Casio Exilim EX-ZR10 Review

Review Date : Wed, 2 Mar 2011

Author :

Casio EX-ZR10 product shots

The fast-shooting Casio Exilim EX-ZR10 also offers a 7x zoom and HD movie mode

Pros: Good image quality, plenty of features, useful high-speed still shooting, design
Cons: Oversharp images at default, high-speed video mode of little practical use at such a low resolution

High-speed shooting has been something of an obsession for Casio,
having introduced the technology in its EX-F1 bridge camera before
gracing many of its other Exilim models with variants of the technology.
The torch has now been passed to the EX-ZR10, a small-format compact
with a wealth of shooting options through stills and movie shooting, but
with a range of other functionality on board the camera sets out to
prove that it's not just about one thing.

Casio Exilim EX-ZR10 Review - Features

Features
include a 7x optical zoom lens, which begins at 28mm and stretches to
196mm, and contains a single aspherical element within its construction.
While the range should suit most subjects, Casio claims the Multi Frame
SR Zoom option doubles this with 'virtually optical zoom quality', by
combining multiple shots into one. An HDR function, which blends
highlight and shadow detail from a number of images into one, is joined
by an HDR ART option, which does the same before boosting contrast and
saturation for a more pronounced effect, while a Slide Panorama function
works in much the same way as Sony's innovative Sweep Panorama mode to
create fuss-free panoramic images.

The camera also boasts
impressive movie functionality, with full-HD capture at 30fps
complemented with stereo sound recording and a mini HDMI output, the
latter of which can also be used to transfer images. With regards to
star attraction, the ZR10 captures slow-motion movies at a maximum rate
of 480fps, at a resolution of 224 x 160 pixels, and 40fps stills at just
shy of 10MP. Further settings, at different resolutions and frame
rates, are also provided, but it's debatable whether the video
functionality is of any real practical use, given that captured movies
don't even fill the full size of the camera's LCD screen, let alone a
larger computer display or television.      

The sensor is a
back-illuminated CMOS chip, which is equipped with a shifting system for
image stabilisation. Its construction differs from the standard
front-illuminated sensors in that the wiring and transistors are located
behind the photodiode, making it easier for light to reach each
photosite. This increases sensitivity, which in turn creates less noise,
and so is useful for small-sensor compact cameras which traditionally
struggle in suboptimal conditions. It also allows extra functionality -
such as that which facilitates high-speed shooting - to be incorporated
onto the sensor without having a knock-on effect on image quality.   

Casio Exilim EX-ZR10 Review - Performance

In
use, the camera is responsive and operates discreetly, with little
noise from the lens. The high resolution of the screen shows images with
great depth and clarity, and the feed remains smooth and responsive to
changes in brightness as the camera is presented with different
subjects. Sadly this standard isn't matched by the plain and uninspiring
menu system, but descriptions are clear throughout, and all the more
impressive functionality is clearly illustrated with images and text for
each function.

The camera's focusing system also works well to
bring images to focus quickly, with the Intelligent AF mode rapidly
adjusting itself to any changes in the scene. Thanks to noise reduction
technology courtesy of NEC, both zooming and focusing are relatively
quiet too. Shot-to-shot times are excellent, with the camera ready to
capture straight after an image has been taken - even while processing -
and image playback is unaffected by any lagging or slowing down that's
common to many other cameras.    

Casio Exilim EX-ZR10 Review - Image Quality

There's
a lot to like about the ZR10's images, too. Colour leans more towards
vibrant and punchy than faithful but exposures are largely accurate,
save for the odd overexposure. The auto white balance stays accurate in
typical shooting conditions, and even under artificial light fares well,
although neutral areas often appear a touch cold with a noticeable blue
cast. There's surprisingly little distortion from the lens at
wideangle, though, even when shooting close to the subject.

The
main problems are only apparent when images are viewed close up. While
at smaller sizes they appear detailed, at 100% it's clear how much of
this is down to oversharpening, which robs them of their neutrality and
produces defined edges. Fortunately, sharpness may be lowered to one of
two levels in-camera, which makes images more suitable for enlargements.
Noise and noise reduction artefacts are also common to images taken on
even lower sensitivities, which again are more of an issue the more you
magnify into them. Finally, images shot using the Multi-Frame Zoom SR
option don't quite validate Casio's 'near-optical quality' claims,
instead appearing fine at small sizes and decidedly watercolour-esque at
anything larger. 

Verdict

The EX-RZ10 delivers a performance that puts rival compacts to shame, and it's bursting with both useful and novelty features. While the punchy and well-exposed results make image quality more than satisfactory at default settings, a little experimentation is recommended for really getting the most out of the camera.


Lens Reviews

Price as reviewed

£250.00

Scores

WDC-goldaward
Scores
Design 19/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 19/20
Value 17/20
Features 17/20
Overall Score 90%