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Stylus XZ-2 iHS

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What are the main features of the Stylus XZ-2 iHS?

The Olympus Stylus XZ-2 iHS is the successor to the XZ-1. Like the XZ-1, it features an iZUIKO digital lens -- a smaller, built-in version of the legendary ZUIKO® Digital interchangeable lenses featured in Olympus DSLRs. It is fast (f1.8-2.5) and super-bright with a 4x zoom (6-24 mm; 28-112 mm equivalent in 35 mm photography). Its wide maximum aperture allows photographers to blur backgrounds for selective focus, a technique not possible with most compact digital cameras. The f1.8 maximum aperture also enables the use of lower ISOs in low-light situations, further enhancing image quality.

The camera's large, 1/1.7-inch (approximately .6-inch diagonal) 12-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor produces low-noise images in dimly lit situations such as night scenes and indoor shots.

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS offers full creative control. In addition to five auto-exposure metering modes, it allows Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Exposure modes. In addition to standard autofocus, the camera offers two Macro modes, AF Tracking and Manual Focus options. The Macro modes offer extreme close-up capabilities. In Super Macro mode, the lens will focus to 0.4 inch. (At that distance, a twenty-five cent coin would fill the frame.)

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS has a Drive mode permitting sequential shooting at rates up to 15 frames per second. The camera also has options for three-frame auto exposure bracketing and white balance bracketing.

It can also record HD movies in 1080i/30 frames per second and 720p/30 frames per second in the MOV video format. Due to the silent zoom design, you can capture movies with audio while using optical zoom, with additional zoom available via digital zoom.

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS includes eleven Art Filters with five optional effects designed to facilitate artistic expression. Art filters apply creative effects like Grainy Film texture or Pop Art vibrancy to both still pictures and HD movies.

For added convenience, the Scene mode lets a photographer quickly apply camera settings tailored to specific shooting scenarios. There are 15 preset scenes, including Panorama, Multi Exposure and two underwater scenes.

Images can be framed and played back on either the high-resolution, 3.0-inch LCD screen or the optional VF-2 and VF-3 electronic viewfinders (sold separately).

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS can wirelessly fire the Olympus FL-36R, FL-50R, FL-300R and FL-600R electronic flash units in their RC Mode mode for off-camera flash illumination. The camera's built-in flash serves as the remote flash controller. (Flash units are sold separately.)

The camera accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC media for removable memory in capacities ranging from 128 MB to 64 GB. It supports UHS-1 SD card technology and also WiFi.

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS ships bundled with Olympus Viewer 2 imaging software on a CD-ROM.

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What are the main differences between the XZ-1 and the Stylus XZ-2 iHS?

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS has evolved from the already popular XZ-1 in a number of ways.

Whereas the XZ-1 had a 10 megapixel CCD sensor, the Sylus XZ-2 iHS has a 12 megapixel backside illuminated CMOS sensor for even better performance in low-light environments. The XZ-1 used the Truepic V image processor with a maximum ISO of 3200. The Stylus XZ-2 iHS employs the TruePic VI image processor, enabling lower noise and a maximum ISO of 12,800.

The XZ-1 had a 3.0" 610,000 dot OLED LCD screen. The Stylus XZ-2 iHS uses a 3.0" 920,000 dot swiveling Touch LCD screen that can be used for touch-screen operation.

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS adds a second front-mounted function button coupled with a two position lever that is used to toggle the Control Ring functions from analog control to digital control.

The Stylus XZ-2 has eleven Art Filters with five effects -- five more Art Filters than the XZ-1 with more nuances when applying the effects.

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS shoots in both 1080P and 720p HD video, whereas the XZ-1 shot in 720p and VGA.

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS also supports operation with the FlashAir WiFi memory card to securely transfer photos fom the camera to smartphones and tablets.

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What functions can be controlled using the Control Ring and Wheel Controller?

The settings that can be applied with the control ring (around the front of the lens) and the wheel controller (on the back) vary based on the selected shooting mode.

Shooting mode
Settings that can be applied
By the Control Ring By the Wheel Controller
P (Program) / Low Light Program Shift Exposure Compensation
A Aperture (f-stop) Exposure Compensation
S (Shutter Priority) Shutter speed Exposure Compensation
M (Manual) Aperture (f-stop) Shutter speed
C1, C2 (Custom Mode) * *
SCN (Scene Mode) SCN Exposure Compensation
ART (Art Filter) Art Filter Exposure Compensation

It is not possible to adjust the settings with the Control Ring and Wheel Controller when the shooting mode is set to iAUTO because that is a fully automatic mode.

