The Olympus XZ-1 is the latest advanced creative compact, featuring an enviable specification and packed with high end features. Could this be the best pocketable enthusiast compact yet made?
Olympus XZ-1 review – Design
The Olympus XZ-1 is a svelte and attractive camera. Despite the protrusion of the lens it’s small enough to fit comfortably into, say, a blazer pocket, and at just 275g is light enough not to be a burden to carry. The body is made from a combination of aluminium and plastic and comes in a choice of matte black or gloss white. Although the white version is perhaps the more eye catching of the two, the shiny surface makes it a little less secure to hold, especially in view of the fact that the XZ-1 lacks any kind of grip or body contouring. A grip would have been good, or at least a groove in the front for the index finger.
The mode dial occupies the right hand edge of the top plate, next to the shutter and, although well placed, is easily knocked into a different mode. It could do with being a bit stiffer. The flash rises from the left side of the top plate, and between the two, directly above the lens axis, is a raised platform housing both the hotshoe, for an external flash, and the Accessory Port, which accommodates the optional electronic viewfinder, external microphone or macro lights from the Pen system. The ability to attach the VF-2 viewfinder in particular gives the XZ-1 a huge advantage over most competitors except for the LX5, which also has this facility, although this option costs an extra £200.
The back of the camera is dominated by the big, 3in 610k-dot OLED screen. Also used in the rival Samsung EX1, OLED screens offer better brightness and contrast than LCD technology, as well as a wider viewing angle and lower power consumption.
On the right of the camera is a dedicated movie recording button next to a small rubber thumb grip, below which is a rear control dial that doubles as a four-way D-pad. Inside this the ‘OK’ button provides direct access to the key image settings. The only other buttons are the Play, Menu and Display Info buttons. A door on the right side provides access to the mini HDMI port for connection to a TV, and a USB port through which the battery is charged in-camera. The li-Ion battery and SD card slot are accessed via a door in the bottom. The XZ-1 is SDHC and SDXC compatible.