Casio EX-Z1080 Review
The Casio EX-Z1080 is a 10.1 Megapixel "ultra-compact" camera from the Exilim Zoom line. It sports a 3x optical zoom lens, 2.6-inch wide and bright LCD display, video resolutions of 848x480 (widescreen) and 640x480 (standard), and an abundance of "Best Shot" modes, which make this an ideal camera for beginning and intermediate photographers. The controls and over all build of the camera also add to the ease of use. It has a fully automatic mode that allows you to change some camera settings such as white balance, ISO and metering options. There are also the 41 Best Shot modes that are preprogrammed for specific shooting situations if you are feeling a little more creative or having trouble capturing good photos in a certain shooting situation. This model is also very stylish, with 4 color schemes to choose from (Blue, Black, Gray, and Pink.)
Like past Exilim models, the EX-Z1080's ergonomics are nice. This is a very compact model that measures 3.59"(W) x 2.25"(H) x .95"(D) and weighs in at just under 4.4 oz (excluding battery and accessories.) Even though it is so small, it is very easy to use via the "pinch" technique. The zoom controls are conveniently placed around the shutter release, and there only a few other simple buttons on the camera. The menu system is very easy to use, and most of the camera options are always available on the left side of the screen. The 2.6-inch wide and bright LCD screen takes up most of the back of the camera and is very prone to fingerprints. It works very well outside in bright sunlight, but would benefit from a non-glare coating as it still has some angle which reflect the sun. The display " gains up" in low light situations (like in your tungsten lit living room) to help aid in framing your shots.
Shooting performance was very impressive for such a small camera. From power up to first image captured measured only 1.4 seconds! Shutter lag, the time from depressing the shutter release and capturing the image, was around 1/10 of a second when pre-focused, and about 2/10 of a second including autofocus. Rapid shooting in single drive mode captured images at intervals of 2 seconds without flash, but slowed to about 3 - 3.5 seconds with flash, depending on your subject's distance and battery life.
There are also four continuous capture or burst modes to choose from (Normal, High Speed, Flash Cont. and Zoom Cont.) Normal mode allowed me to capture 5 images in just 5.5 seconds. High Speed mode was able to capture 31 frames in 6.7 seconds. The disadvantage of this mode is that it shoots in 2-megapixel Fine mode at ISO 800, so the images are small and very noisy. Flash Continuous mode was also very robust, capturing 3 frames in only 9/10 of a second, in the full 10-megapixel Fine mode (note you may also use the flash in Normal mode, but not High Speed). Zoom continuous mode allows you to capture two images at different focal lengths at the same time. The LCD viewfinder briefly displayed the live image between exposures in Normal mode, but in all other modes it blacked out completely. For these shooting options an optical view finder would be very useful. All tests were done using an Ultra SDHC 150x 4GB SD card, Auto recording mode, 10M Fine size/quality, Anti-Shake on, preview off, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless noted otherwise.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The overall image quality of its 10M Fine images was very good. Both indoor and outdoor shots were crisp and sharp with good color saturation. The 3x optical zoom helped produce these sharp images throughout its 38 - 114mm (equivalent) zoom range. At the 38mm range, there was a little barrel distortion when shooting landscapes and group portraits, however it produced excellent quality when the macro feature was enabled. The 114mm end was very sharp and was more than enough to single in on an individual or get you a bit closer to a distant object. There were only slight traces of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) around brightly lit objects. When the Anti-Shake feature was enabled, there wasn't a noticeable difference when shooting in well lit areas, but in lower light situations noise did noticeably increase. This is due to the camera raising the ISO to adjust for the camera movements. If possible in low light areas, try using a tripod.
Indoors, I found it also produced good results, as long as there is plenty of ambient lighting or you are within the very limited flash range. Casio claims its tiny flash has a maximum range of about 10 feet at wide angle (using ISO auto.) We were able to achieve good results when shooting between 5 and 7 feet. The results produced excellent skin tones and vivid, well saturated colors. The range of this flash is standard for a consumer model due to the small size of the camera and battery.
Movie mode allows you to record video at resolutions of 848x480, 640x480, and 320x240 with audio. The length of a clip is limited up to 10 minutes. You can also enable the Anti-Shake system, which is great for steadying those handheld movies. Overall, the 848x480 and 640x480 modes produced good results, although as with other models that include the YouTube movie mode, the quality of these movies I believe is sub-par.
The EX-Z1000 is powered by a small 3.7-volt 1300mAh NP-40 rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, which is charged with the included battery charger. Using CIPA Standards, Casio claims a battery life of approx. 370 shots or 9 hours and 50 minutes of continuous playback on a fully charged pack. I had no problems capturing all of our samples and concluding all of our other tests on a single charge.
Bottom line - Casio's EX-Z1080 is a great addition to their Exilim Zoom line. With its outstanding
performance, easy of use and huge collection of "Best Shot" modes, this is a great choice for
anyone considering an ultra-compact consumer camera. With a MSRP of US$279, it is a great value for a 10-
megapixel in this category.
Casio has announced a Firmware Update Software Version 1.01 for the EX-Z1080
Improvements provided by this update: Stabilizes movie white balance.
Visit Casio's Support site for more details.
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