* The functions of the Control Ring and Wheel Controller in the C1 and C2(Custom) shooting mode vary depending on what settings were selected by the photographer via the Custom Mode Setup option in the Setup menu.

When the Fn2 lever on the front of the camera is moved from the center position to the right position, the Control Ring operates the manual focus, zoom, and manual focus/zoom in the P, A, S, M and Custom Modes, depending on how the lever is set up in the setup menu.

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What are the P, A, S and M modes on the Mode Dial and how are they used?

The P, A, S and M modes are advanced shooting modes. These are essentially non-AUTO modes that allow the photographer more creative control by enabling more control over shutter speed and f-stop settings. Briefly, the advanced shooting modes and their applications are as follows:

  • P (Program shooting) – Allows shooting using an aperture and shutter speed set by the camera. In many respects it is similar to the iAUTO mode. Unlike the iAUTO shooting mode, the program shooting mode allows full access to the menu settings for greater creative control of the camera. When the Fn2 lever on the front of the camera is set to the center position, the Control Ring controls Program Shift, in which the user can rapidly select between sets of shutter speeds and f-stops and still keep the same exposure.
  • A (Aperture Priority shooting) – Allows the aperture to be set manually, thereby giving the photographer control over depth-of-field. The camera compensates for the exposure by changing the shutter speed automatically as the f-stops are changed. In the Aperture Priority shooting mode the f-stops are changed using the camera’s Control Ring.
  • S (Shutter Priority shooting) – Allows the shutter speed to be set manually, thereby giving the photographer control over stopping action or reducing camera shake. The camera compensates for the exposure by changing the aperture automatically as the shutter speeds are changed. In the Shutter Priority shooting mode, the shutter speeds are changed using the camera’s Control Ring.
  • M (Manual shooting) – Allows the photographer to set the shutter speed and aperture independently of each other. Exposure is determined by testing or by using a light meter. In the Manual shooting mode the shutter speed is set using the Wheel Controller and the aperture is set using the Control Ring. The effect of changes in the shutter speed and aperture are shown on the LCD screen.

In each of these modes, when the Fn2 lever is switched to the right position, the Control Ring controls MF, ZOOM, or MF/ZOOM, depending on how the lever is set up in the menu.

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What is the function of the C1 and C2 positions on the Mode Dial?

The C1 and C2 (Custom) positions on the Mode Dial allows the photographer to call up a selection of saved menu settings that are different from those currently being used. For example, if you are doing a project that requires a preset group of menu settings tailored to that project, they can be set in the camera’s menu and then be applied at any time by rotating the Mode Dial to the C positions.

To set up the custom settings, first configure all of the options and settings that you wish to use. Many of these settings can be accessed from the Live Guide interface on the LCD screen; others must be configured from the camera menus available by pressing the [MENU] button. Once the camera is configured with the settings you wish to save, you must register the settings. To do so, press [MENU] and then use the wheel controller to scroll down to the "gears" icon. This is the Setup Menu icon. Press the [OK] button to enter the Setup Menu. Use the wheel controller to scroll to Reset/C Mode Setup, and then press [OK]. Select SET, and then press [OK] to register the settings.

From this point on, turning the Mode Dial to C1 or C2 applies the registered settings.

To change the custom settings, simply configure the camera with the new settings and then repeat the registration process.

To remove custom settings and revert to the default settings for the P (Program Auto) shooting mode, repeat the process but instead of selecting Set in the Reset/C Mode Setup menu, select Custom Mode 1 or Custom Mode 2. Right click, select Reset and click the OK button to unregister the settings.

Note: Exposure Compensation is not available in the C modes.

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What is the function of iAUTO on the Mode Dial?

In the iAUTO shooting mode, the camera operates with a minimum of input from the user. Many shooting functions are controlled entirely by the camera; the photographer cannot change their settings. Therefore, the menu options that control those settings are deactivated (grayed-out).

