Fielding a comparably modest 12.5x optical zoom (24 to 300mm in 35mm terms) supported by CCD-shift stabilisation, the Casio Exilim EX-H30 makes up for its zoom shortcomings with a 16.1Mp CCD (matched in our latest camera group test only by the Olympus SZ-20).
With an asking price around £200, the other thing in the Casio's favour is a best-in-class 1,000-shot battery life. As with the Canon PowerShot SX220 HS, photos and video are composed via a 3in 460k dot LCD, although here the aspect ratio is the typical 4:3 rather than 16:9. At just under an inch wide the Casio will slide snugly into a pocket. Mirroring the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20's Extra Optical Zoom facility, the Casio's zoom can be further extended by a factor of 1.5x, to an equivalent 18.8x.
A press of the top plate on/off button and the Casio Exilim EX-H30 powers up in just over a second; a mechanical whirr soundtracks the lens as it extends to maximum wide-angle setting. Rather than burying its shooting mode options within screen menus that are busy and occasionally puzzling, Casio has taken the same tack as Canon and included a dedicated dial that acts as a time saver.
Two auto modes include Premium Auto that automatically 'enhances' shots in camera to save recourse to Photoshop, plus there are plentiful 'Best Shot' scene modes, a silent mode for surreptitious snappers, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual options. Video shooting gets its own camcorder-style record button, although resolution is 1280x720 pixels at 24fps, and Casio omits HDMI output.
Otherwise the EX-H30's controls are simply what you'd expect to find on a pocket model, with separate buttons for capture or review modes, a control pad with central 'set' button, plus a dedicated menu button.
Quick and responsive, the Casio's images are colour-rich and detailed for the most part. Our test shots required little adjustment - exactly what we want from a point and shoot. Travellers will enjoy the easy Slide Panorama mode selected via the top plate dial. Press down on the shutter release button and pan in the direction indicated through a maximum arc of 260 degrees to the sound of the shutter rapidly firing. Within seconds the seamless elongated result appears.