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Although Casio has recently launched a couple of unusual super-zoom cameras, the Exilim EX-F1 and the EX-FH20, as well as the high-performance 5x zoom compact EX-FC100, the core of its business has long been the common 3x zoom ultra-compact camera. Recent examples have included the 9.1-megapixel EX-Z19 and EX-Z85, and the 8.1-megapixel EX-Z80 launched last year. Casio has just launched another 3x zoom compact, this time with a 10.1-megapixel sensor, the Exilim EX-Z1.
The Z1 certainly makes a good first impression. It has a strong all-metal body with coloured semi-matt panels and plenty of bright chrome trim. Like most Casio compacts the Z1 is available in a wide range of colours, including black, silver, blue, purple, pink and the gold of my review sample. It is an exceptionally slim camera, just 20mm thick including the lens surround, although as usual whoever wrote the spec sheet measured it ignoring this somewhat vital feature, giving a figure of 17.8mm. It's also very light, weighing approximately 120g including battery and memory card. With its sleek shape and rounded edges it slips easily into a shirt pocket.
That slim and stylish body does have an important disadvantage though. The rear panel is dominated by a big 2.7-inch widescreen monitor, which doesn't leave much room for the controls, and even less room for your thumb. That, and the rounded edges on both the front and rear, make the camera difficult to hold securely. Also the position of the shutter button and zoom control is very close to the right end of the top panel, and doesn't fall readily under the forefinger.