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The basic specification of the Z85 is fairly unremarkable. It has a 1/2.5 inch 9.1-megapixel CCD sensor, a flush-folding 3x optical zoom lens equivalent to 38-114mm, and the 2.6-inch 16:9 ratio LCD monitor has a resolution of 114k dots, which is pretty low-res by recent standards. It has no mechanical image stabilisation, no AF assist lamp, and no manual exposure options. However it does have a few interesting features that are unique to Casio, and set the Z85 apart from other budget compacts.
Like most of Casio's other cameras the EX-Z85 has a permanent on-screen control panel which displays a row of icons down the right side of the wide-format screen. The panel is activated by pressing down on the D-pad, and can then be navigated like a normal menu. It provides instant access to a range of commonly used shooting functions such as picture size, drive mode, flash mode, face detection and ISO setting, and also controls the Z85's stand-out feature, the innovative auto-shutter system.
The auto shutter has three settings. The first, smile detection, is an increasingly common feature found on a number of other cameras, but far more useful are the two motion-detection options. The first setting prevents the camera from taking a picture if it detects motion blur caused by either camera or subject movement. The second setting does the same, but only in the vertical axis, useful for panning action shots. The trigger sensitivity of the auto-shutter feature can be adjusted, but the default medium setting seems to work best in most circumstances. The Detect Blur auto shutter setting actually works surprisingly well as an alternative to a more expensive image stabilisation system. The delay in taking a picture can be a little frustrating if you're not expecting it, but it does eliminate 90 percent of motion-blurred shots.
The main menu is clear, concise and responsive, and also provides a number of useful features, such as spot or tracking AF, a range of self-timer options and custom options for the left and right directions on the D-pad. It also has the option to replace the focus point indicator, normally a boring green box, with a different icon, such as a butterfly, a candle, a heart or what appears to be a gingerbread man. I have no idea why, but then again why not?
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