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I've owned one of these cameras for almost 3 years and absolutely love it.
For taking quick pics its fantastic and when you need to take a bit more care over a shot it has the features to allow you take something special.
Starting with the body the camera is small and easy to carry in a pocket or bag, the metal shell feels sturdy and there is a nice sized screen on the back for framing the pictures or for playing them back. Unlike mot cameras of this class the z850 has a view finder included as well, but this only has limited use due to it not showing the whole picture being taken and it makes centering a picture a little trickier.
The camera has lots of options when taking shots and the most comon of these can be found on the rotational dial on the rear. The main options are auto photo, best shot photo, auto video, best shot video, manual focus, manual shutter speed, and manual AE compensation (brightness)
The photos produced are excellent, and approx 200 can be saved to a 1gb sd memory card in the highest quality. The camera has a really fast start up time as well as quick auto focus meaning it is ready shoot in seconds so you rarely miss that important moment (unless you forgot to take the camera with you).
It also has a burst mode where you can shoot three shots in a very short space of time with the flash or you can shoot continuosly till the memory card is full without the flash. The speed of the continuous shooting is about 2 shots per seconds depending on the memory card.
The battery holds an excellent charge and will last out a 2 week holiday easily without requiring a recharge. We took it round the south island of new zealand and took over 500 pictures plus video before needing to recharge it.
The video capability of the camera is 640x480 at 30fps and is the one slight let down. Initially the quality was poor when set to high quality mode as you would get strange banding on the playback. Casio released an update that fixed this problem and made the captured video look superb, but there was a trade off. To get the quality they needed to use less of the CCD to capture the video so you loose 33% of the view area (kind of like zooming in by 1x. This isn't too bad when outdoors as you can ussually stand futher back to frame the image, but indoors it is an issue as you can't always stand back far enough.
In conclusion the photos produced are excellent as is the video if you have enough space to use it. The camera has been highly relaible and I would have no hesitation in recomending it.
Ultimate performance in photography: the new EXILIM ZOOM EX-Z850 digital camera for the serious photographer. With 8.1 megapixels for perfect photos, MPEG-4 movie, Anti Shake DSP and movie stabilizer function to reduce picture and movie blur, AV output, and lots of manual setting options, the new EXILIM ZOOM EX-Z850 is the perfect camera for people with high standards.