Casio EXILIM EX-Z90 Review
Review Date : Thu, 21 Jan 2010
Author : Matt Tuffin
The Casio Z90 is a slim, attractive compact with HD video, but just how good is it? That What Digital Camera Casio EX-Z90 review...
|Pros:||Small, looks good, simple to use|
|Cons:||Muddy colours, poor at high ISO, few standout features|
Casio EX-Z90 review - Features
The Casio EX-Z90 is a sleek number available in a variety of relatively inoffensive shades, from basic black through to baby blue and a pink. Casio's previous form in the low-end compact market is distinctly of the ‘good, but not great' variety, offering small, attractive cameras with little to stand them out from an ever-increasing crowd.
With a 12.1 MP sensor there isn't a great deal at first glance to elevate the Casio Z90 above the chasing pack. The majority of the sub-£200 will have similar or more than 12MP at their disposal, and most will offer more than a 3x optical zoom. With a wide angle of 35mm (to the 35mm equivalent) the EX-Z90 isn't exactly a landscape photographer's dream, and the 105mm top end telephoto doesn't offer a huge amount of magnification for those more into shooting sports.
The Z90's HD video mode is an intriguing prospect on such a small model, even if it isn't the ‘Full HD' 1920 x 1080 resolution, instead sitting at 1280 x 720. Even the screen is at the middle-of-road size of 2.7in, although anything larger would overwhelm the rear of the camera. The new Dynamic Photo sounds like far less of a gimmick than it actually is, allowing users to drop a video clip onto a still or place clipart images onto a photo. The results are suitably cheesy, and the video overlay was very hit-and-miss in this test.
Casio EX-Z90 review - Design
The Casio Z90 body is impressively minimalist in terms of buttons and controls, ensuring the new user isn't overwhelmed by buttons with secondary functions or a cluttered area around where the thumb would normally sit. Instead the standard shutter release and power controls sit on the top panel, with less frequently used buttons such as playback and delete situated around the D-pad. The video record button, in spite of being one of the heavily promoted features of the camera, is small and easy to miss. Being of a similar size and shape to the power button means the likelihood is that users could will miss it, especially as there's no indication on the button as to its function. However, Casio's menu system remains extremely simple to get on with, offering a side bar on the screen to negotiate for commonly used functions or a series of separate screens for the likes of formatting the memory card and similar low-use functions. As very few controls are secondary functions on the D-Pad it makes perfect sense to keep the likes of macro within arms reach.
Casio EX-Z90 review - Image Quality
Image quality from the Casio EX-Z90 is surprisingly decent for such a general use camera, although there were a few instances when purple fringing became evident. Sharpness was reasonable on the majority of snaps, showing clean edges at a distance. Providing any vivid colour was much more of an issue though, as the majority of shots had dull, muddy shades that lacked any real pop. As grain was evident anywhere beyond ISO 400 it's no real surprise that the camera needed to work overtime to prevent the noise from becoming too oppressive, resulting in drab colours.
Casio EX-Z90 review - Verdict
Overall the Casio Z90 is easy enough to get to grips with, and change settings on, but the lack of any real standout features and overall disappointing image quality means there are far better options out there to stump up the £120 for.