Olympus just revealed their XZ-1, a premium compact camera aimed at advanced users, mostly photographers looking for something to complement their ILCs with something much lighter. The answer from Olympus is a 10 megapixels camera with an ultra-bright lens. This 4X optical zoom lens is equivalent to 28-112mm with a maximum aperture of F/1.8 at the wide-end and F/2.5 at the long end.
The sensor used in the XZ-1 has the same resolution and nearly the same size as its closest competitors to optimize low-light performance. Its target market is most likely better served by image quality than the megapixels race, so this should serve well, particularly considering a maximum ISO of 6400.
The next most important characteristic of such a premium compact is accessibility of features. The XZ-1 provides dual control-dials to this effect, one of them located around the lens barrel. There is a standard mode-dial to quickly change exposure mode as well.
This digital cameras is rounded by a number of useful features which include a 2-axis digital level, exposure and white-balance bracketing, manual focus, choice of metering patterns, an optional EVF, a hot-shoe and 3″ OLED display with 610k pixels.
The Olympus XZ-1 is scheduled to be available this month for $499 USD. While the availability is certainly welcome, a number of people will be wondering if such a camera is worth it considering that this is 20% higher than some interchangeable lens cameras. The ILC will certainly exceed the image quality of the XZ-1 even with a dimmer lens. On the other hand, even a small mirrorless (SLD) camera is substantially heavier and bigger than the XZ-1 when including a lens. If one understands that the larger the camera, the fewer pictures are taken with it, then what the price of the XZ-1 gives you is the opportunity to shoot more. For many, this is worth it.