In digital cameras, a higher megapixel count represents a higher image resolution, and this explains why a 4.0-megapixel camera is typically more capable of producing print outs that are significantly sharper (by capturing more details) than say a 3.0 or 2.0-megapixel camera. Right at the top end is the new 10.1-megapixel Casio EX-Z1000 digital compact.
First thing first, the EX-Z1000 doesn't manipulate megapixel count using interpolation; it is capable of capturing 10.1 million pixels per shot. Prior to the arrival of the EX-Z1000 however, only high-end DSLR and prosumer cameras like the Nikon D200 and Sony R1 are endowed with 10.0-megapixel image sensors. Suffice to say, the EX-Z1000 is the first ultra compact camera to pack an image sensor of equivalent caliber.
The EX-Z1000 looks deceivingly simple. Compared to the Casio EX-Z850, the EX-Z1000 has dropped the viewfinder and mode dial options in favor of a larger 2.8-inch, 230k-color wide format LCD screen. The camera has a built-in direct power-on mode that allows users to quickly fire up the camera by pressing either the power on/off button, camera or playback mode button. Though this convenient feature lets you power up the camera instantaneously, the chances of accidentally starting the camera are effectively higher too.
Up to 37 pre-configured scenes are available and these are selectable via a dedicated "BS" button located below the circular navigation button. For those new to digital photography, the EX-Z1000 has several auto modes to shorten their learning curve.
With the exception of the auto-ISO mode, most other functions are straightforward and easy enough to be utilized out of the box. As mentioned, the EX-Z1000 has an odd difficulty in automatically adjusting ISO ratings to correctly match the environment it is in from time to time. In environments where lighting was sufficiently strong for an ISO rating of 50 to be utilized, ISO 800 was surprisingly and unnecessarily engaged instead. Needless to say, such an oddity is very likely to produce overexposed picture with excessive noise.
A gripe we had with the camera was that the video recording is limited to 25fps at 640 x 480 pixels and not at a smoother 30fps rating. In playback mode however, users are free to adjust the brightness and display mode of the LCD monitor from Dynamic, Vivid, Real, Night or Power Saving. One interesting feature of the EX-Z1000 is the Zoom Continuous Shutter mode that works by displaying both wide angle and telephoto shots on the LCD screen and to have both shots taken simultaneously with just one press of the shutter button.
On the whole, we were very impressed with the level of details and color reproduction shown by the new Casio EX-Z1000. In most cases, images came out very well, especially so for night shots. As for day pictures, color reproduction was slightly warmer, which may or may not suit the preference of everyone. But with a suggested retail price of US$399.99, the EX-Z1000 is clearly a quality digital compact that's also value for money. It's just a pity that there is no built-in optical image stabilization, otherwise for which the EX-Z1000 would make an excellent backup camera for even professional magazine photographers.