Random Thoughts

Canceled Olympus XZ-1 order

Written by Gail Bjork

The Olympus XZ-1, despite having outstanding features, lacks some I consider quite important. Perhaps you will too.

When the Olympus XZ-1 was first announced, I was so excited that I preordered the camera. But after reading more about it, decided to cancel the order.

What is most attractive about the XZ-1 is that it has very fast lens throughout the entire zoom range ( F1.8-2.5). It’s the fastest lens currently available among premium compact digital cameras.

It also has one of the longest and, in my opinion, most versatile zoom ranges in its class: 28-112mm equivalent (4X). Some premium, low light compacts have wider angle lenses but have shorter zooms.  It has a very sharp lens and produces well-exposed photos with pleasing colors.

As reviews come out about the XZ-1, by both professionals and users, I’ve come to realize that it is not the camera for me. It lacks features I use often and consider quite important, and maybe you do too.

Mind you, the reviews of the XZ-1 are very good overall so it’s important to know that some of the features I expect on a high-end compact digital camera may be different than your expectations.  You decide:

  • No AE/AF Lock – the real deal killer for me as I use AE/AF Lock a lot
  • Can not customize buttons
  • ISO and White Balance settings need to be accessed through the menu
  • Noise level can not be adjusted
  • Prefer the smaller, more compact size of a camera such as the Canon S90/95.
  • Fully removable pull-push lens cap is an inconvenience

Other concerns about the XZ-1

Ergonomics of the XZ-1

The camera has no built-in grip and the matte finish on the camera can be slippery. I’ve been through this once before with the Canon s90, and I don’t want to do it again.

Custom grip available

However, Richard Franiec has come to the rescue again and produced a custom grip for the XZ-1. If you find the camera too slippery or a challenge to hold, the grip will greatly improve its handling and ergonomics.

Poor Auto ISO

It’s also been reported that when set to Auto ISO, the XZ-1 always selects ISO 200 as the minimum sensitivity. If you want to shoot ISO 100, the only option is to take the camera off Auto ISO and set the ISO manually. One of the strengths of compact digital cameras with larger sensors is that Auto ISO is often worth using. So I view the inability to use Auto ISO on the XZ-1 as a serious flaw.

Don’t misunderstand this concern as suggesting that the high ISO capability is poor. On the contrary, it is very good considering the XZ-1 is a compact camera.

XZ-1 firmware updates

Of course, Olympus may issue firmware updates to correct these problems. If and when that happens, I’ll reconsider buying the camera. To keep informed about firmware updates for the XZ-1, check here.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

2 Comments

  • Just want to tell you that the ISO will not be always set to 200 when the AUTO ISO is on, it will use a higher ISO automatically if the enter a darker area or in a low light area. Thanks!