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Casio Exilim EX-Z75 Digital Camera Full Review
by Ben Stafford -  4/9/2007

The 7.2 megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z75 hasn’t changed too much from its predecessor, the Z70, but the changes are welcome.  The primary difference is that the Z75 features a 2.6 inch, wide LCD like the Casio S770 has.  The new LCD offers better usability in essentially the same lightweight, slim, and stylish body that we’ve seen on the Z70.  The Z75 also features a 3x optical zoom and comes in pink, blue, black, and silver.

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NUTS & BOLTS

Image Sensor

The slim Z75 features a maximum capture resolution of 7.2 megapixels.  Images can be captured at resolutions of: 3072 x 2304, 3072 × 2048 (3:2 aspect ratio for 4x6 prints), 2560 × 1920, 2048 × 1536, 1600 × 1200, and 640 x 480.   Three levels of JPEG compression are also available: Fine, Normal, and Economy.  At full 7.2 megapixel resolution and Fine compression, the file size is approximately 4.32 MB.  At this size, you can fit approximately 55 shots on a 256MB memory card.

LCD

The 2.6 inch, wide (14:9) LCD on the back of the Casio has 114,960 pixels of resolution, is color accurate and refreshes quickly enough for a fluid image.  It gains up or down automatically, depending on the light conditions.  Outdoors in the sunlight, the LCD visibility is average.  Also, when reviewing images, it seemed like everything was blurry and out of focus, but when transferred to my PC, the images were fine.  The low pixel count of the screen seems to be the primary cause of this blurriness.  It just makes it hard to tell if you got the shot that you wanted.

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Lens/Zoom

The lens provides a 3x optical zoom range (a 35mm equivalent focal length of 38-114mm).  There are 7 increments of zoom control through the optical zoom range.

Focus Modes and Focus Ranges

The auto focus system on the Z75 can focus as close as 15.75 inches while in normal AF.   When you switch over to macro, you can get as close as 3.9 inches.  You can use a multi-zone focus area or a center zone focus area.  An infinity mode lets you set the focus all the way out, so the camera does nothing with focus when you take a shot.  A pan focus mode comes in handy when shooting a subject that the camera has a hard time getting a focus lock on.  There is also a manual focus mode.

Flash

The flash button (down direction on directional pad) cycles through the available flash modes.  You can set the flash mode to auto, fill (always on), off, soft flash, and red eye reduction.  The flash range of the camera is 11.5 feet at wide angle or 6.2 feet at telephoto.

Timer Modes and Continuous Shooting

If you need a timer, you can choose from a 2 second timer, 10 second timer, and 3-shot timer.  There is a single continuous shooting mode (it’s either on or off).  In continuous mode, shots are taken at approximately 1.2 seconds per frame (at full resolution with normal image quality).

Memory Media

For storage media, the Z75 accepts SD, SDHC, and MMC memory cards.  It also has 8MB of internal memory.

Image File Format(s)

Images are stored as JPEG files.

Connectivity

Multi-connector for AV/USB 2.0 Full Speed.

Power

The camera is powered 700 mAh lithium-ion battery pack.  Battery life was good.  Under heavy use, I got around 200 shots on a single charge.  The charger can recharge the battery in about 90 minutes.

EXPOSURE

Auto Mode

The “auto” capture mode on the Z75 is essentially a program auto mode, where you can modify the ISO, exposure compensation, white balance and so on.  There are no manual modes on the camera, as is typical of this camera’s target market.  If you want to get creative, you can use one of the many (over 30) Best Shot scene modes.  A dedicated button provides quick access to the Best Shot menu.

If you want to keep things simple, you can enable the simple mode via the menu system.  Simple mode modifies the menu system to provide access to only the flash modes, timer modes, and image size.  (And a way to get back to the default menu).  This mode essentially becomes the fully automatic mode.  It also disables access to the Best Shot modes.

Movie Mode

Movies can be captured in several modes: 640x480 and 512 x 384 at 30 fps; 320x240 at 15 fps.

Metering

The Z75 has the ability to do multi-pattern metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering.

White Balance

In addition to the automatic white balance setting, there are 6 presets (daylight, overcast, shade, daywhite fluorescent, daylight fluorescent, tungsten) and a manual mode.  The manual mode lets you set the white balance by pressing the shutter and pointing at a white target.

Sensitivity

The ISO setting of the camera can be set to Auto, ISO 50, 100, 200, or 400.

