Bulky cradle ruins the impact of slender design

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 July, 2004, 12:00am

Product: Casio Exilim EX-Z40
Price: $3,280
Pros: Small, stlyish, nice display
Cons: Average photos, cumbersome cradle

The natural trend for consumer cameras is to go smaller. And small is one thing that Casio has always been good at. The Casio Exilim EX-Z40 is an attractive and compact camera that slips into a pocket and takes minutes to learn how to use.

The four-megapixel camera uses the same lens Panasonic uses in its compact Optio series - the SMC Pentax Lens Zoom lens. This offers a 5.8mm to 17.4mm 3x optical range, which Casio says is equivalent to 35mm to 105mm on a 35mm film camera.

The lens is impressive for a compact camera but, as the Optio has been around for a year, it seems surprising the technology has not advanced.

Despite the lens, we were not blown away by the picture quality. The pictures are not too bad for a pocket camera, but most people would probably expect clearer, more detailed results from a four-megapixel device.

On the back of the camera is a lovely, two-inch LCD, a nice change from the tiny screens often found on cameras in this segment. The display can also be used for tiny slideshows and users can zoom in on pictures or videos.

The menus are simple to use and offer some advanced features such as selectable spot autofocus, focus lock and white balance controls.

The camera comes with 8.7 megabytes of onboard memory and uses the Secure Digital/Multimedia Card standard. Pictures are taken in jpeg in five sizes, ranging from 2,304x1,728 pixels down to 640x480 pixels, while you can record AVI videos at 320x240 pixels.

If you are into water sports, Casio has also announced an underwater housing for the EX-Z40 that can apparently withstand dives of up to 40 metres. Of course, at that depth, the Exilim's rather small flash will have a bit of trouble, but it might suit kayakers or snorklers.

One feature I did not like was the fact that pictures cannot be transferred to a printer or PC by cable or wirelessly. Instead, the Exilim has to be plugged into a proprietary cradle, which just means extra junk to carry around.