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Casio Exilim EX-Z2000 review: Casio Exilim EX-Z2000

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The Good Handy 5x wide-angle zoom; stainless steel construction; 580-shot battery life.

The Bad Streaky LCD display; no use of the autofocus or zoom in the movie mode; harsh noise reduction.

The Bottom Line The Casio Exilim EX-Z2000 isn't quite as impressive as it looks on paper. The 'premium auto' mode might do some good (it's not easy to tell), but it also slows the camera down, and the 720p movie mode is pretty limited without use of the autofocus and zoom. The picture quality isn't bad, but it's compromised by heavy noise reduction. In the end, the low price is actually about right

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6.5 Overall

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Cameras that combine good quality and value for money can be hard to find, but the 14.1-megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z2000 looks like it could be one. It has a stainless steel body, 5x wide-angle zoom, 720p high-definition movie mode, a 580-shot battery life, and a high-resolution, 76mm (3-inch) LCD display. Despite all this, you should be able to pick it up for about £150.

À la modes
For a camera in this price bracket, the Z2000 is very well made. It's a tad larger than the average Casio compact camera, but that allows room for the bigger LCD and chunkier-than-usual controls. A rather small power button sits on the top, and you use the 'auto' button next to it to switch between standard auto operation and Casio's new 'premium auto' mode. Just to the right of that is a button for cycling through the vast range of 'best shot' scene modes.

Coarse detail is rendered very crisply, but, even at ISO 64, the Z2000's noise reduction skims off the low-contrast textures in this blue art board. That's what happens when you combine small sensors with high megapixel counts, alas, but here it's just a little too obvious (click image to enlarge)

The premium auto mode is surrounded by the usual technological smokescreen -- Casio says something about independently analysing exposure conditions and automatically configuring optimal settings -- but it appears to be much the same as the automatic scene-mode-selection feature provided on the vast majority of today's compacts. Whatever it's doing, it takes the camera between 1 and 3 seconds to process images taken in this mode. It seems particularly effective at lightening the darker areas of backlit shots, though, and produces particularly vivid scenery shots.

When you've finished playing with that mode, you might want to try out the 'dynamic photo' mode. This has been knocking around on Casio compacts for a while. You shoot a picture of your subject and then take another shot with the subject out of the frame, so you've just got the background. The camera can then subtract your subject from the background so that you can superimpose the subject on another image. You can even create animations, thanks to the high-speed 'continuous shutter' mode. It's clever, but it's also a pretty time-consuming process for a novelty feature you might use just a couple of times.

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