Olympus has launched its answer to the Panasonic LX5 and Canon S95.
The Olympus XZ-1 took a core feature of its two market predecessors - the large-aperture lens - and improved upon it. Instead of the f/2.0 lens of the LX5 and S95, the XZ-1 gives you an unprecedented f/1.8 aperture.
This lens and the XZ-1's other features - such as support for ISO 3200, dual image stabilisation, a highly sensitive 10-megapixel CCD sensor and the TruePic V image processor - give you all the tools you need to take sharp, crisp images, even in extremely low-light conditions.
More impressive is the fact that even at the maximum zoom of its 4x (28mm-112mm) lens, the XZ-1 still offers an aperture of f/2.5, which is much bigger than what's available with standard point-and-shoots and superior to the LX5's f/3.3 and the S95's f/4.9 at full zoom.
Like its competitors, the XZ-1 will support high-definition video recording at a resolution of 1280x720 pixels.
At the same time, Olympus has taken some of the innovations from its successful DSLR and prosumer Micro 4/3 range of products and put them in the XZ-1. One feature is the ability to use art filters, which gives you easy effects such as soft focus, grainy file, pinhole and dramatic tone when taking still images or capturing video.
The Olympus XZ-1 was launched in the US this month with a suggested retail price of US$499, or about HK$3,890.
Pros: large-aperture lens, even at maximum zoom; HD video recording
Cons: only marginally cheaper than Olympus' Micro 4/3 model, the E-PL1