Casio Exilim EX-Z500 5mp digicam
Is that a 2.7in LCD in your pocket?
Review The five-megapixel, 3x optical zoom Exilim EX-Z500's silmline design - it's just 8.9 x 5.7 x 2.1cm - and 2.7in LCD are the first things you'll notice when you take a closer look at this digital camera. The bright crisp screen is noticeably bigger than the one on most digital cameras available at the moment, save the Sony T range, and the extra 0.2in means it's even bigger than the latest iPod or Creative Zen Vision:M. If you've got one of these, you won't need to worry about viewing your images on anything else.
For the most part the buttons are in the right places, although we kept on pressing the review button when we meant to zoom in and the camera-mode button when we wanted to zoom out. Canon or FujiFilm camera users shouldn't have the same problem: Casio, like those manufacturers, has placed the zoom toggle around the shutter button.
Connection to a PC or Mac is made via the docking station, and it's here that the Casio shows the first chink in its armour. To connect the camera to any computer you'll need the docking station. It's a pain to carry around if you're planning on docking on the move and there isn't a simple workaround. That said, the inclusion of a docking station does mean that desktop users can easily dock the camera to download images. Downloading is quick and simple thanks to the camera's USB 2.0 support.
Casio boasts that the EX-Z500 houses a proprietary "Super Life" lithium-ion rechargeable battery that can take up to 500 shots on a single charge. We're not sure we've taken that many, but we've been using it solidly for a week and it's still going. It is certainly surprising considering the large LCD, but it seems Casio has managed to eke out enough juice for us not to complain about the lack of a power-saving optical viewfinder.
When it comes to taking pictures the EX-Z500 does very well, with a quick response time. Additionally with 31 Best Shot modes, ranging from standard Portrait to an Autumn Colours, there is a setting for virtually every situation. Using the Best Shot mode certainly improved the pictures we took as does the addition of Casio's anti-shake feature. For the lazy, the camera also sports an all round Best Shot mode that tries its best to cope with every situation.
The modes are selected using a button on the back of the camera, and our only concern is that you can easily spend more time looking for which mode to shoot in, rather than actually getting on with taking the picture at hand.
Taking the picture will require you first invest in a SD card. The camera comes with a pathetic 8.7MB of available built-in memory, which equates to about three images at optimum settings.
In our tests the camera coped well with the different shots we tested it on, especially the berries and the green-lit party pictures. Likewise the London night scene with its varying light sources, moving vehicles and black sky shows the camera coped well in tough situations.
At £280 the Casio is a solid camera that will produce good results. The large screen will appeal to the party set that like to share the images as soon as they've taken them, and the end results are good for printing too.
Things to bear in mind are the need to lug the docking station around with you if you're hoping to copy pictures on the move and the fact that you'll have to invest in an SD card from day one if you are looking to take more than three pictures at a time.