The iAUTO mode makes it possible for the camera to automatically adjust a variety of settings on the fly, from shot to shot. The camera dynamically assesses the shooting conditions and selects the optimal shooting mode for those conditions before each shot. It will choose one of the following shooting modes: e-Portrait, Landscape, Night+Portrait, or Sport. If iAUTO cannot identify the optimal shooting mode from among these choices, the camera will use the Program Auto shooting mode.

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What is the purpose of the record modes?

Record modes allow photographers to quickly and conveniently vary the quality settings used to capture and save images and movies in-camera. While it is possible to always shoot at the higher-quality settings and then process the images to lower file sizes later using a computer, it may be more convenient in some situations to shoot at other than the higher-quality settings. For example, it may be preferable to shoot using a lower-quality setting when the shot is intended for use on the Internet, where small file size is more important than rich detail.

Record modes can be selected from the Live Guide navigation interface.

This camera offers nine record modes for still images and two for movies. The benefits of each are outlined below:

  • RAW: This is the highest-quality record mode available in the camera, and it allows the photographer the most creative control in post-production. Images are saved to the memory card from the camera sensor with minimal image processing. Factors such as white balance, sharpness, contrast and color are unchanged so they can be modified later on a computer. Some photographers prefer to shoot RAW all the time for all subjects, while others may shoot RAW in situations that pose complicated exposure problems, such as wedding photography.

    Each camera manufacturer has its own proprietary RAW specification; therefore, special software is required to process RAW files and convert them to other image file formats such as JPEG and TIFF. The bundled OLYMPUS Viewer 2 software contains RAW processing and conversion functions for the Olympus RAW format, which bears the file extension *.orf. Third-party imaging software and operating systems may use RAW plug-ins or upgrades to process Olympus RAW files. Without them, they would not be able to read RAW images from Olympus digital cameras. Most photo kiosks, printers and photo labs cannot read unconverted RAW images.
  • JPEG: Nine record modes create JPEG image files with four options in each record mode for the degree of file compression to be applied. JPEG is a compressed file format. When the camera processes a captured JPEG image and saves it to the memory card, it uses algorithms to discard some of the data to make the file smaller. The process of mathematically reducing a file’s size by discarding some of its data is called compression. When the image is opened on a computer, the JPEG algorithms reconstruct the discarded data.

    JPEGs are useful because their quality settings can be manipulated from the camera menu. The two factors that comprise JPEG quality are image size (determined by pixel count -- that is, literally, the number of pixels in an image) and compression ratio.

    The jpeg image size options in this camera are L (Large), M (Middle) and S (Small). The compression options in this camera are SF(Super Fine) , F (Fine), N (Normal) and B (Basic).

    The JPEG record modes in this camera are identified by a label that indicates their respective size and compression settings. The LF (Large Fine) and LN (Large Normal) JPEG modes have preset pixel dimensions and compression ratios that cannot be changed. The M and S JPEG modes are configurable. Customization of the desired Pixel Count and Compression settings is accomplished via the Set function located in the camera's Setup menu.
  • RAW + JPEG: Four record modes save both a RAW and a JPEG image when a picture is taken. This can be advantageous when shots are intended for use in multiple media or when the medium in which the images will ultimately be published has not been determined.

    As with their counterparts in the JPEG record modes, the LF+RAW and LN+RAW modes have preset pixel dimensions and compression ratios that cannot be changed, while the M and S RAW+JPEG modes are configurable. Customization of the desired Pixel Size and Compression settings is accomplished via the M S Settings function located in the Camera Menu.

    When shooting in a RAW+JPEG setting, the JPEG image is processed using the selected settings in the camera, whereas the RAW image is unprocessed.

    One practical application of shooting RAW+JPEG is when using the Art Filters. The processing of the Art Filter will be applied to the JPEG image, but not to the RAW image, so if you shoot using Art Filters you will also have a normal RAW image which can be processed later.

The movie Record Modes are Full HD quality and HD quality, both of which can be shot with or without sound. The frame size in Full HD mode is 1920 x 1080. In HD mode, the frame size is 1280 x 720.

To select a record mode from the Live Guide navigation interface, first press the [OK] button and then use the Up and Down arrows on the keypad to select the image size icon (for still images) or the movie quality icon (for movies). Use the Left and Right arrows on the keypad to choose a new record mode, and then press [OK] again to activate the setting.

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What is the purpose of the Scene Mode?

