Casio EXILIM ZR100 review
Casio Exilim ZR100 review - Image Quality
The ZR100's back-illuminated CMOS sensor does a good job in low light, but similar compression and processing performance to other Casio EXILIM models means that beyond ISO 400 there's a significant dip in final quality, sharpness and colour depth.
At ISO 100-200 the results are generally very crisp and clean, with well defined subject edges, a good level of detail and decent colouration. ISO 400 maintains much of this trend but is a touch softer, whereas ISO 800 begins to lose most of the finer details though is still useable. ISO 1600 is softer still, and colours pale out somewhat, but actually image noise in general is kept under control. ISO 3200 shows some prominence of image processing, yet only a slight smattering of colour noise is evident.
Considering the small sensor size the overall image quality is pretty decent. An ongoing issue, however, is the presence of lumiance noise and textured JPEG artefacts
that appear as tiny grey blotches throughout the entire ISO range - though you'll need a block-colour area
or to be examining images at close-up 100% detail to notice. This type of processing and resulting image quality is common among Casio EXILIM compacts.
Exposure-wise and the ZR100 can easily err towards the ever so slightly over-exposed side of things, though learning to adjusting metering (which can be applied to the d-pads function settings) is a good way to control this.
Stepping away from ‘normal' images for a moment, and the presence of HDR and HDR Art are two features that Casio has been pushing hard in promotional materials over the last year or so.
Frankly we're not sure why as the HDR Art shots are nothing short of hideous, overworked gimmicks that are far removed from what photography is. If more time was put into improving standard image quality yet more then we'd be even happier, as the ZR100 takes many positive steps in the right direction - why then try to unnecessarily distract with an ‘Art' feature that's not going to lure in the keen and genuine photographer? However, saying that, the ‘standard' HDR mode can work very well in some circumstances but is rather gung ho and doesn't leave much subtlety where it may be desired.
All in all the standard of images are improved as a whole over previous Casio EXILIM models, particularly at the lower ISO 100-400 settings. However the back-illuminated sensor isn't a total miracle worker, as there's still plenty of room for improvement in the higher ISO settings, plus the processing could do with tweaking to produce smoother results.