The headline feature of the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z1200 is its image resolution of 12 megapixels. This is the first compact to boast such a high resolution.
Impressively, the heavyweight pixel count, gigantic 71mm (2.8-inch) screen and a bunch of extra features are all housed in a package no bigger than many other compacts out there. You'll shell out £200 or more for the EX-Z1200, so we set out to discover if there's more to this camera than a high pixel tally.
The EX-Z1200 looks pretty nifty, and comes in silver or stealth-cam matte black. The metal body has an almost rubberised quality that feels strokeable yet sturdy. It's slim but feels quite heavy.
The 71mm screen dominates the back of the camera, with a click pad sat right on the edge of the body. Some of the extra real estate on the screen is taken up with an options sidebar that makes changing settings a simple matter of quickly scrolling up or down with the click pad and pressing OK.
This frees up your settings from being buried in the interface, and gives you control of your pictures without tedious button-pressing and menu-sifting. The sidebar can be turned off to fill the giant screen with image, but even with it on there's still loads of space for your subject.
If we were being picky, we would argue that there's one too many buttons on the top. The somewhat erratic functions of these three buttons, which change the play mode depending on the context, could have been combined into two. While it's good for Casio to give us the choice, we prefer one button that switches things on and then switches them off, over the choice of several buttons that behave in an inconsistent way.
The mechanical image-stabilisation method used by the EX-Z1200 is always good to see in a compact. This system fractionally moves the workings of the camera to compensate for the infinitesimal vibrations caused by naturally shaky hands. When taking snapshots without the benefit of a tripod, this kind of anti-shake system is essential.
The face-detection system finds the faces of up to ten subjects and adjusts the focus and exposure to suit them. In a neat twist, the EX-Z1200 not only finds and focuses on faces in the image, it also saves your nearest and dearest and picks them out first.
Other stock features are present and correct: video capture, in-camera photo editing and voice recording. The EX-Z1200 also takes shooting modes into a whole new realm, with no less than 33 different situations covered. This includes three different options for photographing water and four types of portrait. In the unlikely event you find yourself in a situation not covered, you can even save your own settings as an extra shooting mode for future use.
The camera comes with a user-friendly dock, which has a button for viewing pictures onscreen and another for connecting via USB. The camera must be docked to charge, but won't charge via USB.
With 12 million pixels jam-packed into every image, the EX-Z1200's images are packed with detail. Pictures are clear and sharp, and can be blown up to A3 or larger with ease. The amount of data in each photo also means that you can be ruthless with the crop tool, as there's enough detail in the image to cut unwanted areas and enlarge what's left without a loss of image quality.