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Casio EX-Z750 Test Review and User Guide
2006 KenRockwell.com

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Casio Exilm EX-Z750

I'd get it here or here

PERFORMANCE    back to first page and index

Lens and ERRORs   Metering   Focusing     White Balance      ISO Settings     Flash

Shutter and Motor Drive and Film Advance Modes    Cold Weather

Sharpening, Saturation and Contrast Settings   Playback  Image Quality

Remember image quality depends on the photographer, not the camera as I explain here.

The EX-Z750's image quality is excellent. The lens and images are sharp and exposures are almost always right on. In comparison to the OK lens of the S100, which can get a little soft at the corners, the Z750's lens is as sharp as any. The Z750's lens is sharper than other credit card cameras and as sharp as bulky cameras, but has a tad more distortion. You get full size camera quality from a camera that drops in your pocket.

Casio EX-Z750
Nikon D70

Click each for camera-original 2MB normal JPG file.

Guess what? Although two stops slower in ISO and too slow overall for action just like every other fixed lens camera, for still, static subjects my Z750 is as good as my Nikon D70 DSLR! Actually the default sharpening settings make the Z750 a bit sharper than the D70, even though the resolution is the same. These are limited by their pixel counts. Sure, if you get out test charts you will probably be able to measure some minor difference here or there, but overall they look as good as one another. The biggest difference is whether or not you can adjust each camera to get the look you want.

I made two real 12 x 18" wet-processed silver-halide based prints on real Fuji Crystal Archive glossy photo paper of those two files. I did it as Costco for $2.99 each, you can pay $10 elsewhere for the same thing. You see a lot more in a real print than from a giclée or archival inkjet print. Guess what? They also look the same, and almost identical in color, too. The Casio looks a little sharper overall due to the default sharpening setting, and the upper left corner is a little softer. Overall, same thing.

When you click on each of these remember that they are over 3,000 pixels wide and most browsers will have a cow displaying them. The Casio is 3,072 x 2,048 in its cropped 3:2 DSLR mode and the Nikon is 3,008 x 2,000. Many browsers will squeeze the images down to fit your screen; you'll need to disable that (Internet Explorer), or click the image (Firefox.) When you get the image at 100% (Safari) it will open showing you the upper left corner. Yes, the Casio's lens is softer in that particular corner than the 24 - 84 AF-S film lens at what effectively the middle of its field on the Nikon, and if you scroll to the middle of the image where it counts you'll see that the Casio is sharper than the Nikon. Also look at the broad-leafed greenery in the center; the Casio is cleaner and the Nikon muddier. Also note that the top left corner, which is usually the sky in most compositions, is the softest corner for the Casio. The Casio was it it's widest setting and the Nikon was zoomed in just a tad from 24 mm, probably at 25 mm. For those with a mathematical bent note that the focal length factor between the two cameras just happens to be pi or 3.14.

The Casio was f/4 at 1/320 (ISO 50), the Nikon at f/8 and 1/250 (ISO 200). The Casio is really a half stop faster than the marked ISO 50. Both were in default program auto mode with default Matrix metering. Note how well the two exposures match!

The biggest differences between my $450 Casio and $1,450 Nikon D70 DSLR with 24 - 85mm AF-s are in your ability and how you tweak the settings. Depending on the settings you can make either one look better depending on your taste. It turns out that the Casio is naturally more saturated, especially in the greens, than the D70 and the Casio also applies more sharpening. In these two images the Casio is at default for everything except resolution, which I turned down to the 3:2 setting to match the 6 MP D70, and I set WB to Daylight. The D70 is at default except I cranked up saturation to maximum (+ Saturation and Color Mode III in the Optimize Image menu) and set daylight WB. The Casio's saturation is still bolder. The Casio applies more sharpening so it looks sharper than the D70, too. I could have spent more time to make them more similar, especially if I turned down the Casio's saturation and sharpening.

