Small size, quick operation, and long battery life make the Casio EX-Z1080 a great compact camera. It comes in pink, blue, black, and silver.

The first thing you notice on the £135, 10.1Mp EX-Z1080 we tested is its metallic-pink shell and a big sticker touting its YouTube-capture mode - suggesting the camera's target buyer is young and female. If you don't fit that demographic, the Casio EX-Z1080 also comes in blue, black, and silver.

Also notable is the Casio EX-Z1080's 2.6in LCD, which fits within a 3.5in-wide body. But looks are deceiving. A narrow column on the wide-format screen's left side holds the camera's settings menu, so the viewing area during shooting is more like 2.25in.

That said, we found the Casio EX-Z1080's viewfinder exceptionally clear and sharp, even in bright sunlight, making it a pleasure to use. That's important, because the pocket-sized Z1080 does not include an optical viewfinder.

With the LCD taking up nearly all of the Casio EX-Z1080's back side, there's little real estate for hard controls - you get only tiny menu and Best Shot (scene mode) buttons, plus a four-way thumb-control button, all to the right of the LCD. Fortunately, a large shutter-release button is on top, surrounded by a comfortable-to-operate zoom lever.

Changing basic camera settings is much like the efficient Function control you find in Canon point-and-shoots: press the Set button; use the up/down cursor buttons to roll through settings categories (ISO, focus, exposure value, and so on); then scroll though your choices with the right/left cursor buttons. A list of the current settings remains visible on the Casio EX-Z1080's screen at all times. It's quick and effective.

We also like the ability to assign preferred functions (such as white balance) to the right/left cursor buttons. The only oddity is the duplication of the Set button's functions in the Casio EX-Z1080's more traditional Menu screens - an unneeded complication.

Scene modes on the Casio EX-Z1080 are called Best Shots. Using the tiny button on the back, you can select modes for photographing portraits or pets, plus more esoteric options such as old-photo colour correction (take a picture of an old photo, and the Exilim tries to restore its colors) and YouTube-optimised video recording.

Dock the camera in its cradle and press the USB button, and the included photo software detects video files and lets you upload them to the YouTube site in a couple of clicks. In all, the Casio EX-Z1080 has a daunting 41 special settings, but it presents them nicely with colourful samples and short descriptions.

NEXT PAGE: photo quality, software and expert verdict > >

Photo quality is middle-of-the-pack, compared with other point-and-shoots tested recently. Both in-the-lab and in-the-wild images looked sharp and accurately exposed, with minimal noise (colour speckling) and pleasing, though not especially saturated, colours. The only knock on our lab shots (under artificial light) was a slight green tinge to our neutral-gray background.

We found the photo software bundled with the Casio EX-Z1080 fairly useless. It creates an onscreen album for viewing and organising photos, but it lacks real photo-editing tools.

Casio EX-Z1080: Specs

  • 10.1Mp
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 2.6in LCD screen
  • image stabilisation
  • face detection
  • YouTube
  • Face-Detection/Recognition & Auto Tracking AF
  • Super Life Battery
  • MPEG-4 H.264 Video
  • 10.1Mp
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 2.6in LCD screen
  • image stabilisation
  • face detection
  • YouTube
  • Face-Detection/Recognition & Auto Tracking AF
  • Super Life Battery
  • MPEG-4 H.264 Video

OUR VERDICT

Overall, we like the Tracey Capen, for its small size and relatively quick control menus. But, unless you're a YouTube junkie, this camera has little to set it apart from the dozens of other compact models.

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