capsule review

Casio Exilim EX-Z600 digital camera

Casio’s Exilim EX-Z600 point-and-shoot is ultra-compact, yet it has a bright and large 2.7-inch LCD. That’s important because this camera lacks an optical viewfinder, and when shooting in bright sunlight, images on the Casio’s display are perfectly visible. The EX-Z600 comes in either a silver or a black case.

While informal shots I took with the 6-megapixel EX-Z600 looked pretty good, the camera’s images earned below-average scores for color accuracy and sharpness in detailed lab tests. The EX-Z600 also scored poorly in exposure accuracy tests, compared with other point-and-shoot cameras we looked at recently.

Usability is always a concern with pocket-sized point-and-shoots—especially those with big LCDs that take up a lot of space—and the EX-Z600’s controls are definitely a mixed bag. The zoom selector is well designed—the ring surrounding the large shutter-release button is easy to locate and operate when composing shots. The dedicated Best Shot button jumps you into a selection of 33 scene modes. One of these is the novel eBay mode, which is not explained in the CD-based manual but is detailed on Casio’s Web site. In my test shot, it cut the resolution to a relatively low 1,600-by-1,200 pixels—good for posting images online.

The settings menus are fairly deep, but well organized and easy to interpret. On the other hand, the four-way selector button—used for navigating through the menus and images—is uncomfortably small for my large fingers; ditto the tiny OK button in the middle of the four-way selector.

One of this camera's more unusual features is its built-in perspective (keystone) correction. Applied to images in playback mode, this effect does a nice job of squaring a rectangular object photographed at an odd angle, so that it looks more like you shot it straight-on. The feature probably can’t fix an out-of-kilter shot of a room, but it did fix a photo of a document I’d taken. The corrected image is saved as a new file, so your original is left unmodified.

The software Casio includes is thin stuff. Photo Loader is basically a simple image transfer and organizing application, but it doesn’t work on Mac OS X.

One place where the EX-Z600 really excels is battery life. You might expect this camera’s batteries to drain quickly because of the large and bright LCD. But the EX-Z600 lasted the maximum of 500 shots in our test (at which point, we let our technician go home), and that is far above the average of 271 shots.

performance

Image Quality Fair
Battery Life Superior

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How We Tested: The image-quality rating of the camera is based upon a panel of judges’ opinions in five categories: exposure, color, sharpness, distortion, and overall. Battery life testers follow a precise script, including shots with and without flash, until the battery dies.—Tested in conjunction with the PC World Test Center

specifications

Resolution 6 megapixels
Zoom/Focal Length (35mm equivalent) 3x/38-114mm
Battery Type Rechargeable lithium ion
Media Slots Secure Digital (1)
Size (wxhxd) 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.8
Weight (oz.) 5

Macworld’s buying advice

If a low price, long battery life, and a big, bright LCD are at the top your camera needs, the Casio EX-Z600 is an excellent fit. If this camera came with a more extensive software package and delivered better image quality, it would be more enticing.

[ Tracey Capen is a photographer and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. ]

Casio Exilim EX-Z600
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