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Casio EXILIM EX-ZR100 Overview

Posted: 01/05/2011

(#5 in our 2011 Travel Zoom Shootout)

The Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-ZR100 is based around a 1/2.3-inch, 12.1 effective megapixel, backside illuminated CMOS image sensor coupled to a dual-core EXILIM Engine HS image processor. This combination allows the camera's standout feature -- the ability to capture 30 ten megapixel images at a whopping 40 frames per second rate. The sensor sits behind an EXILIM Optical branded 12.5x zoom lens which offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a generous 24mm wide angle to a powerful 300mm telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.0 to f/5.9 across the zoom range, and focusing is possible to a minimum of just 0.4 inches in Macro or Super Macro modes. Importantly, given the telephoto reach on offer, the Exilim ZR100 includes sensor-shift image stabilization to fight the effects of blur from camera shake.

Images are framed and reviewed on a 3.0" Super Clear TFT LCD display with 460,800 dots of resolution, equating to 320 x 480 pixels, with separate red, green and blue dots at each pixel location. As you'd expect given the extreme zoom range, the Casio ZR100 doesn't include any form of true optical viewfinder. It also lacks an electronic viewfinder, leaving the LCD as the only option on which to frame and review images or movies.

The Casio EXILIM ZR100 uses contrast detection autofocusing, and include face detection capability. Metering choices are multi-pattern, center weighted, and spot, and shutter speeds from 15 to 1/2,000 second are on offer. The ZR100 provides not only Program, Aperture- and Shutter-priority shooting modes, but also allows fully manual exposure control, as well as a Premium Auto mode,which detects the scene type, and can then automatically enable special features. The Casio EX-ZR100's ISO sensitivity ranges from a minimum of ISO 100 equivalent, through to a maximum of ISO 3,200 equivalent.

As well as still images, the Casio Exilim ZR100 can capture high definition videos at 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution, with a rate of 30 frames per second. Movies are recorded with stereo audio, stored in a MOV container, and use the modern, space-efficient H.264/AVC compression format. Data is stored on Secure Digital cards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. Power comes from a proprietary NP-130 lithium ion rechargeable battery. Information on internal memory, and on battery life, was not available at press time.

A couple of more unusual features on the Casio EXILIM EX-ZR100 are its Slide Panorama and HDR-ART modes, which capture multiple source images, combine them in camera, and then output a single image. The HDR-ART mode varies exposure between shots, then tweaks local contrast and saturation to produce a final image with increased dynamic range, and a bold, high-contrast look. Slide Panorama mode automatically creates a panorama from multiple images, and is intelligent enough to avoid using human faces and moving subjects when determining how images should be stitched together. Perhaps even more unusual is the Multi Frame SR Zoom mode, a 2x digital zoom which relies on multiple source images to provide improved image quality over a traditional digital zoom. Since this relies on capture of multiple shots, it's only appropriate for use with relatively static subjects.

US pricing for the Casio EXILIM EX-ZR100 is set at around $300, with availability expected from March 2011.

To see how the Casio EX-ZR100 compares to its competitors, see our Travel Zoom Shootout!