Casio EX-ZR400: Lab Test and Comments

The Casio EX-ZR400 is a compact camera with a high range 12.5X zoom lens that offers a range of 24 to 300 mm (35mm film equivalent).

The Casio EX-ZR400 is a compact camera with 16 MP resolution, a 12,5x zoom lens, a lot of scene modes and art effects. It is also a very fast compact model, with high-speed continuous mode, very shortshutter delay, and high framing rate video for special motion effects.

It is a standard speed lens that has a maximum aperture of f3.5 that drops to f/5.6 as focal length is increased. It offers an integrated image stabilizer based on sensor shift technology.

The Casio lens offers focal length settings for wide angle shots from 24mm (35mm film equivalent) up to 300mm. The lens system is very compact and nearly fully integrated into the body for easy carrying.

The camera offers all standard exposure modes like P, S, A and M plus an extreme number of scene modes and additional art effect modes (33 modes in total) including panorama mode, best shot selector, HDR and many more.

The Casio EX-ZR400 can be used with all kind of SD cards including Eye-Fi cards for wireless image data transfer. It supports Eye-Fi cards in its menu, which allows an easy handling and setup of WLAN functionality.

TheEX-ZR400 is very fast and has a short startup time (only 0.5 seconds) and minimal shutter release delay (0.2 seconds, including focusing and exposuremetering, and as fast as 0.01 seconds when using pre-focus). It also has high speed burst modes with up to 30 frames per second at full resolution (16 MP). The speed results are impressive because the AF system is still active in burst mode; zoom and image crop via aspect ratio changes, however, are deactivated. This speed exyends to video shooting and the camera offers high speed videomodes for extreme slow motion effects. One caveat: while standard videos are recorded with full HD resolution, slow motion videos are reduced to VGA resolution and at 1000 frames per second resolution is 224 x 64 pixels. Nevertheless, this speed of recording helps create impressive time and motion studies.

A special function key on the top starts the high speed continuous shots. The mode dial allows access to standard exposure modes (including aperture and shutter speed priority) and many effect and art filter programs.

The Casio offers an additional shutter release button on ithe back for video recording. In video mode the AF system is activated and the user can use the motorizedzoom, in essence making it a very compact camcorder.

The large LCD on the back (3 inches) has an average resolution of 460,000 RGB dots. The camera uses a standard control field (4 way) for menu navigation and setup. A second shutter release button on the back starts video recording.

Casio specifies the capacity of the rechargeable battery as being up to 515 images. During our tests we shot nearly 450 images with a fully loaded rechargeablebattery, which is still a remarkably good result. The Casio doesn’t use a WiFi system for camera remote control or wireless image data transfer but supports Eye-Fi WiFi SD cards in its setup menu.

Comments on Image Quality
The color reproduction is very good. The automatic white balance system had no problem with any light situations we tested. Even when images were made under fluorescent light there was only alight shift into the blue direction and cooler colors. Skin tone reproduction had a slightly high magenta rate, which causes a drift into the pink colored area and what could be described as a “porcelain doll look” under all lighting conditions.

The decreasing sharpness in the image corners is clearly visible in the test shot. The camera showed a good performance in color tests. The automatic white balance system created a very realistic look in the gray background of the standard test box and natural looking colors in the Kodak Color Control Patches.

Thesaturation is very low for a compact camera. At 96.39 is even lower than inimages taken with most SLR cameras. Only some blue nuances show a boost into the magenta and more highly saturated areas.

Sharpness: The camera showed an average result in our resolution tests. It reproduced the test chart with 2777 lines while the nominal sensor resolution is 3456 lines in picture height. The look of the images is a bit softer than images made with comparable cameras because 1) the noise filtering isn’t as extreme as in other compact models and 2) the image corners are show a clearly visible drop of sharpness in the corners. The sharpness in the test shot of our model shot is good. Differentiation of single hairs and the structure of the red fabric is good.

The Casio EX-ZR400 showed only a minor shift into cooler colors in our portrait shot. Skin tones display a somewhat highmagenta rate.

Noise: The Casio EX-ZR400 showed an average performance in our noise tests. The luminance noise results in lower ISO speed settings are on the same level as the results of many other compact cameraswith a 1Ž2.33 inch sensor and 16 MP resolution. The filtering against color noise is very intense but doesn’t show typical artifacts and the “artifical look” sometimes displayed in images taken with other compact cameras. Image quality is on agood level up to ISO 800; higher ISO speeds yield images more in common with other compact cameras. Dynamic range is on a low level. The Casio achieved a maximum of only 9.3 f-stops. When using higher ISO speed settings this result drops remarkably.

+ extremely fast compact camera
+ very short shutter delay, fast AF system
+ high speed images and videos

- missing optical or electronic viewfinder
- decreasing sharpness in image corners
- missing Raw mode

Price: about $325