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I am not long back from a short break in Blackpool and during my holiday I took tons of pictures as you would expect from a photographer but as well as taking many with my own DSLR, I also took well over 200 with the Casio EXILIM ZOOM EX-Z29, that I had been asked to put to the test and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with what this little camera could do.
Firstly I have to say that the piano black version of the Casio EXILIM ZOOM EX-Z29 that I was given to work with is a stunning camera, it also comes in silver, pink blue and purple but it has to be the black one for me every time, the next thing of note is how robust the little unit feels, too many cheaper compacts feel cheap but this one feels like a camera of twice its value so, so far so good then.
So good looking and very robust, all it needed to do now was to be able to produce great images and I had myself a very nice compact to write about. I have to say the images were not great, but they were very, very good and definitely better than I had expected from a camera retailing at only £100 or there abouts. The images I took were all very sharp and had wonderful colour as well as showing little or no sign of any purple fringing or noise (even at higher ISO`s).
Once the lights went down and the ISO had to be raised in places where I could not use flash, such as behind the windows of the tram as we toured the lights, the images became a bit noisier but only at ISO`s over 800 which again is pretty impressive for such a cheap compact camera, some budget DSLR`s struggle to produce images at 800 ISO so this got the camera some real brownie points.
Back to the camera itself and you have the large 2.7 inch screen on the rear giving you a chance to get a good look at your images taken and decide which are keepers and which are not. You also have the very intelligently situated controls, I found using this camera to be a real pleasure and so often I find compacts very fiddly after using the much larger DSLR that I am used to, so again this camera was doing itself no harm in my eyes.
Casio have gone with a few gimmicks like most companies do in their compacts at the moment, Casio have fitted this unit with the now very common face detection option which in compacts in general is a waste of time and I pretty much feel it is in this unit too, some DSLR`s make good use of this function but I have yet to find a compact that utilises it well.
It also has the YouTube capture mode built in to the video function which records and saves movies at the ideal settings for uploading to YouTube, another waste of time gimmick if you ask me but then you might feel different I guess.
The video function on this compact is pretty much like any other, it will produce OK video footage in perfect light but as soon as the light dips the image quality of the video is as good as useless. Compact cameras simply do not have wide enough lenses to let in enough light to produce video footage of any quality and I am forever hopeful that now we have so many tiny video cameras that eventually still compact cameras will drop the video function altogether.
Although the lens is no good for videoing, it has to be said that it s a very good lens and the 3X optical zoom that it comes with is quick and quiet and does not lower the final image quality when used, it should also be said that the 10.1 megapixel sensor obviously works well with this lens as you really do get the kind of images you would expect from such a large sensor unlike with some ten megapixel cameras that simply do not have good enough lenses to utilise the sensor.
You do of course get all the usual built in settings such as beach, fireworks, indoors and the likes which allow you to capture images in whatever your surroundings might be with just the turn of a dial but this camera also allows you to set up pretty much everything on your own so if you know what you are doing with setting things like the ISO, white balance, shutter speeds and apertures, or if you are keen to learn then the option is certainly there to do so.
The next thing that Casio definitely get right is that they have chosen to power this unit with a rechargeable lithium ion battery instead of the dreaded AA`s that some manufacturers still insist on using. The battery in this unit will allow you to take around 250 shots between charges and it takes less than an hour to recharge to full power. It also uses a standard SD card so you can pick one up very cheap and have the ability to take hundreds of photos without constantly having to upload them and emptying the memory.
Connecting this camera and its software to your computer or laptop is also a very easy task and it literally takes only a few minutes to install the camera and software and get started. The reference manual that comes with the camera is very straight forward and easy to understand so if you do want to learn a bit more about setting things up manually it will help you out.
WHATS IN THE BOX
Casio Exilim EX-Z29 Digital Camera
Rechargeable lithium ion battery
Lithium ion battery charger
AC power cord
THE CAMERAS SPECIFICATIONS
Pixels 10.10 Megapixels
Effective Pixels 10.10
Sensor Type CCD
Image Size 3648 x 2736
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Media SD Card
Image Format JPEG
LCD 2.7 inch
Auto Focus Type Contrast AF system
Focusing Modes Auto Focus, Macro Mode, Pan Focus, Infinity Mode, Manual Focus
AF Assist Illuminator Yes
Metering Modes Multi-pattern, center weighted, spot by CCD
Shutter Type Electronic
Shutter Speed 1/2 to 1/2000
Self Timer 2, 10
Modes 23 best scene modes
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 stops
Built in Flash Yes
Flash Range 10 feet
Resolution 3648 x 2736
ISO Sensitivity 100 - 1600
White Balance Auto WB, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Day White Fluorescent, Daylight Fluorescent, Tungsten, Manual WB
Playback Options Playback Zoom (8X), 12-image Screen, Star-up Images, Rotate, Re-size, Trimming, Copy, BGM Slideshow
Movie Mode Yes
Storage Type SD Card
TO SUM UP
In summing up this unit I would have to say that it impressed me way more than I had expected it to and the final image quality is so good it could easily be mistaken for having been taken on a much more expensive compact or dare I say it, even a budget DSLR! The images are vibrant and the colour reproduction is very, very good.
That said though the camera does still have limitations such as the small 3X zoom, it is such a pity they could not have stretched it to at least 5X and the addition of image stabilisation to use when using the zoom would have been a good idea but never the less for the money this is a great little camera that deserves every bit of the praise I have given it in this review, just it`s good looks alone will have many people buying it but rest assured you get a lot more than just a good looking camera when you buy this!
LOOKS - 10/10
BUILD QUALITY - 8/10
EASE OF USE - 8/10
IMAGE QUALITY - 8/10
FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES - 7/10
VALUE FOR MONEY - 9/10
OVERALL - 8/10
Thanks for reading.