All cameras reproduce colors differently, which is why we test color accuracy. We tested the color accuracy of the Casio Z75 the same way we test all our cameras, by photographing an industry standard GretagMacbeth ColorChecker test chart and comparing the colors the camera reproduced with the known colors of the test chart. The ColorChecker chart consists of 24 color tiles that represent a range of colors from around the color spectrum, including some sky blues, foliage greens, and skin tones. The image below shows how the Z75’s colors compare to the actual colors of the ColorChecker. The outside squares are the colors the camera reproduced, the inside squares are the actual colors of the ColorChecker corrected for the exposure, and the small rectangles are the ideal colors of the ColorChecker.
The Z75 had most accurate colors when it was slightly underexposed, which is why the little rectangles in the images are brighter than the other squares. When comparing the inner squares with the outer squares, several of the colors look very similar, while several others look quite different. This color error is represented graphically in the chart below. The chart shows the whole color spectrum with the real colors of the test chart specified as squares. The corresponding colors the camera reproduced are shown as circles, and the line connecting squares and circles shows the color error for each color tile on the chart.
The chart shows significant color error in blues and yellows, as well as a general undersaturation of all colors. The mean color error of 8.03 is respectable, but watch out for yellows and skin tones drifting a little green in your photos.
**Still Life Sequences
**Click to view the high-resolution images.
Resolution ***(2.76) *
We tested the resolution of the 7.2-megapixel Z75 by setting it to best quality and full resolution and photographing an industry standard resolution test chart. We varied the focal length and exposure settings and ran the photos through Imatest to determine the settings that produced the sharpest image. The chart is shown below.
The sharpest image was recorded at ISO 50, f/5.9, and a focal length of 19mm. Imatest measures resolution in terms of line widths per picture height (lw/ph), which refers to the number of equally sized alternating black and white lines that could be fit across the frame before becoming blurred. The Z75 produced 1674 lw/ph horizontally with 17.7 percent oversharpening, and 1703 lw/ph vertically with 18.4 percent oversharpening.
In this resolution test, the Z75 fell flat on its face. The sharpness values are not very good to begin with, but more importantly, there is way too much sharpening being applied inside the camera. This visual effect of this oversharpening is image artifacting, clearly visible on the Z75 resolution chart above (click to see the full resolution version) by the white "ghost" lines that surround edges of high contrast. You can see these ghosting artifacts next to every black edge on the resolution chart. This will look very poor on large prints, so don’t buy this camera expecting to print big. The Z75 tallied the worst resolution score of any camera we have tested yet this year.
In addition to the artifacting problem, note the considerable barrel distortion apparent around the edges of the resolution chart. The bottom black edge of the chart should be a straight line, but is instead bowed significantly inward. This is evidence of problems with the camera’s optical system, rather than its processing.
Noise – Auto ISO*(2.81)*
In addition to our color accuracy test, we use the ColorChecker test chart to measure image noise. Noise refers to the amount of random signal in a picture that doesn’t come from the scene, but rather from the camera sensor itself. It usually takes the visible form of unwanted snowy or sandy splotchiness that uniformly covers an entire image. Due to the physics of camera sensors, the higher the ISO sensitivity, the more noise is created. Imatest measures noise by the percent of the image it completely drowns out.
We set the Z75 to auto ISO and shot the ColorChecker under bright studio lights to see how much noise it produced. The camera shot at ISO 200, with 1.16 percent of the image lost to noise. This is a decent score, and should keep noise from showing up too visibly in brightly lit scenes. It might be a good idea to adjust ISO manually in order to keep noise as low as possible.
Noise – Manual ISO*(4.88)*
We also shot the test chart at all ISO settings to determine the noise levels throughout the ISO range. Noise stayed nice and low from ISO 50-200, and then jumped significantly at ISO 400. Try to keep the ISO under 200 when possible, though this will not help you in low light conditions. Overall, the noise performance of the Z75 was mediocre.
Poor white balance accuracy can ruin an otherwise perfectly nice photo. Think of a group photo of your best friends at the beach, but with a blue cast over it that makes everybody look like a cadaver. We tested the white balance accuracy on the Z75 by photographing our ColorChecker under four different types of light: flash, fluorescent, outdoor shade, and tungsten. We took shots using auto white balance, as well as the white balance presets located in the white balance menu.
The auto white balance did quite well on the Z75, so there’s no need to worry about any beach cadavers with this camera (and if there still is, you need to find a different beach). Despite lacking a flash white balance preset, the auto setting did very well using flash. Also, under white fluorescent light, the auto setting was more accurate than the white fluorescent "N" preset.
*In outdoor shade, the preset was much more accurate than the auto setting, so make sure to use the presets when you’re outside. Under tungsten light, both the auto setting and the tungsten preset were very inaccurate, with auto causing a yellow cast, and the preset turning things very blue.
