It seems to have become a habit for some people to start off any review of a Casio digital camera with a humorous quip about pocket calculators and cheap digital watches. It’s as though the very idea of Casio making cameras is slightly comical, like a dog performing an amusing trick. I’m not sure if this betrays a somewhat immature sense of humour or a total ignorance of the digital camera industry, because the truth is that Casio has been making digital cameras since the early 1990s, longer than any other manufacturer except Sony and Kodak. Casio’s current range ranks among the very best on the market, surpassing most others for build and picture quality, performance, ease of use and value for money.
With such an exemplary pedigree, it should come as no surprise that Casio is the first company to launch a compact camera boasting a massive 10.1 megapixel CCD, equal in resolution to a mid-level digital SLR. At the time of writing, the Exilim EX-Z1000 is currently the most powerful digital compact camera in the world.
However awesome as that may be, the brutal truth is that most people have absolutely no need for that kind of power. The megapixel resolution of a camera relates directly to print size, and most people only print their pictures at 6x4 inches, the size of a traditional snapshot. To produce true photographic quality a picture should ideally be printed at 300 pixels per inch, so for a perfect 6x4 print you only need a maximum resolution of 1,800 x 1,200 pixels, which actually is equal to a mere 2.16-megapixels.
If you can afford the ink to print all your pictures at A4 size and full photo quality, you still only need 8.7MP at the most, and a 6MP camera will produce perfectly acceptable results.
As usual though, the marketing experts have managed to convince the sheep-like masses that the product they bought last year is now suddenly inadequate, and that they really need to upgrade to something with bigger numbers printed on the box.
On the other hand, it has to be said that the EX-Z1000 really is a superb camera, and at £299.99 on the high street or around £242 online, it’s also great value for money. What’s an honest reviewer to do?
The fact is that the EX-Z1000 would still be a superb camera even if it had half the resolution that it does. For a start, it’s beautifully put together. It has a strong stainless steel case with an attractive matt finish that resists finger marks. It is very small, just a few millimetres larger than the EX-Z500. At 22.4mm thick and weighing 139g dry, it is slim and light enough to carry in a shirt pocket.