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Casio Exilim EX-Z1050
- Digital Camera Review
Casio have this
to say about the camera:
"Brilliant peak performance:
in its compact and elegant designer metal housing, the EXILIM Zoom EX-Z1050
contains an unbelievable 10.1 megapixels a real highlight that
opens up completely new possibilities. With 10.1 megapixel resolution,
you don't just get pictures of excellent quality, you can also trim photos
to the size you wish, enlarge them, and print them out in the format of
your choice. This way, the best moments and the smallest details can be
captured for eternity on XXL posters, as well as in photos."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Olympus EVOLT E-510)
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - The camera has a small amount of internal memory (15.4mb), and isn't supplied with a memory card. Purchase of an additional case is recommended to protect the metallic finish of the camera.
Battery usage: Battery life is rated at 370 shots according to CIPA standards - I was able to take over 385 shots before "battery empty" appeared. This is very good (especially for an ultra-compact camera) but not as good as the Fujifilm FinePix F30 - with a battery life rated at 580 shots. Battery life can be extended by switching off the flash and setting the screen brightness to the lowest setting.
Operation and Options:
play button turns the camera to review mode while the shutter release
button returns it to photo mode. The play and record buttons can be used
to switch the camera on. The video mode is started by using the best shot
mode. All other modes such as Audio, Scene modes etc are accessed using
the Best Shot button at the back of the camera.
Photo mode/menus: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: The screen has a fairly low resolution of 114,960 pixels and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate for reviewing photos. There is a live and review histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. The screen also has an automatic (and manual) brightness enhancer for taking photos where the screen is not clear, such as in bright sunlight. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.
The camera has many options, things like resolution, flash, focusing mode, self-timer, anti-shake, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, all quickly accessible through the SET button and the Panel Layout mode (you can choose whether you want this on or off, with it on it gives you quick access to the most commonly used features, with it off you have to go into the menu to change options). Flash options are one-touch buttons. One of the more interesting features is the continuous flash shooting mode - this lets you shoot three photos very quickly with flash.
Record Menu: Focus (Af, Macro, Infinite, Manual), Continuous, Self-Timer, Anti-Shake (digital), AF Area (Spot, Multi, Tracking), AF assist light, L/R Key (can be customised), Quick shutter, Audio snap, Grid, Digital zoom, Review, Icon help, Memory.
Quality Menu: Size, Quality, Video Quality, EV shift, White Balance (including Manual), ISO, Metering, Dynamic Range (Off, Expand +1, +2), Portrait Refiner (Off, Noise Filter +1, +2), Colour Filter, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, Flash Intensity, Flash assist.
Setup Menu: (shown on the right, above) The setup menu allows you to set: Panel (on, off), Display (4:3, wide), Screen brightness (Auto, etc), Sounds (including the ability to mute all sounds apart from the "in-focus" sound, which is handy), startup image, image numbering to continuous (handy), time zones, switch on a timestamp (date, or date and time), adjust date, time, date style, language, sleep, auto power off, rec/play (use buttons to switch on camera), USB, video out to NTSC / PAL, 4:3 or 16:9, reset and format.
Best Shot / Scene modes: (available by pressing the BS / Bestshot button) This has a huge number of scene modes (38 in total), including auction, anti-shake, high sensitivity, auto framing, ID photo. You'll also find video and audio recording in here, as well as the option to setup your own user created scene mode. One scene mode that is unfortunately lacking from the Z1050 is the "Coupling" shot - this was always fun on the S100 combining the top part of someone's face with the bottom part of another person's face.
Playback (Review) mode options: Scrolling through the photos is VERY quick - Casio say it can scroll through 100 photos in 10 seconds, should you ever want to view the photos this quick! The zoom is quick and works at up to 8x. Basic shot information is shown about the images, this can be switched to the view above with the display button. Playback menu: You can display a slideshow, calendar, layout print, motion print, edit movies, dynamic range, white balance, brightness, correct keystone, correct colour, favourites, protect, date / time, rotate, resize, trim, dub audio, copy between the internal memory and vice versa as well as the usual printing options.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of pictures will fit in the provided memory:
As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, and you can't fit very many photos in the 15mb of provided memory (simply treat it as a means of testing whether the camera works when you don't have a memory card), so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended. There is a good choice regarding image size, quality and aspect ratios - with 16:9 and 3:2 ratio options available.
A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend a 512mb memory card, and preferably a 1gb memory card, as these are relatively affordable - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to be away from a computer for a long time (such as when going on holiday) then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in. This camera takes only SD memory cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Casio Exilim EX-Z1050:
Find the latest
prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 512mb: £2,
1gb (1000mb): £6,
2gb (2000mb): £11,
4gb (4000mb SDHC): £27
(with USB reader)
Speed: The camera switches on in under 1 second and can take its first photo in 1.2 seconds (total time from off to photo). Focusing is fast at under half a second (Auto Focus) and Pan Focus mode reduces this to around 0.1 seconds giving an impresive response taking a photo in 0.2 seconds after fully pressing the shutter. The camera shutter response seems almost instant when pre-focused (around 0.1 second reponse) - and shot to shot time was quick at under 2.0 seconds (with review on with or without flash). The normal continuous shooting mode took a photo every 1.2 seconds, High speed continuous shooting is very quick, at roughly 6fps, although this is on the 2mp setting, there is also a high speed "Rapid Flash" mode where you can take 3 photos with flash on at 3fps. The playback mode is also very quick. The cameras menus seemed responsive and zooming in and reviewing photos is all quick and easy to use. Moving around the different menu options is rapid.
Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use and has very easy to understand controls and buttons, for example, the main modes are photo or playback, simply switch the camera on and start taking photos, and then to access further modes, such as the Video mode, you simply press the "Best Shot" button. The controls on the back of the camera are easy to use and the mode switch and buttons are of an average size. The modes are easy to understand. The menus are responsive and easy to read. The camera is compact and has little in the way of a hand grip on the front, although there is a raised grip on the back which can assist in holding the camera steady. There are an extensive collection of scene modes for all types of different situations.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use and are kept quite simple, in fact there are only 7 buttons and a 4-way controller. The buttons are in a good position and easy to reach while composing shots. There seems to be a good amount of buttons for straight-forward digital camera use. The buttons feel okay but are slightly smaller than average, the zoom control is very good and works well, and the shutter release button is very good. The buttons are labelled well (with small symbols and little text), and the mode switch provides quick access to the main modes. I thought the camera felt okay ergonomically, although there is little in the way of a handgrip. The compartments and covers seem well positioned and are easy to open. The camera felt solid with a stylish metal body, however the battery cover opens quite easily and is made out of plastic.
Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Casio Exilim EX-Z1050 Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - and red-eye in this photo and the other is low. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light, thanks to the focus assist lamp. Colour is well saturated (although not as high as some consumer cameras).
ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 100 - ISO1600), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600).
Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 10 megapixel Olympus EVOLT E-510 DSLR and 8 megapixel Fujifilm FinePix F40fd.
ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Olympus EVOLT E-510 DSLR on the left, Casio Exilim EX-Z1050 in the middle, Fujifilm FinePix F40fd on the right. Any tonal difference is due to automatic white balance or metering differences.
The Casio Z1050 provides relatively noise free images at ISO settings upto ISO200, above this noise becomes much more noticable. The results are acceptable considering that they've crammed 10 megapixels onto a tiny sensor, however it's easy to see that the results from the 10 megapixel Olympus EVOLT E-510 Digital SLR (with larger sensor), and 8 megapixel Fujifilm FinePix F40fd (with Fujifilm SuperCCD sensor) appear to show less noise, and sharper results. At ISO400 blotches of colour is noticable, at ISO800 black noise dots become visible, and at ISO1600 the image is covered in noise. ISO800 can provide useful web images or small 6 x 4 prints, but for best results using ISO200 or below is best. Nb. The picture stabilisation / anti-blur mode simply uses a higher ISO setting to avoid image blur, and is not a true image stabilisation system such as an anti-shake sensor, or optical image stabilisation.
Outside: The camera has quite rich, saturated colours, with good contrast and I was pleased with how the camera captured colour with warm tones and pleasing skin tones. There was very good detail, and the camera took a number of very pleasing images outside, but areas with huge variation in brightness do show signs of 'bleeding' and purple fringes. In general 'normal' quality jpeg artefacts are not easily seen, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting.
Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of.
Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos was generally good. I didn't spot any purple fringing in these photos. Vignetting was not noticed. It can be useful to under expose images with bright backgrounds (eg; sky) with use of exposure compensation.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens noise is average in operation. The camera gives average control over how you frame your subject with around 6 steps between wide and telephoto zoom.
Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was occasionally seen particularly in areas with high contrast.
Macro: the macro mode allows you to be roughly 10cm away from from the subject, this is with the lens zoomed out. For best results are achieved use manual white balance and a more diffuse light source.
The custom white balance helps get better colours in the macro mode when using an un-natural light source - the closest the camera can get to the subject is slightly poor at around 10cm. Noise seems fairly low in this photo even though I used ISO400, although detail and colour is low - better results could be obtained by using a lower ISO setting and better lighting.
Video mode: The camera features a high resolution VGA 640 x 480 video mode at 30 fps with sound. Video quality was good however this will use memory quickly - a 12 second video recorded at 640 x 480 took 15 megabytes. Optical zoom is unavailable while recording a video.
Summary: The Casio Exilim EX-Z1050 is a great point and shoot camera, it fits easily into your pocket and is surprisingly small despite not necessarily being counted as an "ultra-compact" (it may as well be in my opinion). It was also fun to use and has an impressive battery life, and produced some very pleasing results with good colour, saturation and detail. Unfortunately the macro mode is average and noise is a problem at the higher ISO settings, but other than these small issues, I think this camera is definitely worth buying, especially as it is available for such a low price! Recommended!
What I like:
What I don't like:
Additional Test Images are viewable in the Casio Exilim EX-Z1050 Sample Photo Gallery.