Photograghy News,Reviews

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Casio Exilim EX-Z750

DC Recource Review:

The Casio Exilim EX-Z750 ($440) is an ultra compact camera with a 7.2 Megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, large 2.5" LCD display, high quality movie mode, and much more. For better or for worse the market is suddenly becoming crowded with small, high resolution cameras like this: Canon, Nikon, and Sony all have similar models. That means that the Z750 has its work cut out for it. How does it perform? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?
The Exilim EX-Z750 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

* The 7.2 effective Megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z750 digital camera
* NP-40 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
* AC adapter
* USB camera cradle
* Wrist strap
* USB cable
* A/V cable
* CD-ROM featuring Casio PhotoLoader and PhotoHands, Ulead Movie Wizard SE VCD, and drivers
* Printed basic manual + full manual on CD-ROM

Casio is one of those camera manufacturers who doesn't include a memory card with their camera. Instead, they build some memory right into the camera. Unfortunately Casio gives you an absurdly low amount of built-in memory on this 7 Megapixel camera -- just 8.3MB. You can fit one -- yes, one -- photo (at the highest quality setting) into that amount of space, so consider a larger memory card to be a requirement. I'd recommend a 512MB or larger Secure Digital (SD) memory card to start with. A high speed card is not necessary based on my own experiences and also because Casio doesn't mention such a requirement anywhere.

I don't know how they do it, but Casio manages to get great battery life out of their cameras. Using the included NP-40 lithium ion battery (which has just 4.6 Wh of energy) the camera can take a whopping 325 shots per charge! Compare that with 160 shots on the Canon SD500, 270 shots on the Nikon Coolpix 7900, and 370 shots on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 (nice!).

My usual complaints about proprietary batteries like the one used by the EX-Z750 apply here. They're expensive ($45 a pop), and you can't put in a set of alkalines to get you through the rest of the day like you could with an AA-based camera.

The camera dock is used for battery charging, transferring photos to your PC, or viewing photos on a television. While there's no option for transferring photos without the dock, Casio does sell a video out cable that connects directly to the camera for a whopping $25. [Paragraph updated 5/18/05]

To charge the battery just pop the camera into the cradle and you're set -- it takes about 3 hours to fully charge the NP-40. An external battery charger is sold separately.

How Does it Compare?

The Casio Exilim EX-Z750 is a very nice 7 Megapixel ultra-compact camera with a few annoying flaws. First, the good points. The Z750 is compact, made of metal, and is well constructed. It fits easily in your pocket and can go anywhere you do. The camera has a large 2.5" LCD display and a tiny optical viewfinder. While the screen is big, the resolution is not, and low light visibility is not very good either. Camera performance is excellent. The Z750 starts up in just one second and focusing, shutter lag, and shot-to-shot speeds are all very good. The camera's AF-assist lamp helped it focus well in low light situations. Battery life is superb compared to most other ultra-compacts.

Image quality is very good if you tweak a few settings. The biggest problem in this area is the very oversaturated colors in nearly all of my photos. Thankfully there's a workaround -- change the saturation setting in the record menu to -1. And while I'm at it, I'd also suggest reducing the sharpness to the same number, as photos were a little too sharp for my eyes. Redeye was also a big problem, as is usually the case with ultra-compact cameras. Aside from that, the news is all good: exposure was accurate, purple fringing levels were low, and noise levels were comparable to other cameras in this class.

The EX-Z750 has plenty of features to talk about as well. It has tons (and I mean tons) of scene modes that even extend to movie mode. If you want manual controls, they're all here, though I don't like the limited aperture choices. Speaking of movie mode, the Z750's is excellent. You can record high quality VGA (30 fps) video until the memory card is full. Thanks to Casio's use of the MPEG-4 codec file sizes are small and a high speed memory card is not required. The downside is that Mac compatibility isn't the best. The camera offers several movie modes and you can edit your "films" when they're done or grab frames from them.

