Casio EXILIM ZR100 review
Casio Exilim ZR100 review - Performance
Once you've got to grips with the controls the ZR100's performance is rather impressive. The 24-300mm zoom sails rapidly enough through the full range, though you may find that subtle zoom adjustment is hard to achieve. The sensor-based image stabilisation means that at the full 300mm extension your final images will benefit from stabilisation but, sadly, without lens-based stabilisation, this isn't visible through the viewfinder. Hand-holding at such mid-telephoto lengths can be tricky, though this is the case with all cameras.
There are a number of autofocus area options: it's possible to select a single ‘spot' point for focus; multi point where the camera auto selects the focus areas; intelligent AF; or Tracking AF which follows moving subjects to maintain focus. These various options are all rather clever, and when using the Intelligent or Multi options the camera is very quick to identify points of contrast or interest, visually showing the focus areas on the LCD screen. However, using ‘intelligent AF' for close-up macro work tended to struggle to realise a close focus distance, whereas the Spot or Multi options were much better.
Which leads to macro: the ZR100 has a very close focus option which, when at the wideangle setting, can focus on subjects just a few centimetres from the camera's lens. This opens up a whole variety of shooting possibilities and was suitably impressive.
From stills to motion and the ZR100 is also fairly adept with its Movie mode too. Capable of capturing Full HD 1920x1080 using the H.264 compression codec makes good quality, though the data rate is rather limited, compression is noticeable and this can result in notable shadow noise and some limitations to detail. However both the zoom and continuous autofocus are available during recording and, in good light, the results are decent indeed. Jumping into the movie mode is easy too thanks to the one-touch movie button on the top of the camera, though it must be noted that the full image on the rear of the screen is cropped into. Thankfully there are subtly superimposed crop marks to help framing in advance.
The ZR100's ‘HS' or ‘High Speed' mode offers up a 40, 30, 15, 10, 3 or 3fps burst that can be captured by pressing and holding the shutter. Images are saved in ‘stacks' inside the playback menu or can be viewed individually on a computer. It's a nice idea and the images are 10MP, so measure 3648x2736 pixels, but the compression is considerable and the individual file sizes around a fifth that of the usual 12MP single shots. As such you can expect to see around a fifth less detail due to more noticeable compression, plus certain lighting scenarios don't lend well to burst shooting which makes softness a particular problem. This mode also fills the buffer and it can take considerable time before the camera's ready to shoot with again. For certain analysis scenarios, like checking out every step of your golf swing or a stop-motion step by step of someone diving into a swimming pool, for example, it's a fun feature - but you're not likely to get exhibitable prints from the image files.