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ISO comparison 100-800

These are 100 percent crops from the center of our test scene. All things considered, the image quality from the XZ-2 iHS is excellent. The lens is nice and sharp, colors are natural, and noise, though present even at ISO 100, is kept under control without sacrificing detail straight through to ISO 800. Since the lens remains reasonably bright even when fully zoomed in and the camera has very good image stabilization, you can actually avoid using its higher ISO settings indoors or in low light.

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ISO comparison 1600-12800

Using the ISO settings above 800 is something you should avoid. As long as you don't need to enlarge or heavily crop, fine detail and noise are well-balanced at ISO 1600, making it usable at smaller sizes. I wouldn't go above that, though as details and colors take a noticeable turn for the worst. Shooting in raw and doing the processing yourself is your best bet in this case, and really in all cases where you might want to do a heavy crop or print at large sizes.

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Raw to rescue highlights

While controlling noise or fixing color are certainly reasons to shoot in raw or raw plus JPEG, it can also be used to rescue detail lost to blown-out highlights. Though this can be done with just the JPEG, too, you get better results working from the raw file.

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Raw to rescue shadow detail

Details lost in shadows can also be rescued more easily when working from a raw capture.

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Backlight HDR

For still subjects, the camera also has a Backlight HDR scene mode. It takes several shots and combines them to correct for difficult exposures. The XZ-2 also has two- and three-frame exposure bracketing if you prefer to do the HDR work yourself.

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Color modes

The XZ-2 has five color modes to choose from: Vivid, Natural, Portrait, Muted, and Monotone. The shots in this slideshow were taken with Natural, but here you can see that Vivid (right) gives you punchier colors with higher contrast.

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Art filters

The XZ-2 has 11 of Olympus' Art filters available to experiment with. What's nice is if you have the camera set to raw plus JPEG, you get the filtered and unfiltered versions. Take a closer look (Note: The bottom right frame was taken in iAuto mode for reference.)

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Full-resolution sample (28mm)

This image and the remaining slides are available for download at full resolution via the links below each image. These are large files, though, so they might take several seconds to download and open.

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Full-resolution sample (112mm)

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Full-resolution sample (ISO 200)

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Full-resolution sample (ISO 800)

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Full-resolution sample

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Full-resolution sample

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Full-resolution sample

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Full-resolution sample

This is a processed raw version of the previous slide taken at ISO 1000. View at full size.

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Full-resolution sample

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Full-resolution sample

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