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Casio Exilim EX-Z600

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Casio Exilim EX-Z600 Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating

Casio Exilim EX-Z600
Photograph: Chris Manners

Casio's $299 (as of 6/15/06) Exilim EX-Z600 point-and-shoot is compact, yet has a large, 2.7-inch LCD. The screen isn't quite as sharp as the 3-inch display on Nikon's Coolpix S6, which I reviewed at the same time, but it is significantly brighter (an important advantage, since the EX-Z600, like the Nikon S6 and most other ultracompacts, lacks an optical viewfinder). As a result, when you're shooting in bright sunlight, images on the Casio's display are perfectly visible, while images on the Nikon can be hard to see. The EX-Z600 has an attractive black exterior, and also comes in the more mundane silver.

Informal shots that I took with the 6.0-megapixel EX-Z600 looked comparable to those that I took at about the same time with the 6.0-megapixel Nikon S6 and the 7.1-megapixel Olympus Stylus 720 SW. In more-detailed PC World Test Center lab evaluations, however, the EX-Z600 received an overall score of Fair, with our jury giving its images below-average marks for color accuracy and sharpness. Also, the EX-Z600 received the lowest score for exposure accuracy of any recently tested point-and-shoot camera.

Usability of the controls is always a concern with pocket-size point-and-shoots--especially those with big LCDs--and the EX-Z600's controls are definitely a mixed bag. The zoom selector is well done, as the ring surrounding the large shutter-release button is easy to locate and operate when you're composing shots. The dedicated Best Shot button jumps you into a selection of 33 scene modes. One of these is the novel eBay mode; this mode is not explained in the CD-based manual, but in my test shot it cut the resolution to a relatively low 1600 by 1200 pixels--good for images destined to be posted online.

The settings menus are fairly deep, but generally well organized and easy to interpret. On the other hand, the four-way selector button, used for navigating through the menus and images, was uncomfortably small for my largish fingers--ditto the tiny OK button in the middle of the four-way selector.

One of the EX-Z600's more unusual features is its built-in perspective correction, or keystone correction. Applied to images in playback mode, this effect can do a nice job of squaring a rectangular object photographed at an odd angle so that it looks more like you shot it straight-on. The feature probably can't fix an out-of-kilter shot of a room, but it did adjust a photo of a document that I'd taken. Since the corrected image is saved as a new file, your original is left unmodified.

The software Casio includes is thin stuff. Photoloader is a simple image-transfer and organization application. Oddly enough, the Mac version does not support OS X--a real bummer.

Another area in which the EX-Z600 excels is battery life. You might expect this camera's batteries to drain quickly because of the large and bright LCD. In fact, the EX-Z600 lasted the maximum of 500 shots in our test (at which point we let our technician go home), far above the average of 271 shots.

If a low price, long battery life, and a big and bright LCD top your list of camera needs, the EX-Z600 is an excellent fit. If only this camera came with a more extensive software package and delivered higher image quality, it would be even more enticing.

Tracey Capen

This story, "Casio Exilim EX-Z600" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Offers lots of controls and many scene modes. The 2.7-inch LCD is bright, but image quality is subpar.

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