Field Review: Olympus XZ-1 (Day 3)

The Olympus XZ-1 has proven that the raw files have decent versatility already after some initial impressions, but how are the high ISOs on this powerful little point and shoot camera? I took the camera to a concert and this time I wasn’t right up against the stage. I was back behind a bunch of people the same way many people often are.

All of these images were edited in Adobe Lightroom 3 and processed for white balancing and noise reduction. I was often shooting at ISO 3200 and 6400 on the camera.

Though the images from the Olympus XZ-1 are very grainy, you can see that the colors captured are still very good for most people that want to buy a point and shoot camera.

Throughout the show, I was shooting at F/1.8 to F/2.5 with image stabilization on. With people bumping me back and forth and my hands outstretched, I’m going to go ahead and say that the Olympus XZ-1 has some of the best image stabilization I’ve ever seen on a point-and-shoot camera, ever. Though I haven’t tested it after drinking six cups of coffee to simulate a jittery photographer, I’d be confident to carry this camera with me in almost any low-light situation.

There was actually quite a bit of editing done to the above photo: I added a vignette, fixed the colors, tried to lower the noise a bit, and raised the recovery since it was blown out. In the hands of a good editor, the XZ-1’s image files can really start to shine. Though I will admit that when I looked at the back of the camera’s LCD screen to see the results I was getting, the LCD screen made them seem a lot better than what I got on the computer. And that was a bit disappointing.

Here’s what an image at ISO 6400 looks like without editing at all. That’s a lot of grain.

The image above was very, very blue. But by manually white balancing this image, I was able to get something that was able to bring out some of the more natural colors that the camera was capable of capturing.

Our conclusions:

– If you aren’t extremely picky about your image quality, the Olympus XZ-1 is more than capable.

– The RAW files are fairly versatile.

– The camera captures lots of color and the raw files are easily tweaked in post-production.

– High ISOs can be very grainy.

– The fast lens stays sharp throughout the zoom range.

– The XZ-1 has the best image stabilization of any point-and-shoot camera I’ve ever tested.

So, what do you think? Is the Olympus XZ-1 for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.