Casio EXILIM EX-Z3 Review
Timings & File Sizes
The EXILIM EX-Z3 is a surprisingly fast digital camera. Power on times are very quick, taking just over two seconds from the instant you press the power button. The camera's auto focus should also be praised it was very quick, especially if the subject distance was approximately similar to the last shot, in this instance AF takes around half a second. This gives the EX-Z3 a much more instant feel than most digital cameras, anyone switching from compact film to the EX-Z3 would notice no appreciable difference in shutter lag.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2048 x 1536 Fine JPEG image (approx. 1,500 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 128 MB SanDisk SD card.
|Power: Off to Record||Lens extension||2.1|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||1.5|
|Power: Record to Off||Lens extended||1.9|
|Power: Play to Off||Lens already retracted||1.0|
|Mode: Record to Play||Image displayed||0.7|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens extended||0.5|
|Play: Magnify||To first magnification step||2.2|
|Play: Thumbnail view||Nine image displayed (3x3)||0.9|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||Full zoom from 35 mm to 105 mm (3 x)||1.5|
|Auto Focus LAG||Wide angle||0.5 - 0.8|
|Auto Focus LAG||Telephoto||0.5 - 0.8|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using Viewfinder||<0.1|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using LCD Monitor||0.1|
|Total LAG||Wide angle||0.5|
|Off to Shot Taken||Wide angle||2.8|
|Shot to Shot *1||Wide angle, 2048 x 1536 Fine JPEG||3.2|
|Shot to Shot *1||Wide angle, 1600 x 1200 Normal JPEG||2.6|
|*1||As noted earlier in this review the EX-Z3 does not allow you to take another shot until the last shot has been fully written to the SD card. This is a poor implementation of buffering. This Shot to Shot timing is therefore dependent on the size of the image stored.|
Auto Focus LAG is (roughly) the amount of time it takes the camera to autofocus (a half-press and hold of the shutter release button), this timing is normally the most variable as its affected by the subject matter, current focus position, still or moving subject etc. This timing is an average.
Shutter Release LAG is the amount of time it takes to take the shot from the moment you fully depress the shutter release button, measured both as a time including auto focus and a time assuming you have already pre-focused by holding a half-press of the shutter release.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the SD card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator LED beside the viewfinder stopped blinking. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 128 MB SanDisk SD card.
on a *2
128 MB SD
|2048 x 1536 Fine JPEG||3.6||<0.5||1,500 KB||69|
|2048 x 1536 Normal JPEG||2.8||<0.5||1,100 KB||92|
|1600 x 1200 Normal JPEG||2.5||<0.5||650 KB||160|
|1280 x 960 Normal JPEG||1.9||<0.5||400 KB||255|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.|
The EX-Z3's 'Fine JPEG' mode generates fairly large files considering the three megapixel resolution. These larger files cost the performance of the camera from a write speed point of view, because it doesn't provide a 'next shot' shooting buffer you have to wait approximately four seconds before you can take the next shot. Take compression up to 'Normal JPEG' and that delay is reduced to approximately three seconds, which is acceptable for an ultra-compact. Playback is instant, indeed if you hold down the left or right buttons on the 4-way controller the camera scrolls through images at about 3 frames per second.
Low Light Auto Focus
This test is designed to measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.
Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).
This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), you should consider the results below the best you could expect to achieve.
|Lens position||Aperture||Lowest light focus|
|Wide angle (35 mm)||F2.6||1.4 EV (6.6 Lux, 0.61 foot-candle)|
|Telephoto (105 mm)||F4.8||1.4 EV (6.6 Lux, 0.61 foot-candle)|
Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)
Rather surprisingly the EX-Z3 focused at both wide and telephoto focal lengths at the same light levels, despite the smaller aperture (thus less light) at telephoto. For a camera without an AF assist lamp this was a good performance, especially at the telephoto end of zoom.
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
Batteries are fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Compact / Ultra compact
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Kyocera S3||BP-800S||2.1 Wh||54 mins||95|
|Canon PowerShot S300||NB-1L||2.5 Wh||1 hr 26 mins||155|
|Pentax Optio 430||D-LI2||3.3 Wh||1 hr 33 mins||160|
|Olympus C-40Z||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 33 mins||165|
|Nikon Coolpix 3100||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 42 mins||175|
|Minolta DiMAGE F100||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.3 Wh||1 hr 42 mins||175|
|Minolta DiMAGE X||NP-200||2.8 Wh||1 hr 45 mins||180|
|Pentax Optio 330||D-LI2||3.3 Wh||1 hr 48 mins||185|
|Canon PowerShot S330||NB-1LH||2.5 Wh||1 hr 48 mins||185|
|Sony DSC-P71||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 50 mins||185|
|Kodak DX4900||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.5 Wh||1 hr 51 mins||190|
|Sony DSC-P5||NP-FC10||2.4 Wh||1 hr 51 mins||190|
|Nikon Coolpix 3500||EN-EL2||4.1 Wh||1 hr 54 mins||195|
|Sony DSC-P9||NP-FC10||2.4 Wh||1 hr 59 mins||200|
|Nikon Coolpix SQ||EN-EL2||3.7 Wh||2 hr 03 mins||210|
|Minolta DiMAGE Xt||NP-200||2.8 Wh||2 hr 12 mins||225|
|Canon PowerShot S400||NP-1LH||2.5 Wh||2 hr 17 mins||230|
|HP Photosmart 812||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||2 hr 21 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 885||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 21 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 775||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Canon PowerShot SD100||NB-3L||2.9 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Pentax Optio S||D-LI8||2.6 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Nikon Coolpix 2500||EN-EL2||4.1 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Fujifilm FinePix F601Z||NP-60||3.7 Wh||2 hr 47 mins||275|
|Casio EXILIM EX-Z3||NP-20||2.5 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Casio EXILIM EX-S3||NP-20||2.5 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Olympus C-50Z||LI-10B||4.0 Wh||2 hr 54 mins||295|
|HP Photosmart 935||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||3 hr 09 mins||320|
|Canon PowerShot A70||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 08 mins||515|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
The Casio EXILIM EX-Z3 takes the prize for the longest lasting camera on a 2.5/2.6 Wh capacity battery. The camera lasted an amazing 2 hours and 48 minutes in our battery life test notching up no less than 285 shots, this is a truly superb performance the only similarly powered camera anywhere near it is the Pentax Optio S.