The Scene Mode (SCN on the Mode Dial) optimizes the camera settings for specific shooting conditions. All of the settings applied in the 15 available scenes can also be applied by controls in the camera menu, but applying them manually can be time-consuming. In addition, amateur photographers may not have a deep enough knowledge of photography to select the appropriate settings for some situations that advanced amateur and professional photographers would employ.

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What is the purpose of the Multi. Exposure Scene?

The Multi. Exposure scene allows photographers to take two exposures and combine them on a single frame. Pressing the shutter button once captures the first image. The image is saved and displayed as a semitransparent overlay on the LCD monitor so that it can be used as a visual reference when composing the second image. Pressing the shutter button a second time captures the second image. The two images are then combined and saved.

After the first shot is captured, the camera settings can be changed for the second exposure.

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What is the purpose of the Art Filters?

The Art Filters apply unique image processing beyond what is available through menu settings in the camera. The results can be very dynamic and dramatic. The Art Filters available in this camera are:

  • Pop Art
  • Soft Focus
  • Pale & Light Color
  • Light Tone
  • Grainy Film
  • Pin Hole
  • Diorama
  • Cross Process
  • Gentle Sepia
  • Dramatic Tone
  • Key Line

Some of the Art Filters can have Art Effects added to further modify the Art Filter charcteristics. The Art Effects are:

  • Soft Focus
  • Pin-Hole
  • Frames
  • White Edges
  • Starlight

The best way to become familiar with the look and capabilities of the Art Filters is to shoot some tests by photographing the same subject with each filter. Through this process, you will become familiar with the applicability of each filter in relation to subject matter. If you shoot in the RAW+JPEG record modes, only the JPEG files will be processed using the Art Filters – the RAW files will not be affected. However, the Art Filter effects can be applied to the RAW files later using the OLYMPUS Viewer 2 software.

The software can also be used to further process JPEG images that were captured using an Art Filter.

Art Filters can also be used when shooting movies; however, due to the longer processing times required by some of the filters, the frame rate of the movie capture may be slower. This will result in movie playback that will be less smooth than the default capture rate of 30 frames per second. Here, again, shoot some tests to determine how the Art Filters will perform when shooting movies and whether or not this will be satisfactory for your purpose.

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What kind of in-camera editing features are avilable in this camera?

A number of in-camera editing functions are available from the camera's Edit menu. To access the Edit menu, please do the following:

  1. Display an image in the Playback menu.
  2. Press the [OK] button. RAW Data Edit or JPEG Edit will be displayed.
  3. Press the [OK] button again.

The following in-camera editing functions are available:

  1. RAW Data Edit - The image is processed as a duplicate jpeg file using the camera's current settings. If different settings are desired, adjust them before selecting the RAW Data Edit option.
  2. JPEG Edit - The following table shows the available functions:
    Function Operation
    Shadow Adj This function brightens areas darkened by backlighting and dim lighting.
    Redeye Fix Corrects redeye caused when a subject's eyes reflect light from the camera flash back to the sensor. The correction may not eliminate all redeye effects in some images.
    Crop This tool is used to crop a part of the image. Use the zoom lever to scroll through the available templates to select the desired size of the finished shot, and then use the directional arrows on the keypad to position the template over the content to be included in the final image. Only images taken in the 4:3 aspect ratio can be edited.
    Aspect Changes the aspect ratio from 4:3 (standard) to 3:2, 16:9 or 6:6. After selecting an aspect ratio template, use the directional arrows on the keypad to position the template above the content to be included in the final image. Only images taken in the 4:3 aspect ratio can be edited.
    Resize This option converts images to 1280 x 960, 640 x 480 or 320x 240. Images that are not taken in aspect ratio 4:3 (standard) are converted to the most applicable size. Images can be converted to a smaller size; they cannot be coverted to a larger size.
    e-Portrait This option makes the skin of the subject(s) smooth. The correction may not be applied in some images.

    Note: JPEG Edit functions cannot be applied when:

    • the image is recorded in RAW format
    • the images have been edited on a computer
    • there is insufficient space remaining on the memory card
    • the image was taken with another camera.

In addition, voice audio notes can be added to previously saved photos.

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What is the aspect ratio (horizontal to vertical ratio) when shooting movies?

Since the Stylus XZ-2 iHS shoots in Full HD (1920 x 1080) and HD (1280 x 720) the aspect ratio is 16:9.

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How much continuous movie recording time does the Stylus XZ-2 iHS have?

