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Field Review: Olympus XZ-1 (Day 2)

by Chris Gampat on 04/06/2011

The other day I was in Union Square when I stumbled upon Emu eggs. Taking advantage of this awesome opportunity, I quickly snapped photos of them with the Olympus XZ-1. The first impressions of the camera were still holding strong, but does the image quality seem up to par?

First off, note that all images in this story were shot in RAW and then processed in Adobe Lightroom 3.

RAW File Versatility

The opening image is the result of adding fill light, raising the contrast, and the clarity a bit. That comes from what the original file was down below.

Oh right, and I cropped it quite a bit. Considering the fact that this camera has a 10MP sensor, it is able to still keep lots of detail for web images. That’s totally alright with me, I’m almost never making prints.

Here is another unedited image. As you can see a good portion of the image is still very dark. So what will happen when we add a gradient to raise the exposure in the dark area and then we use the paint brush tool or burn the chicken egg a bit?

Most people would not be able to tell that the above image was edited. And indeed, the raw files are still very versatile and can still keep lots of detail and color.

Dynamic Range

Here’s another original. I tried editing the image and tweaking the color balance in Lightroom 3.

This was the best I could get. So I tried it again.

Here’s another original.

And here is the edit. With all this said, I can conclude that the dynamic range is lacking a bit, but that the color depth is actually very good. In fact, it beats out the Canon S95 and Leica D-LUX 5.

Perhaps the Canon S95′s dynamic range is a bit better, but the Leica doesn’t seem like it can touch the Olympus at all.

In terms of sharpness, the Olympus Zukio lens seems very sharp.

Then I came across the above data. And none of it made sense to me. Sure the S95 has some nice color, but it’s not beating the XZ-1 in my opinion. I’ll be putting the three cameras head to head to head soon.

So what does this all mean to you? For a professional that wants a small camera to shoot great images, the image quality is very up to par and if you accept that you’re using a point and shoot you won’t have much of a problem at all. Color accuracy is the best I’ve seen in any Olympus camera (even in low light.)

For the enthusiast and hobbyist: this is a darn good choice. Most of your market segment seems to shoot n JPEG. In that case, you’ll be very happy. If you’re shooting in RAW, just know that you have some versatility, but don’t expect the versatility of a DSLR’s raw files because of the small sensor size.

Either way, you’ll love the Olympus XZ-1.

More to come in the field review!

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