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Friday, January 7, 2011

Olympus XZ-1 Cometh....


Woohooo!!!! Finally, my dream camera has arrived.

Last Sunday I was told by one of Olympus sales rep that the XZ-1 was already in the office; albeit being the pre-production units. I was elated to say the least. Then, Olympus announced it yesterday, and I quickly asked if there's a test unit available. Sadly, all units are now in the nationwide roadshow; and I have to wait if there's a unit available. So, my comments for the XZ-1 will be highly hypothetical combined with real experience of using the LX-3 and S90 compacts.

If you have been following my blog for the past year, I have been expressing my wowness to the Canon S90. And, to snub the Olympus PEN series suggested my angst towards the lack of real compactness; which is to have a camera that is really pocketable with a standard bright zoom lens.

Thus, I got the S90 instead of any of the PENs and loved the camera so much. At the same time, using a Canon seemed realize my inner conflict to keep this blog true to the Zuiko name. In effect, I don't post many of the S90 photos here. A rather sad thing really...

Alas, come yesterday, I am rejoicing. No more the hesitant blogger. The compact Zuiko (named as iZuiko) has finally come. Thru-the-eye-of-Zuiko will be 100% pure again.

Well, other than just praising the camera with glowy fanboyish praise, what really makes this compact tick?

To me, it boils down to the lens. Simply, it's a Zuiko. To know one is to use one.

The legendary Tatsuno quality should be inherent in this camera, I believe it carries the highest quality coating and most sublime polishing technique; to be true with the E-system Zuikos. To be fair, the S90 optics is no slouch; but, comparing the speed and length of the iZuiko, the S90 seemed to be handicapped significantly. (I have to admit that my fanboyism towards Zuikos are really apparent here). But, if you remember a few blogs back where I actually dissed the PENs and mZuikos and opted for the S90 was a real surprise even for myself.

The camera is gorgeous looking. Simply stunning. The lines exhibit the PEN influence, and the placement of the photography-critical buttons is made simple.

There are so many things to like about the XZ-1. Coming from the S90, I welcome the creative use of the lens ring as a dial to complement the rear dial. This what really made me love the S90, the handling is so tactile to the DSLR shooter.

The iZuiko Digital 6-24mm F1.8-2.5 lens

This lens is bright. With the equivalent focal length of 14-56mm in the 4/3 format, this compact has a crop factor of 2.3x. The large aperture starts at f1.8 and stays up to f2.2 at nearly 3/4 of the focal length is very impressive. Compared to the S90 lens which stepped down so fast to f2.5 at it's first 1/3 focal length, this Zuiko really shakes the boat.

Why is it so important to me? Well, most indoor shooting requires sub f2.8 aperture to hold at least ISO400 with a respectable shutter speed to maintain image sharpness. The XZ-1 excels at this for the whole focal range.

Although it is a small compact, if we think about Depth-of-Field, by using a simple conversion factor, the XZ-1 should have a similar performance as the m.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 on the PENs. Looking at the f1.8-2.5 and multiply with 2.3x, this lens has a DoF range of f4.1-5.8. Not bad actually, after considering its size.

High Sensitivity 1/1.63" CCD Sensor

To couple the bright lens, the XZ-1 has a large, highly sensitive 10MP CCD sensor. Why CCD? Well, I won't know for sure, since the 4/3 and m4/3 uses nMOS sensors. But, what I know is that it is huge for a compact. This bids well for low-light shooting. With the Canon S90, I have little trouble shooting at ISO800, and I believe high ISO performance will be at least similar, if not better!!

Along with the E-5, the XZ-1 shares the same digital image processor the latest TruePicV. All I have is praise for this processor. As an E-5 shooter, this little piece of sand has really milked every pixel sharpness out of the Zuiko lenses. And I can only say that XZ-1 is one lucky camera to have it with the ultra fast i.Zuiko zoom.

And, it also has 6 ART FILTERS, with the latest addition DRAMATIC TONES that is released in the E-5. Samples of this effect can be seen in my previous blog entries.

Well, I think I have said enough... Most of my observations are theoretical and comparative. In the end, it all boils down to usability. A good camera makes you want to use it. And the S90 has served me well till now. Moving on, it will be put on sale pretty soon. I know the XZ-1 is the next step forward. It's time to be a true Zuikoholic again!!!

Full Specifications: CLICK HERE

p/s: Actually, I just pre-ordered one. With the price at RM1,699, it's quite steep. But I can guarantee that it is worth it!!


Kyle @ Photo-Ventura said...

You make me THRILLED that i recently bought this camera (still waiting for delivery, oh, counting the days...!) Seeing your pictures confirms that it's the right choice in a compact camera. Can't wait to start using it... I also got this attachment: so that I can add a circular polarising filter, which i used on my Olympus E410 DSLR to take some stunning pictures of the desert in Western Australia: . Being able to use the same on a compact is very exciting!

Thru-the-Zuiko said...

Thank you. I hope you enjoy it. Indeed a very good compact cam.