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Casio Exilim EX-Z1000
(in Black) - Digital Camera Review
Casio have this
to say about the camera:
"The new EXILIM
ZOOM EX-Z1000 packs a powerful punch in a sleek, compact package. Small
enough to be held in the palm of the hand, this 10.1 megapixel digital
camera still captures super high-resolution images that reproduce crystal-clear
even in very large sizesperfect for printing or on-screen viewing
of those priceless, once-in-a-lifetime shots. This new model is the first
in the series to incorporate a large 2.8 inch, wide and bright LCD display.
CASIO makes the most of this extra screen space to offer great new functions
like simultaneous viewing of a wide angle and a telephoto shot, and a
convenient right side set of icon controls."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Canon Powershot A700)
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - The camera has a small amount of internal memory (only 8mb), and isn't supplied with a memory card. Purchase of an additional case is recommended to protect the metallic finish of the camera. The camera connects via the docking station and has a separate cable which allows output to a television via A/V sockets
Battery usage: Battery life is good, rated at 360 shots. Charging the camera is done via the docking station. As the battery is user replacable, I expect the camera to have a long useful life.
Operation and Options:
The play button turns the camera to review mode while the shutter
release button returns it to photo mode. The play and record buttons can
be used to switch the camera on. All other modes such as Video, Audio,
Scene modes etc are accessed using the Best Shot button at the back of
Camera screen views and menus: Photo Mode:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen has a high resolution of 230,400 pixels and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate for reviewing photos. There is a live and review histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. The screen also has an automatic (and manual) brightness enhancer for taking photos where the screen is not clear, such as in bright sunlight. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.
Shooting Options: The camera has many options, things like resolution, flash, focusing mode, self-timer, anti-shake, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, all quickly accessible through the SET button and the Panel Layout mode. Flash options are one-touch buttons. One of the more interesting features is the continuous flash shooting mode - this lets you shoot three photos very quickly with flash.
Scene modes: (available by pressing the BS - Bestshot button) This has a large number of the usual scene modes. You'll also find video and audio recording in here, as well as the option to setup your own user created scene mode.
Playback Mode: Scrolling through the photos is VERY quick - Casio say it can scroll through 100 photos in 10 seconds, should you ever want to view the photos this quick! The zoom is quick and works at up to 8x. Basic shot information is shown about the images, this can be switched to the view above with the display button.
Playback menu: (below) You can display a slideshow, edit movies, correct keystone, correct colour, rotate, resize, trim, dub audio, copy between the internal memory and vice versa as well as the usual printing options.
Setup menu: (shown on the right, above) The setup menu allows you to set sounds (including the ability to mute all sounds apart from the "in-focus" sound, which is handy), set image numbering to continuous (handy), set time zones, switch on a timestamp (date, or date and time), adjust date, time, language, and set video out to NTSC / PAL, and 4:3 or 16:9. There the other more usual options as well such as reset and format etc.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of pictures will fit in the provided memory:
As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, and you can't fit very many photos in the 8mb of provided memory (simply treat it as a means of testing whether the camera works when you don't have a memory card), so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended. There is a good choice regarding image size, quality and aspect ratios - with 16:9 and 3:2 ratio options available.
A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend a 512mb memory card, and preferably a 1gb memory card, as these are relatively affordable - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to be away from a computer for a long time (such as when going on holiday) then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in. This camera takes only SD memory cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000:
Find the latest
prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 256mb: £6.07,
1gb (1000mb): £16.65,
2gb (2000mb): £32.35
Speed: The camera switches on very quickly, just under 1 second, and can take its first photo in 1.7 seconds. Focusing is fast at under half a second when the shutter is half-pressed - if you fully press the shutter without a half press then focusing is quicker and a photo can be taken in 0.2 seconds which is very quick. The camera shutter response seems almost instant when pre-focused (around 0.1 second reponse) - and shot to shot time was quite quick taking around 2 seconds between shots. High speed continuous shooting and continuous flash shoots at around 4 fps and shoots upto 3 shots, normal continuous shooting mode shoots at slightly slower than 1fps. The flash recharge time was equally quick - with a delay of an extra 2 seconds between shots. The cameras menus seemed responsive and zooming in and reviewing photos is all quick and easy to use.
Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, but does have a lot of options and features, the set button allows quick access to the most popular controls when the display is set to "Panel" mode. The controls on the back of the camera are easy to use although the mode dial and buttons are small. The menus are responsive and easy to read. The photo and playback buttons on the top of the camera makes choosing between the modes very easy. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple. The bestshot modes helps you find the right shooting mode for each situation to acheive the best results, although it seems a little bit strange that the video mode is also in there.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use but some are a little small and difficult to press, which may be a factor for some people. The buttons are in a good position and easy to reach while composing shots. There seems to be a good amount of buttons for straight-forward digital camera use. The buttons feel okay but are in general slightly small, the zoom control is a good size, easy to use, and very stylish. The shutter release is good. The buttons are labelled well (with small symbols and little text). I thought the camera felt okay ergonomically, there is very little in the way of a handgrip, and due to the large 2.8" screen there isn't much room on the back for your thumb, meaning that the screen is often the most comfortable place to rest your thumb. The battery compartment seems well positioned and is easy to open, although it does seem slightly flimsy. The camera is very pocketable and very stylish in black or silver.
Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo. The flash is quite bright yet doesn't go very far so it might not be so useful in taking group photos where some people are a long way from the camera - the ISO setting is often increased to help in this situation resulting in high noise in indoor photos. On AUTO ISO, the ISO setting seemed quite high in these photos, and is increased further if anti-shake mode is switched on. The camera did a fairly good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light, thanks to the focus assist lamp.
ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: 50, 100, 200, 400 are selectable, while ISO 800, 1600, 3200 are only available with anti-shake mode switched on, or by using one of the scene modes such as anti-shake or high sensitivity - I had to add additional lighting to make the camera use ISO1600 in High Sensitivity mode in order to produce the ISO1600 test photo).
Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 10 megapixel Polaroid i1032, and as a reference point, the 6 megapixel Canon Powershot A700.
The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 offers anti-shake and high sensitivity modes of ISO800, ISO1600, and ISO3200, as you can see these modes are best avoided as noise is high even at ISO200 and ISO400. These modes are handy in low light situations however, a tripod or real (hardware) image stabilisation is a much better choice as the high ISO modes produce images that are only usable when resized dramatically (for example for web use or for printing at 6x4). ISO1600 and ISO3200 images are especially blurred presumably to removed as much noise as possible. The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 noise is very colourful and blotchy being made out of mainly large red, green and blue dots. It's easy to see why the Polaroid i1032 has decided to limit ISO options when looking at the Casio's results, in fact the Polaroid results appear slightly less noisey and slightly sharper, so perhaps Polaroid could have provided an ISO400 mode as well.
Outside: The camera has quite rich, saturated colours, with good contrast. There was good detail, assuming the ISO was kept at ISO50 - if the ISO level increased, as in the 16:9 photo above, then detail is lost. Detail is generally lacking, and images are quite soft considering the camera has 10 megapixels. Increasing the sharpness setting in camera may help. In general 'normal' quality jpeg artefacts are not easily seen. Purple fringing is fairly low, but noticable when images are viewed at 100%.
Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the optical zoom is capable of. The camera has a "smart zoom" (ala Sony etc) mode that lets you zoom without degrading image quality when the camera is set to a lower resolution, for example in VGA mode, you can zoom upto 17.1x without image quality suffering - the downside is that you end up with a VGA image, when set to the 5mp mode the maximum zoom is 4.3x.
Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well for the main subject, however the darker areas lack detail - exposure in other photos was generally very good. Purple fringing is very low in these photos but was noticable in some other photos.. Vignetting was generally un-noticable, however it was visible in some macro photos taken at wide-angle.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens is relatively quiet in operation. The zoom control gives fairly good control over how you frame your subject with 6 steps between wide and telephoto zoom.
Quality issues: Purple fringing was lower than average, and apart
from noise, and image softness, there were no other image quality issues
Macro: the macro mode allows you to be roughly 6cm away from from the subject, this is with the lens zoomed out. For best results are achieved use manual white balance and a more diffuse light source.
The custom white balance helps get better colours in the macro mode - in this photo I increased the sharpness setting in camera, however the image would still benefit from being slightly sharper still. Noise seems low in this photo and colour is very good however detail could be better.
Video mode: The camera features a high resolution VGA 640 x 480 video mode at 25 fps with sound. Video quality was good however this will use memory quickly - a 512mb SD card will record 6-7 minutes on High Quality, 11 minutes on Normal setting, and 27 minutes on the "Long Play" (320x240, 12fps) setting. Zoom is not functional while recording or while playing back the video.
Summary: The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 is an ultra-compact digital camera with a 10 megapixel sensor, a 3x optical zoom lens, and a large 2.8" screen. The camera provides speedy performance, a lot of user friendly controls and options, and a compact, stylish metal body. Images provide good colour and exposure, but unfortunately lack detail and suffer from excessive noise. The anti-shake mode(s) add even more noise and further degrade image quality. As one of the most compact, highest megapixel digital cameras currently available, the low price makes this model tempting, however I would personally recommend a different camera, as this model's image quality severely counteracts the benefits of the 10 megapixel sensor. It's a shame, as this is a very enjoyable camera to use.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Additional Test Images are viewable in the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 Sample Photo Gallery.