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Hands On: Casio Exilim EX-ZR100
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Hands On: Casio Exilim EX-ZR100

A compact superzoom camera with cool bells and whistles

Casio's Exilim EX-ZR100 is a premium compact that's built for speed, and has both gimmicky features and practical ones. I took it for a quick field test.


Casio Exilim EX-ZR100 Key features

  • 12MP backside-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 12.5x optical zoom (24-300mm 35mm equivalent)
  • Moderate and high HDR modes
  • 720p HD Video
  • Slow Motion Video at 240fps
  • Slide Panorama
  • Best shot selector
  • Price: Approximately $270

 

Casio's Exilim EX-ZR100 is the premium camera in the Casio line. It offers many high-tech features and a reasonable pixel count, and because it's a Casio, it offers many flavors of rapid-fire still photography, plus 720p HD video and, at lower resolution, the ability to capture slow-motion video. I took it for a brief test drive and found it to be a very capable compact camera with a few novelties and very few faults.

In the hands

The camera is well balanced and has a solid feel but, as with most compact cameras, it feels a bit cramped for big-handed users. My small-handed teenaged daughter found it very comfortable to hold, but I found my thumb accidentally would hit the video record button by a few times because there wasn't enough button-free space in the back for my thumb to rest.

 

Good detail in the shadows in this construction site detail.

 

While this camera is primarily aimed at snapshooters (it does not shoot RAW files), it has plenty of features that serious photographers would appreciate, such as manual exposure control as well as aperture- and shutter-priority modes, easily accessed via a mode selection thumbwheel on top. The same wheel also accesses two HDR modes (normal and psychedelic), program, Best Shot (fires a sequence of frames and selects the best one), slow-mo 240 fps video, and Premium Auto.

 

Sweet bokeh thanks to the rounded shutter blades, and the Scene mode grabbed the right exposure in this tricky light.


In the field

 

The ZR100 started up fast, and demonstrated virtually no shutter lag, with the only slowdown occurring if you shot several images in rapid sequence. When shooting in any multi-shot mode, such as Slide Panorama or HS mode, the camera would lock up for up to 30 seconds while the images cleared the buffer. But when shooting single images, the camera reacted quickly enough, and I feel comfortable recommending it for people who plan on photographing fast-moving subjects, such as pets, children, and sports.

 

24mm wideangle lens plus close focus can lead to wacky compositions like this one.

 

Speaking of fast-moving subjects, a nice feature that got a lot of “oh, wow” reactions from family and friends is the 240 fps slow-motion video (VGA resolution). It is especially useful if you're shooting footage of fast-moving subjects, like my dog, Niko, scratching himself (in real life, he's FAST!)

The 3-inch LCD monitor was reasonably bright and was workable in direct sunlight. However, if you need to critically inspect your images, move into the shade. My only complaint is that it was too easy to accidentally press the HS button, resulting in my getting a dozen or more rapid fire full-resolution images that quickly filled up my memory card.

 

I accidentally pressed the HS button and got about a dozen variations of this shot. Didn't mean to, but I ended up with a nice full resolution street portrait.

 

Conclusion and recommendation

The ZR100 is a fast, responsive little camera that can produce decent-quality enlargements up to 11x14 at ISO 100, and although it can shoot at up to ISO 3200, for best image quality I recommend shooting at ISO 200 or below. Its long-range zoom lens gives you a lot of flexibility, and combined with its slow-motion capture abilities it can be a cool camera for soccer moms. Thanks to its small size and zoom range, it leaves you no excuses to leave a camera home.

At a Memorial Day Parade, I saw this contrast of tough and teddy bear and was able to quickly zoom out and grab the shot.

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