Review: Casio ZR1000: An Expert Exilim

Our score: 3/5
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June 14, 2013 9:59 PM
Published: February 5, 2013 2:00 PM
By Morgane Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
Following the nice, but rather basic Exilim ZR200, Casio is back with the ZR1000—a model that stands far apart from other Exilims thanks to its tilt-screen, RAW mode and customisable settings wheel around the lens. But while the design may have changed and the ZR1000 may have a few new features, it still inherits some key specs from the ZR200, namely the 16-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and 24-300 mm lens.

Handling4/5



Although the ZR1000 definitely still looks like an Exilim ZR-series camera, some aspects of the design and build have changed in this new model. First, there's a tilt-screen that flips 180°upwards (upwards only). This uses a fairly basic hinge system that may cause a few problems over time, especially since you have to practically force the screen up to get it moving. Like the Canon S110, the ZR1000 has a control ring around the lens that can be set to adjust several of the camera's settings, such as the zoom, exposure, white balance, sensitivity, focus, and the strength of the "Make Up Mode" filter. You can switch between these using the ring around the four-way arrows.

The Casio Exilim ZR1000 generally handles well. The body has been designed to help keep it firmly gripped in your hands, although some kind of rubber grip-strip on the front of the camera could have made a nice addition. The only real downer here is the quality of the plastics used. They may look nice at first glance, but you'll no doubt become a bit more sceptical when you start using the lens ring.

The graphic interface is clear. The layout actually feels similar to what we've seen in certain Samsung devices, especially in the "quick settings" menu. This camera does have A, S and M modes (although aperture settings are quite limited), but the ZR1000 seems more geared up for use in its various auto modes: BS, HDR, ART, P, Intelligent Auto.

Casio ZR1000 review - controls and screen

Gamma isn't well balanced in the ZR1000 screen, since light greys soon start to look washed out. Plus, the colour temperature of 7,700 k is too blue and the average Delta E of 7.5 is too high for onscreen colours to be accurate (this should be under 3). You should bear this in mind when viewing back and deleting photos on the camera screen.

Responsiveness4/5



The only let-down here is the start-up time. Once you hit the "On" button, the ZR1000 takes a bit of time to sort itself out. In fact, it takes almost three seconds to take a first photo! Although we know that superzooms can rarely do that in less than two seconds, three seconds is still a bit too long when you're desperately trying to capture the action. However, once it's up and running, the Casio ZR1000 focuses quickly and saves photos quickly.


Casio ZR1000 review - speed, responsiveness

The burst mode is typically very good. This seems to be lifted straight out of Casio's ZR100 and can be set from 3 to 30 fps. For more information, take a look at our review of the Casio ZR100.

Note that the burst mode and the RAW mode are only available when the mode-selection dial is set to "BS". However, seeing as this only allows you to activate one of these options at a time, you can't select both RAW and continuous shooting.

Picture Quality2/5



Seeing as both cameras have the same electronics and lens, the ZR1000 should give similar quality results to the ZR200.

Casio ZR1000 review - ISO test, picture quality

We were therefore pretty surprised to see that the ISO results were really quite different. In fact, Casio seems to have taken a step backwards with quality in this camera! Even at first glance, the drop in dynamic range and contrast in the ZR1000 test shots is immediately visible. Plus, the image looks slightly hazy, even at low ISO settings (80-200 ISO). And things only get worse as the ISO setting increases. At 400 ISO, a heavy does of speckling noise sets in and wipes out finer detail. At 1600 ISO picture quality deteriorates markedly, with heavy smoothing and a generally blurred image.

Note that we tested two different ZR1000 cameras to double-check our results!

The lens is disappointing at wide-angle. Images lack sharpness in the middle of the frame and around the edges. And things get even worse at telephoto, as detail is drowned out by the lack of sharpness, high levels of noise and some pretty poor Jpeg compression.

Video3/5



The video mode in the ZR1000 is similar to that of the ZR200, but the problems we saw with the lens and sensor in photo mode obviously come into play here too. As a result, video images lack sharpness and contrast. The autofocus can also be a bit sluggish in video mode and sometimes has trouble locking on to a subject. Note that the ZR1000 lets you take a series of shots in burst mode while filming video.

The stereo effect isn't particularly audible here and distinct noises tend to jumble together. Plus, you can hear the noise of the zoom lens working in quieter scenes.

Finally, the ZR1000 doesn't use the whole width of the sensor in video mode. As a result, you lose 5° from the field of view. This gives an equivalent wide-angle of 28 mm instead of 24 mm.
3/5 Casio Exilim ZR1000 DigitalVersus 2013-02-05 15:00:00

Pros

  • Nice design and handling (settings ring around the lens)
  • High-speed video and burst mode
  • PSAM modes
  • Fast autofocus

Cons

  • Quality of screen is disappointing
  • Tilt-screen can be hard to work (stiff hinges)
  • Slow to start up

Conclusion

The Casio Exilim ZR1000 is a superzoom compact that's fun, nice to use and fast once it's up and running. The tilt-screen is a good feature too. However, picture quality is really quite disappointing. And that's all the more surprising since the ZR1000 shares many of its specs with previous Exilim models. It therefore really should have done better.

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