P7700 and XZ-2 SENSOR AND HIGH ISO PERFORMANCE
XZ-2 and P7700 both have 1/1.7″ sensors with 12 megapixels. They may be small as those in other compact or ultra zoom cameras, but perform magnificent. Colors and dynamic range are excellent and high ISO noise is under tight control. I used them both up to ISO 800 regularly without hesitation. There is not a trace of noise reduction detail-smudging, and even more can be extracted from RAW files. Nikon is slightly better at ISO 3200 when Olympus starts to struggle with noise in blue channel, but this can be reduced using Shadow-tint slider in ACR or Lightroom. All together, I would say these sensors perform similar to APS-C sensors in DSLR cameras from 7-8 years ago and still have more resolution (DSLR’s had 6-8 MP back than).
(samples are converted from RAW in ACR 7.3 with no sharpening and value 20 for color noise reduction, all other setting at default)
MEMORY AND BATTERY
Both cameras use Li-Ion batteries which provide around 250-300 shots. Good enough, but you’ll probably want to have a spare one in your pocket.
NIKON P7700 AND OLYMPUS XZ-2 LENSES
Optics is probably the main reason why someone should prefer these cameras over of entry-level DSLR’S. Instead of a boring and slow 18-55 with F/3.5-5.6 aperture you get something much better.
Olympus XZ-2 has a 4x optical zoom (28-100mm) and a third of a stop better light gathering capability than Nikon P7700 – F/1.8-2.5. The lens is very sharp and I couldn’t find any major complaint for its performance.
Nikon P7700 has a larger 7x optical zoom (28-200mm in 35mm equivalent) with maximum aperture of F/2-4. It is also very sharp at all focal lengths, but has a bit of pincushion distortion and light fall-off above 100mm. In any case, this is easily correctible in post process.
Olympus XZ-2 focuses a bit faster, and benefits from touch screen. Manual focus implementation is excellent; at the click of the front switch front control ring starts to rotate freely and operates MF. Macro focus is not perfect though – XZ-2 sometimes struggled to focus and gave me false positives.
Nikon is a bit slower to focus with more traditional manual focus implementation – it has to be selected via dedicated button amongst several focus options and then use rotating wheel surrounding multi-way controller at the back. It focuses better at macro distances than Olympus; even with all focus points active, Nikon managed to guess what main subject in the frame is.
OK, here we go. There was something bad on almost every camera I ever reviewed, and these two have speed issues.
By the time Olympus turns itself on and takes the first shot, Usain Bolt would be halfway down the 100m track. Yes, that’s right: XZ-2 has 4-5 second start-up time.
Some of the readers brought to my attention possible error in my review regarding XZ-2 start-up time. Those who bought it as well as some other reviews I found on the internet suggest start-up time is in the second-and-a-half range which is rather good for this type of camera.
I am sometimes reviewing pre-production cameras and they often have some issues. I was told by Olympus that this particular XZ-2 that was given to me is a final product but they might be wrong (happened before), therefore my measurement of 4-5 second start-up is probably an issue related only to this particular sample. I am sorry if I mislead someone, but errors like this can occur sometimes.
Nikon has a much better start-up, around 2 second to take the first picture. That’s OK for a compact camera, but as soon as you take the picture, camera is locked down until the file is completely written to card. That means no menus, no options changing, not even auto focus works. Delay is longer if you have a slow memory card and even slower if you shoot RAW or RAW+JPEG. Very frustrating! In practice, I had to wait 2-3 second between shots with class 10 memory card when shooting RAW.
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