The rest of the Z1200 works extremely well however. It starts up in a little over two seconds, which is good, but it is Casio’s brilliant AF system that really stands out. It focuses reliably in around half a second in pitch darkness at a range of well over three metres thanks to an AF assist lamp. In normal lighting it is virtually instant, and again utterly reliable. It has nine focus points, with spot AF, tracking AF, manual focus, 6cm macro and infinity focus available as well. In single-shot mode it can shoot a frame approximately once every two seconds, which is quicker than average. In normal speed continuous mode it shoots approximately one frame every 1.3 seconds, while in high-speed mode it can shoot at around three frames a second, although this is limited to three megapixels. In both cases shooting can continue until the memory card is full. As well as this there is a continuous mode with flash, and a bizarre “zoom continuous mode, which shoots both a normal picture and a digitally zoomed version simultaneously.
Despite the many well-justified concerns regarding the performance of very high resolution compact camera sensors, the Z1200 produces generally excellent image quality. It uses a slightly-larger-than-average 1/1.7 inch sensor, around ten percent larger in size than the one in the Z1050, and as a result its image quality is more or less identical with that camera. Colour reproduction, exposure and detail are all very good, and dynamic range is also higher than I had expected. Casio has neatly sidestepped the problem of high-ISO image noise by omitting ISO settings above 400 altogether, and judging by the image quality at this setting stopping there was probably a good idea. The only real weak spot is the 3x zoom lens, which appears to be based on Pentax’s aging Sliding Lens System. While it produces relatively little distortion at the wide angle end and none at the telephoto end, it is only really sharp in the centre of the frame, producing significant corner blurring and chromatic aberration towards the edges of the frame especially in wide angle shots.
The Casio Exilim EX-Z1200 is a technological marvel, a pocket-sized compact camera packed with advanced features and useful creative options. It has superior build quality, good handling and class-leading performance, and decent image quality. The only real question is whether you feel it’s worth paying a significant premium for a trivial increase in image resolution.