When recordingFull HD or HD movies, the maximum continuous recording time is approximately 29 minutes.

Notes:

  • After the maximum movie length for one clip is reached, additional movies can be recorded provided there is space remaining on the memory card.
  • Regardless of memory card capacity, the maximum file size for any single clip is 4 GB.
  • SD, SDHC or SDXC movie cards with a speed class of 6 or greater are recommended for recording HD movies.
  • The file format of the movies is MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264).
  • When shooting movies with an Art Filter, the displayed recording time may vary from the actual time. Movies recorded using the Diorama art filter play back at high speed; the recording time is adjusted to reflect the playback time. Therefore, when recording the movie, the remaining time value will advance more slowly than usual.

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About how large will a file containing one minute of movie footage be?

When recording HD movies, the file size will be approximately 254 MB.

File size will vary depending on shooting conditions.

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The Stylus XZ-2 iHS has five focusing modes. Which one should I use?

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS has five focusing modes that can be selected for specific shooting scenarios.

  • S-AF - (Single AF) The camera focuses once when the shutter button is pressed halfway. When the focus is locked, a beep sounds, and the AF confirmation mark and the AF target mark light up. This mode is suitable for taking pictures of still subjects or subjects with limited movement.
  • Super Macro - You can focus down to 1 cm. from the subject.
  • C-AF - (Continuous AF) The camera repeats focusing when the shutter button is pressed halfway. When the subject is in focus, the AF confirmation mark lights up on the monitor and the beep sounds when the focus is locked at the first frame. Even if the subject moves or you change the composition of the picture, the camera continues trying to focus. This mode is used with the sequential drive modes.
  • C-AF+TR - (AF Tracking) Press the shutter button halfway to focus, the camera then tracks and maintains focus on the current subject while the shutter button is held in this position. The AF target is displayed in red if the camera can no longer track the subject. Release the shutter button and then frame the subject again and press the shutter button halfway.
  • MF - (Manual Focus) This function allows you to manually focus on any subject. Press and hold the OK button for awhile, then focus on the subject with the Up and Down arrows on the arrow pad. Manual focus can also be assigned to the Control Ring in the camera's menu by setting the Fn2 lever to MF.

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What is exposure compensation and how is it used?

Metering systems in cameras measure light but do not have a way of determining what the subject matter is, so the exposure decisions the metering system makes may not always be appropriate for the subject matter. This phenomenon is called subject failure. As with Spot metering, the human touch may be required to arrive at correct exposures. Exposure Compensation allows the photographer to set up the camera to under- or overexpose in specific situations.

Exposure Compensation is enabled by pressing the Exposure Compensation button, which is also the Up position on the wheel controller. The values are changed using the left and right positions of the wheel controller. Exposure Compensation is disabled by setting the value back to 0.0 and pressing the Exposure Compensation button again.

The Exposure Compensation value is shown in the bottom center of the LCD screen as a plus (overexposure) or minus (underexposure) value.

The Exposure Compensation function can be set to under- or overexpose up to two f-stops in 1/3-stop increments.

It is important that you set the compensation back to 0.0 before shooting subjects in other conditions so that the subjects will be properly exposed.

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Since the camera has an auto white balance option, why is it necessary to have white balance presets?

Having white balance presets grants the photographer more control over color temperature, which can have practical or purely artistic benefits. For example, daylight can be warm or cold. On a sunny day, early and late light has a warmer appearance than when the sun is high. The WB AUTO option might color correct for that warmth, thus taking away the ambience. Using the (Sunny) setting will preserve that warmth. The WB AUTO setting will also tend to diminish the red, yellow and orange colors in a sunset, so it is advisable to use the setting when shooting sunsets.

On cloudy days, the light seems colder because the clouds absorb the warmer red and yellow frequencies of the sunlight coming from above the clouds. Therefore, there is a (Cloudy) preset to record the images with a warmer appearance. Creatively, the preset can be used on a sunny day to give images a more “golden” appearance, or it can be used to make a sunset warmer.

The (incandescent light) setting compensates for the yellowish color cast of indoor lighting and candle light. This setting should be used for shooting subjects being lit with floodlights—for example, for posting to an Internet auction site. Creatively, the preset can be used outdoors in daylight to make the images appear more blue—giving a surreal feeling of coldness and moodiness.

