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