One feature that I’m not too impressed by is the “Anti-shake DSP” mode, which combines a CCD-shift image stabilisation system with an increase in ISO setting to produce a faster shutter speed. While this does indeed reduce the chance of camera shake or movement blur, it also increases image noise, reducing overall image quality. As anti-shake systems go it doesn’t seem to be terribly effective, and I found I was still getting movement blur on medium-zoom shots at around 1/30th of a second. Most other moving-sensor stabilisation systems would be able to cope with that.
Other technical features of the Z1050 are impressive however. Casio was the first company to introduce a 10-megapixel compact camera, and the Z1000 was the immediate predecessor of this model. One of the objections to such powerful compacts is that cramming so many photocells onto such a small sensor actually reduces overall image quality and increases image noise and purple fringing. For the Z1050 Casio has gone some way towards addressing this issue by giving it a physically larger sensor. Most compacts use a 1/2.5-in type sensor, while some higher-spec models (including the Z1000) use a larger 1/1.8-in type. The Z1050 uses a 1/1.75-type, which is larger still. In theory the lower photocell density should improve image quality and reduce image noise.
This is one theory which definitely works in practice. I found the overall picture quality to be outstanding. The EX-Z1050 uses very low file compression, so it can take full advantage of the extra resolution generated by that big sensor. File sizes average around 5MB, but go as high as 7.5MB for some more detailed subjects. While the gain in fine detail over a seven or eight megapixel camera isn’t hugely significant, it is there if you look. The 3x zoom f/2.8 – f/5.1 lens produces good edge-to-edge sharpness with relatively little wide-angle distortion, while colour reproduction and exposure are excellent. A 1GB card holds approximately 154 shots at maximum resolution.
As I mentioned, image noise and purple fringing have previously been major issues for compacts with 10MP sensors, but Casio seems to have successfully solved these problems. Image noise levels were no higher than I would expect to see from a good 7MP camera, with very low levels up to 200 ISO, some noise at 400 and significant noise at 800. Those annoying purple fringes on high-contrast edges seems to have been all but eliminated, which gives the EX-Z1050 a huge advantage over most other 10MP compacts.
The Casio Exilim EX-Z1050 demonstrates that it is possible to make a good 10MP compact camera without suffering problems with excessive image noise or fringing. As well as that it is a well-made camera offering good handling, brisk performance, some unique and useful features and excellent image quality, and at a sensible price point too.