Casio EX-Z150 Review
As the little brother to the EX-Z200, the Casio Exilim EX-Z150 sports many of the features of the Z200 at a much lower price. The main feature is a 4x wide optical zoom lens allowing you to see more than most enty-level digicams. Also featured are a 3" LCD screen, one-touch video capture, face detection and sensor shift optical image stabilization. Your convenient YouTube and Ebay bestshot modes are also included among the 22 pre-sets.
Small, stylish and available in 5 different colors, the Z150 has a very sturdy and comfortable feel. The controls are simple and well placed, allowing you to easily operate the camera with one or two hands. On top you will find the power button as well as the shutter release button with the zoom control coupled around it. On the back you will find the well placed video button in the top right, for easy access to the video recording feature. Under that are the REC and PLAY buttons, 4-way controller and at the bottom are the "BS" best shot and MENU buttons. Taking up the majority of the back is the huge 3" LCD screen. The largest for a camera in this price range. It is easy to see in most lighting conditions as it bright enough to see outdoors and gains up nicely in low light conditions. It can be tricky to see through the reflections caused by direct sunlight.
Performance from the Z150 is slow, taking 3.6 to capture its first image after being turned on. When the camera is pre-focused, the shutter lag is 2/10 of a second and it takes 1 second when you allow the camera to focus before it captures an image. In single shot mode, I was able to capture 5 images in 13.1 seconds without the flash and 5 images in 14.9 seconds with it. Also featuring a continuous shooting mode that allows you to shoot with or without the flash, the Z150 was able to capture 10 images in 9 seconds without and 5 images in 9.8 seconds with the flash. All of our tests were completed using a Sandisk Ultra II 1GB SD memory card, auto mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The quality from our outdoor images is ok. Shooting in auto mode with the ISO also set to auto, the camera produced good exposures. We did see some small spots of over saturated colors in our sample shots. Look at the flag in the canon shot. The image also seem to look grainy or noisy when viewing it at 100% even at ISO 100. Featuring a 4x wide optical zoom lens, with a 35mm equivalent of 28-112mm, the Z150 gives you an excellent wide angle that is great for shooting landscape shots. It also allows you to shoot group portrait shots indoors and in places where there isn't a lot of room. With the telephoto end, you get framing options that allow you to single out an individual in a group or the ability to get a little closer to distant objects.
Our indoor quality was pretty good, giving us good exposures and colors. All of the M&M man shots show us that there is some edge softness, making it hard to read some of the magazine titles. A down side to the camera is the weak flash. Casio claims that the flash has a range from approx. 6 inches to 10.5 feet at the wide end and 2 feet to 5 feet at the telephoto end. As you can see in the M&M man flash shot, at ISO 64, there was not enough power to correctly light the image from just 7 feet away at mid-telephoto zoom. When shooting in ISO auto, your ISO settings will climb quickly as you get further away from your image.
When shooting in Portrait mode or any of the other "Best Shot" modes that involve people, you expect to use the face detection. The Casio's face detection software is a little more particular than that of other manufacturers when it comes to recognizing faces. In order for the camera to detect faces, your subject has to be relatively still and directly facing the camera. If the face is moving too much or even turned to the side a little, the camera has difficulty registering them, if they pick them up at all. This can make using the face detection tricky when shooting children or anyone that is moving.
Video quality from the Z150 is good for a digicam. The camera does well when it comes to keeping your subjects in focus, as well as continually adjusting the white balance. It does a descent job at using the available light, but the lower the light level, the more noise that will be apparent in the videos. The on board mic is very sensitive and picks up a lot of background noise, which will overshadow sounds that take place in the distance. With the one touch movie recording, thanks to the quick record button on the back, the camera is always ready to record video. No switching modes in the menus is needed.
Powering the Z150 is a rechargeable 3.7V, 1050mAh Lithium Ion battery with external battery charger. Casio claims that the battery has enough juice to capture up to 280 images on a single charge. While completing our tests, I was able to capture over 100 images and several videos without having to worry about the battery running low. With the external charger, it is easy to keep a spare battery charged and on hand. A dead battery is no excuse for missing a photo opportunity.
Bottom Line - Casio's new entry level model, the EX-Z150 is a very easy to use, 8-Megapixel, point and shoot. With the 4x wide optical zoom lens and 22 "Best Shot" modes, it is easy to find a setting for almost any shooting situation. The only drawbacks to the camera are 1) the performance, which is a bit slow, and 2) the weak flash. With a MSRP of US$199, there are several other models that you can consider for around the same price, including the Casio EX-Z250 with better image quality, for $50 more.
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