The (fluorescent lamp) preset provides an options for fluorescent lighting. The preset is valuable when photographing in business and office environments.

The (Underwater) setting color corrects for the lack of warm tones when shooting underwater with the accessory PT-054 Underwater Housing (sold separately).

The White Balance options are displayed as icons on the LCD screen. In the camera’s menu, they are displayed by their icons and color temperatures in degrees Kelvin. Pressing the right arrow button in this menu reveals sliders that can be used to more closely fine tune the color rendition.

If Custom White Balance (CWB) is selected in the Super Control Panel, a window opens up to the right of the White Balance window showing the selected Custom White Balance as well as a window in the bottom center of the LCD screen. Use the left and right arrow buttons to select a Custom White Balance in Kelvin color temperature and then press the OK button to set it.

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When would I use One-Touch White Balance?

There are many light sources and situations that are not covered by Auto White Balance or the other settings in the White Balance menu. Many noncontinuous light sources, such as fluorescent, mercury vapor and sodium vapor lights, do not have all of the colors of the spectrum. There are also situations in which many different types of lights are used in one environment. These do not neatly fit into what the camera firmware knows about white balance, so it is necessary to “educate” the camera about the specific light balance by shooting a white reference subject such as a white card and saving the data in the White Balance menu as a custom white balance setting.

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The Night Scene Modes make night photography easy, but I want more control. How should I set the camera up for night photography?

Creative night photography involves using the camera’s manual settings.

Two accessories are essential for night photography. The first is a steady tripod or camera clamp to stabilize the camera during the long exposures involved in night photography. The other accessory is a cable release. The Stylus XZ-2 iHS uses the RM-UC1 Remote Cable Release (Item # 260237), which can be purchased separately from authorized dealers or online directly from The Olympus Store. Click here to order.

The cable release is plugged into the camera’s USB connector. The release button can be locked down for long BULB exposures.

To set the camera up for night shooting:

  • Turn the Mode Dial to the M (Manual) shooting mode. In this mode, the shutter speed and f-stop are entered manually — there is no auto exposure. The shutter speed and f-stop values are shown at the bottom of the LCD screen. The f-stops are selected using the Control Ring, and the shutter speeds are selected using the Wheel Controller.
  • Because night scenes have mixed light sources, you may have to change the WB (White Balance) setting. Experiment by using AUTO or one of the preset WB settings to find a desirable color balance.
  • ISO is also subject to testing, depending on the exposure time used. ISO 200 or 400 would be a good place to start. If the exposure is expected to go to the maximum of 60 minutes, ISO 100 must be used.
  • SHARPNESS should be set to –2. This is the minimum sharpening the camera can apply. Since night images are usually post-processed, it is best to begin with an unsharpened image because each step of post-processing of a JPEG image recompresses the image a little bit, degrading the image.
  • In the menu, Noise Reduction should be set to On.
  • The focus mode should be set to MF (Manual Focus). This will prevent the camera from changing focus during long exposures and yield more selective focus than if autofocus were used.

It’s a good idea to keep notes on your settings for future night shoots. You can also preserve your settings for future night photography by creating a Custom Mode Setup. Remember to reset your camera to its normal settings after your night shoot.

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How does this camera reduce sensor noise commonly found at high ISOs?

Digital cameras vary the light sensitivity of the image sensor by varying the gain voltage applied to the sensor, much like turning up the volume on a stereo. When the gain voltage is increased, as it is when shooting with higher ISOs, the sensor becomes hot. Hot pixels perform differently under extreme conditions. The result is a graininess known as “noise.”

Noise occurs whenever sufficient heat has built up on the image sensor. Therefore, it can also be seen in images with long exposures, such as night photographs, due to the additional heat generated by charging the sensor for an extended period of time. All digital cameras include technologies to minimize the effects of noise. This camera uses a sensor that dramatically decreases noise. In addition, it combats noise via two methods: NOISE FILTER and NOISE REDUCTION.

The NOISE FILTER function is found in the menu. It has four options: OFF, LOW, STANDARD and HIGH. The majority of digital cameras have a default noise filter that is always on. Some photographers feel that this reduces detail, so Olympus has included the option to not use a noise filter at all.

If NOISE FILTER is set to OFF, it is recommended to set the SHARPNESS setting to –2. If  SHARPNESS is set to 0 it may exaggerate the noise when no noise filtering is being applied.

