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6/10

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I've spent a lot of time recently playing with expensive digital SLRs and high-end luxury compacts, so today I thought I'd take a look at the other end of the market, with a budget camera costing under £90. The Casio Exilim EX-Z33 is a new 10.1-megapixel ultra-compact with a 3x zoom lens and a 2.5-inch 230k LCD monitor. It has a pretty basic spec with minimal features, but if you're on a tight budget (and aren't we all these days?) it's enough for basic snapshots.

Most of the big manufacturers produce cameras in a range of prices and differing levels of sophistication and quality, which means that one model has to be the bottom of the range, and the Z33 is at the bottom of Casio's. Casio is one of the longest-established digital camera makers, launching its first model in 1996, and currently makes some excellent ultra-compact cameras, such as the EX-S12 and the EX-H10, as well as some advanced high-speed cameras, including the EX-F1 and EX-FH20 super-zoom models, and the EX-FC100 advanced ultra-compact. The EX-Z33 is may be at the other end of the scale from these cameras, but it still shares one or two features with its more high-tech siblings.

Casio has not tried to make the Z33 look like something it's not. The body design is as basic as the specification, a plain plastic case with an aluminium fascia and very simple controls. It's a very light camera weighing just 122g including battery and memory card, and measuring only 94.1 x 56.1 x 18.1mm it's slim enough to slip into a shirt pocket. Although it lacks any frills the build quality is good and the camera feels surprisingly solid considering its weight. The Z33 is available in a range of colours including silver, black, blue and two shades of pink.

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