I have a few more complaints that don't really fit anywhere else. I don't like how the camera requires you to use the (included) camera dock for transferring photos to your computer. The Z750's flash is on the weak side when compared to other cameras in its class. The continuous shooting modes leave much to be desired -- you can take just 2 shots in a row at 1.1 fps at the highest quality setting. The Z750 has an appallingly low amount of built-in memory, which is really inexcusable on a 7.2 Megapixel camera like this. And finally, I'd like my full camera manual in print, thank you!

Overall, the EX-Z750 gets my recommendation. A lot of people are trying to choose between the Z750 and the Canon SD500, and here are some things to consider. For an easy point-and-shoot camera that takes great pictures right out of the box, the SD500 is probably the best choice. If you want manual controls and the ability to tweak camera settings, choose the Z750. For low light shooting I preferred the SD500 due to its LCD that "gains up" in those conditions. The SD500 had a more powerful flash as well, though the Z750's Flash Assist feature makes up for its weaker flash. If battery life is paramount then the Z750 wins by a large margin. In terms of continuous shooting performance the SD500 wins easily, though it has no "fast shutter speed" or shutter priority mode like the Z750 does. Regardless of which of the two cameras you end up with, both are good choices. Take what you've learned in this review and the SD500 review and decide which is best for your needs.

PC Mag Review:

The 7.2-megapixel Exilim EX-Z750 has all the strengths we're used to seeing from Casio cameras, like an effective menu structure and innovative video features. Overall, it's an easy-to-use ultracompact, but testing revealed a few picture-quality problems.

The camera's zoom covers 7.9 mm to 23.7 mm (a 35-mm equivalent of 38 mm to 114 mm), with an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/5.1. But what you'll notice first is the EX-Z750's very large 2.5-inch LCD, with adjustable brightness settings. We could see the image on the LCD even in bright light, but we appreciate that the camera also has a tiny viewfinder, a feature many manufacturers seem eager to remove from their ultracompacts. We feel it's still a useful thing to have. We were glad to see that the USB cradle, which you'll need to connect the camera to your PC, is fairly sturdy.

We also like the nicely displayed menus, always a strong point for Casio. The camera even has shortcut keys for quick access to important features such as resolution and ISO settings. The handy Best Shot mode comes with 30 different auto settings, some artsy, such as pastel and illustration, and some practical, like a setting for copying business cards. All worked reasonably well.

Yet despite the variety of scene modes, the camera could have done better on our still-life camera tests. The daylight shot was somewhat underexposed, and the strobe blew out some of the details in the flash shot. We found some noise and fringing in both the daylight and the flash shots, though the color saturation and color accuracy were adequate. The camera received an acceptable score of 1,575 average lines of resolution, and it booted up in a zippy 2.3 seconds. The recycle time was respectable at 2.9 seconds. We didn't find much shutter lag, nor did we see very much distortion in the zoom range of the lens.

The camera allows you to take MPEG-4 movies at 30 frames per second (at 640 by 480 pixels), which gave us clear videos with pretty good sound. The EX-Z750 also includes a past-movie function similar to the one found on the Casio Exilim EX-P505 hybrid camera. The feature is kind of a "time-shifting" function for cameras: Once the mode is activated, the camera records everything it sees without permanently saving the video. Press the shoot button and it saves the previous 4 seconds of footage along with the next 4 seconds, perfect for capturing your child's home run. We didn't see any unusual battery drain when the feature was activated, and by using a buffer for the temporary footage, it avoids devouring your storage space.

Despite some minor issues with image quality, the Casio Exilim EX-Z750 is a good choice for a multipurpose ultracompact. For cameras around the same price, though, we still prefer the comparison chart and benchmark test results.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Canon PowerShot S80

CNET Review

Canon's latest PowerShot S-series flagship, the 8-megapixel PowerShot S80, stands out just about every way you look at it. It's a fun little camera that packs a wallop in terms of features, performance, and photo quality. Its automatic-exposure modes and intelligent processing will impress casual shooters who want good images without a lot of fuss. Its manual controls and advanced features will provide enjoyment for fiddling amateurs. And its big 2.5-inch LCD, elegant good looks, and excellent build quality will please any shooter.