**Low Light ***(4.30) *
We dimmed the studio lights to see how the Z75 performed in less-than-ideal lighting. We photographed the ColorChecker at light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux at the highest ISO sensitivity possible, which in the case of the Z75, was ISO 400. 60 lux corresponds approximately to a room lit softly by two lamps, while 30 lux is roughly the light from a single 40 watt bulb. 15 and 5 lux are very low light, such as dark night scenes.
The Z75 could not properly expose at 15 or 5 lux, as you can see in the images above. If you can avoid using this camera in very low light, you will be happy with the color accuracy and noise levels at 30 and 60 lux, which only degrade slightly from their values in bright light.
We also test camera performance in long exposures under low light, but the Z75 would not comply. Using some of the Best Shot modes, the camera can take exposures as long as 4 seconds, but only with major problems autofocusing. We couldn’t get reasonable exposures, or even proper focus, when the camera decided to use shutter speeds longer than 1 second in duration. For half second exposures in auto mode, the picture was still underexposed, and suffered from strong undersaturation, color error, and high noise levels. Overall, low light performance was poor.
**Dynamic Range ***(5.00) *
An important aspect of image quality is how many shades of gray the camera can distinguish before blowing out or losing all information completely. This measure is called dynamic range, and we test it by photographing a backlit Stouffer step chart which consists of a row of rectangles all slightly different shades of gray. The more rectangles the camera can distinguish, the better its dynamic range. We shot the Z75 at all ISO sensitivities to see how the camera performed over the entire range.
Dynamic range in the Casio Z75 decreased slowly and steadily over its short ISO range. Measured dynamic range was almost 7 Exposure Values (EV) at ISO 50, which is quite respectable, but then fell off from there. Overall, the dynamic range of the Z75 was mediocre. It scored worse than the Casio Z1050 and the GE G1, and may have some trouble rendering detail in very bright or very dark parts of an image.
**Speed/Timing **– All speed tests were conducted using a Kingston Ultimate 2GB 120X SD Card.
Startup to First Shot (8.5)
The Z75 took approximately 1.5 seconds to take a shot after turning on. However, this speed was obtained by continuously pressing the shutter button, because the camera will not shoot a photo if the shutter is just held down right after it is turned on.
With the Continuous option set to "On" in the Record menu, the camera took shots every 1.3 seconds until the memory card filled up. This is a fairly slow burst speed, and won’t give you a lot of options if you’re trying to capture a great action shot of your kid taking a swing at a baseball, for example.
There was no measurable lag between pressing the shutter and recording a shot, either with the camera prefocused or not.
*The Z75 took 1.1 seconds to process one 4.2MB full resolution image shot at ISO 200.
Bright Indoor Light – 3000 lux*
We shot video of our test charts under bright studio lights to determine the Z75’s video color accuracy. We shoot video color with auto white balance, and, as you can see in the images below, the colors were far from accurate. Mean color error was 16 and saturation was 122.8 percent. Even though these are frightening numbers, they’re actually just about average for camera video in bright light with auto white balance.
Low Light – 30 lux
We dimmed the lights to test the color accuracy and noise in low light. The Z75 shot with a mean color error of 18.1 with saturation of 62.22 percent, which describes how underexposed the video is. See the images below for the color accuracy and a frame taken from the video of the video color test chart.
We also recorded video of our resolution chart. The Z75 recorded 258 lw/ph horizontally with -15.5 percent undersharpening, and 406 lw/ph vertically with 23.4 percent oversharpening. This extreme oversharpening is apparent when looking at the 100 percent crops, where you can see white "ghost" lines above and below hard edges on the resolution chart similar to what you can see in the still images described above. The main reason the video resolution numbers are so much smaller than the still resolution numbers is that video is recorded at a much smaller resolution than the full resolution still images.
We took the Z75 outside to see how it recorded the motion of cars and moving people. The video had very good exposure and contrast, and the motion was smoother than most point-and-shoot camera video. However, there was some motion moiré, as well as a lack of detail in more distant objects. Overall, the video looked quite good for a camera.
*Like the rest of Casio’s current product line, the Exilim EX-Z75 lacks an optical viewfinder. Excluding the optical viewfinder is typical move for camera manufacturers that instead design cameras with just a large LCD screen. Most point-and-shooters won’t mind too much, unless conserving battery life is a top priority, in which case an optical viewfinder may save some power.
The LCD screen is an area where Casio made improvements from last year’s model, the Casio Exilim EX-Z70. The Z75 has a slightly, and we do mean slightly, larger LCD screen; 2.6 inches versus 2.5. The size of the 2.6-inch screen is about average, although some point-and-shoot models have screens that are 3 or 3.5 inches.