The NOISE REDUCTION function can also be enabled from the menu. After the first exposure, the camera makes a second exposure of equal length with the shutter closed. It then, in effect, overlays the two images, finds the hot pixels in the second image (essentially, any pixels that aren't black) and deletes the corresponding pixels from the first image. This doubles the shooting time. If the first exposure is 12 minutes 30 seconds, the second, black exposure will also be 12 minutes 30 seconds for a total exposure time of 25 minutes.

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How do I decide which ISO setting to use?

Think of the ISO values as film speeds. Low ISOs such as 100 are better-suited to situations in which there is a lot of light – outdoors scenes, for example. Higher ISOs, such as 400 and 800, would be used outdoors where there is plenty of light and fast shutter speeds are desired – sports and air shows, for example – or indoors for available light shooting. ISO 3200 and higher would be used where light levels are very low, such as indoors or at night. However, because the Stylus XZ-2 iHS has a fast f1.8 lens, your choice of ISO can be more conservative.

The ISO value is set automatically when the Mode Dial is set to iAUTO, SCN or ART.

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How is gradation applied?

Gradation allows the camera to process images in various fashions suited to subject scenarios. It applies tools that affect the brightness and contrast of the processed image. The value of gradation is that the photographer can select the look of the image in-camera when shooting or change the gradation of a RAW image after the fact using the RAW EDIT function. (Changes are saved as separate JPEG images.)

The Gradation options are found in the camera's Picture Mode submenu. There are four options:

  • AUTO – This option divides the image into detailed regions and adjusts the brightness separately for each region. This is effective for images with areas of large contrast in which the whites appear too bright or the blacks appear too dark. It is a form of Shadow Adjustment Technology. Photos with a greater range of light like landscapes and night scenes would benefit from this option.
  • NORMAL – No gradation algorithms are applied to the images.
  • HIGH KEY – Gradation is applied that best suits a bright subject, such as silhouettes on a foggy day. It processes images so they are bright with slightly higher contrast in the brightest areas.
  • LOW KEY – Gradation is applied that best suits a dark subject that NORMAL gradation would tend to process lighter. It can be used to make images that have a somewhat somber mood.

The best way to see the effects produced by gradation is to take the same shot with each of the options and in the camera’s Playback Mode, display them on the LCD in the four-shot display option to compare the differences. Remember to change the option back to AUTO or NORMAL after you have finished with a HIGH KEY or LOW KEY subject. You can also use HIGH KEY and LOW KEY creatively for unique subjects or scenarios such as a high key or low key portrait to create a mood.

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What Is the histogram?

The histogram gives the photographer feedback on the distribution of the light and dark tones in the image. When it is enabled, it can be displayed on the LCD screen in real time by pressing the [INFO] button until the histogram displays as part of the LCD screen information.

The histogram appears as a graph in the shooting mode. It is called up by changing the view on the LCD screen by pressing the INFO button. The left end (blue) displays the distribution of dark values such as shadows. The right end (red) displays the distribution of highlights. The region between the two ends displays the mid-tones. The green region in the display represents the distribution of tones in the center of the image for more critical assessment for setting exposure.

The histogram for each photo can also be displayed in the Playback mode. Select the image, and then press [INFO] to display the histogram. In the playback mode, the histogram display shows (clockwise from the upper left) overall image brightness, brightness for the red channel, brightness for the blue channel and brightness for the green channel.

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What are Live Guides?

Live Guides are tools available in the iAUTO mode to apply shooting controls through the use of touch-screen features such as sliders and buttons on the Touch LCD screen on the Stylus XZ-2 iHS. The advantage is that you can see the effects on the photos you will shoot when using the settings applied on the screen in real time. Live Guides are displayed in the iAUTO mode by pressing the OK button and using the Up and Down arrow buttons to select the tool you want to use. Each tool defaults to a center position on the slider. Dragging the slider upward and downward controls the degree to which the tool is applied. The Live Guide tools are:

  • Change Color Saturation - Dragging the slider upward makes the image more clear and vivid in contrast. Dragging the slider downward makes the image flatter and more muted in contrast.
  • Change Color Image - Dragging the slider upward makes the image warmer. Dragging the slider downward makes the image cooler.
  • Change Brightness - Dragging the slider upward makes the image brighter. Dragging the slider downward makes the image darker.
  • Blur Background - Dragging the slider upward blurs the background by automatically using a wider f-stop. Dragging the slider downward makes the background sharper by automatically using a smaller f-stop.
  • Express Motions - Dragging the slider upwards produces more blurred motion effects by using lower shutter speeds. Dragging the slider downward freezes motion by using faster shutter speeds.
  • Shooting Tips - Shooting tips provides from two to four shooting tips for common shooting situations (depending on the topic). The topics are:
    • Tips for Child Photo
    • Tips for Pet Photo
    • Tips for Flower Photo
    • Tips for Cuisine Photo
    • Tips for Framing

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Does the Stylus XZ-2 iHS have options for bracketing?

