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Conclusion - Pros

  • Average three megapixel resolution
  • Good reliable metering, if slightly conservative (worth checking live histogram)
  • Low image noise at ISO 50 and 100
  • Excellent macro focus performance (for an ultra-compact)
  • Wide range of preprogrammed best shot scene modes
  • Histogram display in live view and play modes (not record review)
  • Good auto focus speed, low light performance good considering lack of AF assist lamp
  • Ultra compact, light weight
  • Good build quality, case a little too easy to scratch
  • Very fast startup time
  • Large LCD monitor with anti-reflective coating (although see 'Con' below)
  • Customizable record mode control (left / right on 4-way controller)
  • Multi-function cradle makes it easy to charge / connect camera (no video out though)


Conclusion - Cons

  • Lens softness, especially at corners of frame
  • Blue and green color response darker than other cameras
  • Color shift of overexposed reds
  • No image parameter adjustment
  • Blue cast to flash exposures
  • Some chromatic aberrations visible (although average for this size of camera)
  • Some vignetting / light fall off in right-hand corner of frame at maximum aperture
  • No 'next shot buffer' means you must wait for image to be saved before taking next
  • Only 10 MB internal flash storage included
  • Limited night exposure capability (longest shutter 1 second)
  • LCD monitor is big but has low pixel count
  • Oversensitive shutter release ('trigger')
  • No video out


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Casio EXILIM EX-Z3: (3 megapixel ultra-compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 7.5
Image quality 7.5
Lens / CCD combination 7.5
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8

The EXILIM EX-Z3 is a very capable ultra-compact digital camera. It's small dimensions and relatively light weight mean that it can live up to the EXILIM 'wearable' tag line. It's a camera design to immediately appeal, and the big two inch LCD monitor is a good way to grab people's attention. Build quality is excellent and the camera has a solid, quality feel to it. Operationally it performs well with a fast startup, fast AF and responsive in menu and play modes. The EX-Z3 suffered the same 'niggle' as the Optio S, and that was a lack of a 'next shot buffer' which can mean you'll have to wait up to four seconds before the next shot.

The EX-Z3 did suffer a few problems, the lens wasn't all that sharp in the corners of the frame, we did note some chromatic aberrations and slight light fall off / vignetting at wide angle. I also wasn't a big fan of Casio's choice of color balance, it left blues and greens looking dull, this could be seen especially in blue skies. Weighing everything up however I can't help but Recommend the EX-Z3, it's just as pocketable as the slightly smaller Pentax Optio S and has just as many redeeming features, good for the price.

Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, the answer is that everyone has different requirements. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask other questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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