The TFT color LCD has a screen resolution of 114,960 pixels, which is below average. Industry standard is currently about 200,000 pixels or more, and some of the Z75’s competitors, such as the General Electric G1 and the Nikon Coolpix S200, have superior resolutions. Though users can still check for focus using the EX-Z75’s screen, the lower resolution may make images look slightly pixilated.
Unlike its big sister, the Z1050, this camera doesn’t possess Casio’s Super Bright Technology that adjusts LCD brightness when outdoors. The LCD brightness on the entry-level Z75 can’t be adjusted at all, a feature that is useful when reviewing pictures outdoors on a sunny day. Users can view images at vertical angles, but the screen tends to solarize at horizontal angles.
The LCD also has an unusual 14:9 format. That’s not a typo, which is what I first thought when reading the specification sheet for the camera. The 14:9 aspect viewing ratio is a deviation from wide 16:9 panoramic viewing on some cameras. The 14:9 ratio allows users to view their photos slightly wider than normal 4:3 or 3:2 ratios. Like watching wide screen movies on a 12-inch television screen, the monitor adds black borders to the sides of the image. The borders aren’t too distracting once users become accustomed to the change. Although 16:9 format would have been a better panoramic shot, the 14:9 option is nice for users who want wide prints.
Since the LCD functions as the shooting guide (in lieu of an optical viewfinder), the monitor displays information while in the Shooting mode: ISO, shutter speed, aperture, metering, a live histogram, and optical grid lines help the photographer along.
Overall, the LCD is average. The Z75’s competition and more advanced Casio point-and-shoots have bigger, higher-resolution screens, but the inclusion of a wide, though limited, 14:9 screen helps improve the Casio Z75’s LCD rating.
*The Casio EX-Z75’s built-in flash sits slightly off-center, to the left of the lens. The flash’s position allows users sufficient, although limited, handling of the camera with their left hand. The placement of the flash, one could assume, is meant to help illuminate shots evenly without producing red-eye, a design flaw sometimes associated with the flash being too close to the lens. The flash provides fairly even coverage, with only the occasional image with dark corners.
When the ISO is set to Auto, the flash illuminates 0.33 to 11.48 feet in wide shooting and 1.97 to 6.23 feet in telephoto; average for a point-and-shoot. The camera includes a flash intensity setting that can be adjusted up or down two stops in the Quality menu. Users can also turn the Flash Assist option on or off within the Quality menu. The flash assist lamp is located on the front of the camera near the lens and fires a pre-flash to properly focus in low light situations and reduce red-eye.
The Exilim EX-Z75 has the standard set of point-and-shoot flash features: Auto, On, Off, Soft Flash, and Red-Eye Reduction. The Red-Eye Reduction works in conjunction with the auto assist lamp.
The Z75’s flash is middle of the road. Coverage is adequate, the range is average, and the features are typical.
Despite the deceiving name of the Zoom series, the EX-Z75 has a typical 3x optical zoom. The Casio EX-Z75 is fitted with an Exilim 3x optical zoom extending lens, constructed of six lenses in five groups with aspherical lenses to reduce aberration.
With a focal length range of 6.3-18.9mm, or 38–114mm in traditional 35mm format, the Exilim camera is capable of shooting a good amount of situations, consistent with other point-and-shoots in its category. The camera effectively produces wide shots for landscape photography but also close-up shots to capture details on far away objects. The camera has 4x digital zoom, but digital zoom significantly degrades image quality, so users should avoid it. Unfortunately, the camera does not carry an optical image stabilization system, although it does have a digital image stabilization (discussed in the ISO section).
Users can zoom the lens in and out using the buttons located on the camera’s back right side. Zooming runs smoothly and quickly, with only a low humming sound that isn’t really detectable to the subject or photographer.
As expected, the lens aperture can’t be manually controlled on this entry-level point-and-shoot. The zoom lens moves smoothly for wide and macro shooting. The lens has a limited aperture range of f/3.1 in wide angle and f/5.9 in telephoto, rendering the Z75 almost useless in low light. Users will have to bump up the ISO or use the flash in low light, especially when the zoom is engaged.
The Exilim Z75’s lens is a weak component. Its range is average, it doesn’t have an optical image stabilization system, and it has a limited aperture.
Model Design / Appearance*(6.0)*
Marsha. Marsha. Marsha. The EX-Z75 is the Jan Brady of the Zoom line; it’s not as eye-catching as its bigger sister, the Z1000, but it still resembles the good-looking Casio family. The camera looks sleek and its aluminum alloy exterior is solid. They can’t all be Marsha Brady. Overall, the camera possesses an attractive layout for the price point. The camera comes in four stylish color options: pink, blue, black, and silver.