Bracketing refers to the act of varying settings automatically over a series of shots or a series of images to bracket a selected value. Bracketing is available in the P, A, S, and M modes. The BKT Drive Mode needs to be used.

The bracketing options in the Stylus XZ-2 iHS are:

  • AE BKT - (Auto Exposure Bracketing) The camera varies exposure by 0.3EV, 0.7EV or 1.0EV over two or three shots. The camera will shoot the sequence of bracketed shots in the following order as long as the shutter button is pressed all the way down: normal, underexposed, overexposed.
  • WB BKT - (White Balance Bracketing) Three images with different white balances (adjusted in specified color directions) are automatically created from one shot, starting with the value currently selected for the white balance.
  • FL BKT - (Flash Bracketing) The camera varies flash level over three shots (no modification on the first shot, negative on the second, positive on the third). All shots are taken while the shutter button is pressed down.
  • ISO BKT - (ISO Bracketing) The camera varies sensitivity by 0.3EV, 0.7EV or 1.0EV over three shots ( no modification on the first shot, negative on the second shot, positive on the third shot), bracketing the current sensitivity setting (or if auto sensitivity is selected, the optimal sensitivity setting) while keeping shutter speed and aperture fixed. In single-frame shooting, one shot is taken each time the shutter button is pressed; in sequential shooting, all shots are taken while the shutter button is pressed.
  • ART BKT - (Art Filter Bracketing) Each time the shutter is pressed, the camera processes the first image using Art Filters preselected and registered in the ART BKT option, resulting in a set starting with the original normally processed image and copies using different Art Filters. You can turn art filter bracketing on or off for each picture mode. Recording may take some time, depending on the Art Filters selected.

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Does the Stylus XZ-2 iHS support the RC wireless flash system?

The Olympus RC wireless flash system allows up to three groups of off-camera flashes to be controlled and triggered by the Stylus XZ-2 iHS. The flashes compatible with the RC flash system are the FL-36R, FL-50R, FL-300R and FL-600R.

The system uses a menu setup in the camera and a mode setup in the flash units. The built-in pop-up flash in the camera serves as the controller for the flash setup.

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Does the Stylus XZ-2 iHS support WiFi connectivity?

The Stylus XZ-2 iHS supports wireless connectivity with both EyeFi and Flash Air SD cards.

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Does Olympus offer a remote cable release for this camera?

The RM-UC1 Remote Cable Release is compatible with this camera.

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. To order the RM-UC1 (Item #260237), click here.

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Does Olympus offer a battery charger for this camera?

The battery can be charged in-camera using the bundled F-2AC battery charger or power from a computer USB port. To charge the battery outside of the camera, Olympus offers the F-3AC battery charger, which can be purchased from The Olympus Store by clicking here.

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Does Olympus offer an underwater housing for this camera?

The underwater housing for the Stylus XZ-2 iHS is the PT-054 underwater housing. The PT-054 can be purchase from the Olympus Online Store by clicking here.

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Does Olympus offer accessory lenses for the Stylus XZ-2 iHS?

Olympus offers the TCON-17X TeleConverter for the Stylus XZ-2 iHS. To purchase it from the Olympus Online Store click here.

The CLA-12 Conversion Lens Adapter is required to mount the TCON-17X onto the camera. To purchase the adapter from the Olympus Online Store click here.

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I can't get a sharp image using the Night Scene Modes? What am I doing wrong?

The NIGHT SCENE and NIGHT+PORTRAIT scenes are meant to take long exposures of skylines and city streets by leaving the shutter open for several seconds. Camera motion while the shutter is open causes blurriness. Therefore, it is necessary to stabilize the camera by bracing it against something solid or by using a tripod or camera clamp.

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