Casio inches its Exilim Zoom series forward with the EX-Z77, a minor upgrade to the Exilim EX-Z75. The Z77 maintains most of its predecessor's hardware aspects, but features a new image processor and a few other new features.
The EX-Z77 maintains the same slim profile and control layout as the Z75. You can access most functions through the camera's large, circular joypad and the four narrow buttons clustered around it. Besides simple menu navigation, these buttons also access the camera's collection of Best Shot scene presets, open its system menu, and toggle between record and playback modes. While the control buttons feel a bit too small and flat, the joypad and zoom buttons fit comfortably under even large thumbs.
Besides some small upgrades, the EX-Z77 doesn't offer many changes from its predecessor. It keeps the same 7-megapixel resolution, the same relatively slow 38mm-to-114mm-equivalent f/3.1-to-f/5.9 lens, and the same slightly grainy 2.6-inch, 114,960-pixel TFT LCD screen as the Z75. Despite the hardware similarities, the Z77 incorporates Casio's new Exilim Engine 2.0 image processor, which slightly perked up the camera's performance over its older brother.
Despite the EX-Z77's low LCD pixel count, its 14:9 wide-screen aspect ratio offers plenty of room for a handy sidebar menu with which to control most of the camera's settings. You can quickly access commonly used controls such as ISO sensitivity and white balance by tapping up or down on the joypad and cycling through the sidebar's various slots.
Like the Exilim EX-S880, the EX-Z77 features Casio's new YouTube Capture mode among its myriad Best Shot scene presets. As its name suggests, YouTube Capture records video clips made specifically for uploading to YouTube. Fundamentally, it's just a 30fps VGA MPEG-4 movie mode, but it works well with the included YouTube Uploader software, which lets you post your videos online quickly without using YouTube's uploading page.