STAGGERING!! In general use (seeing as you're hardly going to print HUGE), providing you shoot RAW the results are comparable to any Digital Camera out there, DSLR or X100 anything.

Start up is very QUICK! From pressing the on button the lens SILENTLY extends and everything is ready - with your settings being stored.

The dynamic range is excellent - well controlled in RAW, the "Pin Hole' Art Filter is brilliant - I've included more examples of this.
The colour is outstanding, sharpness, everything!

It's a doddle to use and its SUPERIOR to any other digital compact out there - I've used the LX5 and S95 and seriously, this kills them!

The same short comings apply,in camera Jpegs are too processed - portraits and snaps are fine, but well crafted landscapes etc and for more control RAW is essential.
Wish there was dedicated button for ISO and White Balance and shifting from Macro to Normal.

All in all, well worth the money, and a creative choice for the creative photographer.

***UPDATE December 2011.***

Took it to the Hindu Kush mountains, and used it creatively to take portraits and some landscapes and candids - Brilliant! Excellent exposure latitude, sharp lens, beautiful colour (BETTER than a Fuji X100 colour or Sony) contrasty images, quick to turn on/off focus and shoot - check out the images;
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I've been a keen digital photographer from the early days and bought my first DSLR - the excellent Nikon D3000 two years ago. I love that camera however there are days when I want to "travel light" without sacrificing quality too much, hence my purchase of the XZ-1. I went for the white version as it's harder to lose in your bag and the slightly retro appearance appealed although you could hardly call this unit a looker with it's uncompromising straight edges and visible screws. The construction is solid but the finish looks like enamel paint that may scuff with mis-use although that isn't a deal breaker for me as I like to use my cameras, not look at them. It is worth comparing prices as the white model is often a few pounds cheaper than the silver or black at time of writing.

Out of the box you're up and running once the battery and (your own) memory card (sorry Nikon) is inserted. It comes with a full neck strap but even for a heavy (275g) and larger "compact" like the XZ-1 this is overkill and hardly pocket-friendly so the wrist strap was purloined from my old Powershot (sorry Canon). The battery charger is very small and discreet and plugs directly into the camera so you can still use it whilst charging. Charging from empty takes around 2-3 hours. If you've not used a DSLR you may often find the lens cap jumping off on power up but this could be solved with the purchase of an Automatic Open/Close Lens Cap  if it becomes a problem.

In use over 3-4 weeks I have really enjoyed getting to grips with this and enjoyed experimenting - something you have to do as no written manual is provided which is seriously annoying for a £300 piece of kit. Highlights for me include "Live Guide" i.e. the ability to "edit" e.g. blur/brighten/saturate shots before you take them. Not satisfied with the results then an excellent JPEG/RAW editing tool allows you to make changes after the event too. You can add a voice recording to each pic which could be useful to some. Picture quality has been clear and bright, a tribute to the quality lens and sensor. Macro and super macro modes are excellent though it would have been nice to have this as a quick option on the rather spartan dial, ditto sports and portrait. iAuto will put it into Macro mode (mostly) where appropriate and give you some excellent bokeh but more advanced users will want full control. The menu system I would describe as functional rather than intuitive or particularly attractive compared to recent Sony offerings.

I have had great fun with the panorama tool (see my images) simply take one picture and go left or right (for two more) lining up the dot in the circle on the screen and it automatically takes the subsequent shots for you. Get your kids to run into all three shots and you can produce some great fun photos and a steady hand (or a tripod) produces excellent landscape vistas although they do take a while to process and appear to drain the battery slightly quicker too.

The "Art" filters are a welcome addition, my favourites being the "dramatic" and "grainy black and white". As the video function is on it's own button you can record video in any of the six filters provided which increases the camera's creative capacity too. I don't actually use video much but it's worth noting that you can zoom while recording although you will hear the motor. The internal speaker is quite quiet so camera playback volume isn't great.

Pro's :
Excellent lens
Good performance
Build quality
Great features
Pre and post editing on the camera
Super macro enables shooting from very close up

Cons :
No written manual (pdf supplied on disc with some fairly good editing software)
Optical zoom is only 4x
Not very ergonomic
Not many quick select options on the dial

This is an excellent addition to my camera kit that compliments rather than replaces my Nikon. I would not describe it as over-designed or particularly beginner-friendly but the iAuto will do the trick in most situations for happy snappers and advanced users are well catered for. I miss the viewfinder (although this is an expensive option on the XZ-1) of the DSLR more than I thought I would, ditto an optional polaroid filter but also enjoy the great features and usability of the Olympus. If anything it's given me a new found respect for my D3000 and it will be a tough decision to choose which one to take out with me from now on.

** UPDATE ** I have also been lucky enough to use the Sony Cyber-shot HX10 which is slightly cheaper and worth considering. See my review on it's product page.
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