Casio Exilim EX-Z280 Review

Many of the Z280's best selling points on paper don't quite hold water once you get your hands on it.
Many of the Z280's best selling points on paper don't quite hold water once you get your hands on it.
Many of the Z280's best selling points on paper don't quite hold water once you get your hands on it.

Highs

  • Inexpensive
  • Highly tweakable interface
  • Shoots 720p HD video
  • Acceptable photo quality

Lows

  • Plastic case feels cheap
  • HD video inferior to dedicated mini camcorders
  • Extremely poor, low-resolution display
  • Dynamic mode poorly trims out backgrounds
  • Blur due to lack of optical image stabilization

DT Editors' Rating

casio-exilim-z280-e72


Introduction

Casio’s newest entry-level Exilim offers consumers a number of attractive options for its $180 price tag, including 720p HD video capture, a large 2.7-inch screen, and a sleek-looking metallic design. Although we discovered that all of these flagship features come with their own asterisks, the Z280 remains a decent point-and-shoot for the budget-minded novice.

Features and Specs

Casio’s Z280 offers a 12.1-megapixel CCD hiding behind a 26mm wide-angle lens that offers 4x optical zoom. Key features include the ability to capture high-def 720p HD video with a single click, a large 2.7-inch rear display for framing up shots and flipping through options, and extras like dynamic shooting mode, which can automatically mask out images (like a person posing) from a background.

Design and Build Quality

Without a battery, the Z280 almost feels light enough to float away. Add the tiny lithium-ion cell and you might feel safer tying it to a helium balloon, but half the folks who picked it up still told us it felt cheap – a sentiment we have to agree with. An aluminum skin on the front helps sharpen first impressions for those on the other end of the camera, but we it doesn’t quite give off the solid vibe of Casio’s spendier card cameras, or even Canon PowerShots in the same price range.

In its defense, dimensions of 3.87 inches wide, 2.16 tall and 0.79 thick make it pleasantly pocketable, and the same 4 ounce weight (without battery) that we found slightly disturbing also makes it easy to carry around.

Interface

The Z280 uses the same common button layout you’ll find on most point-and-shoot cams: power button, shutter button and zoom control up top, four-way directional pad on the back beside the LCD. Individual eraserhead-sized buttons on the rear switch between video, still images and review modes, and a separate menu button opens up in-depth adjustments.

Casio Exilim Z280

The biggest departure from the norm may be Casio’s poorly truncated BS button, which opens up a gallery of “BestShot” photo modes. It contains presets for some incredibly niche shooting scenarios, like autumn leaves, as well as background-masking dynamic mode and Auto Best Shot, which attempts to choose the best mode for you.

We like Casio’s standard interface, which offers shortcuts to settings like flash, self timer and resolution on a tab to the side of the image preview, making them easier to view at a glance and change on the fly with the D-pad. It can handle up to eight different settings at once, which users can actually pick and choose from the full slate to get the ones they adjust most frequently. Novice users can also switch to Easy mode, which makes the list of options even smaller and less intimidating for beginners.

Accessories

The box for the Z280 includes the camera, a woven nylon lanyard, and A/V cables for connecting the camera to a standard-def TV (no HDMI output here). Rather than plugging directly into the wall, the tiny charger has its own lengthy AC cable for connecting to an outlet. It makes for a little more clutter to pack when traveling, but one less wall wart on the surge protector under a desk is always a plus at home, and since many laptop power supplies share the same AC cable, there’s a good possibility you’ll be able to leave the Casio cable behind in a pinch.

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