Size / Portability* (7.75)*
The camera’s thinness is one of its biggest selling points. With a pancake-like design, the Casio EX-Z75 measures 3.75 x 0.77 x 2.38 inches. The base, the thinnest part of the camera, measures 0.63 inches deep and can fit comfortably in any pocket. Consistent with Casio’s trademark for making ultra-thin cameras, the EX-Z75 lends itself to portability. The camera weighs a mere 4.3 ounces, excluding accessory weight. Users will find the camera easy to carry for a night on the town. The lightweight construction of the camera, however, may not survive a rough trip stuffed in a backpack.
*With dimensions comparable to a deck of cards, the Casio EX-Z75 is undoubtedly a portable camera. Handling, however, is a different thing. The camera may look good, but its all-too-flat design will leave consumers with cramped hands after an extended shoot. The camera lacks any type of rubber, hand grip, or additional space for the left hand to stabilize the camera.
For the ever-popular narcissistic one-handed self-portrait, users can handle the camera vertically, much like a voice recorder or walkie talkie. Horizontal self-portraits require a little more effort since the user needs both hands to stabilize the camera. Because the shutter button has a weak depression, users may need to hit the shutter more than once for the camera to actually take a photo when shooting.
Handling is often a gripe for tiny point-and-shooters, and the Casio EX-Z75 continues the trend.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(4.75)*
The Casio EX-Z75’s controls are not its strong suit. Casio could have taken advantage of the extra space on the back to increase button size, or moved some of the controls to the top of the camera. The camera has tiny, sliver-like buttons. On the top of the camera is the capsule-shaped power button and shutter control, a function that is typically offered as a larger circular disc for easy access. On the back of the camera are itty bitty controls for Zooming, Playback, Record mode, Menu, and Best Shot mode. Users may find themselves using the tips of their nails to play back an image or access the Record mode. The four-way controller is the only button of ample size to easily navigate through menus.
Overall, navigating the controls is irritating. In this way, the Casio EX-Z75 failed in what should have been top priority in digital camera design: making it easy to use.
The Casio EX-Z75’s menu system is the camera’s saving grace for usability. The Main menu is accessed through the menu button on the back control panel. The menu is divided into three sections, marked by red tabs and clearly labeled text: "REC" for focus and zoom functions, "Quality" for image size and incremental controls, and "Set Up" for items such as time stamps and sounds.
The menu is set against a live preview in Record mode. Each item is spelled out with white text against gray bars and opens up into submenus with more options. The interface is pleasing to the eye and offers enough options without overwhelming the user.
The Record menu includes the following:
The Quality menu includes image size and compression controls, as expected. It also includes controls such as ISO and white balance, normally reserved for the Record menu since these controls are likely to be accessed more frequently than compression control. Although the menu settings do not follow the traditional logical order, they shouldn’t distract the user too much.
The Set Up menu holds standard features such as Display and Sleep mode.
Although some of the items do not follow the menu order of other manufacturers, they are still pretty easy to use.
Ease of Use*(7.25)
*The Casio Exilim EX-Z75 has a sufficient menu system and LCD live preview for many options, which is nice, particularly for users who might not be familiar with photo terms like "EV compensation." The camera aids beginner point-and-shooters with the inclusion of 34 automatic preset Scene modes and a live histogram that displays exposure visually in a graph form. The biggest complaint is the handling and midget-sized buttons that hinder ease of use. Overall, however, the camera isn’t too complicated and is ready to go right out of the box.
The Casio EX-Z75 has two automatic modes: the Auto Mode, also called Snapshot mode, with plenty of control options; and the Easy Mode, which is the most automatic option and limits the user to only a few functions.
Users can access the Snapshot mode by pressing the Best Shot button, which pulls up the full list of Scene modes with the Auto mode as the first choice. Even in Auto mode, users still have control over metering, flash, self-timer, anti-shake, auto white balance, EV compensation, and time or date display.
The Easy mode, on the other hand, is a function most novice point-and-shooters will appreciate. The Easy mode limits choices to megapixel count, flash, and self-timer, and can be turned on or off. Once it is set, the Easy mode will be the default setting each time the user powers the camera on. The only problem with the Easy mode is it is buried within multiple menus, under the Best Shot menu, then the Auto menu, then additional menus within Easy mode. It may take a few steps to prepare the Easy mode, but once it is set, it is likely to be frequently used.
The Movie mode is accessed by pressing the Best Shot (BS) button. While other cameras’ Movie modes are accessed by the mode dial or a dedicated button, the user may need a few extra minutes to find the video function.
Users can record in three quality options in Motion JPEG and AVI format: HQ (640x480 at 30 fps), Normal (512x384 at 30 fps), or LP (320x240 at 15 fps). These file sizes and frame rates are typical of point-and-shoots in this price range. Even without image stabilization, the camera recorded video smoothly with monaural WAV audio. Users can zoom during Movie mode to flexibly shoot wide or close up, but only with digital zoom; optical zoom is not available during movie shooting. Users can also change focus, white balance, EV compensation, and time and date display while in Movie mode.
