As a student studying photography, one of the main criteria I had for buying a camera what that it absolutely HAD to have full manual controls. Quickly ruling out DSLR's due to the price, my eye soon fell on Casio, which provided all the features I required.
I've had the camera for over a year now, and it has never let me down! It can start up in a split-second, meaning that (unlike most compacts) you are never left feeling frustrated that you missed a shot (although the flash does take a while to charge).
It has a wide range of BestShot settings available for almost any occasion, but as I said, I mostly use it on manual where you are given full control of aperture, shutter speed, focus and white balance.
On the downside, the lens does have a habit of getting stuck after being knocked about a bit on a dancefloor, and the proprietary connector on the bottom means that you need to lug the dock around to charge the thing. Great for sitting on a desk though, which is where it will be 99% of the time (the battery on this thing is just unreal, I've used it for an entire week's holiday and still had half the battery remaining).
This is quite simply the best digital camera I have ever used, and I cannot commend it highly enough. Everything about the camera is spot on, both in terms of the technological capability and, more importantly, in terms of the ease of use.
The camera is lightweight, aesthetically pleasing, and has a very long battery life. From full power down the camera is on and ready to take shots after just a few seconds.
Shots come out sharp, and the flash recharges very quickly between shots allowing you to take a number in quick succession.
The camera has some useful "sound guides" that let you know whether the shots are in focus as you partially depress the shutter button. The screen at the back is large with excellent colour so you can quickly see the quality and suitability of the images captured.
An added bonus is the video function which records sound acutely and is limited primarily only by the space on the memory card used.
The camera is on (very long term!) loan from a friend (originally borrowed to take to a wedding)...but he may now have to wrestle it back from me!
A brilliant little compact, I've had mine for about 2 years now it has a good size screen, loads of features, many of which I am yet to use!! and its very durable - I've carried it round in my back pocket with no case many a time and never had any trouble with it.
A very nice feature is the best shot mode which has nearly 30 pre - loaded shooting scenarios such as scenery, portrait, party, candle light etc by selecting one of these modes you are automatically setting the camera up to shoot a particular scene and you can also add your own modes to the pre - loaded ones, not that I have ever felt the need. There is also a snapshot mode which just takes a really standard picture, and a manual exposure setting.
You can also take video with this camera (you will need a decent size memory card if you want to take a lot) and the quality of this is actually really good, I don't use this feature anymore as I have purchased a video camera now, but in the first few months of owning the camera before I bought the video camera I used it to shoot a few short movies , played them back through the computer and was very surprised at the quality of the playback. It also has a bestshot mode for taking video which works much the same as with stills.
The optical zoom is very good and it also has digital zoom but I wouldn't recomend using this, as I did early on and realised the pictures didn't come very well at all but on the optical zoom they are very good quality.
The flash is absolutely fine as well, for a compact, and has red eye and automatic as well as manual settings.
Another good thing about this camera is the battery, it lasts for ages!! I bought mine as a package with two batteries and have found that when going away for two weeks there is no need for the charger to be packed as the first battery tends to last about 9 days so I seem to return with plenty of charge still left in the second battery.
When connecting up to your computer you do so through a docking station which comes with the camera, this is really handy, I just leave mine plugged in and hooked up to the computer permanently then just drop the camera in to it when ever I need to charge it or download pictures to the computer. The quality of the actual pictures produced are excellent also, we have printed pictures on our printer at home and sent off for prints both of which have come out brilliantly and many of which we proudly display framed around the house.
All in all I feel this camera has been a brilliant investment, it has been all over with us bashed, dropped even rained on and we have never had any problems with it, and it only just out of warranty as it came with two years as standard - another little bonus!!