HD movie recording for less than £150 and a bundle of other top features. What Digital Camera reviews the Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 – is it the best entry-level compact to grace the current market...?
Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 review – Features
The Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 is an affordable entry-level compact with a wide-ranging feature-set. Its 10.1 megapixel sensor can capture large JPEG files, reviewable on its large 2.7in LCD monitor – though at 114,960 pixels its resolution is relatively limited.
Modes are available in abundance, and Casio’s own Auto Best Shot – a mode where the camera automates the settings to acquire optimum capture – comes with a quick-access button, plus an almost unnecessarily well-equipped 39-strong pre-set bank. As well as HD movie, the EX-Z270 offers a YouTube movie mode to maintain optimum size for quick upload to the site. Quick access to movie recording using the one-touch movie button on the back of the camera makes this an immediate process.
CCD shift stabilisation – where the Exilim Z270’s sensor moves to counter camera shake – is one of the more notable features on offer. High ISO sensitivity to 3200 is designed for handheld low-light photography – though the given ISO range beings from as low as ISO 64. As well as Face Detection there are more advanced auto focus modes – such as subject tracking AF which follows the subject through the frame to maintain focus, even keeping focus should the subject leave the EX-Z270’s frame and then return. A ‘Make Up’ feature also provides varying levels of face-softening to ‘hide’ those unwanted blemishes when taking portraits.
Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 review – Design
The EXILIM EX-Z270 comes in a variety of available colours – ranging from the more neutral black or grey to the jazzier gold and the girlier pink versions. There should be something here to suit any taste.
The camera body itself is simple in design, but easy to use. As well as a menu button, quick-access ‘Best Shot’ and one-touch movie record button on the back there is a d-pad to control the LCD display and, most importantly, cycle through the options as displayed on the screen. The main menu itself can be a little frustrating as after selecting and setting any option you are kicked back out and have to begin again at stage one. However the shooting menu – aligned on the right of the LCD itself – lists a series of the more common options that can be quickly adjusted. An optional ‘Easy Mode’ keeps options to a minimum for those looking for a straightforward ‘point and shoot’ experience
Performance, Image Quality & Value
Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 review – Performance
The Casio EX-Z270 doesn’t offer a fully manual mode, though the 39 Best Shot scene modes will keep you more than covered. Having all the main settings available to change on the right hand side of the LCD screen does provide ample control to keep the majority of point and shoot snappers happy. If anything having 39 modes is actually a few too many, they’ll certainly need a good read through before they’re all commited to memory.
In use the Z270 can falter a little – the macro mode is far from proficient, with subjects close to lens failing to focus. Other top-end features such as Subject Tracking AF can be a little slow to get off the mark too – the subject needs to be recognised in order to be tracked and, if this fails, then frustratingly so will the mode itself. Snappier autofocus would see this improved. With a wide-angle 28mm available at your disposal, the Z270 does offer a fair zoom range up to 115mm (4x optical), which ought to encompass a variety of subjects for your everyday needs.
Other options such as Casio’s Make Up mode are effective, if not a little crude when set too highly. A slider from 0-12 allows control of how softened faces become in the shot, though this does not occur live on screen – there is a brief processing period, which whilst it does slow down your shooting, is necessary for the results to take place. As per the Subject Tracking AF, the face needs to be recognised in the shot before the mode can take effect – this isn’t always immediate, though generally is prompt.
The in-camera menu function, whilst fine in use, does return to shooting mode upon setting any selection. This becomes frustrating should you mistakenly set an option or wish to adjust multiple options – meaning a more long-winded approach need take place to get everything set as wanted.
With HD movie recording becoming an ever-increasing must have in stills cameras, Casio has a one-touch record button on the back of the camera that, even during shooting stills, can be clicked to immediately start recording in HD 720p. The transition is seamless and, should you wish to then drop out of movie mode, a further click or shutter depression will take you swiftly back to stills. Using the excellent H.264 compression type, HD 720 files max out after 10 minutes of recording, though this is actually relatively considerable for a stills camera.
Not in keeping with higher resolution however is the EX-Z270’s relatively limited LCD screen resolution. At just 114,960 pixels – presumably to keep the costs to a minimum – it leaves you wanting more detail. However, unlike some lesser LCDs, the angle of view is relatively pertinent – whether above or below your direct line of sight.
Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 review – Image Quality
The Casio EX-Z270 offers high ISO sensitivity for shooting in low light, but with a relatively small CCD sensor size this opens the door for pronounced noise that distorts the image, making it difficult to view. Upwards of ISO 800 the quality begins to deteriorate and ISO 3200 isn’t really useful – soft, blurred edges and so much noise it becomes difficult to decipher the subject in frame. At the other end of the scale the lower ISO sensitivities – ISO64-400 – are clean and smooth, though there can be some presence of JPEG artifacts, particularly around subject edges (even with JPEGs set to ‘fine’). White balance can be inconsistent too, especially between different ISO settings.
The lens quality is somewhat limited, with chromatic aberration – notably cyan and red fringing – being an issue around subject edges. Images aren’t as crisp as would be liked, though shoot in good light and the best settings and your shots will look great. A full 10.1 megapixels is far more than required for a small print, meaning that on paper your shots should look even better than on screen. Exposure is accurate throughout, and doesn’t try to over-compensate or favour one light or dark area over another – ideal for all scenarios and particularly effective on sunny days.
Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 review – Value For Money
For around £140-150 the Casio EX-Z270 isn’t an expensive compact – and it’s really this low-value entry point that makes it a great camera. Many may like the appeal of high-end settings such as Subject Tracking AF and HD movie, without it breaking the bank.
Pay a little extra and other compacts out there may well offer more – but if you’re on a limited budget then the EX-Z270 offers a broad range of options and is an ideal point and shoot snapper. Plus, for those looking for that more ‘personal’ colour – say pink or gold – outside of the generic black or silver standard options the Z270 has you covered. There’s even a rechargeable li-ion battery and charger in the box too.
The Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 packages image stabilisation, one-touch HD movie recording (including YouTube mode), Subject Tracking AF and a bundle of other features into a small, affordable body. Available in four colours it’s likely to appeal to a wide range – particularly given its £150 price tag. Whilst not as high a performer as more premium compacts available on the market, the Z270 offers a very fair balance on the affordability scale.
A fun and useful Make Up mode, 28mm wide-angle lens and advanced Face Detection add to the range of useful features at your disposal. Whilst the overall functionality can lack at times – low resolution LCD, the limitations of macro mode and poor image quality at higher ISO sensitivities – this pocketable compact otherwise makes up for these shortcomings with the successes of its other features such as Image Stabilisation, Auto Best Shot and, of course, the price tag.
The Casio EXILIM EX-Z270 packages image stabilisation, one-touch HD movie recording (including YouTube mode), Subject Tracking AF and a bundle of other features into a small, affordable body. Available in four colours it’s likely to appeal to a wide range – particularly given its £150 price tag. Whilst not as high a performer as more premium compacts available on the market, the Z270 offers a very fair balance on the affordability scale. A fun and useful Make Up mode, 28mm wide-angle lens and advanced Face Detection add to the range of useful features at your disposal. Whilst the overall functionality can lack at times – low resolution LCD, the limitations of macro mode and poor image quality at higher ISO sensitivities – this pocketable compact otherwise makes up for these shortcomings with the successes of its other features such as Image Stabilisation, Auto Best Shot and, of course, the price tag.