In these two examples I shot each camera at it's minimum, and also default, ISO. I also shot the Casio at the same ISO 200 as the D70, which of course doesn't look quite as good due to noise and noise reduction processing if you look too closely at 100%. The Casio is just as sharp and has the same color at ISO 200 versus ISO 50; just that the images at higher ISOs get grittier and lose some subtle texture from noise reduction. It looks the same at normal sizes like the small images above. Remember the big CCD of the DSLR goes from ISO 200 to 1,600 and the compact camera goes from only from ISO 50 to 400. I explain the big differences between these two styles of cameras here in detail.

The Casio seems a bit warmer (better) here, but that's all user preference. I usually run the Nikon with both a glass 81A warming filter and -3 WB trim, after which it's warmer than the Casio as set here. For these comparisons I ran my D70 with no glass filter or WB trimming. This is all personal artistic taste; none of this is better or worse. Only goofballs worry about accuracy photographing MacBeth color charts; any scanner does far better and creative photography is the expression of imagination, not mere duplication.

LENS    back to performance     back to first page and index

The lens is a 7.9 - 23.7 mm f/2.8 - 5.1, similar to about a 38 - 114 mm lens on a 35mm film camera. This is a stop faster than the EX-S100.

Seven elements, six groups including an aspherical element per my user's manual's page 246, or eight elements in seven groups per Casio's website here.

Contrary to popular belief, the lens has little to do with the performance of a digital camera. Digital cameras have performance limited by the resolution of the CCD sensor and rarely by the lenses.

LENS ERROR Message

It's fairly common to get this message if you get something in the way when the lens tries to open. I got this all the time before I disabled the default POWER ON when you press the PLAY or RECORD buttons when I carry the EX-Z750 in my pocket. It would get turned on by accident and get caught in my pocket half open.

Be sure there's no dirt or anything caught in the collapsing lens assembly. Turn on the camera to extend the lens and then be sure the sides of the lens barrel are clean. Crud can get caught inside the tight clearances and gum up the works. It's easy to keep clean, but if you don't it may jam and give you that warning.

Likewise if the lens knocks into anything while opening it might get a little jammed and give you that warning. Carefully nudge the lens by rotating it till it's free and then open and close it and it should be fine.

This is common and not a sign that yours is bad. The EX-Z750 is a delicate precision instrument moving a complex assembly in and out very quickly with a small motor. It can't do this if it has pocket lint in it or is stuck inside a camera cast trying to open.

Depth of Field and Selective Focus

Almost every compact fixed lens camera has such a small lens and sensor that everything is always in focus. This Casio has a bigger sensor and longer, faster lens than most other fixed-lens cameras thus it actually has selective focus. Your backgrounds can be blurred for portraits!

There is little flexibility to adjust the aperture, thus to adjust the depth of field you need to control the distance to your subject (DOF is narrower when closer) and focal length (less DOF at tele).

The good news is that for blurred background portraits this little Casio is much better than other cameras I've used.

The bad news is that you can't get a landscape shot in perfect focus from a bug on a flower out to infinity. Focus on the bug and let the background go soft if it has to, and use the widest zoom setting for the most depth of field.

Apertures (skip ahead to Focal Lengths if you don't care)

Single Waterhouse stop for f/4 - 7.4.

It also can get what Casio calls f/8 - 14.8 at very high light levels with a neutral density (ND) filter swapped in front of the lens. This gives the exposure as indicated, but with the depth-of-field of the larger stop. These are more properly called T (true) stops, not F stops. Casio's specification of "brightness conversion F values" supports this. A "T" stop is a Hollywood term for the f/stop of a perfectly transmissive lens that gives the same exposure as the lens in question at the indicated T stop. Thus if a lens loses a half-stop of light it is t/4.8 when set to f/4. This is done to compensate for light lost in early zoom lenses since motion picture cameras have no through-the-lens metering.

Casio uses an ND filter instead of a truly smaller stop because lenses this short would have their resolution limited by diffraction at real f/stops of f/8 and smaller. The EXIF data reads these as if these are f/stops, just be forewarned if you worry about these that the depth of field is the same as the much larger f/stop.

Honestly I have no idea if Casio uses an ordinary ND filter or an advanced reverse convolutional Airy stop; that's way beyond the context of this website.

