As I mentioned, apart from the IS technology the Z200 is basically the same as the Z100, and the control design reflects this. From the back the two cameras look almost identical, with the same five-button layout with a small round D-pad. However I did find that the D-pad on my review sample had an annoying problem I found that it was very difficult to get the D-pad to register a press in the downward direction unless I took great care to press precisely with the edge of my thumbnail. This made navigating the normally excellent on-screen menu irritatingly fiddly and greatly detracted from my enjoyment while using the camera. Hopefully this was just a manufacturing glitch on my review sample, because the seemingly identical D-pad on the Z100 functioned without a problem.
Apart from that minor annoyance the Z200 is a very simple camera to use. As usual with Casio’s cameras it has a default auto program mode, as well as 39 Best Shot mode programs covering pretty much every possible contingency, including settings for taking ID-card photos, correcting perspective when photographing whiteboards, a special setting for shooting things for online auctions and of course the YouTube video capture mode. The software supplied with the Z200 includes an easy-to-use facility for uploading your video clips to the popular video-sharing website.
The Z200 also features the Auto Shutter functions seen previously on the Z100 and Z80. There are three modes; smile detection, movement detection and auto-panning. The first of these is based on the face detection system and waits until your subject is smiling before taking a picture, but the other two modes are potentially more useful. The camera detects movement blur, and waits until everything in the frame is stationary before taking a picture. In the panning mode it ignores blurring of the background and only detects if the main subject is sharp, ideal for following moving subjects.
The Z200’s key feature is of course its image stabilisation system. Sensor-shift stabilisation is an unusual choice for an ultra-compact. Most of the other manufacturers, including Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Nikon all use optical image stabilisation, in which optical elements within the lens are moved to compensate for camera shake. Pentax is the only other manufacturer to use sensor-shift in a camera of this size, in its high-spec A-series compacts, which leads me to wonder if Casio may have licensed the technology behind the system from Pentax. It wouldn’t be the first time the two companies have done business; many Casio compacts used to be fitted with Pentax lenses.
Whatever its origins the system is very effective. I found I was able to take sharp hand-held shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second even at medium zoom settings, although going much slower than this did cause movement blur to appear. Combined with the blur-detection auto-shutter function this should make it virtually impossible to take a blurred shot with the Z200.
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