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Casio Exilim EX-Z25 Review

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £110.00

Casio, as I have often remarked in the past, is one of the original innovators of the digital camera industry. It launched its first model in 1996, beating many long-established camera companies to a place in this lucrative and highly competitive market. The company has continued to innovate with models such as the remarkable EX-F1 high-speed super-zoom camera and the EX-FC100 compact, but its main focus has always been ultra-compact 3x zoom cameras, and it continues to introduce new models once every few months. One of its most successful lines in recent years has been the incredibly tiny 8.1-megapixel EX-Z80, the 9.1-megapixel Z85 and the 12.1-megapixel Z90, so its no surprise that Casio should launch another model using the same basic design.


Announced in November of 2009, the specification of the new Exilim EX-Z25 is essentially the same as the camera that it is replacing in the Exilim range, the five-month-old EX-Z90, to the extent that the two cameras are all but identical. The Z25 has a 12.1-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, an f/3.1 – f/5.9 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 35-105mm) and a 2.7-inch 230k LCD monitor.


Like the other Z-series cameras the Z25 is almost ridiculously tiny, measuring 89.7 x 51.7 x 19.4mm and weighing just 116g including battery and memory card. The body is all aluminium and like most Casio cameras it is available in a range of six different colours. The build quality is excellent and the stylish brushed finish looks good while still providing a surprisingly grippy surface.

The control layout is also identical to the previous Z-series models, with a small round D-pad, four small rectangular buttons and a separate button to instantly activate the video recording mode. Despite the camera’s diminutive dimensions the controls manage to avoid being fiddly, leaving plenty of room to grip the camera, and are clearly labelled and also have nice tactile feedback. Olympus please take note.


Like all of Casio’s cameras the Z25 has a dual menu system; a three-section main menu that controls all camera functions, and a sidebar live menu that control up to eight frequently used functions. The functions that appear on the live menu can be selected by the user. For such a small and relatively cheap camera the Z25 has a decent range of features, including Casio’s excellent manually adjustable auto-shutter system, which detects motion blur and also acts as a smile-activated shutter release. It also has a good face detection system and multiple AF modes including pan-focus and manual focus.


Unlike some recent point-and-shoot compacts the Z25 has multi-zone, centre weighted and spot metering, adjustable sharpness, contrast and saturation, adjustable flash output and a range of colour filters. It also has a lighting booster feature for shooting in high contrast situations, but to be honest this doesn’t work as well as some similar systems that I’ve seen. It also has 1280 x 720 video recording with mono audio. As is usually the case the optical zoom cannot be adjusted while recording, but the dedicated video button does mean it can start recording instantly.

I never did get to review the Z90, so I can only compare the Z25 to one of its other predecessors, the August 2008 EX-Z85. the main difference between the two cameras is the three-megapixel increase in sensor resolution, and unfortunately this has had a negative effect on the camera’s performance. The Z85 was a very quick little camera, but the extra data processing for that bigger image size has really slowed things down for the new camera.


The Z25 starts up in approximately 2.5 seconds, which isn’t too bad, but in single-shot mode its shot-to-shot time is now 3.7 seconds, which is disappointingly slow. Even in continuous shooting mode it still takes 3.1 seconds between shots. There is a high-speed continuous mode which shoots at approximately 3fps, but is can only take eight shots and is limited to a resolution of two megapixel.


The annoying thing is that the autofocus system is one of the fastest I’ve ever seen on a compact camera, quick even by Casio’s usual high standard, and the single-shot shutter lag is almost non-existent. I’m fairly sure that with a lower-resolution sensor the Z25 would have much better performance.


Image quality is also a bit disappointing, and partly for the same reason. Dynamic range is extremely limited, especially at the higher end of the range, with badly clipped highlights and charge-leakage fringes obtruding into shadow areas. The lens is also less than ideal, with significant chromatic aberration towards the corner of the frame. I also found that some shots had uneven focusing, with one side of the image slightly blurred, although this may have been a problem with my review sample because I’ve not encountered this with previous Z-series models using the same lens.


One pleasant surprise is image noise control, which is very good, producing nice clean images at up to 400 ISO, and usable shots even at 1600 ISO, with good colour rendition and exposure. Low light performance is also much better than expected, and the AF system copes in very low light despite the lack of an AF assist lamp.


”’Verdict”’

The Casio Exilim EX-Z25 is an ideal camera for casual social photography, small and light enough to take anywhere. Build quality and design are first rate, and it has a good range of features to cope with almost any situation. It is let down though by sluggish performance and slightly disappointing image quality, but for the price it’s still a bargain.

”Over the next few pages we show a range of test shots. On this page the full size image at the minimum and maximum ISO settings have been reduced to let you see the full image, and a series of full resolution crops have taken from original images at a range of ISO settings to show the overall image quality. These pictures were taken indoors using shaded natural light. ”


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This is the full frame at 64 ISO.


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At minimum ISO the image quality is very good, with smooth colour and no visible noise.


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Much the same result at 100 ISO.


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Still no problems at 200 ISO.


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Image quality is still good at 400 ISO, not bad for a cheap 12MP compact.


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At 800 ISO however there is a lot of noise and loss of detail.


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1600 ISO is also very noisy, but at least the colour rendition is good.


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The full frame at 1600 ISO.


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”A range of general test shots are shown over the next two pages. In some cases, the full size image has been reduced for bandwidth purposes, and a crop taken from the original full resolution image has been placed below it to show the overall image quality. Some other pictures may be clicked to view the original full-size image. ”


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I couldn’t take my usual shot of the cathedral this week, so here’s another of Exeter’s magnificent historic buildings. The full-size download is approximately 5.6MB


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Overall detail isn’t bad, but I’ve seen better. Lens sharpness is mostly to blame.


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There isn’t much wide-angle distortion, which is a good thing.


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Centre sharpness is not so good however, and there is also some camera shake despite the 1/60th sec shutter speed.


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Corner sharpness is also quite poor, with major chromatic aberration.


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”Here are some general test shots to help evaluate the camera’s overall image quality, including dynamic range, colour rendition and the zoom range of the lens. Some pictures may be clicked to download the full size original image. ”


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The wide angle end is equivalent to 38mm, not really very wide at all.


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The telephoto end is equivalent to 114mm, about average for a 3x zoom camera.


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Dynamic range is pretty poor, with major highlight clipping.


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Colour reproduction is very good.


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An impromptu remake of a Hichcock classic on Exeter quayside.


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Macro range is 10cm.


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Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Value 9
  • Image Quality 7
  • Build Quality 9

Features

Camera type Ultra Compact
Megapixels (Megapixel) 12.1 Megapixel
Optical Zoom (Times) 3x

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