The 12.1-megapixel Casio Exilim EX-ZR10 comes in at around £250. These days, it's possible to pick up a higher-resolution camera for much less, but it isn't always about the pixels. The ZR10 has a longer-than-average zoom and offers a number of eye-catching features, including fast continuous-shooting modes and 1080p high-definition video capture. Could it be the compact camera that serious photography enthusiasts have been waiting for?
Not so grand design
The ZR10 has a relatively non-descript design, and is available in three colours -- black, silver and pink. The build quality is fair. We wouldn't say it feels like a prestige product, but it certainly doesn't feel poorly or cheaply constructed. For a non-touchscreen camera, buttons are kept to a bare minimum. A large, 3-inch, glossy TFT display takes up most of the rear of the body.
USB and mini-HDMI sockets can be found hiding under a plastic flap on one side of the unit, and a spring-loaded trapdoor allows access to the battery bay and SDXC-compatible memory-card slot underneath the device. On the top of the unit is a stereo microphone that's better than most at capturing sound when filming video.
A versatile lens is mounted on the front. At the wide end, you get the equivalent of around 28mm focal length, which is useful for group shots. In addition, a decent 7x optical zoom gives the ZR10 slightly more reach than most rivals.
Inside, a 1/2.3-inch, back-illuminated CMOS chip does all the image-sensing business. As well as 12.1-megapixel snaps, it can deliver 1080p high-definition video at 30 frames per second. The camera's image is stabilised using a CMOS-shift technique, which generally seems to be quite effective, even at full zoom.
Quick on the draw
Quick and easy to use, the ZR10 is ready to go within around 2 seconds of pressing the power button. Two main shooting modes are available -- auto and premium auto. The standard auto mode is marginally faster, while the premium auto mode offers slightly better image quality and automatically determines and compensates for an increased number of environmental variables. In practice, we found the difference to be fairly negligible so, if speed is a priority, stick with the straightforward auto mode and you'll be fine.
As with most compacts, manual controls are available but aren't particularly practical, given that there are no dedicated buttons or dials. The menus are, however, very easy to navigate and there are plenty of settings to play with if you're keen to experiment. For example, the camera's top-mounted 'HS' button gives you direct access to a number of interesting shooting modes.