The Casio Exilim EX-Z850's flash features also exceed the ordinary. It fires the flash just prior to capture to determine the correct exposure, and in addition to the usual flash on/off, auto, and red-eye options, there's Soft flash, which reduces the intensity level, and High Power flash, which triples the range in automatic mode from the default distance of 14 feet by boosting sensitivity to ISO 1,600. One of the continuous-shooting modes is a flash burst, which snaps off three pictures of subjects at close range in about 1 second, with a single flash firing. Oddly, however, the camera lacks a slow-sync mode.
Movie fans get lots of options, too. The EX-Z850 offers two 640x480-pixel, 30fps modes; a low-compression/high-quality mode; and a higher-compression option for fitting longer clips on the SD card. A 320x240-pixel extended-recording option allows even longer minimovies. There's a Best Shot movie mode with nine predefined scenes and space for user-defined presets.
In addition to normal moviemaking, you can choose an action-friendly 5-second-buffer mode, which records continually until you stop, then saves only the last 5 seconds of action. The Short Movie option saves the 4 seconds just before the button is released as well as the 4 seconds after. Once you've captured your clips, you can edit them in the camera and extract frames for printing.We were pleased by the Casio Exilim EX-Z850's zippy performance; it's fast using its default settings but can be tweaked for even better response. It reports for duty on power-up in 2.1 seconds for an initial shot and snaps off pictures every 2.7 seconds thereafter--or every 2.9 seconds with flash. Shutter lag was excellent at 0.4 second under high-contrast lighting, and the brilliant white assist/recording lamp helped autofocus lock in just 0.5 second under low-contrast illumination. Using Quick Shot mode, which disables autofocus and relies on the extreme depth of field of the 7.9mm-to-23.7mm lens (actual focal length), shutter lag was negligible.
As with many cameras with small memory buffers, the EX-Z850's continuous-shooting speed depends on the memory card. Full-resolution bursts using a standard-speed 256MB memory card were sporadic. With a high-speed 1GB SD card, the EX-Z850 was willing to shoot pictures at a 1fps clip for as long as we held down the shutter release, at both full resolution and 640x480 VGA resolution. The camera also has a high-speed 3-shot burst mode that operates at 5fps.
Other continuous-shooting options include the 3-shot/1-second flash burst; a zoom continuous mode that grabs shots of a central area of the image, enlarged digitally to fill the frame; and a multishot mode that fits 25 shots in a 5-by-5 array on a single frame.
Although the Casio's LCD shows significant ghosting when the camera or the subject moves, it's quite usable under full sunlight and gained up sufficiently under dim illumination for easy framing. When the recording-light feature was activated, it was possible to frame pictures of not-too-distant subjects in near darkness.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Typical continuous-shooting speed|
Exposures are very good overall, but the brightest highlights are often washed out. Colors onscreen tend to look undersaturated, giving some hues that were vivid in the original scene a look that verged on the pastel, while prints are almost oversaturated. Skin tones suffer from the occasional cyan cast, but ineffective red-eye correction mars flash portraits. This camera's lens displays classic chromatic aberration problems, with both purple and green fringing.
Overall, however, the Casio Exilim EX-Z850's general photo quality is pleasing, and both snapshooters and enthusiasts should be satisfied with the photos from this camera.