The existence of enthusiast class compact digital cameras, such as the Canon PowerShot S100 and the newly launched G1X clearly shows that there is an audience for such models. And note that this is despite DSLRs and compact mirrorless cameras being in the same price bracket. Seeing an opportunity in this niche segment, Olympus recently introduced the XZ-1, which competes head-on with Canon’s PowerShot ‘S’ series.
Mode dial at the top
Design and Build Quality
Like the Canon PowerShot S95 or the S100, the GX1 doesn’t come across as an enthusiast-class camera at the first glance. It’s only when you notice the hot shoe for external flash and the shooting options that you realize it packs some serious meat. The body is all black with the metal front, and the overall excellent build . This can easily be felt as soon as you hold the camera. The front of the camera sports a highly respectable i.Zuiko lens, which is the first for a digital camera by Olympus. It’s super-bright with a large aperture of F1.8 at the widest end, which is 28 mm. At 4x zoom the focal length extends to 112 mm and the largest aperture you get is an impressive F2.5. The benefits of large aperture are good control over depth of field and fast shutter speeds in low light.
Around the lens is a ring similar to that in the Canon PowerShot ‘S’ series. The function of this ring changes depending on the mode being used. The top of the camera sports a mode dial, which allows you to choose between Program, Manual, Art Filters, Scenes, Intelligent Auto, Custom and the semi manual modes (aperture and shutter priority). Moving to the left, you have the shutter release button, along with the zoom rocker, on/off button and hot shoe for external flash. Like in the PowerShot S100, the flash is housed inside the body and it can be popped up using a tiny lever behind it.
4x optical zoom
The rear panel is made of plastic with matte finish and is dominated by a large 3-inch OLED display, which has a crisp resolution of 614k dots. If Olympus has gone so far in incorporating striking features, they might as well have added a Gorilla glass to prevent the display from getting scratched easily. Here, you can’t afford to be careless and a protective film is recommended. To the right, starting from the top is a tiny rubber grip for the thumb and a hotkey for video recording. Then comes the playback button, 5-way d-pad with a jog dial around it, menu button and info button. The d-pad offers quick access to EV, focus, flash and drive modes (burst, bracketing and self-timer).
The HDMI and USB ports are housed under a plastic flap on the side. The USB port also doubles as a port for charging the battery within the camera. The charger has a USB port and you connect the camera to the charger using the supplied data cable. It’s a good feature that you don’t have to remove the battery from the camera to charge it, but then you can charge a second battery, while you’re using the camera. The battery and SD card slot are located at the bottom where a tiny grille for the speaker is also present.
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