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I have owned this camera for about 3 years now and, so far, I have had a great experience with it. When looking for a camera, I was surprised to learn (in my amateur experience) that a watch-manufacturer made cameras! This one had been well rated, so I decided to dig into my pockets and get it.
At the time it was a very high-spec camera. High-resolution, large LCD screen and fast optical zoom. It may now be a little behind, but mine still takes excellent stills. That really is the selling point of this camera, photo quality is fantastic, even in dim conditions when the flash is in use. At slightly longer ranges, pictures can be shadowed and unclear, but largely it performs well. The UI is simple to navigate once you get the hang of it and ISO, contrast, saturation etc. are very simple to customise and subsequent photos are well adapted to different environments - saying that, auto-mode copes perfectly well! Images are also saved very quickly and the flash recharges in a, well, flash! It is also highly compact and seamless to store.
So, the advantages so far are excellent picture quality, usability and quality screen. However, nothing is perfect.
The first is the power button. It is tiny and difficult to press, being set somewhat deep within the frame - a problem for people like me with chubby fingers! I don't understand why they designed it like this, it is simply an annoyance.
Secondly data-transfer can be very slow when through the dock (which, unless you have an sd reader, is a necessity). It can get ridiculously laboured, whether this be because of my OS or the camera itself, but either way it is not up to today's standards.
Thirdly, the build quality is somewhat dubious. Though it looks beautiful and is pretty scratch resistant, I have lost a couple of tiny screws from the casing just through general use, and it now feels very flimsy. That the entire structure should depend on such small screws seems odd to me.
Finally, the sound quality in video is not the best. The microphone seems very feeble and playback quality leaves a lot to be desired. There is also a quiet 'click' throughout video playback, but this may be a hardware fault with my camera, I cannot tell.
However, overall I have been very pleased with this camera. It has never let me down in taking beautiful pictures when it matters, which is what cameras are for. I would probably look for something different now, but this is a very affordable alternative for a casual photographer, and a good-looking camera all round.
* 6-Megapixel effective CCD imager, 3x optical zoom w/auto macro
* Stylish, durable and light-weight aluminum body
* Large 2.7-inch TFT color LCD, three times as bright as EX-Z500
* Anti Shake provides higher sensitivity, faster shutter speed prevents image blurring to hand or subject movement
* High-speed start-up enables shooting approximately 1.4 seconds after power up.
* Release time lag of only 0.002 seconds after the shutter is pressed.
* Rapid Flash, 3 high speed flash photos in one second
* Continuous shutter function enables photos to be taken in 0.9 seconds intervals.
* 33 "BEST SHOT" scene modes set the camera for easy to difficult situations.
* Attach up to 30-second audio memos to still images at capture or later.
* Record voice-only audio, approx. 25 minutes on internal memory.
* MPEG-4, VGA(640×480 pixels), 30 frames/second high quality movies
* Movie Best Shot, Past Movie, Short Movie and in-camera movie editing.
* 9-point autofocus system with selectable AF modes: Multi or Spot AF.
* ISO sensitivity from 50 to 400, ISO 800 with Anti Shake.
* Built-in flash with Red Eye Reduction and Flash-assist function.
* USB data transfer to PC or Mac computers.
* Super-Life Li-ion rechargeable battery for up to 550 shots.
* 8.3 Megabytes of internal memory and SD card slot for memory expansion.
* ExifPrint, PRINT Image Matching III, USB Direct-Print, and PictBridge compatible.