In other words, the lens has a mechanical stop, called a Waterhouse stop, that pops in to stop the lens down a stop from full open. It also has a two-stop ND filter it will use in very high light in addition to the Waterhouse stop. Casio calls out this Waterhouse stop and 2 stop ND combination as if it really stopped the lens down two more stops, which save everyone from needing this explanation here.

Focal Lengths

Like most digicam zooms it only zooms in seven steps. You cannot zoom continuously. The seven steps are:

7.9 mm f/2.8 (also f/4 and t/8)

9.5 mm f/3.1 (also f/4.4 and t/8.8)

11.8 mm f/3.6 (also f/5 and t/10)

14.2 mm f/4 (also f/5.6 and t/11)

16.6 mm f/4.4 (also f/6 and t/12)

19.7 mm f/4.8 (also f/6.9 and t/13.8)

23.7 mm f/5.1 (also f/7.4 and t/14.8)

This kind of makes me laugh: most digital cameras zoom only in steps optically where you'd need it, but the digital zoom you don't want to use usually works continuously.

Sharpness

Like most digital camera lenses it's as sharp as it can be in the center and almost everywhere at all focal lengths. It's sharp all over and a teeny bit softer in the corners only if you look for it. It makes lovely, sharp 12 x 18" prints. The EX-Z750 lens is much better than the EX-S100 lens.

It's as sharp as other cameras; there isn't as much variation between them as marketeers try to imply. The images are sharp all over at all focal lengths, just watch out for the corners. Don't fret, just look at the example at the top of the page if you're concerned.

Distortion

Like almost every digital camera or zoom lens, it has barrel distortion at the wide end. It still has a tiny bit of barrel distortion even at the tele end where most digital cameras have none.

7.9 mm: plenty of barrel distortion, more than most zoom cameras
9.5 mm: barrel distortion
11.8 mm: very little barrel distortion
14.2 mm: very little barrel distortion
16.6 mm: very little barrel distortion
19.2 mm:
23.7 mm: almost no distortion

Distortion Correction and Elimination

Photoshop CS2 lets you rectify distortion as easily as any other adjustment.

From the menu at the top of your screen, simply choose :

FILTER > DISTORT > LENS CORRECTION

and then set these values in the top "remove distortion" box for each lens setting:

7.9 mm: +4.45 gives correction perfect to a pixel!
9.5 mm: +2.94 at close distances, +2.1 to + 4.3 (as you can see I'm experimenting)
11.8 mm: (I'll let you know as I try these myself)
14.2 mm:
16.6 mm:
19.2 mm:
23.7 mm:

Flare and Ghosts

Quite good. I couldn't get ghosts or flare shooting into the sunset.

METERING and EXPOSURE   back to performance     back to first page and index

The Matrix meter works great. It's called "Multi" by Casio and is usually dead on. You'll see in the comparison at the top of the page that it gives the same exposure as the Nikon D70.

The EX-Z750 also has center-weighted and spot modes. I never bother with these.

If you chose exposure compensation (called EV Shift by Casio) the EX-Z750 reverts to center weighted metering.

The EX-Z750 has a trick pseudo-RAW mode that allows you to correct exposures after they've been shot. Just select "Brightness" in the play menu. You'll be able to preview the effect, and when selected the Casio processes and records a new file with the corrections. The original file is untouched.

No RAW files are involved. The Casio is clever enough to have the exposure adjustment routines in firmware and does the transformations to the JPG files recorded by the camera.

Many people who shoot RAW, which I consider to be a big waste of time as you can read here, don't realize that exposure can be adjusted in Photoshop from JPGs. You do it in Curves or Levels. No, Photoshop doesn't yet have a "dummies" panel actually marked in f/stops as RAW does, but one always has been able to do it.

This Casio's mode is clever, however I still find it easier and more accurate to do in Photoshop. The "Set White Point" eyedropper, or the highlight histogram slider with OPT pressed, in the Levels command are my favorites.

The new corrected files are still tagged with the original exposure and ISO settings and not with any indication that they were adjusted. If you start using this feature be very careful if you intend to use the file data to determine correct exposures for other cameras.

