Olympus XZ-1 digital camera (preview)

Olympus rolls out a rival to Canon's PowerShot S95

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Fast lens; Gorgeous pics; low-light
• • •

Everyone is saying how Canon S100 is the best in its class. Sure it is, if class means no bigger than a bar of soap - you can't beat the elegance, bells & whistles and Canon's renowned IQ. Nothing similar size beats it period [Samsung, Nikon P310, etc]. Wait, isn't this is a review for XZ-1, read on...

But for me, I don't mind carrying a larger bar of soap, at least one that can fit in my coat jacket or my larger pant pockets. Anything bigger is a no-go because lugging around a camera bag is no fun especially when I just need a quick-shooter for everyday occasions. For those serious photo-ops, that's what my thousand dollar DSLR set-up is for. So there is a size limit at which point it becomes diminishing return for whatever benefits M34 systems have and XZ-1 is at that limit, thank god.

So why didn't I buy the S100, similarly priced (for me) as the XZ-1? I can list them 1X1
1) Battery life: S100 rated @ 220. XZ-1 @320. A serious camera should have enough juice to last you for the day. Changing out batteries can be a lot of hassle especially if there are no outlets around.
2) XZ-1 has the better & faster lens. F1.8 vs F2.0. In fact, XZ-1 lens is the brightest and best in its class .
3) Low-light (flash-less) photography. Yes S100 excels but XZ-1 with its faster lens acquires the pictures just a bit faster.
4) While S100 shoots @2.3fps vs XZ-1 2fps under jpeg, XZ-1 shoots 2 fps in RAW mode vs 0.8 fps for S100. RAW is the standard for pro's and pictures comes out sharper under RAW for XZ-1 than S100.
5) Built quality. While S100 is generally well-built, it looks a bit fragile. The XZ-1 looks like it is a better built. If I'm spending $$$, I want a camera that will last many years. Also, there are issues with the S100 lens because it is so small and complicated, there maybe consistency issues such as lens error I kept hearing about. Maybe they have resolved the issue, but just something to keep in mind.

I want a camera that easily takes action photos without having to wait for shutter lag/AF lag/SD card writing/flash-recharge lag. Because sometimes you only have a split second to get that priceless shot. Given that both S100 and XZ-1 uses similar sized sensors, having that brighter lens, longer battery and generally better image quality (under ISO 800) can mean the difference in getting that difficult shot time after time.

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