Auto focus in Movie mode was average. Luckily, the camera offers more options to adjust for macro, panning focus, infinity, or even manual focus. While the addition of these focus controls is nice to include, it requires extra steps to compensate for the mediocre auto focus.
Users who want to bypass the computer to edit movies will enjoy the built-in editing functions. Users can select Motion Print to make one- or nine-frame index prints, and can perform some basic editing to cut and splice the beginning, middle, or end portions of the video clip.
Drive / Burst Mode*(2.0)*
The Casio EX-Z75 has a drive mode called Continuous mode that can be switched on or off. While it is called a Continuous mode, it really isn’t a high-speed mode. The function essentially switches from super slow single frame shooting to slightly faster multiple-frame shooting. The Continuous mode, however does improve the shutter lag on the camera and is recommended as the default for this camera.
The Casio EX-Z75 offers plenty of options for viewing photos and videos and even includes some built-in editing tools. If users want to show off their photos, the camera includes a slide show function for displaying all the photos stored in the memory, tagged favorites, or movies. The slide shows can be customized with transition effects. There are also options to rotate and trim the photos to prepare them for print.
Images can be located by date or using the thumbnail display, which lays out a preview index of 12 thumbnails. Users can also magnify their photos up to 8x to check for focus and closed eyes. Overall, the camera provides a good amount of options for on-the-spot review and preparing the images for print.
Custom Image Presets*(9.25)*
Users can easily access the Scene modes by pressing the Best Shot button, abbreviated "BS." Yes, we know. While Casio might need some work on their acronyms, the Best Shot modes offer a generous 34 scene modes, in traditional Casio fashion. The camera offers plenty of custom image presets that users most likely won’t even need, but are always nice to have just in case.
The BS modes include the following: Auto, Movie, Portrait, Scenery, Portrait with Scenery, Children, Sports, Candlelight Portrait, Party, Pet, Flower, Natural Green, Autumn Leaves, Soft Flowing Water, Splashing Water, Sundown, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Fireworks, Food, Text, Collection, eBay, Backlight, Anti-Shake, High Sensitivity, Underwater, Monochrome, Retro, Twilight, Old Photo, Business Cards and Documents, White Board, Voice, Registered User.
Just in case the 34 scene modes aren’t enough, users can save specific combination camera settings with the Registered User mode. When a single photo is pulled up on screen in Playback mode, Registered User will save those image settings so users can refer to it for future shoots.
Whether Casio’s Scene modes are overkill is up for debate, but they definitely won’t leave a user wishing for more.
**Manual Control Options
**The Casio Exilim EX-Z75, in general, is an automatic point-and-shoot. The Casio Exilim EX-Z75 offers a few basic manual options, such as white balance and manual focus, but is primarily an automatic point-and-shoot.
The Casio Exilim EX-Z75 has Contrast Detection Auto Focus. It has the following automatic focusing modes: Auto, Macro, Pan, and Infinity, accessed through the Record menu. Most auto focusing modes proved to be mediocre, sometimes producing blurry photos for close up shots. The Macro focus, intended for closer-range photos, was not much better, and users wouldn’t be able to see a visible difference when switching between modes. Panning focus for moving subjects and Infinity focus for longer distance shots performed better, and more accurately captured focus when subjects were farther away from the camera.
There are Auto Focus options in the Record Menu: Spot and Multi. The camera uses a nine-point AF system, clustered at the center of the frame. The camera focuses from 3.95 to 19.69 inches in Macro Focus mode, making subjects closer than 4 inches out of focus. Normal focal range measures 15.75 inches to infinity.
Users are better off using Manual focus, but of course, that requires a little elbow grease on the user’s part.
The Casio Exilim EX-Z75 also offers manual focus control, which is much more accurate if the user has the time to adjust focus. For users who prefer to focus on one particular face in a group, the manual focus allows them to do so. Once manual focus is selected in the Record menu, "MF" is displayed in the corner of the screen. Users can choose a desired focus point with the four-way controller, which allows for easy selection. The manual focal range measures 3.94 inches to infinity.
The Casio EX-Z75 covers all the metering mode bases with Multi-Pattern, Center-Weighted, and Spot metering options. Users can choose metering systems in the Setup menu or via the four-way controller. The metering system works effectively in varied lighting situations, including backlit scenes. The three systems will help users properly expose images.
Like most point-and-shoots, the Casio EX-Z75 offers exposure compensation, also called EV Shift, for accurate exposure in irregular lighting situations which might throw off the light meter. The Exilim EX-Z75 has an EV range of +/- 2 in 1/3 steps that users can access through the Quality menu or the main four-way controller shortcut. Users select the intervals by a sliding scale that also gives numerical values for the exposure compensation.
