Casio EXILIM EX-Z85
Review Date : Thu, 12 Mar 2009
Author : Cliff Smith
It’s the smallest and lightest camera on the marke
The Casio Exilim EX-Z85 is a remarkably small camera even by ultra-compact standards. It shares the same body design and control layout, as well as many of the same features, as the EX-Z80, launched this time last year. It has the same flush-folding 3x optical zoom lens and the same 2.6in LCD monitor, but replaces the Z80's 8.1-megapixel sensor with a more powerful 9.1-megapixel unit.
Like most of Casio's other cameras the Z85 has an on-screen control panel which displays a row of icons down the right side of the screen. This provides quick and intuitive access to commonly used shooting functions such as drive mode or ISO setting, and also controls the Z85's stand-out feature, the auto-shutter system.
The auto shutter has three settings. The first, smile detection, is found on a number of other cameras, but far more useful are the two motion-detection options. The first setting uses scene recognition software to prevent the camera from taking a picture if it detects motion blur caused by either camera or subject movement. The second setting does the same, but only in the vertical axis, useful for panning action shots.
Casio's compacts have an excellent reputation for overall performance, which the Z85 does nothing to tarnish. It starts up very quickly in around 1.5 seconds and shuts down again just as quickly. In single-shot mode it can capture a picture every 2.2 seconds, while in normal continuous shooting mode it can take a shot every 1.2 seconds. It has a flash continuous mode which takes a quick burst of three shots with flash, and a high-speed continuous mode which can shoot at approximately 5fps, but this is limited to 2MP. Casio's autofocus system is one of the fastest on the market, and in most lighting conditions the Z85 will focus in a fraction of a second. It works well in dim lighting, but the lack of an AF assist lamp means it can't focus in very low light
The Z85 measures 89.7 x 51.7 x 19mm, and weighs only 100g, making it one of the smallest and lightest digital cameras on the market. However, despite its small size the Z85 is quite pleasant to handle. The controls are necessarily small but are sensibly located leaving plenty of room to grip the camera while shooting. There is a separate button to activate the Z85's video mode, which can capture wide VGA resolution movie clips at 30 frames a second.
The Z85's only real weak spot is its overall picture quality. While exposure, colour reproduction and automatic white balance are very good, and the low compression rate in the high-quality Fine mode produces good large image files, there are problems with image noise even at the lowest sensitivity setting. The lens also has some problems, with significant barrel distortion at wide angle and poor sharpness towards the edges of the frame.
The main selling point of the Casio EX-Z85 is its remarkably compact size and low weight, but it also performs and handles well, and has a number of useful advanced features. Overall build quality is also excellent, but it does have some image quality issues.