The Olympus Stylus XZ-2: Second generation high-end compact brings brightest lens in its class right across the zoom range
Looking for the holy grail of optical brilliance with the manual controls one might expect on a DSLR, yet packed within the lightweight chassis of a compact camera? Building on the success of the Micro Four Thirds format and its popular PEN series, Olympus has introduced the latest generation of its game changing premium 'XZ' series compact in the stunning Olympus Stylus XZ-2. The new camera, succeeding the highly-acclaimed XZ-1, features a brightest in class lens that delivers the goods right across the zoom range.
Ideal for photo enthusiasts and professionals looking for a smaller back-up camera to their digital SLR, this time around the XZ-2 features a tilting, touch sensitive screen and customizable controls that make it easier for ambitious photographers to arrive at their desired image.
This beautiful compact camera also includes a powerful TruePic VI image processor, Full HD movie recording and newly added FlashAir™ compatibility for sharing images directly with your social network. Free iOS and Android software downloads for editing and sharing imagery via smartphone and/or computer are also provided.
Stylish successor, beautiful 'bokeh'
The XZ-2 is the flagship model in Olympus' new Stylus range of digital cameras, a family that has superb image quality as its prime objective. A case in point is that this model features an i.ZUIKO DIGITAL lens, offering a bright/fast aperture of f/1.8 at 28mm wide angle setting (in 35mm equivalent). What is perhaps even more remarkable is that the camera retains much of this brightness even with magnification, for example registering an unbeatable 1:2.5 at maximum 4x optical zoom.
The effects of the above are that attractive background defocusing and sophisticated 'bokeh' effects can be achieved when photographing portraits and still life. Thanks to the bright lens, short exposure times can be used even in low light while avoiding the customary image blur you might expect to witness from lesser specified cameras.
The large aperture lens combines with the 12.3 megapixel 1/1.7-inch high sensitivity back-lit CMOS sensor and the same TruePic VI image processor used in Olympus' top-end interchangeable lens OM-D camera. Factor in a light sensitivity range that extends all the way to ISO12800, plus a dedicated Low Light mode for sharper, more atmospheric imagery, and you have a camera that delivers rich detail and low noise.
In fact the range of creative opportunity open to prospective owners of the XZ-2 is quite considerable, with the ability to frame up everything from wide expansive landscapes to macro close ups as near as 1cm.
Compact dimensions, DSLR-like control
Despite the innovative technology and optical excellence on display, the XZ-2 remains very usable, thanks to, among other features, a customisable hybrid control ring to enable faster and more intuitive operation with both digital and 'analogue' options, with a catch next to the ring allowing users to toggle between them. This provides swift access to favourite camera settings, and without taking an eye off their subject, photographers can use the ring to adjust the zoom or focus, or even fine tune key program parameters.
Further DSLR-style hands-on control is provided via the ability to also assign favourite digital functions to a second button on the back of the camera. Multi aspect ratios are additionally offered for those who want to experiment with the different formats: 16:9, 3:2, 4:3 or 1:1.
Lightning swift auto focus is achievable with a simple tap of the 920,000 dot resolution 3-inch LCD, which can be tilted to easier allow shooting from low or high angle vantage points that would be impossible to accurately achieve with a standard fixed LCD screen.
Integral creativity via 11 Art Filters, plus plentiful accessories
The freedom to explore your creativity is the Olympus Stylus XZ-2's raison d'etre. Photographers can apply a choice of 11 Art Filters to video and stills and then post the results using your familiar smartphone interface and wirelessly too, thanks to the inclusion of a wireless FlashAir™ SD card. Eye-Fi card and SDHC and SDXC card compatibility is further provided.
This time around the 11 Art Filters comprise Cross Process, Diorama, Dramatic Tone, Gentle Sepia, Grainy Film, Key Line, Light Tone, Pale & Light Colour, Pin Hole, Pop Art and Soft Focus. Furthermore, Art Filter Bracketing is offered, allowing for the generation of multiple versions of a single subject showing different picture modes and Art Filter digital effects.
Although not a system camera per se, the XZ-2's usability can be expanded upon via an accessory port at the back and a wide range of useful and practical accessories. These include a matching external flash, electronic viewfinder, external stereo microphone, body jacket, and, from November 2012, underwater housing (PT-054) that keeps the elements at bay even as deep as 45 metres. To top it all off there's even a sleek matching lens cap that opens and closes automatically whenever the camera is activated.
The optional premium combination leather case for the XZ-2 comes equipped with an integrated belt loop. It perfectly fits the shape of the XZ-2 and protects your beloved camera from knocks and scratches.
1080p Full HD movies with Multi Motion Movie IS
Full HD 1920x1080 pixels video capability is now provided as standard on the XZ-2, along with the ability to capture stereo audio. Offered alongside is Olympus' Multi-motion Movie IS technology to allow the recording of Full HD movies with reduced blur whilst walking.
Also helping to banish blur is a removable grip. This can be personalised with a choice of three alternative colours in red, beige and purple.
Touch AF places photographic control at your fingertips
With the Olympus Stylus XZ-2, great photography is literally at your fingertips. The camera features Touch AF, cleverly allowing the user to automatically determine where the camera should focus by touching that position or subject on the camera's back screen.
Naturally the camera also includes user friendly features such as Olympus' acclaimed Live Guide, which allows the effects of making adjustments to be previewed in real time on the LCD before a shot is actually taken, plus i-Auto mode for pure point and shoot operation, meaning this is a camera that both beginners and experts can enjoy.
Ultra bright, ultra easy and ultra high quality: that's the Olympus Stylus XZ-2.
The Olympus XZ-2 is available in black.