Like all its competitors, Olympus continues to bulk up on higher-end compacts, going after consumers who are willing to pay for better features to get better photos. Enter the Stylus XZ-10, a $400 point-and-shoot with a bright lens.
The XZ-10's lens will actually be better for some than the one on Olympus' $600 enthusiast compact, the XZ-2. It starts at a bright f1.8 26mm and zooms in to f2.7 130mm -- a 5x zoom that's tough to beat in this class of camera. By comparison, the XZ-2 has a 4x f1.8-2.5 28-112mm lens, so it's not as wide or as long.
The XZ-2's edge is its 1/1.7-inch 12-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor, which is larger than 1/2.3-inch 12-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor in the XZ-10. The XZ-2's larger sensor should get you better photo quality, but there's $200 separating the cameras and I'm not so sure the quality difference will be that great.
There are, of course, other differences between the two that contribute to that $200. For example, though it has the same 3-inch high-res touch-screen LCD, the XZ-10's doesn't tilt. There's also no accessory port, so you can't add a flash or electronic viewfinder the way you can with the XZ-2.
What you do get is a customizable control ring around the lens for quickly changing settings such as aperture and shutter speeds, as well as a programmable Fn button on the back. The camera can also capture 1080p and slow-motion movies; shoots in raw and raw plus JPEG; and has multishot modes for handheld low-light and HDR photos.
Basically, for a point-and-shoot this camera has a really nice lens, manual and semimanual shooting modes and raw capture, a large high-res screen, and quick control over important settings. Everything an enthusiast would look for in a very small pocket camera.
If you're shopping by specs, it's only the sensor size that falls short. We'll have to wait until the Olympus Stylus XZ-10 is released in late March to see how much of a difference it actually makes, though.