Hands On, Our First Impressions of the Olympus XZ-1

Take a tour of Olympus' new compact.

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The Olympus XZ-1 can most closely be compared to Panasonic's LX5. Not only are both cameras nearly identical in terms of size and weight, but both also feature a remarkably similar sensor and lens. The LX5’s sensor is 10.1MP while the XZ-1’s is 10MP. Likewise, the XZ-1 offers a 28-122mm 35mm equivalent zoom range with an f1/8 lens, while the LX5 offers a 24-90mm 35mm equivalent zoom range with an f/2 lens The camera itself feels solid in hand and features a very nicely weighted body. Its outer material has a bit of a tooth to it, giving a ruggedized feel. However, there is no rubber grip on the front of the camera, making one-handed shots a bit clumsy.Dan Bracaglia
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The first thing you will notice up top is the mode dial, which offers a total of nine different settings aimed at pleasing both the amateur and professional-level photographers alike. They include: Art Filter mode, Scene mode, Low Light mode, Custom Mode, Manual mode, Shutter Priority mode, Aperture Priority mode and Priority mode. Also on top are the zoom toggle, on/off switch, and hotshoe. All the way to the right (in this image) is the pop-up flash.Dan Bracaglia
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The XZ-1 features a well-sized and good-looking 3” 614,000-dot OLED screen. The dedicated video recording button is well placed for one’s thumb, located directly above and to the right of the rubber thumb grip. The XZ-1 also features a click wheel on the back, which can be used to change shutter speed in manual mode. But, on the preproduction model we examined, you have to press up on the clickwheel first (aka exposure compensation in all other modes) each time you want to use it to change the shutter speed. This was likely to avoid accidentally changing that setting, but we'd rather see the exposure compensation control lock and unlock the wheel in manual mode so you don't have to press it as much. Perhaps this will be changed through firmware at some point.Dan Bracaglia
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The bottom of the camera contains both the tripod thread and the latch to access the battery and SD card slot. While we would like to see a high-end compact like this offer a dedicated memory card slot, the shared one seems to be par for the course. It should also be noted that while the tripod thread is centered on the camera, it is off axis from the lens itself, which seems to be common on these high-end compacts (the LX5, P7000 and G12 are all guilty of this), yet very irritating.Dan Bracaglia
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Hidden inside of a latching plastic cover you will find your HDMI and USB ports. Also, the XZ-1 doesn't make you remove the battery to charge it. Instead, the camera comes with a small wall-wart style plug that attaches to the end of the USB cable. This should save you some space when packing the camera for vacations or other trips.Dan Bracaglia
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One of our favorite features of the Olympus XZ-1 is its around-the-lens click wheel that controls various settings depending on what mode you are shooting in. For example, when shooting in Aperture Priority mode, the wheel obviously toggles one’s f-stop. Likewise, when shooting in Scene mode, the dial allows you to toggle between different scene settings. Another nice touch of the click wheel is that when shooting in Custom mode, one can set exactly what they want the dial to control. Be sure to check back in soon for our full-blown test of this nifty little compact.Dan Bracaglia