I would suggest to Casio they improve this clever feature by adding a manual mode. I would copy the eyedroppers and or histogram sliders in Photoshop's Levels command. I would design the Casio so you select an eyedropper, move a crosshair over the image, and hit Set for each point. Of course as a patent holder myself I'd do a patent search and pay Adobe or whoever for usage rights if that aspect of software is already protected.

Avoid using the Casio to correct over exposure or darken unless you need it for artistic effect. All it does is drop the whites to light grays, which isn't a good way to do this. Actually there is no good way to correct washed out whites in digital photos, but if you must, use Photoshop CS' "Adjust Highlights and Shadows" command instead for better results.

The Casio works fine for correcting underexposure, just that it only has two settings. I prefer the precision of Photoshop.

You can't cheat and continue to correct corrected files beyond the arbitrary +2 / -2 range. Casio has the files tagged so it knows. Thus you can't keep lightening lightened files. Just do this in Photoshop if you need to.

FOCUSING    back to performance     back to first page and index

Auto Focus

The Autofocus system has nine zones arranged 3 x 3. The EX-Z750 automatically finds the correct zone and uses it just fine. The EX-Z750's autofocus works at least as well as any other fixed-lens camera I've used, but even the best fixed-lens cameras, regardless of price, are great for still subjects but useless for sport or fast moving kids or pets. For that you need a DSLR (more here.)

The focus indicator brackets on the LCD are usually white. They turn green when and where focused, or red if it couldn't focus. Likewise the green light on the back of the camera glows solid green if all is OK, or flashes green if not.

There is a bright orange AF assist beam LED, so you're OK in the pitch black. These annoy the heck out of people being photographed and mark you for sniper fire. Turn off the AF assist beam in combat areas.

It has a hard time focusing on repeating horizontal lines, like Venetian blinds or automobile grilles. Rotate the camera 90 degrees and it ought to be fine. The green OK lights might come on, but it could be way out of focus. Not to worry; this will be obviously bad if you're making photos so you'll know to do something about it while you still can.

Speed

The EX-Z750 is the fastest focusing compact camera I can recall. It's fast for still subjects. As all other non SLR fixed-lens zoom cameras it's almost useless for photographing objects in motion. For that get a DSLR like the D70s.

Macro Focus

Almost every digital compact camera has macro ability to get up to about an inch from the lens. The EX-Z750 is one of the few that can't. You only can get to within about 4 inches at wide and 18 inches at tele. It also has a lot of distortion at wide. The EX-S100 or almost any other camera is much better at this if this is critical for you.

at 7.9 mm setting
at 14.2 mm setting
at 23.7 mm setting

Closest focus at various zoom settings

The EX-Z750 is good in that regardless of how you set the macro control it automatically focuses wherever it needs to. I almost wonder if the macro setting is put on purely for sales purposes; it doesn't need it.

Fast Focus Mode (called Quick Shutter by the Japanese)

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The EX-Z750 focuses very fast regardless of how you set it.

The camera's default is the "Quick Shutter ON" mode (in the REC menu). In this mode it will release the shutter when you press it, even if it hasn't yet focused perfectly. It makes a last-instant guess and fires away so you won't miss a shot.

If you go into the menu and turn "Quick Shutter OFF" it becomes like most cameras: it makes you wait and locks the shutter until it's done focusing to it's heart's content.

The EX-Z750 is so fast this is hard to test; it focuses immediately no matter what mode it's in. The only real way to see this work is to point the camera at the sky or a blank wall (on which it never can focus). With Quick Focus ON you'll be able to make photos, with Quick Shutter OFF you'll have to wait a while till it releases the shutter. Honestly I see little difference, just leave it alone at the ON setting and the EX-Z750 works like a dream.

WHITE BALANCE CONTROLS   back to performance    back to top of review

General

Excellent! This Casio is probably the best and fastest camera I've used for setting white balance. It has all the settings one needs and they are easy to set.

Oddly and unlike the S100, the Cloudy and Shade settings aren't much different than the Daylight setting. This is my main complaint with the Z750. I prefer the Cloudy and Shade settings to give warmer renditions than they do. No huge deal, I bought it with my own money anyway and simply set the manual preset setting to a true shade from a white card in shade and now have the Cloudy and Shade settings for finer tuning of cloudy conditions.

