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Back in February I reviewed the then-new five megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z50, and was very impressed by its combination of stylish design, ease of use and quick performance. However I did discover a few problems with picture quality, mostly associated with the lens.
The Z50 has now been replaced in Casio’s extensive model range by this, the new EX-ZX500. With a list price of £279.99, but available for as little as £192 if you shop around, it is cheaper than its predecessor and compares well with rival models in this sector of the market. It is more than just an improvement of an existing camera, it is a completely new design with many new and impressive looking features.
The EX-Z500 is a very slim and compact camera, similar in overall style to Pentax’s Optio S range. Previous Casio compacts had made use of Pentax’s innovative Sliding Lens System, allowing them to be among the slimmest digital cameras on the market, but the Z500 appears to have a completely new lens. It is similar in design and appearance to the Pentax system, but it is physically smaller, giving the camera a thickness of just 20.5mm. It also opens and closes more quickly, giving the EX-Z500 a start-up time of about one second. It has significantly better optical performance too, but we’ll come back to that later.
The exterior design of the EX-Z500 is extremely sleek and sophisticated. It has a strong all-metal body, and is available in either black or silver, both colours having an attractive matt brushed finish. The casing is very resistant to scratches, as is the LCD screen. I accidentally carried the camera in a pocket with my keys for several hours, but it survived without a mark.
External controls have been kept to a minimum, which looks very nice but it does mean that even the most routine adjustments, such as ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and even macro mode, have to be done via the menu. Would it have been so hard to put exposure compensation at least on the D-pad?
The main reason for the lack of controls is that there simply isn’t room for them. The rear panel is dominated by the huge 2.7in LCD monitor. With 153,600 pixels it is also exceptionally sharp.