Shoppers seeking ultracompact options will soon have a few more choices, thanks to three new Exilim Z-series digital cameras from Casio.
The 10.1 megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z300 and 9.1 megapixel Exilim EX-Z250 and EX-Z85 join Casio's signature slim digital camera line-up.
Differentiated primarily by resolution, the Exilim EX-Z300 and EX-Z250 feature Casio's latest Exilim Engine 3.0 processor. The new chip claims improved noise reduction performance, better moire control, and faster camera performance all around, allowing the new camera's to make the most of their high-res sensors.
A wide-angle optic, covering a 4x range of 28-112mm, is featured in both upper-tier Exilim models as well. Both models also come speced with a huge, high-res 3.0-inch LCD.
Sensor-shift image stabilization is implemented in conjunction with new processor-side shake sensing technologies that boost sensitivity/shutter speed to consistently capture sharp images.
In addition to offering more still image resolution, the EX-Z300 is capable of recording high-definition video at up to 1280x720/30 fps - perfect for HDTV playback. Both models support the H.264 video standard used by iTunes and many portable media players.
Several interesting image capture and post-shot editing functions are also supported by the new Exilim processor. Auto-detect Handheld Night Scene and Lighting functions provide appropriate settings for shooting in low light or in backlit or high-contrast situations, respectively.
More unique is Casio's Makeup portrait post-processing function, which provides in-camera skin smoothing and facial shadow correction. A Multi-Motion mode simulates multiple exposures on a single frame, combining a series of 3 megapixel captures into a single image.
At just over two inches tall and a mere three-quarters of an inch thick, the 9.1 megapixel, 3x zoom Casio Exilim EX-Z85 offers a lot of resolution in a tiny, budget-friendly package.
Several of the fun shooting features that we've seen on previous Casio ultracompacts - including stylized focusing frames, customizable menu skins, and the smile-detecting Auto Shutter function - can be found on the Z85 as well. Casio's trademark Easy mode is also available, providing dead simple camera operation for novices or casual shooters.
Composition is handled via a 2.6-inch widescreen LCD that employs the familiar "sidebar" menu arrangement from previous Exilim ultracompacts.
There's no mechanical or optical image stabilization on the Z85, but the new camera does employ Casio's Blur Detection technology that automatically fires the camera's shutter at the exact moment that hand shake or subject motion stops.
As with its more advanced siblings, the Z85 uses the H.264 video capture standard for maximum movie compatibility with mobile devices.
All three new models will be available in October. Suggested prices list the EX-300 at $299.99, the EX-250 at $249.99, and the EX-Z85 at an impressively low $179.99.