The Casio Exilim EX-Z80 is a YouTube-friendly pocket camera that has a huge LCD screen, an unfrightening price tag, and features galore.

The tiny Casio Exilim EX-Z80 packs a lot of features for £129 (cheaper if you shop around), going above and beyond much of its competition. About the length and width of a credit card and just half an inch thick, this camera fits into a pocket with the ease of a flip phone.

Encased in a combination of sleek brushed metal and matching faux-metal plastic, the EX-Z80 is available in a range of metallic colours. And at 8Mp, it produces acceptable prints at 8x10in, with nice colours but a bit of blur.

By forgoing a viewfinder and relying on very small buttons elsewhere, Casio was able to fit an impressively large 2.6in LCD on the Casio Exilim EX-Z80. The back of the camera sports a handy button dedicated to video, eliminating the archeological exploration of menus that many other cameras require.

But with the streamlined form comes a sacrifice: the Casio Exilim EX-Z80's miniature buttons nest very close together, and the video button is so close to the top right corner that a clumsy dip at the end of each clip became a signature motif of my video work. In addition, if you aren't particularly dexterous or haven't grown out your fingernails, you may have trouble pressing the buttons at all.

Its drawbacks notwithstanding, the Casio Exilim EX-Z80 is a solid little snapper, highly intuitive to navigate, and impressively fast at autofocusing. It offers some interesting 'Best Shot' scene modes to supplement the expected sunset, night portrait, landscape, and food options. These included a helpful eBay mode and the entrancing pastel and star-effect modes.

Also uncommon in a camera of its price are the Casio Exilim EX-Z80's advanced custom controls, such as flash output adjustment, white balance, and spot metering.

You can program the joystick on the back to change various settings, such as metering methods. In addition to providing several face-recognition focus options, the camera automatically reduces blur when panning along with a subject. Or you can arrange for the camera to trip the shutter only when the subject stays still or smiles. These features didn't always work in our informal tests, but they did help stabilise images.

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The Casio Exilim EX-Z80 is a YouTube-friendly pocket camera that has a huge LCD screen, an unfrightening price tag, and features galore.

One feature that Casio seems especially proud of is the camera's YouTube video capability. In that mode, the Casio Exilim EX-Z80 records .mov files in YouTube's preferred H.264 format, optimised for online viewing. The software even includes a special YouTube video uploader. By and large, movies came out quite well, particularly at higher quality settings. Autofocus, exposure, and colour compensated quickly for the changing scenery as we drove along the beach.

Alas, like most cameras in this price range, the Casio Exilim EX-Z80 doesn't have crystal-clear optics. Though colour is very good and easy to alter with the camera's white balance and filter settings, photos tend to lose sharpness at their outer edges, artifacts pop up along high-contrast edges, and a bit of noise is evident in shots taken at ISOs above 200. Fortunately the Casio Exilim EX-Z80 starts out at a low ISO of 64, and in brightly lit environments - especially outdoors - it does just fine.

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Casio Exilim EX-Z80: Specs

  • 8.1Mp pocket camera
  • Maximum Resolution: 3,264x2,448
  • Optical Zoom: 3X
  • Zoom Range Min. (mm): 38
  • Zoom Range Max. (mm): 114
  • Highest Shutter Speed: 2000
  • Lowest Shutter Speed: 0.5
  • Wide-Angle Aperture Maximum: 3.1
  • Telephoto Aperture Maximum: 5.6
  • No Manual Focus or Interchangeable Lens
  • Exilim Optical 3X lens
  • 2.6in screen
  • SD Card slot
  • lithium ion battery
  • 90x52x19mm
  • 100g
  • 8.1Mp pocket camera
  • Maximum Resolution: 3,264x2,448
  • Optical Zoom: 3X
  • Zoom Range Min. (mm): 38
  • Zoom Range Max. (mm): 114
  • Highest Shutter Speed: 2000
  • Lowest Shutter Speed: 0.5
  • Wide-Angle Aperture Maximum: 3.1
  • Telephoto Aperture Maximum: 5.6
  • No Manual Focus or Interchangeable Lens
  • Exilim Optical 3X lens
  • 2.6in screen
  • SD Card slot
  • lithium ion battery
  • 90x52x19mm
  • 100g

OUR VERDICT

For an inexpensive pocket camera, the Casio Exilim EX-Z80 delivers a slew of worthwhile features.

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