This basic point-and-shoot doesn’t include semi-manual presets such as aperture or shutter priority, or manual or custom modes. With the plethora of Scene modes, though, users still have some control, especially since the Registered User function saves camera setting combinations. As expected, the Exilim camera does not offer exposure bracketing for sequenced shooting at different exposure values.
*The Casio Exilim EX-Z75 provides a full range of white balance controls, vital for accurate color in varied lighting conditions. Sometimes the base models of manufacturer’s point-and-shoot lines lack adequate white balance settings, but the Casio EX-Z75, thankfully, has several.
Users can access white balance functions either through the Quality menu or through the main four-way controller shortcut. White Balance presets are Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Tungsten, and two kinds of fluorescent settings - DayWhite Fluorescent and Daylight Fluorescent. There’s no flash setting, but there is a manual white balance setting, which is a nice inclusion.
Users may be disappointed with the limited sensitivity range on the Casio EX-Z75. It comes with the following settings: Auto, 50, 100, 200, and 400 ISO in most modes and two Best Shot modes that raise sensitivity up to 800 ISO. While many of the camera’s contemporaries are vying for the highest max settings at 1600 ISO or even up to 3200 ISO, the Casio EX-Z75 tops out at only 400 ISO in most Scene modes, making dark scenes, indoor, or nighttime photographs a little tricky.
The Z75 has a High Sensitivity mode that is activated through the BS menu. The High Sensitivity mode reaches a paltry maximum of 800 ISO for low light shooting. Sensitivity also reaches its 800 ISO max when engaged during Anti-Shake mode, Casio’s Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) system, which is really a fancy term for boosting ISO sensitivity to its fullest that thereby increases the shutter speed.
While DIS helped in low-light situations, the high ISO images often produced noisy photos, especially noticeably on black or dark colors. Users who often shoot in low light should consider using the flash in conjunction with DIS, or selecting a camera with extended wider aperture instead of simply boosting ISO.
*The Casio EX-Z75 has a CCD electronic and mechanical shutter that ranges in speed from ½ to 1/2000 a second in Snapshot and most Scene modes. The Night Scene mode has a shutter speed range of 4 to 1/2000 of a second, and the Fireworks mode has a fixed 2 second speed. Shutter speed can’t be manually selected.
Like shutter speed, users can’t manually change aperture settings on the Casio EX-Z75. The camera has two aperture ranges. When zoom is not activated, the EX-Z75 possesses an f-stop range of f/3.1 to f/5.9. When zoom is engaged, the camera has an aperture range from f/3.1 to f/5.9, the smallest aperture allowed on the camera. The Z75’s aperture falls short of the competition, and will likely force users to increase ISO and use the flash often.
Picture Quality / Size Options*(7.0)*
The Casio EX-Z75 allows users to capture still images suitable for e-mail all the way up to an 11x17-inch print. The camera has the following size options: 7M (3072 x 2304/A3 Print), 3:2 (3072 x2048/A3 Print), 16:9 (3072 x 1728/HDTV), 5M (2560 x 1920/A3 Print), 3M (2048 x 1536/A4 Print), 2M (1600 x 1200/3.5x5-inch Print), or a base VGA (640 x 480 / E-mail) resolution. Users can access the picture size options through the Quality menu or through the shortcut on the main four-way controller. There are Fine, Normal, and Economy file compression options for still photos or HQ (640 x 480), Normal (512 x 384), or LP (320 x 240) options for movie clips. Casio does a good job of spelling out numeric pixel resolution for technical abbreviations new photographers might not be familiar with.
Picture Effects Mode*(7.75)*
The Casio EX-Z75 offers a variety of picture effects, although they are oddly placed in the Quality menu when they should be listed under the Record menu. Once users find the effects modes, they may be surprised with the good number of options. Most point-and-shoots offer plenty of post-capture editing modes, so it’s nice to have effect modes possible during shooting itself.
The camera includes eight Color modes, called Filter modes, including traditional black & white and sepia, with the addition of red, green, blue, yellow, pink, and purple tints. The Filter modes allow users to shoot in varied tints for both still images and video, instead of applying the color after capture. For users who aren’t familiar with how to use these picture effects, the camera has live preview so novices can see exactly how the picture will look once captured..
Users can also control sharpness, saturation, and contrast in +/- 2 in whole steps for still photos or movies, a nice addition that other point-and-shoots don’t often include. While the camera includes a live preview for sharpness, saturation, and contrast, it isn’t very distinguishable between interval steps. I couldn’t tell the difference between -2 saturation and +2 saturation. Users are better off checking the image after capture when using Sharpness, Saturation, and Contrast modes.
