Like many point-and-shoot cameras on the market today, Casio's Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 is full of features.

When it's time to take pictures, no one wants to fuss over camera settings. It's especially frustrating when you have to set up a point-and-shoot camera. After all, aren't you supposed to be able to simply "point and shoot"?

Like many point-and-shoot cameras on the market today, Casio's Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 is full of features, but the EX-Z250 has an easy-to-use design and lots of shooting modes that help take the guesswork out of setting up the camera.

Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250: shooting modes

The Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 has 34 different preset shooting modes - an intimidating figure at first. Big, intuitive icons represent each mode; for example, the Self-portrait mode features a woman pointing a camera at herself, the Soft Flowing Water mode has an icon of a stream. Once you become familiar with each mode, the mode selection screens don't seems as intimidating, and you'll find that there's a mode suitable for just about any shooting situation.

If you don't want to mess with the modes, you can always use the Auto mode, which lets the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 determine the proper settings.

Or you can use the Auto Best Shot feature, where the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 senses the shooting conditions and selects one of six modes: Macro, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Portrait, Scenery, or Sports.

While using Auto Best Shot, we found that the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 shifts into Night Scene mode whenever it senses that light is low. When objects are close to the lens, the camera changes to Macro mode. When the camera senses moving objects, it shifts into Sports mode. Distant, still subjects trigger Scenery mode.

Only on a few occasions did we notice that the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 invoke Portrait or Night Scene Portrait mode.

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Casio's Self-portrait mode is cleverly implemented. In this mode, you press the shutter before you aim. Then you point the camera at yourself and the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 uses its built-in face detection technology to "find" your face.

Once it has, the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 focuses and then snaps a picture.

You no longer have to hold the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 awkwardly so you can press the shutter; instead, you can concentrate on where the lens is pointing. It would be nice if the camera had a warning beep to let you know that the camera is about to shoot, but otherwise, the Self-portrait mode is an effortless way to take pictures of yourself, or yourself and another person.

On top of the shooting modes, the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 has what Casio calls Auto Shutter modes. With Auto Shutter enabled, the camera doesn't take a picture until it senses that the conditions meet the mode's settings.

There are three Auto Shutter modes: Detect Blur, where the camera shoots once the subject is in focus; Detect Panning, where a moving object is tracked and a picture is taken when the subject is in focus; and Detect Smile, where the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 won't shoot until it senses that all the framed subjects are smiling.

The Detect Blur feature is quite helpful, because it shoots immediately after focusing, making it more efficient than activating the focus yourself by pushing the shutter halfway, and then pushing the shutter completely to shoot.

However, with Detect Panning and Detect Smile, we had several times when the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 wouldn't shoot, even though the condition had been met. For example, oftentimes with Detect Smile, the camera would successfully find the subject's face, but even after a full minute of smiling (starting with five seconds of not smiling), the camera would not shoot. Other times, it worked without a hitch. In the end, we would only use the Detect Blur Auto Shutter feature on a regular basis.

For more experienced photographers, the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z250 allows you to adjust brightness, white balance, ISO (up to 3,200), metering, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and flash intensity.

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