Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z55 review

£206
Price when reviewed

In our last digital cameras group test, Casio’s Exilim EX-S20 took home the main honours. The EX-Z55 doesn’t fare so well here, despite offering a 3x optical zoom lens and a 5-megapixel sensor in a svelte 23mm-thick case.

Part of the problem is the price: at £206, the Casio doesn’t look much better on paper than several cameras costing about £30 less. In fact, there are some notably absent features, which include continuous shooting and panorama assist.

Unfortunately, there’s no aperture- or shutter-priority mode either, but you can set exposure compensation, ISO, contrast, saturation and sharpness. We appreciate the manual white-balance control and the ability to adjust the flash power too, while the live histogram and ‘tool tips’ for the onscreen icons are useful. The LCD is huge at 2.5in, and Casio has also shoe-horned in an optical viewfinder. The screen isn’t as easy to see outdoors as the Olympus’, but it’s decent nonetheless.

We like the fast operation: it’s quick to switch from record to playback and to flip between images, and the shot-to-shot time is less than two seconds. The start-up time of over two seconds isn’t brilliant, though, and neither is the movie mode: a maximum resolution of 320 x 240 at 15fps is poor in this company.

There’s 9.3MB of usable internal memory, but an SD card slot means you can add up to 2GB more. Casio claims the battery lasts for up to 400 shots, and we certainly found that battery life from the 1,230mAh cell was excellent. The bundled docking cradle makes recharging and transferring images easy, but the slow USB 1.1 interface is a frustration.

On the whole, image quality was average. Outdoors is where the EX-Z55 fared best; it produced good exposures with solid colour balance. Like the Canon, the Casio shows you where in the frame it’s focusing, which is useful. Detail capture in the outdoor portrait was reasonable, but skin tones were overly red.

Indoors, images were quite noisy, because of the high ISO settings the EX-Z55 selected, but the auto white balance was spot-on. Macro performance was the low point, however, showing plenty of barrel distortion. Plus, the macro shot had soft focus, which proved the most damning trait.

Considering the average overall image quality, the Casio’s price is simply too high – the Canon does a better overall job for the same price and is smaller to boot.

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