The Z75 doesn’t offer as many picture effects options as its extended family of higher-end Casio point-and-shoots, but it does offer built-in shooting effects competing manufacturers don’t. Users should be satisfied with the Picture Effects modes offered on the camera.
Connectivity / Extras
What do Casio and Paris Hilton have in common? Their attempts to win a two-decade-old struggle to bring back the word "hot" for all things cool. The included software with Casio Exilim EX-Z75 is named Photo Loader with HOT ALBUM 3.1. While it may be difficult for users to say with a straight face that they processed their photos with HOT ALBUM, the software isn’t bad for a basic organizer, although it possesses few editing functions.
With HOT ALBUM 3.1, users can view their photos as thumbnails in three size options, as well as a calendar thumbnail layout that sorts files by date. Editing functions are limited to delete, copy, view, and rotate, but users can also directly share photos with the print, e-mail, slide shows with music, and order prints options. Photo Loader with HOT ALBUM is compatible with Windows 2000 and higher and Mac OS 9 and higher.
The camera also comes with Photo Transport 1.0, which allows users to do the reverse – transfer images from the computer to the camera as JPEG photos. A small icon with links to transfer hard drive photos comes with basic instructions and may prove useful for those who want to use their camera as portable memory for other photos. Photo Transport is compatible with Windows 98 and higher and Mac OS 9 and higher.
Jacks, Ports, Plugs (5.0)
The Casio EX-Z75 has a tiny port located on the bottom of the camera. The camera comes with a USB cord for computer and printer connection and an AV cable for television connection. There is a tiny LED light located near the top controls to warn users that the camera is in use.
In the Setup Menu, the USB function can be set to MassStorage (USB Direct-Print) or PTP (PictBridge) and AV can be set to NTSC (4:3), NTSC (16:9), PAL (4:3), or PAL (16:9).
Direct Print Options*(6.0)*
Like most point-and-shoots, the Casio EX-Z75 comes with a DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) option so users can bypass the computer and connect the camera directly to a printer. The DPOF Printing menu is accessed through the Playback Mode. The DPOF function on the camera allows users to select the photos, number of copies up to 99, and date stamp.
The Exilim EX-Z75 accepts a thin, rechargeable NP-20 lithium-ion rechargeable battery housed in the dual battery/memory compartment on the bottom of camera. To charge the camera, users remove the battery from the body and use the provided adapter charger. The battery promises 230 shots per charge.
The Casio EX-Z75 accepts SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMC plus media, which is standard for point-and-shoots. The camera also carries 8.0 MB of internal memory, which is enough to save just one photo at its highest resolution. Images can be copied from the memory card to the internal memory and vice versa.
Audio Snap – The Casio Z75 comes with an audio dubbing feature that allows users to attach a 30-second voice clip to a photo after capture.
*eBay Mode *– The eBay mode is Casio’s signature gimmick. This Best Shot mode allows users to shoot at 2-megapixels, aimed for posting lower resolution files to Web photo-sharing sites, blogs, or, of course, eBay. While having a lower resolution function on the camera is a nice addition, it could have just as easily have been named "Low Res Mode."
Keystone – The EX-Z75 includes a built-in editing function called Keystone, meant to realign photos taken at crooked angles. The Keystone option failed to realign many off-horizon photos, however, often displaying a "Cannot correct image!" warning.
Optional Snorkel Housing – For an additional $99.99, owners of the Casio EX-Z75 can take their cameras underwater with the snorkel housing accessory. The EWC-10 housing can withstand water pressure for up to 3 meters (10 feet) deep.
Customers considering the Casio EX-Z75 are most likely looking for a little style with a small price tag. While the Exilim EX-Z75 camera satisfies both of those requirements, it’s still hard to justify paying $200 for a mediocre camera. Each generation of a camera should offer something new, but the EX-Z75 has limited upgrades from the previous model. The Casio EX-Z75 seems to lag behind other cameras at the same price point with better and newer features like face detection and higher ISO ranges. If photo quality isn’t as imperative as looking good, then the Casio EX-Z75 may satisfy, but won’t impress.
Casio Exilim EX-Z1050 – Consumers looking at the Casio EX-Z75 may be tempted by the slightly pricier Z1050, introduced at the same time. The Z1050 is priced at $269.99, reduced from the original introductory price of $299.99. With the Z1050, users will gain a higher megapixel count and slightly higher resolution LCD screen. The Z1050 touts 10.1 megapixels versus its 7.2-megapixel kid sister, the EX-Z75. Both cameras are fitted with 2.6-inch LCD screens. The Casio Z1050 has a burst rate of 7 fps at a 2-megapixel resolution and Auto Tracking AF. Of course, the Z1050 does come with a higher price tag.
