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Design and Handling

Casio has firmly established itself at the 'style' end of the market with the Exilim range; with its super-slim all-metal body the Z1000 is no exception. The materials, build and finish are excellent and the camera oozes quality. The huge screen dominates the rear, leaving room for only the barest of external controls - as befits what is in essence a 'point and shoot' model. Having said that, the intelligent use of screen space for a menu panel means you can actually access the important shooting options surprisingly quickly. The sliding lens design and metal body have allowed Casio's designers to produce a very slim (23mm thick) and very pocketable camera indeed.

Handling

Handling is surprisingly good thanks to the careful positioning of the controls and the textured thumb grip (there is no grip on the front), though it feels a lot, lot safer supported with both hands. At just over 180g fully-loaded, the Z1000 is just weighty enough to feel stable whilst being light enough to drop in your pocket whenever you step out of the door.

Key body elements

The ubiquitous four-way controller is used to navigate menus (along with the 'SET' button in the middle) The left and right keys can be customized to control a variety of functions (including AE compensation, white balance or ISO). Below the 4-way controller is the 'BS' button, providing instant access to the 37 scene ('Best Shot') modes.
The 16:9 wide screen 2.8-inch 230K pixel screen is certainly big, and it's very bright too - one of the brightest we've seen, though the refresh rate doesn't seem that high and there is a slight lag. In use it's excellent, even in very bright light.
In this section of the review we would normally be discussing the various connectors dotted around the camera. However the Z1000 has no standard type connectors on the camera itself, all are provided by the cradle. The only connector on the camera itself is the cradle terminal, beside the tripod mount on the base of the camera.
The supplied cradle performs four functions. Firstly it acts as a charging station for the battery; drop the camera into the dock and the battery begins charging. Secondly it can be used to turn the camera into a 'Photo Stand' which runs a slide show of images on the LCD monitor. Thirdly it provides USB connectivity to a computer or direct-printer. Finally it adds audio/video output (for viewing images/movies on a television).
As with all previous zoom Exilims, the Z1000's lens retracts fully into the slim body when not in use, thanks to some very nifty engineering. I'd rather the zoom range (38-114mm equiv.) started a little wider, but that's fairly normal for this class of camera. The lens has a nice bright maximum aperture of F2.6 at the wide end, dropping to a slightly disappointing F5.4 at the long end of the zoom.
The top of the Z1000 is home to the main power (on/off) button and shutter release, which sits in the center of the zoom lever. Behind these are the play and record mode buttons (which can also be configured to power up the camera) and the DISP button, which brings up a mini menu of display options for the LCD screen.

Display and menus

Although ostensibly a simple point and shoot camera, the Z1000 packs a surprising amount of features and options into its slim casing, and the lack of external controls means the usability stands or falls on the on-screen interface. Fortunately Casio has made very intelligent use of the extra width of the screen with a 'panel' of menus down the left hand side. These are accessed and controlled using the SET button and the four directional keys, meaning ISO, AE-compensatio0pn and white balance are much easier and quicker to use than we'd normally see with a camera of this type.

Apologies for the low quality of these screen shots, the EX-Z1000 does not support video out in record mode, so the screen was photographed directly.

Although you can switch to a more conventional view (with icons scattered around the edge of the frame) the panel layout is cleaner and a lot easier to use. The screen above shows the highest level of information you can have on-screen; you can reduce it if you prefer less clutter. Half-press the shutter and the display changes to indicate the focus area(s) selected, and the exposure (aperture and shutter speed) chosen (the screen shown is in basic display mode). A nice touch is that the ISO is also displayed - even in auto ISO mode.
Pressing the DISPLAY button brings up a small menu at the top of the frame (in record or playback mode). Here you can choose different layouts and levels of information, adjust brightness and turn the histogram on or off. Casio likes to cover every conceivable shooting scenario with its extensive scene modes (known as 'Best Shot' modes), so the EX-Z1000 has no less than 37 (plus one custom 'user' mode), covering everything from the usual portraits, landscapes and night scenes to pets, 'splashing water' and food to special effects and modes for copying documents and text that remove perspective distortion. It is also here where you'll find the two modes that offer higher than ISO 400 sensitivity. In each case a brief description is shown on-screen to explain how and when to use it.
Pressing the SET button activates the panel of menus down the right hand side (here shown without the live preview for clarity). There are options for size, flash mode, focus mode, Pressing the menu button in record mode brings up three tabbed menus, each with two or three pages of options. The REC tab (shown above) has basic shooting settings from focus to framing grids and m
The quality tab is where you'll find menu options for image size, quality, AE-compensation, white balance, ISO, metering mode, sharpness/saturation/ contrast and flash level. You can assign the left and right arrow keys (on the body) to allow quick access to metering, AE compensation, White Balance, ISO or self timer mode.
The setup tab (accessible in playback or record mode) has the usual settings for customizing the interface, sounds, date and time, language and so on. As in record mode you can choose from three levels of information overlaid on your images when in playback. You can also view your images by the date they were taken using the calendar mode.
Pushing the zoom lever to the left (wide) brings up - very quickly - a page of 4x3 thumbnails. You can also magnify images up to 8.0x by moving the zoom lever to the right. The four directional keys let you scroll around the image.
Pressing the menu button in playback mode displays two tabs of menu options (Setup, is the same as in record mode). The Play menu gives you the usual options for slide shows, printing and protecting, as well as more advanced options (rotating, trimming, resizing). There are also couple of image editing options; keystone correction for straightening out verticals and Color Correction for auto correction of copies of old photos (not sure I'll be using that one too often). You can also perform basic editing of movies in playback mode.
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