Olympus Stylus XZ-2

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The Olympus Stylus XZ-2 is the company’s flagship high-performance point-and-shoot camera. Olympus calls it a hybrid, with the manual controls of a DSLR and the convenience of a lightweight compact.

It inherits the 4x optical / 4x digital zoom iZuiko Digital f/1.8-2.5 lens (28-112 mm equivalent) found on its predecessor, the XZ-1. New features: a hybrid control ring; a new fast, touch-sensitive tilt screen; TruePic VI image processor; Full HD movie recording; and FlashAir compatibility to share images immediately on social networks.

The camera’s iHS technology and the large-aperture lens work together to deliver high-sensitivity, low noise and fast auto-focus performance, delivering what Olympus says is the highest image quality of any its compact cameras.

The newly developed 12.0-megapixel, high-sensitivity back-lit CMOS sensor, working with the TruePic VI processor (same as in the OM-D E-M5), provides faster recovery time and shutter release to capture images with true-to-life colours, rich details and low noise, says Olympus.

The camera’s low-light mode automatically adjusts the ISO sensitivity up to ISO 12,800 to take sharp, full-resolution photos in dim conditions, and an easily accessible built-in pop-up flash and AF illuminator brightens low-lit subjects, reduces red-eye and fills in dark areas.

Now what’s this control ring all about? Built around the lens, it allows users to easily assign function settings to their preferences as well as switch between analog and digital operation of the ring.

The digital operation provides a solid click on controls, whereas the analog operation offers a smooth, gliding feeling.

When the Fn 2 lever next to the lens is placed downward, the ring around the lens switches to analog control so it can be used as a focus or a zoom ring. If the lever is placed at an angle, the ring around the lens switches to digital control to change exposure-related settings. This feature enables fine-tuning of the focus in macro, composition selection when shooting, and exposure adjustment all without looking away from subjects.

Basic operations and settings of the XZ-2, starting with touch controls and Live Guide, as well as a new graphic user interface, will be familiar to PEN and OM-D shooters. Instantly activate the Touch AF Shutter function to select the subject you want to focus on and activate the shutter by touching the swivel 3.0-inch LCD screen. The XZ-2 design is enhanced with a removable grip.

Also part of the package are Dual IS, which combines with high-sensitivity shooting to reduce camera shake and subject blur, providing double image stabilization; HDR backlit correction, which captures multiple images with a single shot at different exposures and automatically merges them into one image; and Super Resolution technology to expand zoom power up to eight times with minimal image degradation. iAuto mode automatically identifies up to 30 different scenes. The XZ-2 also features 11 art filters and 5 art effects.

There’s 1080p Full HD movie capability with stereo sound. Multi-Motion Movie IS image stabilization corrects for the common gradual camera shake that occurs when shooting on the move, delivering more stable, higher-quality movies. MOV/H.264 compression is used.

Using the smartphone connection function, simply set up a compatible Toshiba FlashAir SDHC card with an internal wireless LAN to make a Wi-Fi connection. With the Olympus Image Share smartphone application , easy image upload onto a smartphone via a thumbnail index, adding art filters to images on a smartphone, and sharing images on various social networking services is possible.

There are three alternative grips, in red, beige and purple.

The Olympus XZ-2 will be available in November.

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