Steve's Conclusion

By

Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for XZ-10_WHT_RIGHT.jpg
  • 12-Megapixel CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch, 960,000 dot Touch LCD Screen
  • 5x Optical zoom lens: 26-130mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Sensor Shift Image Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Hybrid Control Ring
  • Art Shooting Modes
  • Frame Composite Modes
  • Stereo Mic
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • Li-Ion Battery
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Command Dial and Hybrid Control Ring allow for fast and simple manual control
  • Excellent image quality 
  • Image Stabilization keeps handheld images sharp
  • Touch LCD is easy to operate and shows excellent detail
  • Outstanding shooting performance
Cons
  • Weak pop-up flash unit
  • Flash makes it tough to hold camera with 2 hands
  • Poor battery life
  • No external charging unit
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.7 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 to 4/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.86 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.16 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  5.88fps 
  • High Speed Burst = 20fps Medium resolution
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Stylus XZ-10 sports Olympus's top features and hardware, giving the user higher image quality and performance than ever before. Built to perform better than most compact digicams, Olympus succeeded in producing a compact digital camera with very high image quality.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for exceptional quality and performance from a compact camera. This works as an excellent alternative to carrying a dSLR.
Built for superior image quality from a compact camera, the Olympus Stylus XZ-10 iHS has been loaded with top of the line hardware and features to ensure the highest quality and usability. At the heart of the camera is a 12-Megapixel BSI, high sensitivity CMOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI image processor and a 5x optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 - f/2.7. These three features combine to become the iHS system that provides the amazing image quality and overall camera performance. This camera also features a 3.0-inch touch screen display with loaded with 920,000 dots of resolution, Full 1080p HD video recording, Hybrid Control Ring and a slew of creative features and shooting modes that will keep your creative side active for years to come. Olympus also included a fully automatic iAuto shooting mode to ensure that anyone can pick up this camera and use it to capture great images. 

Olympus combined a dSLR quality image processor, their TruePic VI, with a high sensitivity backside illuminated CMOS imaging sensor for overall outstanding image quality and performance. The 12-Megapixel HS CMOS handles collecting light in lower-light situations better than most sensors, while the processor works to decrease noise within the image as well. The processor also provides all of the power for the AF system and taking care of the scene and creative shooting modes as well. Olympus even took things one step further by adding the fantastic f/1.8-2.7 low-light zoom lens, which allows the camera to handle these situations better than most. 

With a very basic look and feel, it is pretty easy to overlook the XZ-10 at first glance, but the first time that you pick it up, the first thing that you will notice is its solid and comfortable build. Two very small grips on the camera make it easy to hold on to with your right hand. One hand is enough to operate this camera effectively and with the automatic pop-up flash unit on the far left edge, the two-handed pinch technique can be difficult if possible at all. If you know you will not be using the flash, then it will not be a problem. Manual control is fast and easy thanks to the command dial on the back combined with the hybrid control ring allow you to handle all aspects of manual control without using the menu system.

Framing and viewing your images is accomplished with the 3.0-inch, 920,000 Touch LCD screen. With 5 levels of brightness, the screen is easy to see in all situations. The touch screen also allows you to focus on and capture an image just by touching the point on the screen you will want to be in focus. 

Our outdoor image samples look fantastic, showing good exposure and fairly accurate colors. Shooting iAuto mode, the contrast within the images is a little high. Image noise and aberrations are controlled very well by the camera, giving the image a very clean look, even when you pixel peep at 100%. This also allows you to zoom and crop your images and still have good printable results. Composing your images is accomplished with the camera's wide 5x optical zoom lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 26mm-130mm, and the f/1.8 maximum aperture, Olympus has provided one of the nicest and best performing lenses we have seen on a compact digicam. The zoom range is fantastic for wide and group shots, while the telephoto end will get you a bit closer to a distant object. 

Our indoor samples give us a better look at the low-light quality that the camera is capable of producing. With long exposures and lower ISO settings, the camera produced excellent results in aperture priority mode. At all ISO levels, the noise levels are very low for each level. From ISO 100 to ISO 3200, not only are the noise levels low, but the images are acceptable for print. ISO 6400, while good for the setting, still shows more noise we would like to see for prints. iAuto mode used much higher ISO settings in order to keep the shutter speed fast enough to allow for handheld images, but at the same time, this added a lot of noise and took away from some of the fine details in the image.

Assisting with our indoor and low-light images is a small pop-up flash unit. This flash is not the most powerful unit in the world, but it offers far more control than most. TTL auto and manual controls give you the best of both worlds for both point-n-shoot users as well as more experienced photographers looking for the control of a dSLR or external flash unit. The flash itself can be turned down to as far as 1/64 power, which is great for fill and macro work. The camera also has the ability to control other Olympus external flash units for simple studio quality lighting. 

Shooting in either iAuto or Scene Portrait mode allows for incredibly easy portrait shots in any conditions. With the camera's face detection software, it will detect and track any faces within the frame as long as they do not completely turn away. Once a face is detected, the camera uses it for the basis of setting the exposure to guarantee that the face has the correct exposure over everything else in the image every time. Even in a lower light setting with the flash set to auto, the only available option besides off, the camera chose not to use the flash to keep the natural colors and skin tones for a very accurate image. 

Olympus provides a separate shooting mode just for creative photography, called their "Art" shooting mode. This mode features 11 creative scenes that give you popular creative looks, many of which we have become accustom to with Instagram. Styles like Soft Focus, Pin Hole and Diorama can all be found here. They have also included a frame composition mode, which combines 3 images together with a variety of display options. All of these scenes also feature slight adjustments or settings that allow you to change its look even further. The camera starts with a great, high quality image, and the TruePic VI processor applies the filter after the image is captured. This can slightly slow down the shot-to-shot performance as the processor works. We posted several of these scenes in our sample images, and were pleased with the results. 

As with our still image quality, our movie quality is excellent as well. Thanks to the dedicated video recording button, the camera is always ready to capture video, no matter what shooting mode it is currently in. Our captured movies play back flawlessly on both the camera and computer, making them a pleasure to watch. They can also be viewed on any HDTV with an optional HMDI cable. While recording, the camera's optical zoom is fully available, for increased creativity and versatility. The camera did an excellent job of picking up the audio from our subject, but as you can easily hear the water and dog, the background noises are very loud as well. To get the best out of your movies, try to stay out of the wind and away from anything else that makes noise. The less noise around you, the better your movies will sound. 

Powering the XZ-10 is a 3.7V, 925mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. During our tests we were able to capture over 100 images and several short videos on a single charge with plenty of power left to spare. This fits well with Olympus's claims that it is capable of capturing up to 240 images on a charge. At 240 images, the camera has a decent battery life for day to day use, but if you will be shooting for long periods of time, you will want to keep a spare battery charged and on hand. This is a little more difficult, since Olympus just includes a USB adapter to charge the battery inside the camera instead of supplying you with an external battery charger, but it is still possible. 

Bottom Line - Olympus's Stylus XZ-10 is a compact and powerful digicam. Sporting some of their most powerful features, including the TruePic VI processor, this camera will provide better performance and image quality than most compact cameras. It has also been created to be incredibly easy to operate in any mode, including manual mode with the command and hybrid dials for setting controls. With a MSRP of US $399.99, this is a good price for a higher end compact model, and well worth the money.


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