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.

Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Photography

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Photography

Fujifilm XP140 squeezes more durability, low-light ability into a waterproof cam

Fujifilm's waterproof compact can now head even further underwater. The Fujifilm XP140 features several upgrades, including a more durable body, a wider ISO range for low light, and expanded auto modes.
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.
Photography

Olympus packs an enormous zoom ability in its latest interchangeable lens

The Olympus Digital ED M.Zuiko 12-200mm F/3.5-6.3 has the widest zoom range of any interchangeable lens with a 16.6x zoom. The lens, which covers a 24-400mm equivalent, is also weather sealed.
Photography

Nikon brings a classic workhorse lens to the Z series with new 24-70mm f/2.8 S

The Nikon Z series finally has a bright zoom available without an adapter. The Nikkor Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S offers new coatings and more customizable controls in a smaller, lighter body than the comparable F-mount lens.
Mobile

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.
Photography

Nikon will bring eye-detection autofocus to the Z6 and Z7 in May

An upcoming firmware update will bring Eye AF to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 -- along with improved autofocus performance in low light. The update will also give the cameras support for the CFexpress format.
Photography

Fujifilm’s X-T30 is a semi-pro, feature-rich camera that’s affordable to boot

Fujifilm's newest mirrorless camera delivers the premium features of the X-T3 without the premium price, giving aspiring enthusiasts a lower-cost option that can still match the image quality of Fuji's flagship.
Photography

From f/1.2 primes to the mysterious DS, here are Canon’s upcoming RF lenses

Canon's EOS R mirrorless series will gain six new lenses this year. Canon just shared a list of six lenses under development, including four zooms and two prime lenses. One has a mysterious new feature called Defocus Smoothing.
Photography

Photography news: Wacom’s slimmer pen, Leica’s cinema special edition

In this week's photography news, Wacom launches a new slimmer pen for pro users. Leica's upcoming M10-P is designed for cinema, inside and out, with built-in cinema modes in the updated software.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Be careful who you bokeh, jokes Apple’s latest iPhone ad

With iPhone sales under pressure, you'd think there wouldn't be much to laugh about at Apple HQ. But the company has seen fit to inject some humor into its latest handset ad, which highlights the camera's Depth Control feature.
Photography

The Panasonic FZ1000 gets a much-needed update alongside the smaller ZS80 zoom

Panasonic's 2014 superzoom camera with a larger sensor has finally seen an update. The new Panasonic FZ1000 II has a sensor that's better for low light, more physical controls, and new 4K Photo Mode features.