The freedom of a zoom with the Olympus XZ-1

Juggling Technology, SFO - San Francisco, California

Juggling Technology, SFO – San Francisco, California

I’m a prime lens user with my Olympus Pens. I like the compact size and superior low light capability of these lenses. But, like everything, there are disadvantages. What I gain in performance, l lose in flexibility. This is a tradeoff that I’m willing to make for my evening urban landscapes. And because I like wide-angles, I really don’t feel constrained not having a zoom lens. But when I’m zipping through the airport, or doing general photography, having a zoom has it’s advantages.

This is where my new Olympus XZ-1 really comes in handy — it fills a gap in my growing stable of cameras. It’s the kind of camera I’ve considered on and off for a while. I got the Panasonic ZR-1 point and shoot last summer, and created some very satisfying photos but found that I really needed to shoot at ISO 80 to be truly satisfied. It didn’t help that it has a slow f3.3 lens.

Dining Alone, SFO - San Francisco, California

Dining Alone, SFO – San Francisco, California

With a f1.8 lens and decent quality up to ISO 400, the Olympus XZ-1 gives me more flexibility. The auto mode stays between ISO 100 and 200 which keeps the photos really nice. Not quite as good as the Olympus Pens, of course. I notice that even in RAW, there appears to be some noise reduction smearing, especially at ISO 200. But that’s if you look at the photos at 100%. Viewed to fit on a 27″ monitor, however, they look fine. I’m also being super picky. The average Facebook posting casual photographer, I’m sure ISO 1600 is good enough for them.

Jet Bridge Curve, SFO - San Francisco, California

Jet Bridge Curve, SFO – San Francisco, California

Ready for Takeoff, SFO - San Francisco, California

Ready for Takeoff, SFO – San Francisco, California

So here are more photos from SFO and beyond, a continuation of my AirTrain black and whites. I get to zoom up to a 112mm equivalent which allowed me to capture these images — something not possible with my usual Pen primes of 28mm and 50mm. I kind of consider the XZ-1 as my fair weather camera. Something that works great when I have good light and don’t have to push the limits. That’s OK, it’s a nice compliment, because my Olympus Pens are more than capable to fill that low-light role.

Flying over San Francisco - San Francisco, California

Flying over San Francisco – San Francisco, California

Cold Rockies - Somewhere over the Western United States

Cold Rockies – Somewhere over the Western United States

All photographs taken with my Olympus XZ-1 point and shoot.

Click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure detail. Multiply the focal length by 4.66 to get the 35mm equivalent

6 thoughts on “The freedom of a zoom with the Olympus XZ-1

  1. “…when I have good light and don’t have to push the limits.”

    Good grief! Look at the harsh lighting dynamic of the shots captioned “Juggling Technology” and “Dining Alone”. The soft, gentle detail of those two faces seen against a blast furnace of overpowering daylight is pretty amazing.

    They could well be disasters in color, leading to the choice of B&W conversion — but that’s part of the process.

    Are those two shots point-and-shoot? Or zoomed in to set focus and exposure, then manually controlled for the wide view?

  2. You may just want to use the point and shoot, but what about using the kit zoom lens attached with one of your pens instead? It is not fast lens, but the lens itself is not that bigger than the point and shoot camera. What do you think?

    1. Yoshi, the kit zoom on the Pens are certainly an option but the camera will be quite a bit larger. The XZ-1 and E-PM2 body are roughly about the same size but the XZ-1’s built in zoom lens is very slim, even smaller than thinnest pancake lens.

      Also the kit zoom only zooms to 84mm equivalent will the XZ-1 goes to 112mm.

      Image quality-wize, the Pens wins even with high ISO. Though to a casual photographer, they may not be able to tell the difference.

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