Casio EX-Z1000 Review
The EX-Z1000 is the highest resolution "ultra-compact" we have seen, and the "top of the line" model in Casio's Exilim Zoom line. Some of its powerful features include a 10.1-megapixel imager, 3x optical zoom lens, Wide & Bright 2.8-inch LCD display, Anti-Shake technology, and VGA (640x480) sized movie mode with audio, all packed in a durable and stylish all-metal body.
This is an easy to use point-n-shoot that is loaded with various user friendly exposure modes. You have the typical Auto (Snapshot) mode that is fully automatic, but still gives access to several camera settings like White balance, ISO, metering, etc. And when you're feeling a bit more creative, there's 34 Best Shot scene modes, that will help you capture awesome pictures in a variety of different shooting environments.
Like past Exilim models, the EX-Z1000's ergonomics are nice. This is a very compact model that measures 3.62"(W) x 2.30"(H) x .88"(D) and weighs in at just under 5 oz (excluding battery and accessories.) Despite the small size, I found that it fit well in my large hands, and I especially like the zoom control mounted around the shutter release. The various other controls are also well placed and functional. The new Panel display is very nice, allowing for quick and easy changes without having to enter the menu and re-frame your subject.
Its large 2.8-inch Wide LCD is the only viewfinder on the camera, and is used for composing your shots, reviewing captured images and navigating the menu system. This is a nice display that occupies almost the entire back of the camera. I found it works well outdoors, but there were still many angles that reflected the sun, which made it difficult to see. The coating is also very prone to finger prints; so plan on cleaning it off with your T-shirt quite often. When shooting in marginal lighting conditions (like in your tungsten lit living room), the LCD display "gains up" well, which is crucial for framing your shots in these conditions; something that was never possible with film cameras.
Shooting performance was very robust. Power up to first image captured measured only 1.6 seconds! Shutter lag, the time from depressing the shutter release and capturing the image, was instantaneous when pre-focused, and about 1/10 of a second including autofocus. Rapid shooting in single drive mode captured images at intervals of 1.4 seconds without flash, but slowed to about 3 - 4 seconds with flash, depending on your subject's distance and battery life.
There's 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 about 5.5 seconds. While High Speed mode captured 3 frames in only 4/10 of a second. Flash Continuous mode was also very robust, capturing 3 frames in only 6/10 of a second, with the flash (note you may also use the flash in Normal mode, but not High Speed.) Zoom continuos 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; this is where an optical viewfinder would be nice. All tests were done using a Corsair 133x 2GB 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. The majority of our outdoor samples are sharp with pleasing color saturation and exposure. I did notice a bit of edge softness, but this is a very common issue with consumer models. The 3x optical zoom helped produce these sharp images throughout its 38 - 114mm (equivalent) zoom range. While this focal range is typical for a consumer model, it still offers a great deal of versatility when composing your shots. At 38mm, you can produce nice group portraits and landscape shots, while its telephoto end is good for filling the frame during portrait photography and bringing distant subjects a bit closer. There were only slight traces of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) around brightly lit objects, and moderate barrel distortion at wide angle.
I was glad to see the EX-Z1000's image quality did not suffer from its Anti-Shake system, like we saw on the EX-Z600 and EX-Z60. While noise does become more noticeable as the ISO sensitivity is increased, we did not see that "water color painting" effect. In fact, noise levels are quite low when using ISO 200 or less.
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 12 feet at wide angle (using ISO auto.) We achieved the best flash results when shooting portraits of individuals or small groups from no more than 6 - 7 feet away, using the mid range of the zoom. With these ultra-compact models, you usually have to sacrifice a decent flash to accommodate the large LCD screen and the tiny Lithium Ion battery. Luckily, Lithium technology is getting better by the day, increasing the amount of power that these tiny cells can hold; maybe one day we'll get a nice flash that can actually cover 10 - 15 feet.
Movie mode allows you to record video at resolutions of 640x480 and 320x240 with audio. The length of a clip is limited only by the amount of space left on the internal memory or your SD memory card. You can also enable the Anti-Shake system, which is great for steadying those handheld movies. Overall it produced good results, as long as you are not near large white objects; like the garage in our samples. It seems the exposure system does not like them, and causes a purple "haze". You can see what I mean by taking a look at our movie examples with and without Anti-Shake on the samples page.
The EX-Z1000 is powered by a small 3.7-volt 1300mAh NP-40 rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, which is charged in-camera when placed in the included camera dock (charges in approx. 3 hours.) Using CIPA Standards, Casio claims a battery life of approx. 360 shots or 780 minutes of continuous playback on a fully charged pack. I had no problems capturing all of our samples (over 120 shots) and concluding many of our other tests on a single charge.
Bottom line - the EX-Z1000 is an awesome addition to Casio's already popular Exilim Zoom line.
With robust performance, great image quality, and loads of easy to use exposure modes, this
model will make a great choice for anyone in the market for an "ultra-compact" consumer model.
And with a street price of $399 or less, it offers an outstanding value for a 10-megapixel
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