With its predecessor having attained something of a cult status, Olympus’s latest high-end compact camera, the Stylus XZ-2, has a lot to live up to. Read the Olympus Stylus ZX-2 review...
Noise, resolution and sensitivity
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured with the lens set to around 105mm. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.
With only a small increase in resolution, there isn’t much extra detail that can be resolved by the XZ-2 compared to the XZ-1. The resolution chart shows that the new camera resolves the same amount of detail in both raw and JPEG files as other cameras we have seen with presumably very similar 12-million-pixel CMOS sensors, in particular the Canon PowerShot G15.
Noise is reasonably well controlled with the default JPEG settings. As you would expect from a compact camera, there are signs of luminance noise at ISO 400, particularly along edges in the image. Noise reduction obviously affects the surface texture detail in some images, even at low sensitivities, but fortunately the XZ-2 has the option to turn the noise reduction on or off, or to use it automatically, as well as to set the strength of the reduction to one of three settings. Users should experiment with a few combinations to find the one that suits their needs.
Of course, if you take advantage of the XZ-2’s raw shooting option then you will have full control over the resulting images. Most software should be able to all but completely remove colour noise from raw files, although luminance noise is more tricky. Careful sharpening is key, with only slight luminance noise reduction to retain as much of the sharp detail as possible.
As mentioned previously, the XZ-2 still suffers from the same lens distortion issues as its predecessor. Curvilinear distortion is quite severe, and purple fringing and chromatic aberration are also very apparent. Sadly, there is no automatic correction for these issues in-camera, providing another reason why it is best to shoot raw files with the XZ-2.
Image: The difference in depth of field across the aperture range can be clearly seen in these shots. Also, purple fringing and chromatic aberration are stronger when the aperture is set at f/1.8. However, with the effects of refraction, the f/1.8 image is sharper than the f/8 image