This Casio has no ability to tweak each preset with +- values as one may on Nikon DSLRs.

You may set the left and right command keys to select instantly among white balance settings. Just go to the REC menu and use the last setting called "L/R Key." I've seen no camera, even DSLRs, that have a direct entry like this. Even my favorite DSLRs still have a button to hold while spinning a knob, requiring two hands.

Auto White Balance

AWB adjusts over a broader range than most cameras, meaning you'll get less orange results under tungsten and less blue results in shade than other cameras. I prefer this.

Oddly sometimes the AWB takes a while to wake up and set itself. Sometimes a few beginning shots will be way off, and if I set the camera to the correct WB and then back to Auto it gets the idea and works fine. I haven't really figured out what causes this and how to work around it other than to give it a chance.No big deal; this is why you have an LCD to see what's going on. Maybe it's just that everything else is so fast that I've lost patience. AWB always takes a couple of seconds to set itself; when I see AWB miss consistently on the Z750 it stays stuck for quite a few frames.

Manual White Balance (MWB)

Manual White Balance (setting to a gray or white card) is great. It easily balances across the entire range from extreme blue skylight to dark dingy home tungsten lighting. That's right: you can set it so far that you can make home tungsten lighting, usually about 2,800 K, even look deliberately blue. Unlike the S100 which has this ability, the Z750 can't balance under really bizarre light like sodium street lights. This is OK, you also can't get it to make the crazy blue-channel noise the S100 does when trying to balance under orange street lights. Under high-pressure sodium light the Z750 will look green using manual white balance. In the other modes it looks the same awful orange that those lights look to the eye.

Not only is it wide ranged, it's also very accurate on the first try.

It's also very easy to set. I figured it out just by picking up the camera, no manual required. Contrast this to my Nikon DSLRs which usually require the book to figure out.

Tip: If you preselect the menus under the "EX" button to MWB you may set it to a gray or white card with just two button presses, including the shutter release, better than any other still camera! Just press and hold EX (which you've preset earlier to MWB), then tap the shutter. The camera sets WB; when it's complete, release the "EX" button and shoot!

Double bravo, I'm really impressed!

White Balance Correction of Recorded Files

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The Casio EX-Z750 has a amazing pseudo-RAW mode that easily allows you to select any image and change its white balance. The Casio saves a new file with the correction and leaves the original untouched. Just select "White Balance" in the playback menu and it's obvious. Page 141 of the manual explains this if you're dense.

No RAW files are involved. The Casio is clever enough to have the color-conversion matrices in firmware and does the transformations to the JPG files recorded by the camera.

I tried doing this to files shot on other cameras and copied onto the Z750's memory. Sorry, it couldn't do it either with files recorded on a Nikon D70 or Casio EX-S100. It is smart enough that you may copy an image made with the Z750 from your computer back into the camera, create a corrected file, and copy that back to your computer.

Many people who shoot RAW, which I consider to be a big waste of time, don't realize that white balance can be adjusted in Photoshop as well even from JPGs. You do it in Curves or Levels or Color Balance. No, Photoshop doesn't yet have a "dummies" panel actually marked with common white balance monikers, but one always has been able to do it.

This Casio's mode is clever, however I still find it easier and more accurate to do in Photoshop. The "Set White Point" and "Set Neutral Gray" eyedroppers in the Levels command is my favorite. The Casio may alter the white point from 255, 255, 255 depending on your conversion, thus highlights may take on a color cast when doing this in-camera.

The new corrected files are still tagged with the original WB setting, not the setting of the intended correction. Thus if you shoot in tungsten and convert to daylight the daylight-corrected file is still tagged tungsten.

I would suggest to Casio they improve this clever feature by adding a manual mode. I would copy the function of the gray and white eyedroppers in Photoshop's Levels command. I would design the Casio so you select an eyedropper, move a crosshair over the image, and hit Set for each point. Of course as a patent holder myself I'd do a patent search and pay Adobe or whoever for usage rights if that aspect of software is already protected.

ISO SETTINGS    back to performance     back to first page and index

Calibration

It seems to be about a half stop faster than rated. Check carefully before using as an exposure meter for your film camera.