In-camera Image Adjustment

In addition to the options already listed (ISO, white balance, exposure compensation), you can also adjust the sharpness, saturation, contrast, flash intensity, or apply one of the color filters (B&W, sepia, red, green, blue, yellow, pink, or purple).  During image playback, you can apply a keystone correction, a color correction, or you can rotate, resize, or trim your images.

CONTROLS, DESIGN, ENGINEERING & ERGONOMICS

The Z75 is an attractive, slim camera available in a wide variety of colors (blue, black, pink, and silver).  The aluminum body of the blue camera that I tested had a nice brushed finish.  It’s a very slim camera at only 0.77 inches thick.  It’s a very pocketable camera - a protective plastic guard over the LCD and built-in lens cover keep the camera protected when slipped into your pocket.  When powered off, the lens fully retracts into the body of the camera.

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The Z75 gets the wide screen display that has been seen on the Casio S770.  The reason that I mention it is that it provides a nice way to see and change many of the shooting settings.  An “up” or “down” action on the control pad, as well as a click of the center Set button accesses this menu to make it easy to change things like ISO, white balance, resolution settings, flash modes, timer modes, etc.  Having these settings over on the side means they’re not overlaid on your images.  If you don’t like it though, you can disable it in the Setup menu.

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I reviewed the Z70 many months ago I mentioned that the menu system will get well used to change settings.  By adding the wide-screen and making more settings available from just the control pad, the menu system on the Z75 won’t be used as much.

I didn’t expect a super comfortable camera to hold and I wasn’t surprised.  It’s one of those trade-offs when looking for a slim, compact camera.  However, the buttons that you use most frequently (shutter release, directional pad) are placed well, they’re a bit more prominent than the others, and they're easy to use.  The finish on the body makes the camera a little slick, so two hands (as recommended) will be required for the best shooting platform.

On the front of the camera, in addition to the lens, you can see the flash, timer light, and a little hole for the microphone.

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The top edge of the camera has the power button and shutter release.  The power button is tiny and recessed to prevent accidental power on.

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On the back of the camera, the 2.6 inch wide LCD takes up most of the space with just a few additional buttons.  A zoom rocker switch on the top right of the camera handles zooming during image capture or image playback.  Below the zoom switch are two buttons used to switch between capture and playback modes.  A 5 way directional pad provides the main mechanism for navigating through the menus that are activated with the menu button.  A BS button provides access to the Casio Best Shot scene modes.

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The bottom of the camera has a tripod mount, battery/memory media compartment, and USB/AV multi-connector.

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Included

In the box, you’ll find the camera, battery pack, battery charger with AC cord, wrist strap, USB cable, A/V cable, basic reference manual, and CD-ROM of software.

PERFORMANCE

Overall, I liked the images that the Z70 produced.  The colors were accurate and strong, but not too oversaturated.  Skin tones were pleasing and accurate.  The metering system handled tricky lighting conditions (full sun and shadow) very well and I never strayed from the automatic white balance which worked well.  In the shot below, details are visible in the shadow areas and the areas where the sun is shining directly on the tree bark.

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The flash on the Z75 performed well.  In an almost completely dark room, it did a good job of illumination to about 12 feet or so.   The camera automatically sets the sensitivity at ISO 200 for flash shots for the best exposure.  However, at ISO 200, things can be a bit grainy.  You can “fix” the ISO at 50 or so for better noise performance, but the image may be underexposed.  There is a flash assist mode that will increase ISO to help you get a properly illuminated shot, but it will increase the noise in the images.  This flash assist mode can be disabled.


Taken in dark room at a 10-12 foot range (view medium image) (view large image)

Noise performance was average.  ISO 50 and 100 look good.  At ISO 200, some graininess is noticeable, but standard size prints will look just fine.  ISO 400 is pretty noisy.

Sample Images

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casio exilim ex-z75 sample image
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casio exilim ex-z75 sample image
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casio exilim ex-z75 sample image
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casio exilim ex-z75 sample image
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casio exilim ex-z75 sample image
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casio exilim ex-z75 sample image
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Timing/Shutter Lag

Camera operation was very snappy.  I was very impressed with the minimal shutter lag, even when a partial shutter press was not used.  Auto focus times were also very good, even in lower light conditions.  Cycle time between shots (without flash) was less than 2 seconds.  Flash cycle time took just under 3 seconds with good battery conditions.  When the battery gets a bit lower, the flash charge time can vary though.

CONCLUSION

While the Z75 is not a huge upgrade over its predecessors, it still provides an affordable slim camera with good performance.  Image quality is not knock your socks off amazing, but will please many consumers on a budget looking for a slim, stylish camera.  The other good things about this camera are the battery life and very quick performance.

Pros

Cons