i enjoy candids. whether street or family/friends, i like being unobtrusive and capturing spontaneous moments, slices of life, tiny stories, senses of place. i am therefore always in search of the most compact, unnoticeable tools. i settled on the gxr m mount as my 'premium' camera in part for the size, but also in part because the articulating evf allows me to shoot in 'waist level' mode, which is much more unobtrusive than staring someone down whilst pointing my lens at them. ive gotten photos i never would have with this method. but sometimes you dont feel like carrying that cam around your neck, or you dont want to be limited to a single FL etc. you want something to plop in your jacket or dangle from your wrist. maybe you also want a zoom. so ive been trying/reading about many of the new crop of 'serious compacts' that might fit that bill. and while i hate not having a vf, i was very intrigued by the xz-2's articulating screen that allows 'touch, focus, fire', 28-110 fast 1.8-2.5 lens, all in a pocketable little bundle. i looked around, and really, theres not very much on the web, either review or blog wise, compared to leica, fuji, panny and sony. ive always been an oly fan, so i thought i'd give it a whirl. wow, have i been impressed. first, size wise, it seems 'chunky' because the lens diameter is wider than many of its rivals. but it is actually less wide, less deep and ever so slightly lighter than the fuji x10/20. its certainly jacket, and also cargo pant, pocketable. its eminently easy to 'wrist carry'. check. second, feel. pretty damned solid, nice textured grip. with the lens extended we encounter one of the really unique features of the oly: next to the lens is what looks like the 'timer' switch on a film cam. in the 'on' position the lens ring turns in stepped, detente fashion and controls aperture (i shoot in A mode; in S mode it controls SS). flip the switch and that same ring now moves in stepless fashion to control zoom! when in manual focus mode, this setting allows for pretty smooth manual focus-better than the original incarnation of the fuji x100! even though youre focusing on an lcd, which i hate, the magnification plus manual control really makes it easy and effective, if not downright pleasureable. no ones done this before! two checks! third, as you get ready to shoot, you pull out the articulating screen, fold it horizontally, hold the cam at chest level, touch the screen wherever you want the focus to be, and bam! photo! AF is not instantaneous and is not as fast as focusing through half pressing the shutter, but not enough of a lag to be really bothersome. and at least imo, fully compensated for by the overwhelming stealth factor. and if you want, the xz-2 also accepts any of olys external vf's! check and check. fourth, i shoot jpegs. i fully understand the supposed benefits of raw, but i shoot jpegs. and for the money i spend on cameras, i expect the jpeg engine to deliver at this point on the technology continuum. the cams i use now, the ricoh, the fuji x100, and many others ive enjoyed using in the past, all delivered great ooc jpegs and left plenty of headroom for me to play around with in LR, whether shadow/highlights or WB. and, given the small sensor, i found the xz-2 really delivers in this vital area. pictures really pop, have good resolutiion and very good micro contrast and clarity throughout the frame. i like clarity throughout the frame. its the way my eyes still see, and very often its what i want to reproduce in my images. no problem with the oly, whether macro, portrait, scene or landscape, results are crisp and clear. as for high iso, its pretty darn good up to 1600 (i turn off noise reduction), at which point the overall picture still useable but you can see loss of detail when zooming in. at 1.8 the lens is very fast, and many times that will result in lower iso than you will get in the same scene with competitor cameras. plus oly has always had excellent in camera image stabilization, and the xz-2 is no exception. really big check. so at the end of the day, i'm really not sure why this camera doesnt get any press and seems overlooked by enthusiasts/hobbyists. it seems to me the perfect travel companion. and if youre a 'street shooter', i honestly cannot imagine a better tool for your trade in a compact cam. and frankly from what ive experienced and seen of its competitors, it has better IQ than most, and is more versatile than others. at $600usd, its the same price as the fuji x20 and i think the sony rx100, but a lot more than the lx7. highly recommended. below are some examples of what it can do in different situations.