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Back in May I reviewed the impressive 10.1-megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z1050, which at that time was the new flagship of the Exilim Zoom range. However here we are just four months later and I'm reviewing a new, even more powerful Exilim Zoom, the 12.1-megapixel EX-Z1200, which is the new top of the range.
I've frequently had a bit of a rant about the marketing-led progression of ever-more-powerful sensors, but the point bears repeating. A typical 10-megapixel image is 3648 x 2736 pixels, while the images produced by the EX-Z1200 and Sony's DSC-W200 are 4000 x 3000 pixels. While that may sound pretty huge, it's only a difference of 176 pixels horizontally and 132 vertically, or less than a ten percent gain in actual image size. Considering that the EX-Z1200 is currently retailing for around £190, while the EX-Z1050 is only about £130, you have to ask yourself if an extra 176 pixels is worth a fifty percent higher price.
Fortunately the Z1200 has a lot more going for it than just a larger image size. It is a technically very sophisticated camera with a wide range of features and options, which go a long way towards justifying the price. As well as the 12.1-megapixel sensor it has a 3x zoom, f=2.8 - 5.5, 7.9 - 23.7mm lens (37 to 111mm equiv.), 2.8-inch wide-format 230k monitor, moving-sensor image stabilisation, manual exposure options and 848 x 480 widescreen movie mode. Casio's Exilim range has been consistently excellent since its inception, with a long series of models that have competed on equal terms for technical merit, performance and quality with the best compact cameras that any other manufacturers have produced, and when handling the Z1200 it is very clear that it is another quality product.
Available in black or silver the Z1200 has an all-aluminium body, but even so it is a solidly made camera. It measures 93.3 x 58.5 x 22.4mm, which is in fact a little slimmer than the Z1050, but it also weighs 152g minus battery and card, which is well above average for a camera of this size, and as a result the Z1200 feels a lot denser and heavier than most of its rivals. This isn't a bad thing by any means, because it adds to the feeling of quality and makes the camera more stable when shooting at lower shutter speeds. The rather chunky feel and the sensibly-placed rear thumbgrip make the camera solidly comfortable to hold. The overall design is sensibly understated, and the flat profile of the flush-retracting lens and the smooth pocket-friendly curved corners look functional without being plain.