Future user of the Casio Exilim Z850 may look forward to a wide array of options and possibilities. As mentioned earlier, Casio have unleashed a truly impressive amount of functionality onto their Casio Exilim Z850. The camera uses a processor, developed by Casio themselves, which has become both smaller and considerably more powerful over the generations. This extra power is needed mainly to maintain the speed in combination with the high resolution. It should be said that Casio more than manage to do so! The start-up speed, the shutter release lag and the image processing; all prove to be perfectly up to par, and the same can in fact be said for browsing through the menu and reviewing the stored images (low resolution preview 10 fps). All in all, the Casio Exilim EX Z850 reacts instantly, which ensures the camera is particularly pleasant to operate.
Casio Exilim EX-Z850 - Continuous shooting
In addition to the capturing of single images, the Casio Exilim Z850 also enables you to register fast moments quite decently indeed. I used the Casio Z850 in combination with a SanDisk SD Ultra II Plus memory card, which allowed me to achieve a continuous recording speed of over 3 images per second, with a maximum of 3 images (8 Megapixels and highest quality compression). It takes approximately 2.5 seconds to empty the buffer, after which you are able to capture your next series. An excellent performance indeed, although it remains a pity that Casio have not been able to increasing the maximum amount of 3 images. Upon lowering the resolution, the speed and the maximum amount of images remain unaltered. This does mean, however, that the buffer is emptied slightly faster.
Casio Exilim EX Z850 - Internal flash
Generally, a camera will capture a series of images in the continuous shooting mode without use of the flash. However, Casio have succeeded in enabling the user to capture a series of images whilst using the internal flash. Flash images can be taken with the same speed and a maximum of 3 fps; a simply unique feature! Although this does seem to put certain limitations on the effective range of the flash, it certainly remains an outstanding performance. Besides the waiting time for the emptying of the buffer, the user should keep in mind that the camera requires some time to re-charge the flash. This takes approximately 3.5 seconds.
Casio EX-Z850 - Automatic white balance
The Casio EX Z850 is equipped with an automatic white balance, and an additional six settings, such as Fluorescent, Incandescent and a manual setting. Overall, the automatic white balance produces an excellent result that is virtually free of colour cast. Reasonably neutral and even strongly present fluorescent light is properly filtered. The white balance can be accessed through the quick button on the side of the camera, and can be set according to your own preference. Furthermore, the Casio Exilim Z850 camera also allows you to alter the white balance afterwards. Although the camera only stores the images in JPEG format, you do have the option to apply a correction to the stored images. According to the height of the resolution, editing your images afterwards can take quite a bit of time; varying from a few seconds to over 10 seconds. Although this is without question an interesting editing function, it seems more logical to process the images via a notebook or pc.
Casio Exilim Z850 - 3x optical zoom
The Casio Exilim EX Z850 features a standard 3x optical zoom, which has a focal point of 38 - 114 mm (equivalent of a 35 mm camera). While this range easily suffices for average use, I would still prefer to see a little more wide-angle or tele. The zoom lens performs very well indeed. There is a certain amount of distortion present in a wide-angle image, but this is not more than we generally encounter, and certainly not noticeable at first glance. Upon zooming in lightly, the distortion disappears virtually entirely. The sharpness is excellent, and shows only a slight blur towards the corners. Again, we find nothing abnormal here. As far as the notorious chromatic aberration is concerned; it can be found primarily in images that have overexposed subjects, particularly in wide-angle images.
Casio Exilim Z850 camera - Play mode
Besides white balance, the camera's play mode also offers functions such as brightness and colour correction. Certain images may benefit from a correction, although it is worth considering whether you are willing to invest the time; it should be said it takes quite a few seconds to correct a single image, something that could, of course, also be done via a PC afterwards.
Casio Exilim EX-Z850 - ISO settings
Standard, the Casio Exilim EX Z850 digital camera offers a range of ISO settings that run from 50 up to 400 ISO. The amount of noise from 50 up to 400 ISO is excellent, and results in an image of superb quality. In addition, the camera offers the option of higher ISO values; 800 and 1600 ISO in fact, but these can only be used via the pre-programmed High Sensitivity scene. The application of high ISO values in compact cameras such as the Casio Z850 isn't exactly cause for celebration. The noise is dominantly present, and although some images taken with 800 ISO can still be used for a reasonable print, the 1600 ISO images are utterly unsuitable for use. A great deal of detail is lost, and the noise reduction really does need to step up another gear in order to keep things fairly presentable. Personally, I think the sole solution to this would be the use of an optical image stabiliser, and keeping the noise as low as possible, so that images can still be captured when working with slow shutter speeds. The digital image stabilisation that Casio have opted for isn't exactly my favourite. The image stabiliser works in combination with an automatic ISO management, which means that by increasing the ISO values (larger risk of noise), a faster shutter speed can be achieved, which results in less chance of jitter caused by movement of the photographer's hand. I hope that Casio will seize the opportunity to equip their future generation of Exilim cameras with optical image stabilisation, which gives a camera a definite surplus value.