Olympus XZ-10 review: Olympus XZ-10

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Wireless flash control. Impressively low shutter lag times and fast AF. Art filters and photo montage for fun effects. Fast f/1.8 lens with rotating ring to change options.

The Bad Lens exhibits plenty of chromatic aberration. Short battery life.

The Bottom Line With great features like a fast f/1.8 lens and slow-motion video, the XZ-10 will win the hearts of photographers who want a pocketable camera. There are some image quality issues though, and battery life is short.

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When it comes to high-end compact cameras, Olympus has a pretty good pedigree. Models like the XZ-1 and XZ-2 featured bright lenses and plenty of manual controls. Now the XZ-10 steps in, priced (and sized) less than the premium camera, but with a whole range of features.

Design and features

Befitting a camera at the higher-end of the compact spectrum, the XZ-10 comes with full manual exposure controls on the mode dial at the top. This also gives access to a number of other photo options including automatic, art filters and scene modes. There is also a photo montage option, which has various different framing arrangements to choose from, allowing users to stitch photos together side-by-side or in a grid configuration.

Olympus has fitted this camera with a nice and fast 5x zoom f/1.8 lens, which closes down to just f/2.7 at the telephoto end. Like the earlier XZ cameras, this model features a rotating ring around the lens element. Twist it around, and depending on which mode you are in, adjust parameters such as aperture and shutter speed on the fly.

The rotating ring that surrounds the lens element.
(Credit: CBSi)

The sensor is a 12-megapixel CMOS model at 1/2.3 inches, which is not as large as those found on other high-end compacts, like the Sony RX100 or Canon PowerShot S110. At the back, a 3-inch touchscreen with 920,000 dots is bright and easy to see in direct light. The touchscreen also means that features like touch to focus and shoot are available.

Video recording is provided at 1080/30p, 720/30p or 720p at 120fps for slow-motion capture in MOV format. The latter option is only capable of recording clips at a maximum of 20 seconds. For even more slow-motion capture, the XZ-10 reduces the resolution to 432x324 at 240fps, again only for a maximum of 20 seconds.

In the hand, the XZ-10 is comfortable to hold, though buttons and dials are on the smaller side. Overall, the camera is small enough to easily slide in a pocket without too much trouble. A pop-up flash completes the rest of the external specifications, and it can also be used as a trigger for wirelessly controlling other flash units from the camera.

Olympus has chosen to carry across the same user interface as found on its Pen series of interchangeable lens cameras. This means that the menus are graphics-heavy, with easy to understand options within. The XZ-10 doesn't have Wi-Fi capabilities built-in, though it is compatible with Flash Air cards that allow for wireless photo and video transfer to mobile devices. The camera can shoot JPEG and RAW files, the latter in the Olympus ORF format.

Like the Pen cameras, the XZ-10 comes with 11 art filters running the gamut from cross process and diorama, to gentle sepia and grainy film.

Examples of the art filters at work, including cross-process, black-and-white, pin hole and dramatic tone.
(Credit: CBSi)

The XZ-10 comes with USB and micro-HDMI output, and takes SDXC cards (also UHS-I compatible).

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 1.20.40.70.1
    Panasonic Lumix LX7
  • 1.50.610.1
    Olympus XZ-10
  • 1.71.22.40.3
    Samsung EX2F
  • 2.50.210.2
    Pentax MX-1
  • 2.5110.1
    Sony RX100

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 11
    Panasonic Lumix LX7
  • 10
    Samsung EX2F
  • 8
    Sony RX100
  • 5
    Olympus XZ-10
  • 4.5
    Pentax MX-1

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

In the highest continuous shooting mode, at a reduced resolution of 1920x1440, the XZ-10 can push out 15 JPEG frames per second up to a maximum of 53 shots in one burst. It then takes the camera approximately 8 seconds to process and be ready for shooting again.

In regular continuous shooting mode, the XZ-10 can capture 5 JPEG frames per second at full resolution for a maximum of 22 shots. It then takes the camera 15 seconds to clear this burst.

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Where to Buy

Olympus XZ-10

Part Number: CNETOLYMPUSXZ-10

Typical Price: $499.00

See manufacturer website for availability.