Olympus XZ-2 Ken McMahon, June 2013

Olympus XZ-2 vs Nikon COOLPIX A Quality JPEG

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Olympus Stylus XZ-2 and the Nikon COOLPIX A, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The XZ-2 was set to its maximum 28mm wide angle focal length, matching the 28mm fixed focal length lens of the COOLPIX A.

Image stabilisation on the Stylus XZ-2 was disabled for this tripod-mounted test. All other camera settings were left on the defaults.

RAW results are on the next page.

  Olympus Stylus XZ-2 results
1 Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Quality JPEG
2 Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Quality RAW
3 Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Noise JPEG
4 Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Noise RAW
5 Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Olympus Stylus XZ-2. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode and f4 was selected as this produced the best result from the lens. With the ISO sensitivity set to 100 ISO the XZ-2 metered an exposure of 1/800. As usual for this test the camera was otherwise left on the default settings. The Nikon COOLPIX A produced its best results at f5.6 where it metered 1/320th with the sensitivity set to 100 ISO.

Conditions on the day were bright Spring sunshine producing a scene with a high tonal range with bright highlights and deep shadows. The XZ-2 exposure is reasonably good, but with +0.3EV it could have captured a little more shadow detail without sacrificing the highlights.

The overall quality of the XZ-2 crops is very good and there's no question that the quality from its 1/1.7in sensor is a step up from what you could expect from a typical 1/2.3 in compact sensor. In the first crop, The edges of the chapel wall are clean and you can make out the door and window frames, but the crosses on the roof aren't as distinct as they could be and the two figures to the right of the building look a little blurry.

In the second crop the lighthouse is a distinct white cylinder, but you can't make out the separate lamphouse, though, to be fair, weather conditions weren't ideal, with a little bit of haze. In the foreground of this crop the chimneys and window frames are sharp, but there isn't the fine detail in the roof tiles that you would see from a DSLR sensor. The third crop from close to the edge of the frame shows slight softening of the detail and the XZ-2's 6-24mm zoom lens also suffers quite badly from chromatic aberration at the wide angle focal length. Back closer to the middle of the frame in the fourth crop, there's a marked improvement, with nice clean edges on the window frames and balcony rails. But the XZ-2's sensor and lens combination doesn't quite have the resolving power to render the finer detail in the roof tiles and brickwork.

Compared with the crops from the 12 Megapixel Olympus XZ-2, the 16 Megapixel COOLPIX A crops show a smaller area with larger detail. The other thing to remember here is that the APS-C sized sensor in the COOLPIX A is physically larger with a much bigger surface area than the 1/1.7in sensor in the Olympus XZ-2. The first crop from the XZ-2 does look just a little softer with the fine detail not so clearly picked out. Likewise, the edges in the second crop don't look quite so crisp as on the COOLPIX A, but at this stage it's hard to tell if this is just a consequence of the different sized detail or there's something more going on.

In the third crop from the frame edge there's a clear difference between the quality of the COOLPIX A and the Olympus XZ-2 though. The XZ-2 crop not only suffers from quite visible colour fringing, but the edges are much softer and smaller details are blurry. Back in the centre of the frame for the fourth crop, there's less of a difference, but this crop I think confirms what the first two hint at. The edges and fine detail in the Olympus XZ-2 crop aren't as crisp and clearly defined as in the COOLPIX A crop. Taken overall, these crops show that the larger, higher resolution sensor in the COOLPIX A , combined with its 28mm prime lens produce clearer, sharper, better images with a higher level of detail than the Olympus XZ-2 with its smaller 12 Megapixel sensor and 4x zoom.

My Olympus Stylus XZ-2 RAW quality results on the next page will provide evidence of how much, if any, of the difference is due to processing. Alternatively, see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Olympus Stylus XZ-2 Noise results.


Olympus XZ-2 JPEG
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Olympus Stylus XZ-2
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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