Review: Casio Exilim EX-ZR200

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Published: April 24, 2012 9:21 AM
By Morgane Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
With its pleasant design and perfectly respectable performances, the Casio Exilim ZR100 was a decent superzoom compact. That model has now been updated for 2012 in the form of the ZR200. The design and handling haven't changed much, as the ZR200 is still a fairly classic compact. But while it uses the same 12.5x (24-300 mm f/3.0-5.9) lens as the ZR100, the 2012 model has been treated to a 16-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor—a combo already seen in the Olympus SZ-20.

Handling4/5

The ZR200 has almost exactly the same body as its predecessor, the ZR100. It's therefore a similar camera to handle, offering decent grip, even if a deeper handle would make things more comfortable still—especially for your middle finger.

The interface is plain but clear. Although the RZ200 has A, S and M modes (with limited aperture settings), this compact is mainly designed for use in Auto mode. Note that in P mode, the camera automatically adapts its settings in relation to the scene you're shooting—it's effectively the 'Intelligent Auto' mode seen in other manufacturers' models.

Casio Exilim ZR200 review - screen

The RZ200 screen is lifted straight out of the previous model. It tends to wash out light greys and colours aren't reproduced particularly accurately (Delta E = 9), but the colour temperature is nice and consistent at 6500 K.

Battery life is good in this camera, since, as usual, Casio has loaded its compact with a high-power battery. We didn't check the exact number of photos we could snap on one charge, but this battery will easily last for a few days of relatively low intensity use.

Speed5/5

One major strong point of the Casio ZR200 is its responsiveness. This model is a little faster than last year's ZR100, and the start-up time in particular has been pushed down under two seconds, which makes for a five-star score in this part of the review. Nice work Casio!

Casio Exilim ZR200 review - responsiveness
 
The good news doesn't stop there either, as the autofocus works in under half a second in good light and not much more in lower-light conditions.

Photo-to-photo turnaround time is good and, like in the ZR100, the continuous shooting mode can be set to snap 3 to 30 frames per second. For more information on that feature, see our review of the Casio ZR100.

Image Quality4/5

This Casio camera shares a whole load of tech specs with the Olympus SZ-20 (16-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and 24-300 mm lens) but pictures taken with the two cameras look surprisingly different.

Casio Exilim ZR200 review - ISO picture quality

On the whole, picture quality is decent enough for shots taken both indoors and outdoors. The automatic white balance does its job well too, although there is a light red overtone (faces, in particular, can end up looking a bit pink).

But in spite of their strikingly similar electronics, the Casio and Olympus cameras clearly use different image processing systems. At low ISO settings, the accentuation of lines and details looks more natural in the ZR200 than in the SZ-20. Upwards of 800 ISO, shots taken by the ZR200 have more noise but also preserve more fine detail, while those snapped with the SZ-20 are more heavily smoothed to wipe out noise. It's therefore over to you to pick which approach to image processing you prefer.


Lens sharpness isn't consistent across the frame at wide-angle settings, as the middle of the frame is sharp while the edges are hazy. At telephoto settings, quality is more consistent ... but that's mainly because the centre of the frame loses some of its sharpness! Finally, at the maximum zoom setting, the entire frame looks sharp, although you may spot a few halos in highly contrasted parts of the picture.

Video4/5

Like the ZR100, the ZR200 films Full HD in the H.264 format with stereo sound. The image is sharp and contrast is handled well, as bright, light zones don't end up being over-exposed. Audio is the only slight disappointment, as the stereo effect (usually picked out by a train set in our test video) isn't all that noticeable and distinct sounds tend to get a bit jumbled up. The zoom motor can also be heard when filming particularly quiet scenes.

Another thing this model has in common with its predecessor is that it doesn't use the full width of the sensor in video mode. This results in a 5° loss from the field of view in wide-angle mode, which equates to a 28 mm equivalent rather than 24 mm in photo mode.

Casio Exilim ZR200 review - video frame
4/5 Casio Exilim EX-ZR200 DigitalVersus 2012-04-24 10:21:00

Pros

  • Good build quality, excellent battery life
  • High-speed options (video and burst mode)
  • Very responsive
  • Decent picture quality, especially at telephoto settings and in video mode
  • A, S, M modes

Cons

  • Lens could give more consistent sharpness at wide-angle settings
  • Noise present at 800 ISO
  • Stereo effect barely audible
  • Limited aperture settings

Conclusion

The Casio Exilim ZR200 is a superzoom compact that's fun and generally pleasant to use. It's fast to start up and takes photos with good general performances. Picture quality is decent too, but we can't help thinking this camera is lacking some touch of originality to help it stand out from the wealth of other models on the market.

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