Casio EX-Z4 Review

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Casio Exilim EX-Z4

Steve's Conclusion

The EX-Z4 is Casio's new 4-megapixel Exilim series camera with a 3x optical zoom lens. This credit card-size camera is loaded with features usually found only on larger and more expensive cameras. The EX-Z4 is an easy to use point-n-shoot camera with adjustments for ISO, White Balance and Exposure Compensation. There are 21 pre-programmed "Best Shot" scenes modes that optimize the camera's settings for specific shooting conditions and user has the ability to create their own Best Shot scenes using the Register Favorites function. As with the EX-S20U that we recently reviewed, the EX-Z4U lacks the movie mode found on its "non-U" counterparts. If you purchase an EX-Z4 outside of the U.S. it will have the movie mode, EX-Z4U models do not. We reviewed the EX-Z4U.

With the start-up screen turned off, the EX-Z4 is ready to take the first shot in approximately 2 seconds when using the internal memory only. Since most of our testing is done with a 256MB SD card, our timings may differ. When pre-focused, the EX-Z4 is quite the performer with a very minimal 0.2-sec. shutter lag. From first press of the shutter to full auto focus requires approx. 0.5 second. The EX-Z4 has no Continuous mode, but I was able to shoot 20 frames at an interval of approximately 2.5 seconds per frame. The camera is very robust when reviewing your images. By holding down either the Left or Right buttons on the 4-way selector, you can zip through your images at lightning speed (approx. 12 frames/sec.).

The EX-Z4 is a good choice for outdoor shots while on your family vacation. The image quality is good, pictures are sharp and well saturated but some were a little too blue. The 3x Pentax zoom lens covers a 35mm equivalent of 35-105mm and has a 4x digital zoom feature. There is moderate barrel distortion at full wide angle but almost no pin cushioning at full telephoto. The zoom lens is quick and smooth as it goes from wide angle to telephoto. The indoor shots were also well saturated but not as sharp, maybe due to a lack of a focus assist lamp for low light shooting. The flash range is limited to a maximum of about 7 feet. Flesh tones were very accurate and well exposed. On our Sample Photos page you'll see an example of a celebrity caught in a compromising situation at a local fund-raiser. This shot was captured in a split second thanks to the EX-Z4's quick start-up time.

Most of today's super-compact cameras use small 1.5-inch LCD monitors. The EX-Z4 utilizes a large 2-inch color LCD monitor which covers almost two-thirds of the back and makes it easier to use in the bright sunlight. Since the monitor is a full 1/2-inch larger than most, the menu text is bigger and more legible. This camera uses a proprietary battery and we recommend the purchase of a second battery -- you can't power this camera from any other source. The battery is charged in-camera whenever it's in the included docking cradle. We managed to fill up a 256MB SD card one afternoon before the battery was exhausted. The EX-Z4 only has 10MB of internal memory. You will certainly need to purchase a larger SD card; currently a 256MB card can be had for less than $100 and will serve you well.

The EX-Z4 is a stylish, well constructed and highly durable camera. It's easy to hold and operate with just one hand. The controls are minimal, well placed and function logically. The overall image quality is very good. This is a great camera for indoor snapshots if you stay within the limits of the flash range. It's excellent for all types of outdoor daylight photography. If size and image quality is important then the Casio EXILIM ZOOM EX-Z4 may be the camera for you. With a price tag of under $400 dollars this camera will make a great gift for that special person on your holiday shopping list.

Firmware Upgrade for EX-Z4 and EX-Z4U

Casio has posted a firmware v1.02 update for their EX-Z4 and EX-Z4U cameras that: (1) Improves white balance performance and (2) Fixes a problem that occurs in the Voice Recoding Mode when memory becomes full.

v1.02 firmware for EX-Z4U (U.S./N. America)

v1.02 firmware for EX-Z4 (International)

Hopefully this fixes the blue-cast problems that many Z4 users have been reporting.

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