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Casio refreshes budget-friendly ultracompacts

Announced for PMA 2010, the S7 and Z35 are updates to two popular inexpensive point-and-shoots.

Casio EX-S7 (left) and EX-Z35 Casio

Though budget cameras aren't exciting news, they are what a lot of people end up buying--especially as gifts for friends and family. Casio's low-end models are better than most, too, which is what makes them even more worthy of coverage. The EX-S7 and EX-Z35 are updates to 2009's EX-Z33 and EX-S5.

The 12-megapixel S7 uses Casio's Exilim Engine 5, improving image processing and battery life (it uses a rechargeable lithium ion). On its front is a 3x f3.1-5.6 36-107mm-equivalent lens. On its back is a 2.7-inch LCD and, along with the camera's other controls, is a one-touch movie record button for capturing clips at resolutions up to 720p to SD/SDHC cards. The S7 also gets Casio's Dynamic Photo mode that lets you clip people or things out of one photo and insert them in another.

The EX-Z35 is 12 megapixels, too, and has the same lens as the S7. It has a smaller, 2.5-inch LCD, but retains the one-touch movie-record button. However, movies are recorded in 848x480- (wide screen), 640x480-, or 320x240-pixel resolution. It's also powered by a lithium ion rechargeable battery and uses SD/SDHC cards for storage.

The S7 comes out in the spring for a cost of $139.99 and is available in black and purple. The EX-Z35, available in March, will cost about $110 and will be offered in black, silver, pink, purple, and blue versions.