GE G1 – At the same price point of $199.99, the Casio EX-Z75 and GE G1 share the same basic specs of 7 megapixels and 3x optical zoom. The Casio EX-Z75 has a slightly bigger 2.6-inch, 153,600-pixel LCD versus the G1’s 2.5-inch, 114,960-pixel monitor. The GE camera has a broader sensitivity range, up to 1600 ISO versus the max ISO setting of 800 ISO on the Casio camera. The GE G1 has face detection technology and a built-in panorama stitching function that the Casio camera lacks. As the new kid on the block, the GE G1 will attract those who know they want a 7-megapixel camera and are close to a participating local retailer. Impulse buying will lead GE customers to purchase the G1 camera from the Home Shopping Network, Sears, and Kmart, which offers similarly-colored cameras in black, white, navy, and blue.
Fujifilm FinePix Z5*fd* – The Fuji Z5*fd* is a contender in the $200-category. While the 6-megapixel CCD carries a smaller megapixel count than the 7.2-megapixel Casio EX-Z75, both cameras come with a 3x optical zoom lens and comparably-sized LCD screens – the Fuji at 2.5 inches and 230,000 pixels and the Casio at 2.6 inches and 114,960 pixels. With the Z5*fd*, users will gain face detection technology, IR simple technology for wireless photo transfer, and a sensitivity range of up to 1600 ISO. For these upgrades, though, consumers will have to pay a $229 introductory price, roughly $30 more than the Casio camera. The Fuji camera also includes a Blog mode, similar to the Casio eBay mode. Offered in trendy silver, wine red, and chocolate brown, the Fuji Z5*fd* is a serious competitor of the Casio EX-Z75.
Nikon Coolpix S200 – The Nikon S300 and Casio EX-Z75 share similar basic specifications. The Nikon S200 has a 7.1-megapixel count and 2.5-inch, 153,000 pixel LCD monitor versus Casio’s 7.2-megapixel count and 2.6-inch, 114,960 pixel screen. Both possess a 3x optical zoom lens. At a higher introductory price of $249.95, users of the Nikon S200 will gain some benefits, including face priority technology and wide 16:9 panoramic shooting.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W55 - The Sony Cyber-shot W55 and the Casio Exilim EX-Z75 share many similarities, including the 7.2 megapixel count, 3x optical zoom, and price tag of $199.99. The two cameras vary by monitor resolution, but share the same size LCD. The Cyber-shot has a 2.6-inch, 115,000-pixel LCD screen, versus the EX-Z75’s 2.6-inch, 114,960-pixel screen. The Sony doesn’t come with nearly as many shooting presets, with a limited seven Scene modes versus the generous 34 scene modes in the Casio model. The Sony camera, however, boasts a sensitivity range up to 1000 ISO versus the limited 800 ISO maximum on the Casio EX-Z75. The Sony W55 also comes in a variety of fashionable colors: black, silver, pink, and blue.
Who’s this Camera For?
Point-and-Shooters - The Casio EX-Z75 is geared for the point-and-shooter who wants to look good, too. With restricted manual controls and plenty of preset Scene modes to choose from, beginners will appreciate the automatic functions and style of the camera.
Budget Consumers – At a manufacturer-reduced price of $199, the Casio EX-Z75 is on the more affordable side. Thrifty shoppers can still find cameras are closer to $100 if they’re looking to save money.
Gadget Freaks – The techies won’t be waiting in line for this camera. While the plethora of Scene modes is a nice addition, there aren’t many other attention-grabbing features to get gadget lovers panting over this camera.
*Manual Control Freaks *– Consumers looking for a point-and-shoot with manual control options should look elsewhere. While the Casio EX-Z75 carries the standard point-and-shoot control options, the camera still lacks the manual functions of more advanced compact cameras or SLRs.
Pros / Serious Amateurs – Professionals wouldn’t even give the Casio EX-Z75 a second look. Serious photographers would really be in the market for a camera that can give them more manual flexibility that Casio cameras, in general, don’t offer.
**The Casio Exilim EX-Z75 is geared toward style-conscious point-and-shooters. The best features of the camera are its slim figure and reasonable price, as it is Casio’s least expensive camera in the current product line. Other benefits include comprehensive Scene modes - 34 to be exact - built-in editing functions, and easy menu navigation.
While the outside looks good, the inside needs some work. The Casio EX-Z75 runs a little behind the times. Consumers shouldn’t expect to find advanced features like mid-range optical zoom (above 3x) or optical image stabilization at the $200 price point, but the Exilim EX-Z75 is bested by some of its competitors that offer face detection technology, higher sensitivity ranges, or wide panoramic shooting capabilities. In general, the Casio Exilim EX-Z75 gives an average performance and suffices as a basic point-and-shoot, but there are more compelling options available for the same price.
**Click the thumbnails to view the high-resolution images.
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Karen M. Cheung
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