Exilim EX-Z80 review

The tiny Casio Exilim EX-Z80 packs a lot of features for £129 (cheaper if you shop around), going above and beyond much of its competition. It’s about the length and width of a credit card and just half an inch thick. Encased in a combination of sleek brushed metal and matching faux-metal plastic, it’s available in a range of colours.

With 8-megapixel resolution, it produces acceptable prints at 8 x 10in. Colours are good, although there’s a bit of blur. By forgoing a viewfinder and relying on very small buttons elsewhere, Casio was able to fit an impressively large 2.6in LCD on the EX-Z80. But that streamlined form requires a sacrifice: the miniature buttons nest very close together, and the video button is too close to the top-right corner. If you aren’t particularly dexterous you may have trouble pressing the buttons at all.

The camera offers some interesting ‘Best Shot’ scene modes to supplement the expected sunset, night portrait, landscape, and food options. These include a helpful eBay mode and the entrancing pastel and star-effect modes. Also uncommon in a camera of its price are the EX-Z80’s advanced custom controls, such as flash output adjustment, white balance, and spot metering.

You can program the joystick on the back to change various settings, such as metering methods. In addition to providing several face-recognition focus options, the camera automatically reduces blur when panning along with a subject. Or you can arrange for the camera to trip the shutter only when the subject stays still or smiles. These features didn’t always work in our tests, but they did help stabilise images.

Casio seems especially proud of is the camera’s YouTube video capability. In that mode, the EX-Z80 records .mov files in YouTube’s preferred H.264 format, optimised for online viewing. The software even includes a special YouTube video uploader. Movies came out quite well, particularly at higher quality settings.

Alas, like most cameras in this price range, the EX-Z80 doesn’t have crystal-clear optics. Though colour is very good and easy to alter with the camera’s white balance and filter settings, photos tend to lose sharpness at their outer edges, artifacts pop up along high-contrast edges, and a bit of noise is evident in shots taken at ISOs above 200. Fortunately, the EX-Z80 starts out at a low ISO of 64, and in brightly lit environments – especially outdoors – it does just fine.

OUR VERDICT

The Casio Exilim EX-Z80 is a solid little snapper, highly intuitive to navigate, and impressively fast at autofocusing. It’s also YouTube-friendly, inexpensive, and boasts a huge LCD screen and features galore.

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