Olympus XZ-2 iHS

In early 2015 we took a special trip to Walt Disney World. As an avid Disney park fan, I wanted to take a lot of high quality videos. I spent some time over the summer of 2014 researching the perfect point and shoot camera that can take good quality videos. My choice for my budget is the Olympus XZ-2 iHS. (I also have an iPhone 5s that I can use to take videos too.)

I purchased the camera on September 29, 2014 from B&H Photo Video. This page contains my notes about the new camera. You'll learn everything from where to buy the camera to what is the perfect case to buy. My goal is have you learn more about the Olympus XZ-2 iHS from a new camera owner.

September 2015 Update

September 25, 2015 - Apple started shipping the new iPhone 6s today with a much better camera. For the first time in years, Apple updated both cameras to 12 megapixels and 5 megapixels, while making additional improvements which will likely turn the iPhone 6s into one of the best cameras you can buy. They have also also introduce the ability to take 4k videos!

This doesn't change the power of the Olympus XZ-2 iHS, since it still features a better camera sensor size and users can put in a different card if needed. I don't know if the iPhone 6s video stabilization is as good as the Olympus XZ-2 iHS.

Having said that, getting the latest iPhone 6s will be a great complement to creating YouTube videos.

The Olympus XZ-2 iHS has been discontinued for about a year now, the current equivalent in the Olympus product line is the Olympus SH-2.

Olympus XZ-2 iHS

1080p Video CaptureFull HD: 1920(H)x1080(V), 30p (29.97fps) Recording - 18Mbp, Aspect 16:9
HD: 1280(H)x720(V), 30p(29.97 fps) Recording - 9Mbp, Aspect 16:9
Battery life310 shots Li-90B Li-ion battery
Low light conditions6,400 ISO
Sensor Size1/1.7" CMOS Sensor
LensTypeOlympus lens 6 to 24 mm, f1.8 to 2.5
Equivalent to 28 to 112 mm on a 35mm film
Maximum ApertureF1.8 - F2.5
Street Value$299
Lightweight12.6 oz (357 g)
Video StabilizationBuilt in Imager shift image stabilizer
Angle Adjustable LCDFlip Screen

Announced on September 17, 2012, this camera seems to be a good choice for taking low light video and pictures. This is on sale on Olympus website for $299. While Panasonic LX7 offers a slight better Aperture, this camera does have a flip screen which may offer better videos.

Industry Review
The XZ-2 also features Full HD Video recording, which takes advantage of the Touch AF Shutter function (press the 3.0-inch touch screen, and the camera will focus on that spot while you shoot video, or focus and snap a still photo). DUAL Image Stabilization will keep your stills clear and your video smooth. iAuto will let the camera pick and choose settings for less experience shutterbugs (hey, they call them "point-and-shoot" for a reason!). But if you're feeling adventurous, try out one of the 11 Art Filters or 5 Art Effects. - Steve Digicams

The Olympus XZ-2 enthusiast compact camera features a 12MP 1/1.7" back-illumination CMOS sensor and touch-screen. The XZ-2 features the same 28-112mm equivalent F1.8-2.5 lens as the XZ-1 but adds a more modern sensor, screw-on hand grips, tilting touch-screen and a two-mode control dial around the lens. In one mode the dial features click-stops, allowing control over discrete features such as aperture or exposure compensation, but flip the switch on the front of the camera and the ring rotates smoothly, and switches to controlling zoom or manual focus. - Digital Photography Review

Marketing Material
Combine the ease-of-use of a point and shoot with the image quality of a more advanced camera and you get the Olympus XZ-2. This premium compact helps you push the creative envelope with an arsenal of amazing technology. A super-fast f1.8 iZuiko lens and a large, high-sensitivity BSI (Backside-Illuminated) CMOS Sensor help capture brilliant low light shots. Experienced photographers will love how the XZ-2 full manual controls are effortless to access and use. Feed your creative side with 11 Art Filters and 5 Effects, one-touch HD video and an accessory port for flashes and viewfinders. The XZ-2. Pro features packed in one awesomely creative compact.

Pro: Flip Screen, good video quailty, low price
Con:Not a lot of video features/functionality, slightly bulky.

