Casio EX-Z250 Review
By Movable Type Admin
A step above the EX-Z200, the new Casio Exilim EX-Z250 offers more features with a slightly smaller price tag. The Z250 features a 9.1-Megapixel imaging sensor, 4x wide optical zoom lens, 3" LCD screen and advanced face detection and auto shutter modes. Casio has also given this compact model a sensor shift optical image stabilization system and 37 bestshot modes to assist you in taking the best pictures possible.
Casio's face detection software is very advanced and gives you several different settings to make sure that you get the pictures that you want. There is a Standard face detection that will locate and focus on faces like all others do. The very unique Family setting, allows you to record your family members faces' into the camera. When Family is set as the priority the camera is able to distinguish their faces and take priority over other faces. You can also set higher priorities for some of the faces that you have saved within the camera.
Also included are the three auto shutter modes. These modes allow the camera to operate by itself based on its settings. The first mode is blur detect which allows the camera to take pictures whenever the camera senses that the image is clear, no need for the user to press the shutter release. Next is Panning mode, which will only snap a picture when the moving object is in focus, blurring the background as you move the camera with the object. Finally there is smile detect mode, that will automatically take a picture when all recognized faces in the image smile, so that you never miss that perfect portrait shot. There are sensitivity controls for all three features, to help you adjust the camera to meet your needs.
As with the EX-Z150, the Z250 is also small, stylish and available in 5 different colors. It has a very sturdy and comfortable feel with well placed controls, making it very easy to operate 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. 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 Z250 is a bit slow. It takes 2.8 seconds to record its first image after being turned on. The shutter lag is very good, taking only 2/10 of a second while allowing the camera to focus and almost instantaneous when pre-focused. While in single shot mode, the camera is able to capture 5 images in 12.9 seconds without and 5 images in 15.7 with the flash. These were also the same numbers that for 5 images when shooting in the basic continuous mode. Also featured are HI speed continuous, taking 10 images (2-megapixel) in 7.2 seconds and flash continuous (also 2 megapixel) that captures 3 images with a flash in just 1.1 seconds. All of our tests were completed using a 4GB Kingston SDHC 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 of our outdoor images is good. With good exposures and natural looking colors, the only complaint is that the dull, cloudy sky behind the canon is a little blown out, giving a purple glow to the edges of the leaves at the top. Featuring a 4x wide optical zoom lens, with a 35mm equivalent of 28-112mm, the Z250 gives you an excellent wide angle that is great for shooting landscape shots. Like most wide angle lenses, there is some barrel distortion present. 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 image quality is also good, with ISO settings that produce some of the clearest images for an entry level point and shoot at all levels. The camera is also very good at keeping low ISO settings while using the flash, keeping your image quality higher. There is a little difference with the auto white balance between shots with and without the flash as the shots with flash appear cooler than without. This difference can be seen in the two ISO 64 shots on the samples page. The built in flash has a range of approx. 6" to 12.5' at the wide end and 2' to 5.5' at the telephoto end. This gives you a descent range for shooting indoors, but still won't allow you to light up a large area.
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.
Movie mode produces smooth videos with good colors and does an excellent job keeping focused as the camera and subjects move. The on board mic is very sensitive and pics up a lot of background noise, which will overshadow sounds that take place in the distance. While offering 640x480, 848x480 and 320x240 resolutions, the best feature in movie mode is the quicktime H.264/AVC compression. This allows the camera to capture high quality movies with very little compression noise at a fraction of the memory as a jpeg or mpeg movie while looking just as good.
Supplying power to the Z250 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 150 images and several videos while still showing a full battery icon on the LCD screen. This is an excellent battery life, but we still recommend keeping a second battery charged and on hand whenever using the camera. A dead battery is no excuse for missing a photo opportunity.
Bottom Line - Casio's Exilim EX-Z250 is a very easy to use 9-megapixel compact camera. With a 4x wide optical zoom lens, and 37 "Best Shot" modes, you will be able to find a setting for almost any shooting situation. The advanced face detection and auto shutter features are also very nice and useful in some situations. The performance was a bit lacking, but the image quality is very good for this class of camera. With a MSRP of US$249, this is a good camera that takes quality images, as long as the performance doesn't bother you.
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