Quirks can make or break a relationship. He or she may be attractive, smart, funny and have plenty of good qualities, but unsightly habits such as tooth-clicking or nail-biting may be enough to push you over the edge. Technology is the same way -- a camera may be attractive and fast, but those irritating flaws can be enough to drive you mad. Casio's 7-megapixel Exilim EX-Z70 is one such quirky camera.
At 136g and only 20mm thick, the Z70's slim, metal body is the right size to fit into your pocket. Though the size is right, you should still be very careful when pocketing this camera. Besides the tiny power button on the top, the two flat record and playback buttons on the camera's backside can also turn it on. If your pocket is too tight or if you don't pay attention, you could drain the camera's battery or have the lens pop out at inopportune times.
The Z70 comes with the same handy features standard on all of Casio's Exilim cameras. Digital-image stabilisation helps reduce shake and blur when using the camera's 38-to-114mm-equivalent lens. However, that feature shouldn't be confused with the more effective optical or mechanical-image stabilisation offered by some other camera makers.
Casio's Best Shot modes offer users more than two dozen scene presets, including the auction-optimising eBay mode. Unfortunately, the camera can reach only ISO 400 for low-light and high-speed shooting. It also lacks an optical viewfinder, forcing users to frame shots and review images on the camera's grainy and washed-out 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen.
Despite a few quirks, the Z70's performance is excellent. The camera powers up in only 1.2 seconds and can take a shot every 1.3 seconds. With the onboard flash enabled, shot-to-shot time increases to 2.5 seconds. Shutter lag measures a speedy 0.4 seconds in bright light and only 1 second in dim light. Burst mode was acceptable, pumping out 27 full-resolution images in 33 seconds for a rate of 0.8 frames per second.
A Quick Shot mode lets you snap off shots even more rapidly by foregoing focusing, but when you get home to edit, email or print them, they'll be nothing but grainy blurs. Press the shutter release down halfway until it achieves a focus lock, then take the shot. It takes some getting used to, but once you get into the rhythm, you'll be taking quick, focused photos.
The Z70 handles exposure and colour very well, but its images are otherwise disappointing. Fine details appear soft even in very good circumstances, and noticeable processing artefacts and image noise further obscure the picture. We also noticed some distinct lens distortion at both the wide-angle and telephoto ends of the camera's zoom.
Though its slim size and price tag make it quite appealing, the Casio Exilim EX-Z70 has a few notable quirks to overcome. If you don't mind getting used to shooting in a certain rhythm or gingerly carrying the camera in your pocket, the Z70 could be a nice, responsive choice. Instead of the Z70, you might consider the superior ultracompact Canon Digital IXUS 60. This 6-megapixel camera is slightly thicker than the Z70, but its image quality is far superior.Additional editing by Elizabeth Griffin