Auto ISO default setting

The Auto ISO setting works fine, but only changes the ISO from 50 up to 100. It starts increasing ISO as soon as the shutter starts to slow. When it gets too dark at ISO 100 at 1/8 then you get underexposure, so watch out since you need to choose another mode that allows longer shutter speeds or increase the ISO manually. Most Auto ISO settings in other cameras only take effect with flash; the Z750 works perfectly for available light.

I always leave mine in Auto ISO unless I'm in the dark and bump it straight up to ISO 400.

Noise Performance

No noise at ISO 50, a little at ISO 100, some noise visible at ISO 200. ISO 400 has visible noise, but much less than any other compact digital camera I've used. This is excellent. If you want or need high ISOs you'll need to step up all the way to a DSLR to find anything significantly better.

Casio is applying noise reduction to the images, so as the ISO goes up noise isn't much of a problem, but subtle textures may get smoothed over by the NR.

FLASH    back to performance     back to first page and index

The tiny flash works fine. It also usually works great at close distances and doesn't overexpose as many cameras do. It also does a much better than average job of balancing with ambient and back light. Exposures are often dead on, a rarity in any digital camera. It can overexpose at the closest focus distances unless you try a few times.

Flash sync goes all the way up to 1/1,600 of a second due to the electronic CCD shutter. This is much better than any of today's DSLRs.

It can take up to nine seconds to recharge the flash after a full power dump, or much quicker at closer distances. It seems faster than the S100. It is a big pain photographing rapidly. This is another advantage of a big DSLR and separate flash; the tiny battery of the EX-Z750 can only recharge the flash so fast compared to a big Ni-MH in a stand-alone flash.

In addition to the usual automatic ISO boosting for distant subjects, the Z750 has an additional magic "Flash Assist" mode. This mode lightens the image after it's shot if you didn't have enough range. It's set to "auto" in the REC menu by default (default was off in the S100).

SHUTTER and FILM ADVANCE and MOTOR DRIVE MODES

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The shutter has a range from at least 1/8 to 1/1,000 in any situation. It goes as fast as 1/1,600 depending on lens setting. It goes as slow as one second in A mode, as slow as 4 seconds in the night modes, and as slow as one minute (60 seconds) in manual and S modes. It correctly gives photographic timings for the longer exposures, which means the 60 second setting really is a 64 second exposure. It automatically applies dark-frame subtraction noise reduction at 1/8 and longer longer, and thankfully takes no more than ten additional seconds for the dark frame exposure. This saves a lot of time waiting around compared to other cameras that take double the set exposure time for this.

Shutter (Film Advance or Motor Drive) Modes: Unlike every other camera, Casio names their film advance modes differently so none of us could figure it out. The modes are:

    Single Shot: Normal. This is what you get each time you turn on the camera. This is the same as "S" on most SLR and motor drive film cameras.

    Normal Speed Cont(inuous): Continuous. Hold down the shutter button and it keeps making photos till you let off. This is the same as "C" on most SLR and motor drive film cameras. Flash won't work in this mode. Focus and exposure are kept constant. Frame rate is 10 frames in 7 seconds, or 1.4 FPS with a 1/30 shutter speed. It will get slower at long shutter speeds or maybe a little faster at faster ones.

    Zoom Continuous: A trick mode where the center of the image is also cropped and copied into a new file. Both files (the normal one and cropped one) are saved. The cropped file is a smaller image size identical to simply cropping and resaving. The crop size is always 2x, but you can select the area which is cropped. It's called continuous, but on my camera one has to press the shutter again for each new shot. It works at all resolutions except DSLR 3,072 x 2,048 and 640 x 480. The size of each dimension of the cropped saved image is about half the dimensions of the full sized image. Thus if your main resolution is set to 2,048, the second cropped saved images are 1,024 x 768 in addition to the 2,048 x 1,536 images. Flash works in this mode, in contrast to what the manual says.

