Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 Review
Review Date: July 10th 2006
Ease of Use
The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 is a conventional looking compact camera, with little to mark it out from the majority of other models, but it's also one of the most well-built digicams that I've ever reviewed. From the moment that you first pick it, the stainless steel body of the EX-Z1000 oozes quality - the level of workmanship really is second to none. At 9cms wide, 6cms high and just over 2cms deep, this is a small pocketable camera that you can easily slip into a trouser or shirt pocket or a handbag. That all-metal body gives the EX-Z1000 a reassuring weight of 140gms without the battery and storage card fitted.
The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 is also very well designed. I liked the zoom lever, which is located around the shutter button, making it quick and easy to switch from zooming, to taking a shot, and then back to zooming again for the next shot. The angled row of three buttons on the top of the camera is a subtle but neat touch, and all of the external controls have a responsive feel about them. There are a couple of external controls, however, that aren't particularly well designed. The On/Off button is very small and recessed, which may prevent the camera from being accidentally turned on, but also makes it difficult to operate. And somewhat inexplicably on an all-metal camera, the tripod mount is plastic!
The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 is not very complex in terms of the number of external controls that it has. I counted just 10 controls in total, which suits the small dimensions of the camera. The majority of the controls are clearly labeled and common to most cameras, with the only non-standard one being the Best Shot button (the equivalent of scene modes on other cameras). Most of the key photographic options, such as ISO speed, exposure compensation and white balance, are buried within the menu system, rather than accessible via external buttons, which could potentially slow down the operation of the camera.
|Menu Button / Navigation Pad / Set Button / Best Shot Button||Display Button / Play Button / Record Button|
Casio have come up with a clever menu system which to a large extent avoids this. As well as the usual main menu system, they have added a sub-menu, called Panel Display, which is permanently displayed on the right-hand side of the LCD screen as a row of 9 vertical icons. You simply have to press the Down or Set buttons to enter this menu, and then use the Up and Down buttons on the Navigation pad to access the various options. The menu includes ISO speed, flash, auto-focus, anti-shake, white-balance and exposure compensation. This system takes a little getting used to at first, as the menu is always shown on the 2.8 inch LCD screen, but it definitely achieves a good balance between a cleanly-designed camera and one that still gives you quick access to key photographic controls. It's also worth remembering that all of the options in the LCD sub-menu are also included in the main menu system. And if you don't like the Panel display, you can switch to a more conventional Normal display system.
In addition to the LCD sub-menu, Casio also allow you to customise the operation of the Left and Right buttons on the navigation pad via the L/R Key setting. You can choose to dedicate these buttons to Metering, EV Shift, White Balance, ISO or Self-Timer - I chose EV Shift. Then it's simply a case of pressing left or right to choose the various options - simple and effective. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the rather basic but easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Unfortunately Casio have chosen to supply it as a PDF on a CD, rather than in in printed format, so you won't be able to carry it with you, and you'll have to pay to print it out if you do want a hard-copy.
|On/Off Button / Zoom Lever / Shutter Button||USB Cradle Socket / Tripod Socket|
The large 2.8 inch screen is a joy to behold and perfect for this type of camera, with a high 230,400 pixel count, approx. 1200 cd/mē brightness level and a wealth of options for customising it available by pressing the Display button. You can turn icons off, turn them on and show a histogram, which helpfully shows RGB values in addition to the usual black-and-white levels. There are 4 brightness levels plus an Auto option. And there are a number of presets for different lighting situations (dymanic, vivid, real, night, power saving). The large LCD screen makes it easy to share your images with friends and family. The large 2.8 inch LCD screen is the only way of framing your shots, so if you have to have an optical viewfinder, look elsewhere now. This is one of the better LCD screens in bright light, though, so you won't miss an optical viewfinder in the majority of shooting conditions. The various icons used to represent the camera settings are clear and legible.
The main menu system on the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 is very good, accessed by pressing the Menu button on the rear of the camera. There are three tabs across the top, REC, Quality and Setup, and a maximum of six options shown onscreen at one time. Casio have included all available options in the main menu system, with 43 options in total spread across the three tabs. Due to the large 2.8 inch LCD screen and restricting the number of on-screen choices to six, the various options are clear and legible, although I would have preferred a solid background colour, rather than the transparent system that Casio have chosen (you can see the scene that the camera is pointing at behind the menu options, which is a little distracting).
|Battery Compartment||Memory Card Slot|
The start-up time from turning the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 on to being ready to take a photo is very quick at around 0.75 second. Zooming from the widest focal length to the longest takes about 1 second. Focusing is very quick in good light and the camera achieves focus almost all of the time indoors or in low-light situations, helped by the focus-assist lamp. Shutter-lag is virtually non-exisitent, and you can speed it up further by selecting the Quick Shutter option (at the expense of turning off the camera's auto-focus system). The visibility and refresh rate of the 2.8 inch LCD screen are very good with little visible grain or lag. It takes about 1.5 seconds to store an image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card, with a brief LCD blackout between each image. The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 has an interesting choice of Continuous modes, although the fastest setting isn't actually very fast - just 1.2 frames per second at the highest JPEG image quality. There's also a High Speed option (3fps, but only at Normal quality), Flash Continuous, which takes 3 shots with flash in 1 second, and Zoom Continuous, which enables you record two photos at the same time when you press the shutter release once (one complete image and a selected detail) Overall the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 is very good in terms of operational speed.
Once you have captured a photo, the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 has an excellent range of options for playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails, zoom in and out up to 8x magnification, and view a calendar that allows you to select photos by date. Via the Menu button, you can view slideshows with a variety of options and effects, delete, protect, resize, rotate and crop an image, set the print order, add audio, edit the date and time, and even perform colour and keystone correction (although sadly only at 2M resolution). For movies, there are options for creating a still image from a movie frame (either a 9 frame snapshot at 2M resolution or a 1 frame image at 640x480) and you can also cut the movie in three different ways. You can choose to view detailed information such as the ISO rating and aperture / shutter speed, and there is a histogram available during playback, with both RGB and black-and-white level settings.
In summary the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 is a very well made and well designed compact camera which offers a wealth of different shooting and playback options, yet is still a simple, intuitive and fast camera to use.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.