Great little compact but image quality / performance do not deserve the “enthusiast camera” label...

Started Apr 6, 2013 | User reviews thread
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Alan Ernst
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Great little compact but image quality / performance do not deserve the “enthusiast camera” label...
Apr 6, 2013

The small sensor / high pixel density really lets this camera down!  If Olympus had chosen to go with a 9 or 10 megapixel sensor rather than the 12 megapixels, image quality could be far superior.
Why do manufacturers keep cramming more pixels into a sensor than necessary. The XZ-10 has 75% higher pixel density than the Lumix LX7, putting it at a severe disadvantage.

What I love about the XZ-10 is pocketability, solid feel, a very useful zoom range from wide to low tele, fast lens, good ergonomics (other than a grip which is too shallow and a somewhat hard to use control wheel on the rear four way control). The feature set by and large is excellent and very customizable, menu lay-out is straight forward with most settings easy to find and select. Colours and white balance are good, exposure works well but tends to underexpose to avoid highlight clipping, so you will need to check your histograms.  I like the ability to combine AF and exposure area. The art filters I don’t care about too much, but others may love to play with that feature to get some funky results. If you don’t want to capture RAW or crop, the digital 2x zoom does provide an excellent range and reasonable quality at low ISO. The touch screen works well too.

On the down side, image quality is average at best and you will have to tweak the settings considerably or shoot RAW to get the best results. My Lumix ZS7 which is three years old and has a comparable sensor, provides better quality out of camera, even though it is not a stellar performer either...  
Noise and detail smudging on the XZ-10 are prevalent and you probably don’t want to use it over ISO 200, so that’s where the faster lens is a great help. The lens itself seems to perform ok optically, with the usual distortion at wide angle and close-up and some loss of sharpness in the corners and at the tele end*. It is also very prone to flare.
The other issue I find with the XZ-10 is that it is not very responsive and performance is very sluggish; clearing the buffer takes about 1 – 4 seconds and you cannot zoom, change any settings or access the menu, while you wait for the images to be written to the SD card.
Battery life certainly does not live up to the specs, but then a small camera makes for a small battery... make sure you carry a spare as it can only be charged in-camera, unless you purchase a separate charger.

Other features that I would like to see added / improved:
- combination of bracketing and self-timer for tripod use, as no remote release is available
- an extra function button (the existing fn button can be customised though to allow quick access to one or more favourite settings)
- bracketing is limited to 3 frames at max. 1 stop, which is insufficient for HDR (in-camera HDR works but the resulting images are so smudged, you don’t want to use it)
- a menu which returns to the previously selected item rather than reverting to the main menu
- grid lines at 1/3 spacing rather than 40/60 and adjusting to aspect ratio changes
- single AF area should be adjustable in size
- ability to focus manually is missing

* my first XZ-10 has serious issues with sharpness at the long end of the zoom, which may have been a lens or AF issue. I exchanged it for a different unit, which works fine. Obviously, there are some quality control issues, so make sure you check it out when you buy.

 Alan Ernst's gear list:Alan Ernst's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Olympus Stylus XZ-10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Nikon D5200 +17 more
Alan Ernst's score
3.5
Average community score
4.5
bad for good for
Kids / pets
mediocre
Action / sports
weak
Landscapes / scenery
acceptable
Portraits
okay
Low light (without flash)
mediocre
Flash photography (social)
acceptable
Studio / still life
good
= community average
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