The XZ-2 definitely surpasses the average point-and-shoot in terms of images quality and usability. There is a catch though, for those who shoot in Auto mode most of the time. The XZ-2’s iAuto mode performed well in situations with good light, but produced mixed results when the ambient light was not ideal. Shots taken indoors were grainy, while shooting outdoors in a cloudy and overcast weather conditions resulted in blown out skies.
On a fair note, not many compact cameras, even the advanced models, can produce accurate image capture of the sky, especially when the weather is less than perfect. Of course we wouldn’t expect most XZ-2 users to spend most of their time in iAuto mode, but for an advanced compact we still expected more from the XZ-2. Autofocus speed is quick for a compact camera, though the XZ-2's autofocus speed did slow down a bit in low-light situations. That's when being able to set the autofocus point and shoot via the touchscreen helped.
Similar to a smartphone, you can just tap on the XZ-2's display to set the focus point and even fire off the shot with that single tap. This saved us some time instead of having to deal with the XZ-2 hunting for a focus point due to its contrast based AF system. While the autofocus speed is quick, the camera is let down by its shutter lag. This problem is compounded when we were shooting in areas with low light; the sluggish autofocus combined with the shutter lag made us miss some shots.
With the ability to shoot at F1.8, there’s less compromises in image quality when shooting in low light situations as compared to the lower-end compacts. And of course many users will be expecting a significant amount of background blur due to the XZ-2's large maximum aperture. Without going into too much detail, there are many factors that affect the amount of background blur a camera can produce. Lenses, sensor size and even the distance between the subject and background all play a role. The next few images were all shot with F1.8, but due to the distance between the subject and background, all exhibit different amounts of background blur.
The XZ-2's noise control starts to smudge details as low as ISO400, though it won't really be an issue if you're not making large prints of your images. To be on the safe side, we recommend not going over ISO1600. In terms of resolution the XZ-2 scored 2000LPH for both horizontally and vertically.