    Multi Continuous: A trick mode where the camera makes 25 video shots and composites them into one multiple image. The saved image is 1,600 x 1,200. Flash doesn't work in this mode. The frame rate is 15 frames-per-second (I've timed it) which is faster than any DSLR. Of course resolution is only 320 x 240 for each image and the flash won't work in this mode. As you may guess, the slowest shutter speed is 1/15 second. The frame rate stays the same regardless of shutter speed. You will get underexposure if conditions require longer than the maximum 1/15 available in this mode.


Reduced example of Multi Continuous. In the full sized version (click for it, made in Economy mode) you can see the sub-second hand at the bottom traces one full second in 15 frames. This is a special chronometer which has a fourth hand which rotates once for each second.

COLD WEATHER    back to performance     back to first page and index

The camera and battery are each rated for use between 32 and 104 F (0 - 40 C).

I left it overnight in my freezer at 0 F (-20 C). It works fine! The only caveats are that at first the battery gauge, with a full battery, read partly empty. This is normal, at that temperature the battery has less power. As soon as I made a few shots at room temperature the indicator went back up to normal, suggesting that of course the battery had warmed from use. Everything worked just as if it was at room temperature; there was no slowing of focus or zooming or anything. Often SLR cameras get sluggish if the lubricants freeze up at cold temperatures.

The LCD does slow down. This means you may see streaks or blurs on the LCD as you zoom and pan. This is fun, and doesn't show up in your final images. Scrolling between images on playback look like fades rather than cuts. This is normal; LCDs slow down in the cold. The great news is the color and everything look just like they do at room temperature.

I use the real Casio battery included with the camera, not an off brand.

One word of caution: don't lick the metal camera when frozen! It's made of real metal, not painted plastic, so it could stick to your tongue.

SHARPENING, SATURATION and CONTRAST SETTINGS

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Sharpening Adjustment

The normal setting is fine. There are also -2, -1, +1 and +2 settings. They all work swell, the +2 adds extra sharpening and isn't too ridiculous, and -2 takes the edge off for people who prefer to sharpen later.

This setting is memorized as part of the user presets.

Saturation Adjustment

Also works fine. You have -2, -1, 0 +1 and +2. It looks great at normal, although it's more saturated than most cameras. I usually set other cameras to +2. If you're like me and just crank any new camera up to the max out of habit you'll want to hold off a bit here. The colors can get a bit out of control even for me at +2.

This setting is memorized as part of the user presets.

Contrast Adjustment

There are -2 -1, 0, +1 and +2 settings. It appears also to effect color saturation.

For some bizarre reason the final image magnification is very, very slightly more when using these settings at other than 0. You'd only notice as I did when making consecutive shots on a tripod to compare.

I saw no reason to use the lower contrast setting. It seemed simply to raise the black level but not increase the dynamic range. The +2 setting looked like fun for snappier images but I didn't play with it much. The normal setting is fine.

This setting is memorized as part of the user presets.

PLAYBACK    back to performance     back to first page and index

Playback images scroll at ten per second, and they are sharp, not fuzzy like Canon under fast scrolling.

There is up to 8x zoom depending on the resolution as shot, plenty to see JPG artifacts or lens defects if you know how to look.

IMAGE QUALITY    back to performance     back to first page and index

Remember image quality depends on the photographer, not the camera as I explain here.

General

Overall image quality is great as I showed at the top of this page here.

Image quality depends on your scene, its lighting, and most importantly on your skill in the artful adjustment of your camera's settings.

Image quality has very little to do with minute differences visible only in a laboratory to a technical eye.

Color

Color is more vivid than most cameras. Even at the normal saturation setting greens are particularly vivid. Blues also seem more prominent than on other cameras.

Use the more saturated settings with caution.

Noise and Grain

It's better than any compact digital camera I've used.

It's great at ISO 50, pretty good at ISO 100, OK at ISO 200 and quite usable at ISO 400. This is much better than normal because almost all other compact cameras give awful performance at ISO 400.

To get a significant improvement from this you need to get a big, true DSLR for three times the price.

Casio applies strong noise reduction processing to the images at higher ISOs, so you may start to lose subtle textures at higher ISOs.

Highlights

Highlights seem to be just fine. The meter does a good job of avoiding blowing them out.

Aliasing (moiré)    back to performance     back to first page and index

I've not seen any problem, which makes this better than the S100 and Nikon D70.

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