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Olympus XZ-10 review: Olympus XZ-10

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Olympus rates the battery at 240 shots.

Image quality

Photos produced by the XZ-10 are generally good. Colours are true-to-life without being oversaturated, and the lens is quite sharp and able to resolve a decent amount of detail. There are some caveats though.

The XZ-10's lens displays quite a lot of chromatic aberration, especially when shooting at the wide end and at f/1.8. This is exhibited as purple fringing or colour shifts on areas of strong contrasts between light and dark.

Unfortunately, unlike other cameras with similar lens specs like the Canon PowerShot S110, these lens issues are noticeable even when inspecting images at reduced magnification, and would take a lot of work in post-processing to clean up. The chromatic aberration is most pronounced when shooting in low-light situations, which is a shame considering that this should be the real strength of this camera.

Even in a photo resized for web use at 600 pixels wide, you can still clearly see the chromatic aberration, which shows up as purple fringing. A 100 per cent crop is inset. It looks like the lights are purple — trust us, they're not.
(Credit: CBSi)

An example of the picture frames that you can put together using the photo montage option. Click for larger. (Credit: CBSi)

That said, the XZ-10 does perform well in low-light, especially when it comes to the image stabilisation system and colour rendering from longer exposures. If you do want to use this camera predominantly in low-light at f/1.8, you can get very good results — it's just a matter of making sure to mitigate any instances where chromatic aberration might occur.

Automatic white balance under artificial and indoor lighting is a little warm, but not wildly inaccurate. At the wide-angle (26mm), there is a little barrel distortion, but it can be corrected in post. Images are relatively clean and noise-free up to ISO 400, when noise starts to creep in on images. At ISO 800, there are some very small colour shifts occurring, which continues as the sensitivity increases up to ISO 6400.

Video quality is reasonable, with smooth movement, however the video image exhibits the same problem as the still images — plenty of chromatic aberration. The slow motion mode (second video below) is lots of fun, with this particular clip shot at 120fps.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/30, f/1.8, ISO 800

Exposure: 1/250, f/2.8, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/100, f/2, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/30, f/1.8, ISO 400

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

We're not quite sure what user group the XZ-10 is targeted towards. For starters, it has a bright f/1.8 lens, but it has been paired here with a reasonably small 1/2.3-inch sensor. Then there's the photo montage feature, which seems to be targeted towards entry-level users, but then the camera has RAW capture and full manual exposure controls.

In sum, the XZ-10 is a very nice pocket-sized camera with lots of advanced features, but it does have some image quality issues that could frustrate advanced photographers.

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