For the past year, I’ve spent time with numerous Casio digital cameras. The Exilim series has proven to be an excellent blend of both value and performance. A fantastic camera at a low price if you will. But camera after camera, Casio didn’t really do much to change the design of each model. At one point, the difference between a 10.1-megapixel camera and a 6-megapixel camera was virtually undetectable (well, except for the megapixel thing). But with the release of the EX-Z75, Casio has tried something new. The unit I received has a new design, a bright blue paint job, and a new UI to play with. Has Casio finally taken a step forward? Maybe. Read on to find out the entire story.
As far as design goes, the Exilim EX-Z75 is a whole new ball-game. Though it’s packed in the same, familiar red-and-black Exilim box, inside is a whole new device. A metallic-blue paint job and recessed buttons are immediately noticed when holding the EX-Z75. There’s also a certain “curviness” to the device that makes it fun to hold. It feels entirely solid and never seems like a cheap product.
But these new buttons aren’t exactly the cat’s meow. Instead of being able to zoom with your index finger around the shutter-button, the zooming buttons have been moved to the side, where you must look away from your shot to adjust the lens. The power-button on top is a real pain in the ass to press, too. You have to dig deep before you’re able to get it working. Otherwise, buttons are pretty much the same as older Exilim models: Best Shot (for the best shot), a joypad for menu navigation, and record and playback.
Though the buttons may not be the best, the screen on this camera sure is. A crisp, widescreen 2.6-inch LCD greets you with a robust UI and beautiful coloring. But be warned — like most pocket cameras these days, there’s no viewfinder on this Exilim. Crack or break the LCD and you’re out of a digital camera.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you go to turn on the EX-Z75, is that the UI and interface is somewhat new. Everything sits on the right-side of the display and the ability to quickly choose macro-mode or auto-focus isn’t readily available. This is an enormous annoyance having to go into the menu and switch the focus up every time I want to take a new shot. However, Casio has included a feature called “Easy Mode” that makes using this camera a snap. It severely limits your options and everything is mostly done automatically. All you have to do is hit a button.
Oh, and nothing has changed in the way you transfer your photos. Proprietary USB cables are the name of the game at Casio, so make sure you don’t lose the included cable. Charging the battery is now done with a separate wall-charger instead of a dock, which I find very convenient now that there are less cables cluttering my desk.
Before I dive into photos and examples, let me give you a basic rundown of the selling points of this camera. The Casio Exilim EX-Z75 has a slim design, multiple color options, a 7.2-megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom, anti-shake DSP, movie mode, 8MB of internal memory with an SD/MCC card slot, and a battery with a decent amount of juice inside. It also retails for only $229, making it one of the the better buys around. Alright, got the facts? Good! Let’s hop into some example shots and movies.
As with most 5-megapixel or higher cameras, you really only need to shoot in 1,024×768 mode or maybe a little higher. Taking pictures on a pocket camera with resolutions above the 3,000 mark are just ridiculous. If you needed professional results and high-resolutions, you’d be buying a dSLR. This is a point-and-shoot camera. It’s made for fun, friends, vacations, and concerts. It’s versatile, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also not a professional camera in the slightest.
Emo kids will envy your light-bending skills
Go on any popular rock band’s Website and you’ll see a million pictures that look like the above. Light trails and stationary (or moving) objects look fantastic, especially in low-light. The Best Shot feature Casio includes on most of its cameras is perfect for achieving this. Throw it on “Night Scene Portrait” mode and start shooting. The results usually look great after a little trial and error.
The great outdoors
Outdoor shots should be easy and simple. They should require little effort from the user on a point-and-shoot camera. This shot from a hill in New Jersey looks good, but it needs some Photoshopping done to it. See how the tree line and parts of the wooden fence look blurry? Not good. The colors are decent, but they could be a tad bit more saturated. At least that gazebo down there looks good, right?
Up close and personal with a cat
For a macro-shot, I chose a cat in a living room. I used the soft-flash and red-eye correction to make sure the shot came out perfect and sure enough, it did. Look at the details in this unedited photo! The whiskers on the cat are sharp, the fur is extremely detailed, and there’s even gunk in the eyes that I’m sure you wish you hadn’t noticed. Animal lovers, portrait-shooters, or close-up fanatics will love what the Exilim EX-Z75 is capable of.
So what does this all break down to? Should you buy the Casio Exilim EX-Z75? Truthfully, no. This camera hasn’t stood up to what I’d call “Casio quality” and it fails to showcase what Casio’s Exilim line of cameras are capable of. The buttons on this camera are misplaced and are hard to press, the new interface is hardly friendly, and just look at that outdoors shot — totally atrocious. My advice is to shop around and maybe check out some of Canon and Sony’s $199 to $249 offerings. You may lose a megapixel or two, but you don’t need them anyway and you’ll most likely be happier with the results. The Exilim EX-Z75 is a nice effort from Casio, but it’s simply just not good enough.