This camera is packed with useful photographic features, and it looks great, too. The Canon PowerShot S80 is attractive and sturdy, covered in glossy-black aluminum with a matte-silver trim and textured black-rubber accents that not only look classy but help improve your grip. The panels and the doors fit snugly, and the camera's density just screams quality. The S80 isn't as small as the ultrathin models out there, but it will easily fit in a jacket or a loose pants pocket. Simultaneously justifying and belying the camera's size are a big 2.5-inch LCD plus an optical viewfinder, which is a rare combination these days. While the ultrathins tend to have those big LCDs, they're usually too small to accommodate viewfinders as well.

The camera's controls are fairly easy to understand, though some icons may send you to the instruction manual. Useful touches include a four-way switch that also doubles as a scrollwheel, à la the iPod, and a shortcut button that you can program to control image size, white balance, colour mode, metering mode, or autoexposure lock, among other settings. For a photographer trying to work in a quickly changing situation, this button can help keep that once-in-a-lifetime shot from getting away. Other quick-access settings are drive mode, ISO sensitivity, autofocus point, flash mode, macro mode, and manual-focus mode. Unfortunately, switching the control wheel from aperture adjustment to shutter-speed adjustment in manual-exposure mode requires an extra button push. When you do need to invoke menus, Canon has made it as clear a process as possible. Captions accompany cryptic icons, and the LCD's large size makes reading the menus easier.


Like its predecessors, the Canon PowerShot S80 is packed with features for both casual shooters and more advanced amateurs. It incorporates the same f/2.8-to-f/5.3, 28mm-to-100mm (35mm equivalent) lens as the PowerShot S70. The lens is on the slow side and doesn't offer a very high zoom range, but it provides a relatively wide-angle focal length.

We miss uncompressed image formats such as TIFF and raw, which would take advantage of the camera's 8-megapixel sensor. Other features, however, work to compensate. Three exposure modes include a spot mode for more precise control and a well-designed evaluative mode that handles backlighting and mixed lighting very well. A noise-reduction algorithm automatically kicks in for exposures longer than 1.3 seconds, but unfortunately the effect is subtle. It also doubles processing time, and you can't disable it.

For tinkerers, the Canon PowerShot S80 offers some interesting colour tools. Though not entirely practical they are fun without being too cheesy, and are certainly better than the hokey frames and the preset captions many other cameras offer. In Colour Accent mode, every colour in the frame except one the user selects is converted to black and white, for that hand-painted look. Colour Swap mode replaces one selected colour with another -- turn that green apple red or that red light green (not to endorse insurance fraud!). Users can also customise the camera's colour palette by adjusting the individual red, green, and blue channels or a special Skin Tone channel.

Those interested in shooting short movies with the Canon PowerShot S80 will appreciate the full-motion VGA mode, at 640x480 pixels and 30 frames per second (fps), and the less common 1,024x768-pixel mode, at 15fps.

The S80 caters to underwater photographers with a special white-balance setting and an optional waterproof housing. For creative enthusiasts, it also has an optional wireless external flash and optional wide and telephoto add-on lenses.


Thanks to its Digic II processor and some savvy programming, the Canon PowerShot S80 is a snappy performer in the right places, beating many competitors and higher-end models in several speed tests. The S80 takes only 2.8 seconds to snap your first shot after start-up, and while its shutter lag of 0.7 second in good light isn't notable, its ability to maintain that speed under low-contrast lighting is quite impressive. Its upgraded autofocus sensor is probably responsible for its good low-contrast performance. Canon claims the S80 is one stop more sensitive than its predecessor, the S70. Despite a sluggish continuous-shooting rate (between 1fps and 1.3fps), the S80 has a whip-fast shot-to-shot time, firing off two frames in 0.7 second -- 1.4 seconds with flash.

The S80 performs quickly and responsively when you're navigating and changing menu settings, reviewing shots, or formatting memory cards. It doesn't just sprint, either. It's also great over the long haul, with its proprietary lithium-ion battery providing excellent battery life. We took more than 1,000 top-resolution shots on a full charge, half of them with flash, with about 100 full zooms and 10 power-downs in between -- the battery-level indicator didn't even change.