Video Samples

Tips and Tricks from Personal Experience

Update

Where to Buy

I had a great experience with B&H Photo Video. They have the cheapest overall solution, while the price was the same as Amazon.com, they didn't charge me sales tax and they had free overnight shipping. You can find the camera on Olympus website and on Amazon.com. I have found that most places are offering the camera at the same price.

Watch for the deals! Currently the Olympus XZ-2 iHS is selling for $299, a savings of $300 over the list price. Many review sites say the camera is overprice at $599, but when it's priced at $299 it's a good camera for the price.

Keep in mind that the camera was announced on September 17, 2012, so an update to the camera line is due soon. Some analysts suggest that Olympus recent price break is to reduce the inventory for a new product announcement.

Update

Storage

Olympus doesn't include any SD memory card in the Olympus XZ-2 iHS box. I had no problems using a 32GB Eye-Fi Mobi card. According to the camera display setting, I can take up to 9,052 pictures, or 3 hours and 31 minutes of video with the card. In certainly will run out of battery charge before I run out of SD space.

The Olympus XZ-2 iHS supports SD/SDHC/SDXC (supports UHS-I), Eye-Fi cards. I have a 32GB Eye-Fi Mobi card and a 64GB Sans card. Plenty of disk space for most vacations. To put it in perspective, if both of these cards were full, I would need 23 DVDs to backup all the data.

Update

LI-90B Battery

A charger (UC-90: sold separately) can be used to charge the LI-90B battery. This might be a good option if you have multiple batteries, which would be recommended if you plan to use this camera for any day ventures. Before you buy one on Amazon or B&H Photo Video, check for special package deals where you can get a battery, battery charger and some other accessories. There are all sorts of vendors on eBay that offer batteries and charger packages.

If you do buy a non-OEM battery, make sure to use it several times before a trip. There's nothing like finding out the battery does hold its charge at the worst possible time.

The LI-92B is the current version of the battery and will work in all cameras that use the LI-90B battery, including the Olympus XZ-2 iHS. The LI‑92B lithium‑ion battery is the successor model to the LI‑90B with an increased capacity of approx. 5% to 1350mAh.The battery can be recharged with the optional battery charger UC‑90. For recharging inside the camera either use the super‑compact AC Adapter F‑2AC which is supplied with the camera or the optional available F‑3AC Adapter.

Update

Mophie USB Powerstation

I would highly recommend getting a USB powered charger, such as the one from Mophie. You can simply put this in one of the side pockets in the BlackRapid SnapR 20 and charge the camera during long downtimes. Such as during lunch breaks.

Having a second battery is a great idea,but carring an powerstation can't hurt! You can also use the powerstation to charge other USB devices such as an iPhone or an Android.

Update

USB Cable (CB-USB8)

The Olympus XZ-2 iHS comes with an 3 foot long USB cable (CB-USB8) and power dock (F-3AC). You should consider purchasing another cable as a backup. Don't worry about the power dock, I was able to charge the camera using the supplied USB cable and a standard USB 2.0 hub with no problems. All you need is a USB charger that has a output of DC 5V, 500 mA to work with this camera. Yes this means that the standard USB Powerdoc that comes with the iPhone will work.

Olympus warns:

The USB-AC adapter F-3AC can be used with this camera. Do not use any AC adapter other than the dedicated one. When using F-3AC, be sure to use the USB cable included with this camera.
Do not use any other AC adapter with this camera.
Update

Remote Cable Release

The RM-UC1 connects to the same USB port on the camera that is used to connect the camera to a computer via the bundled USB cable. The RM-UC1 has a sliding lock to lock the cable release for BULB exposures.

The RM-UC1 is available from authorized Olympus dealers and also online directly from The Olympus Store.

Also check on eBay and Amazon for other Remote Cable Release tools that are similar to the RM-UC1. You may find some third party cables that are cheaper and offer some additional functionality.

The Camera Timer Remote Control RM-UC1, from alibaba, for Olympus features

One of the downside of the RM-UC1 remote is that it doesn't trigger video. I can get around this limitation by always enable video recording and then do some post production editing to remove the unwanted portions of the video clip.

Update

Trigger Trap

The Trigger Trap is a way for you to use the iPhone to control the camera and there is an extension for the Olympus XZ-2 iHS ( MD3-UC1 ) Very exciting.

