So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Casio Exilim EX-Z60
- Fairly quick, Colour
- Noise problems, High chromatic aberration, Low sharpness
A disappointing effort from Casio, the Z60 suffers quite badly in terms of image quality and doesn't live up to the reputation created by their other models.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Casio's recent line of cameras has really impressed us. They have offered robust feature sets and combined them with above average picture quality and some nice designs. Unfortunately the Exilim Z60 doesn't live up to the reputation created by its comrades. Its pictures, while exhibiting well balanced colours, suffer some significant problems that really detract from the overall package.
The biggest problem we encountered in our testing was huge levels of chromatic aberration. Imatest awarded it a massive score of .220%, which is one of the highest we have seen. Most compact cameras score between .1% and .15%, so this is a significantly higher result. It really had an impact on our shots. In our Imatest still pictures there was noticeable blurring and colour fringing which was extremely prominent in areas of high and our outdoors shots looked muddled and lacked clarity in many sections.
This problem was compounded by the rather low sharpness score of just 1198. While not nearly as problematic, most 6 megapixel compacts achieve scores in the mid to high 1200s in this test, and so once again the Z60 fell behind the pack. This combined with the aforementioned chromatic aberration issues meant our photos really weren't at an acceptable level of sharpness.
The Z60 also exhibited issues with image noise. Even at low ISO levels, there was some visible speckling and graininess in our pictures. It wasn't particularly bad, but still noteworthy. As we increased the sensitivity, the speckling became more prominent, and changed from white to a variety of colours, indicating that it didn't scale very well. Imatest confirmed these results, giving the camera an above average score of .79% in its image noise test. Most compacts score roughly .55%, so the Z60's performance was significantly worse in this department.
Its saving grace was the colour test, where it achieved a much more respectable result of 8.41, which falls in line with the average. As we expected, reds and blues were the least accurate of the colours while greens, yellows and the greyscale spectrum were quite well represented. Overall the colour balance was quite impressive, but wasn't enough to compensate for the other image quality issues the Z60 exhibited.
As a standard compact camera, the feature set on this model is rather limited. It offers the basics, including preset and custom white balance settings, ISO sensitivity up to 400 and several burst modes. One operates at a whopping six frames per second, but only captures three shots, while the other is a much more sedate one frame per second but is unlimited. It sports both manual and automatic focus modes, as well as spot and multifocus autofocus options.
There is the usual impressive collection of Casio scene modes, 32 in total, as well as the ability to store your own configurations on the device. Also included is anti-shake technology, but as this model simply has a 3x zoom, it isn't as useful as it would be on a unit with a more powerful lens. A group of image manipulation options including sharpness, contrast and colour round out the fairly solid, but by no means amazing, list of features.
We were pleased with how the Z60 faired in our speed tests. It exhibited a shutter lag of just .05 of a second and a rather speedy 1.6 second shot-to-shot time when writing to our SD card. Its power up time mirrored this, also taking just 1.6 seconds, which is quite quick by compact camera standards.
The Z60 follows the usual Casio style, coming in brushed metallic silver, with a slightly lined finish that looks pretty good but a little plain. It is quite slim, roughly 10mm in width along the main body; however the screen juts out from the back a little, making it wider than it would otherwise be. It is about average weight for a camera of this size, tipping the scales at 120 grams. The controls are well laid out, with a standard menu button and directional pad for navigation. We would however, have liked to see a second button that linked directly to the most commonly used functions like ISO and white balance, because as it is you have to navigate several tiers of menus to access them all.
Casio has implemented their standard lithium ion battery on this unit and it has a quoted battery life of 180 shots. We found this about accurate, and it places the Z60 in the middle pack in terms of battery life.
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