The big 2.5-inch LCD could be brighter, but it refreshes quickly and renders colours accurately. The tiny optical viewfinder lacks diopter adjustment for people who need eyesight correction, but optical viewfinders are rare on big-LCD digital cameras anyway. Manual focus is difficult: the S80 automatically magnifies the view in manual-focus mode, but the LCD image is too grainy for the task.

LetsGoDgital Review

Canon Powershot S80 digital camera introduction : Canon releases the 8.0 Megapixel Canon S80, the new flagship to its S-Series PowerShot range. The Canon Powershot S80's rich feature set includes a wide-angle 28-100 mm f/2.8-5.3 (3.6x) optical zoom lens incorporating Canon’s UA lens technology, the same DIGIC II processor found in Canon’s professional series digital SLRs and an oversize 2.5-inch LCD. A striking, contemporary finish complements the compact body of the camera, which is considerably smaller than its predecessor, the S70. For the first time in a digital compact, an EOS-style Multi Control Dial is introduced to allow quick setting of menu and shooting functions, as well as rapid scroll through images during playback.

Canon S80 digital camera

Advanced features include real-time histogram display, FlexiZone AF/AE with a freely movable focus point and manual focus override, 21 shooting modes, XGA quality video clips up to 1 GB in size and a new and improved user interface with a newly designed and positioned mode dial. "The Canon S80 digital camera provides those serious about photography with uncompromising specifications,” said Mogens Jensen, Head of Canon Consumer Imaging Europe. “Its futuristic and compact design symbolises Canon’s commitment to pushing the limits of what is possible in this important segment.”

Canon Powershot S80 - Quality build and Optics

The sleek-looking Canon S80 has been redesigned to give it a solid, high quality build and a more ergonomic, compact body that is over 8% smaller than its predecessor, despite the camera’s improved performance. Its 28 - 100mm f/2.8-5.3 (3.6x) optical zoom lens features Canon’s advanced UA (Ultra High Refractive Index Aspherical) lens technology, which allows for true wide-angle capability without increasing camera size. The focal length range expands to approximately 22.4 - 200mm with the new optional wide and tele-converter lenses.

Canon S80 camera - 8 Megapixels and DIGIC II

With a sensor that includes a massive 8.0 Megapixels, the Powershot S80 camera produces images for detailed A3+ size prints, and gives photographers more freedom to crop images. Canon’s advanced image processor, DIGIC II, has been incorporated to increase the camera’s speed and responsiveness, while also improving image quality. Auto focus speeds are now up to 20% faster, and focusing performance in low light has improved by around 1 stop, offering better control in dim conditions. DIGIC II drives a 1.8 frames per second continuous shooting speed, and supports 9-point AiAF for fast, accurate focusing even when subjects are not centred. FlexiZone AF/AE allows free scrolling anywhere within the frame's auto focus area to select the desired subject, for which exposure is weighted accordingly. Manual focus selection is also possible. Hi-Speed USB 2.0 compatibility offers faster communication with computers, speeding up file transfers.

Canon Powershot digital camera - High level control and easy

The camera’s smaller size has not compromised ease of use. A new large 2.5-inch LCD is adjustable to one of 15 brightness levels and has a Quick-bright function to facilitate shooting in sunny conditions. A real-time histogram, which appears on the LCD monitor, has been incorporated to allow the user to evaluate exposure easily when composing. The selectable grid line display helps with composition and leveling horizons. With a newly designed user interface, the Canon S80 offers faster and more intuitive operation. The Multi Control Dial allows quick setting of menu and shooting functions, as well as rapid scroll through images during playback. Conveniently, the mode dial is now positioned so it can be better viewed when composing shots. The camera’s Shortcut function increases flexibility by allowing the Print/Share button to be assigned to any one of a wide range of still image or movie shooting setting functions. For enhanced image review, the jump to folder button now allows jumping to the first image of specified folders. Folders can be defined to be created automatically as specified by the user, for example on a weekly basis, and now has a capacity of up to 2000 images per folder.

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