Despite the presence of a huge 230,000 pixel 2.8-inch wide format LCD monitor on such a small camera, and the restricted space this leaves on the rear panel, the camera is still comfortable and easy to hold, thanks to a textured thumb grip on the top right corner.
The Z1000’s control interface is also beautifully designed and fantastically easy to use. It has a bare minimum of external controls, with the display mode, shooting mode and playback mode buttons positioned on the reverse angle of the top plate, leaving just the menu and Best Shot mode buttons, and the D-pad on the back.
However thanks to an innovative permanently-displayed sidebar menu full control over all main shooting functions is instantly available by simply scrolling up and down on the D-pad. The LCD monitor is 4 x 6cm, an aspect ratio of 3:2, but the CCD has an aspect ratio of the usual 4:3 in full resolution, so the on-screen sidebar doesn’t obscure any of the image.
The sidebar can be turned off, and the camera can also shoot in 3:2 and 16:9 widescreen mode, but this crops off part of the full resolution image at the top and bottom.
For all its raw pixel power, the Z-1000 is designed to be an easy point-and-shoot compact, so it lacks any real manual control. However it does have that staple of the Exilim range, the Best Shot mode. This provides a menu with example pictures to set the camera up for common shooting situations such as portraits, landscapes, sports and night scenes, and also more specific situations such as candlelight, sunset, fireworks, flowing water, autumn leaves and natural greens.
It also includes a number of digital effects, including a mode that tries to restore colour and brightness when copying old photograph prints, and a four-point starburst filter effect, neither of which I have never seen on any other camera before. There are 36 Best Shot options in all, although it has to be said that one or two of them are a little redundant.
The Z1000 also has an Anti Shake DSP mode, however this is just an electronic system that incorporates setting the ISO to 800, sacrificing picture quality to ensure a high shutter speed. It does reduce blurring, but it’s not as good as the mechanical or optical anti-shake systems found on some rival cameras.
Apart from that little grumble the overall performance of the Z1000 is almost as quick as its Kawasaki namesake. It starts up in a fraction over one second, shoots continuously at 1.5 seconds per frame, or a burst of three frames in five seconds in high-speed mode. In movie mode it can shoot at 640x480 and 30fps, although clips are limited to a maximum of 10 minutes.