Casio Exilim EX-Z750
At a Glance
Casio Exilim EX-Z750 Compact Camera
Slim model has very quick startup, a fine selection of manual controls, and a 2.5-inch LCD, along with an optical viewfinder.
Casio's $450 Exilim EX-Z750 will suit almost any photographer hunting for a small, pocketable camera. Occasional photographers will find automatic settings and plenty of scene modes to help them get better shots, while experienced shooters will appreciate the creative control they get by using the camera's solid selection of advanced features. Encased in a slim metal body, the EX-Z750 is small enough for you to carry everywhere. The camera's 3X zoom lens is standard fare, but the 2.5-inch LCD is enormous and fills most of the camera's back. Surprisingly, Casio found room for a small optical viewfinder, which lets you shoot in extreme lighting conditions and allows you to extend the camera's battery life by turning off the LCD.
You can easily operate most of the controls with your right thumb or index finger. Two small buttons on the camera's left edge let you bypass the main menus and quickly change key settings such as resolution, ISO, and white balance. A small mode dial on the back of the camera offers a variety of primary shooting modes, including fully automatic and movie. Twist it to "Best Shot" position, and you can pick from 30 different scene modes for still shots, each described in the LCD panel with a few words and a sample image.
Switching to manual mode gives you access to shutter-priority, aperture-priority, and full-manual settings. You select these on the LCD screen via the camera's four-way thumb button, which takes a bit of practice to master. The well-organized menus supply other advanced settings such as manual focus, gridlines, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and flash intensity. One regrettable omission is exposure bracketing--a useful option in harsh outdoor lighting.
Complementing the camera's SD Card slot (a memory card is not included) is 8.3MB of internal memory. The Z750 can record only one shot at the camera's highest quality setting; but it's better than nothing if you forget your SD Card and you're willing to shoot at a lower resolution.
Among the Z750's few flaws is an imprecise zoom control: I had to flick the control back and forth a few times with the zoom button to frame my shots accurately. Another drawback: after each shot, the instant review of my photo appeared on the LCD far too briefly, and there's no control for keeping it up longer. Also, the Z750 lacks an orientation sensor for rotating portrait shots automatically; and if you like to stitch together landscape shots, you'll likely miss having a panoramic mode.
In lab tests at the PC World Test Center, the Z750 produced pleasing photos: Our panel of judges gave it high marks for sharpness, distortion level, and overall quality. Its least-successful picture was the still-life shot, which looked slightly underexposed. In my informal testing, I saw plenty of sharp detail and natural color. In the low lighting of a local restaurant, I got good results using the manual modes without flash. A rock concert proved to be a more challenging environment, however. Shooting at the camera's highest ISO of 400, I obtained photos marred by poor exposures and excessive noise.
The camera's only connector attaches it to the included docking cradle. The cradle's two buttons let you upload images to your PC or print on a PictBridge-compatible printer; Casio also provides an AV cable for viewing your photos on a TV set. Because power for charging the battery passes though the cradle, you'll need to take the cradle and compact power adapter with you when traveling. In our battery tests, we took an impressive 446 shots on a single charge. The camera faces to the rear and tilts backward in the cradle, making it easier to view your shots as a slideshow in file-name order or by date (using the built-in calendar). The included software lets you generate a Web gallery arranged in a similar calendar format, showing thumbnails for each day you took photos.
With high resolution, a big LCD screen, plenty of scene modes, and advanced manual settings, this camera has lots to offer--in a very small package--to all levels of photographers.