Casio Exilim EX-750 Review
The EX-Z750 continues the simple, stylish design that has served Casio well over since the EX-Z3 shuffled in the era of ultra-slim Exilim zoom cameras back at the start of 2003. The sliding lens (originally developed by Pentax and used in many of its Optio models) - along with the specially designed EXILIM Engine (a very small LSI processor) - allows a very slim body indeed (around 22mm), and the use of an all-metal construction keeps the size to a minimum.
Obviously being such a small camera with such a large screen and feature set means a lot of the Z750's more advanced controls are only accessible via the extensive menu system, but that doesn't mean there are no external controls; in fact the camera is littered with them. Macro, flash and drive modes get their own dedicated buttons, with file size, white balance, ISO and AF area accessible via a mini menu activated by the EX button. The left and right keys on the four-way controller can be customized to control AE-compensation, white balance, ISO, metering or self-timer. All in all for such a compact camera the EX-Z750 does a remarkably good job of putting a huge amount of control at your fingertips. And it looks and feels pretty good too.
In your hand
There is no real 'grip' on the Z750 - front or rear, meaning single-handed operation is difficult (though possible if you don't mind putting your thumb on the screen). The location of the four-way controller also means that if you attempt to grip it too firmly with your right hand you risk changing the AE-compensation or flash mode. Held in two hands, however, the camera actually handles very well, feeling well-balanced and stable.
|The hefty Lithium Ion battery pack and SD card sit under a pretty sturdy spring-hinged door on the base of the camera (the battery is held in place with a small retaining latch). You can only charge the battery using the supplied dock (which is a pain when traveling), but a single charge will give you a very respectable 325 shots (CIPA testing standard).|
|The tiny flash sits above and to the left of the lens. It's as underpowered as its size suggests, reaching 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) at the wide end and a frankly pathetic 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) at the long end of the zoom. Even these maximum distances are based on auto ISO sensitivity, and require the camera to use ISO 200, with the resultant noise problems. Not a great performance, and probably the Z750's only serious weakness.|
|As with all previous zoom Exilims, the Z750'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 true variable aperture with a maximum value of F2.6 at the wide end dropping to a slightly disappointing F5.1 at the long end of the zoom.|
|In this section of the review we would normally be discussing the various connectors dotted around the camera. However the Z750 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).|
|The huge 2.5-inch screen is bright, clear and almost entirely lag-free (with a high refresh rate). The resolution - 115,200 pixels - is way too low for a screen this big, but to be fair it doesn't look bad at all. Not as bright as some of its competitors, the screen - which is highly reflective - is pretty much unusable in very bright light, so it's a good job Casio chose not to do away with the optical viewfinder...|
|...the viewfinder is brighter and clearer than many we've seen recently, but is very small indeed. It also has a very conservative field of view, showing only around 75% of the scene being photographed. Two LEDs to the right of the viewfinder indicate focus and flash status.|
|The top of the Z750 is home to the main power (on/off) button and shutter release, which sits in the center of the zoom lever.|
|At the top of the rear of the camera are the play and record mode buttons. By default these buttons will also turn the camera on in their respective modes, though you can disable this function via the setup menu (if, as I did, you find they cause accidental power-ups when the camera is in your bag).|
|The main mode dial in the top right corner of the camera back has eight positions - Best Shot (scene modes), Snapshot (full auto), Manual (also where you'll find aperture and shutter priority), Voice recording and four movie modes (more of which later).|
|To the left of the LCD screen, on the side of the camera, is the 'EX' button. Like a cut-down version of Canon's FUNC feature, the EX button gives fast access to a mini menu covering file size, white balance, ISO and AF area. Above the EX button is the Drive button, used to access the various burst/continuous shooting modes.|