I plan on ordering one of these in January to see how well it works with the iPhone 6s Plus. The good thing is that the connector uses the Audio cable port, which leave the lightning port open. This is good so that I could connect a USB charger and still charge this while the Trigger trap is connected.

There's lot's of cool stuff that can be done here. Looking forward to trying it!.

Camera Case

The camera dimensions is 4.4" × 2.6" × 1.9", which makes the BlackRapid SnapR 20 a perfect case for the camera. I can confirm that the Olympus XZ-2 iHS fits perfectly in the BlackRapid SnapR20.

Earlier this year Kata merged Manfrotto and claims to the the best bags. KATA HandsFree-493 DL Camera Waist Pack was the right size for the Olympus XZ-2 iHS. Using a Waist pack might be a good alternative to those long days in the park, and offer the photographer an easy access to the camera to take photos/videos.

The Nano III Camera Pouch that Manfrotto makes/sells is a great pouch solution. The pouch provides quick access to your camera.

Update

LC-63A lens cap

If you don't like the lens that came with the camera, you can buy another lens cap which will automatically open and close when you turn on the camera. Olympus sells the LC-63A lens cap on it's website for $19.99, you can find the cap on eBay and Amazon for slightly cheaper.

The lens cap is very convenient to use, however it doesn't fully close the lens and sand and water can still get to the lens. Use the LC-63A lens cap when you plan to use the camera a lot during the day. For everyday use, I would suggest using the lens cap that came with the camera.

Update

Auto Focus Switch

In front of the camera there is a lever switch which makes it to swich between manual and auto focus. The problem is, there's no indicator of which setting is which. (Even the Instruction book doesn't tell you!) Here's an easy way to remember, when the level is pointing down, the camera is in Auto focus mode. For most shots, specially when you have iAuto selected, you should be using auto focus mode.

Update

Monitor brightness adjustment

Olympus refers the rear camera display as the 'monitor' in the Instruction book.

You can adjust the brightness and color temperature of the monitor. Color temperature adjustment will affect only the monitor display during playback. Use HI to highlight j (color temperature) or k (brightness) and FG to adjust the value.

Press the INFO button to switch between [Natural] and [Vivid] monitor color display. (Page 57 of the Instruction Book.)

Sequential & Timer Modes

The Olympus XZ-2 iHS will take sequential photos while the shutter button is pressed all the way down. Alternatively, the self-timer can be used for self- or group-portraits or to reduce camera shake when the camera is mounted on a tripod or otherwise fixed in place.

Before going on any trip, learn to use these quickly. There's nothing like being fustrated on a vacation because you don't know how to perform basic camera functionality.

Sequential Mode

Photographs are taken at about 5 to 15 frames per second (fps) while the shutter button is pressed all the way down ([S-AF] or [MF] selected for [AF Mode].)

Self-Timer Mode

Press the shutter button halfway to focus, the rest of the way down to start the timer. First, the self-timer lamp lights up for approximately 10 seconds, then it blinks for approximately 2 seconds and the picture is taken.

Press the shutter button halfway to focus, the rest of the way down to start the timer. The self-timer lamp blinks for approximately 2 seconds, and then the picture is taken.

Update

Firmware Versions

I purchased a new camera on September 29, 2014 and it still have the Ver 1.1 Firmware. I would highly recommend to update the Firmware on the camera to the latest version. To do that you have to connect the camera to your computer and download a firmware update application from Olympus website. I had the camera in Disk mode setting when doing the update. It only took about 5 minutes to do the complete update process.

Ver.1.3 Nov. 28 2013 AF performance when Single Target is selected in low light has been improved.
Ver.1.2 Jun. 12 2013 Supported VF-4 electronic view finder.
Automatic display switching by the eye sensor is not supported.
Ver.1.1 Dec. 18 2012 Image processing while shooting with ISO bracketing was adjusted.

Hacking the Olympus Firmware

There is a Cannon Firmware hack, but currently there isn't anything viable for the Olympus Firmware. I'll keep checking to see if any hacker has come up with anything create for Olympus. I am thinking that the Olympus software isn't probably as exciting to hack.

In the meantime, I'll keep googling for Olympus Camera Hacks to see what is going on.

Update
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