Digital Cameras Guide
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Introduction, Design and Handling
It's probably safe to say that it's raining advanced compacts! The digital camera scene has never been flushed with as many options as there are now. To recap, this range of cameras appeal to users who demand reasonably good image quality with manual controls in a compact body without concern for lens attachments. Each major camera manufacturer has its own representative in this market segment, and Olympus’ current ambassador is the XZ-2 that we recently reviewed. So color us surprised when we spotted the XZ-10 at CP+ earlier this year.
At first glance the XZ-10 appears to be a smaller version of the XZ-2, so why would Olympus see the need to release two high-end compact cameras? And is the XZ-10 truly just a smaller XZ-2? Join us as we find out the answers to all these questions. For those who've not read our review of the XZ-2 previously, it would be beneficial to check it out as we will be making extensive comparisons and notes based on it. In any case, we've summed up their key specifications right after the photo jump.
Design and Handling
Sporting a well-built metal body, the XZ-10 is pretty standard in terms of design and layout of controls. There’s a rubber grip on the front and a small rubber thumb rest on the rear to help with your grip on the camera. On the rear you have the video record button, playback button, menu button, info button and rear control wheel. The Fn button lets you assign an impressive 16 shortcuts to it, though getting to the last shortcut would require you to press it 16 times, which requires far more button presses than if you had accessed it via the menu system.
The XZ-10 also features a control ring around its lens, which lets you adjust the setting for the respective shooting mode you’re currently in. So the control ring lets you adjust the aperture while shooting in aperture priority mode and you can tweak the shutter speed while shooting in shutter priority.
The XZ-10’s micro-HDMI port can be found on its right, which also houses the proprietary charging port. Losing the charging cable means you would have to purchase another since any other micro-USB cable will not do the job. The battery can only be charged in-camera, which is a hassle if you intend to charge more than one battery concurrently.
So what are the main differences between the XZ-10 and its larger sibling, the XZ-2, besides size?
- A smaller sensor size of 1/2.3-inch as opposed to a larger 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor on the XZ-2. Both camera sensors support 12MP imaging resolution.
- The XZ-10 does not come with a hot shoe port, so there’s no mounting of flashes or electronic viewfinders.
- The XZ-10 only has one Fn button as opposed to two on the XZ-2. It also loses XZ-2's lever switch around the Fn2 button for extra contol dexterity.
- The XZ-10 shares the same rear display as the XZ-2, but the XZ-10’s display does not tilt or extend out. Fortunately the XZ-10’s display is touch-sensitive like the XZ-2, so you can actually tap the screen to focus or tap to fire off a shot. This makes focusing a faster and more intuitive affair, as opposed to using the control wheel to move the AF point
- An improvement on the XZ-10 is its automatic lens cover instead of the XZ-2’s separate lens cap. This made us wonder why this design aspect wasn't implemented on the XZ-2 model where we made a negative note in our review.
While the XZ-2 does offer a more secure grip due to its larger size, not many will appreciate all that bulk. In this regard, we have to agree with the general sentiment that the smaller XZ-10 definitely feels like a camera that you will carry everywhere, even when you're not toting a bag.
Pressing the OK button when you’re shooting will bring up a list of commonly-used settings on-screen, such as white balance and ISO. This is more convenient than heading into the menu system to adjust these settings, because we feel that the menu system needs more streamlining.
The XZ-10 menu system consists of five sub-menus which all lead to other layers of sub-menus. There are the basic shooting options, the advanced shooting options, the detailed camera options, another sub-menu for playback options and one last one is to setup the camera’s basic functions. Unfortunately the names of these sub-menus don’t really give many clues as to where you will find certain settings. For example, where would the setting to toggle the image stabilizer be? In order to set the AF-mode, where do you look? While it’s good to offer many shooting options and settings for the photography enthusiast, the manner in which they are arranged needs more refinement as the current menu system is too convoluted. This is the exact same gripe we had with the larger XZ-2 counterpart as well.
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