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There's always a market for lightweight compacts that can fit into any pocket and yet are capable of delivering results in a variety of conditions. The ZS5 and ZS10 aim to fit that niche, both cameras offering a compact beginner orientated approach, with the ZS10 offering the more compact body, and improved 720p video.
The ZS10 features almost identical specifications, but features a more stylish, thin body, a slight increase in price, and 720p video, with a thinner battery, although thankfully not at the expense of battery life.
|Casio Exilim ZS10 Front - click to enlarge||Casio Exilim ZS10 Top - click to enlarge|
|Casio Exilim ZS10 Back - click to enlarge||Casio Exilim ZS10 Battery - click to enlarge|
What is very welcome is the provision of an ISO64 mode and also the Slow Water scene mode which makes use of it and the maximum aperture setting. It won’t do you much good in bright daylight, but get out of the sun and here’s a compact that can capture creamy waterfall and water type shots. There are other nice extras like dynamic lighting adjustments to brighten shadows, being able to assign a function to the left-right joypad control and even a widescreen version for the movie mode, although it isn’t HD on the ZS5.
- 5x optical zoom
- 26mm wide angle lens
- 14 megapixel resolution
- Best shot scene modes
- ISO64 - 1600
- 2.7inch LCD
- Widescreen movie - 864x480 ZS5, 720p ZS10
- 700mAh battery ZS5, slimmer 600mAh ZS10
Metering is generally quite good, though as with all compacts, it’s designed to expose the landscape rather than the sky. For dark objects it can mean that they get slightly overexposed though lighter ones will have no real problems. Shooting with the sun shows no dynamic range problems, while shooting into the bright area of the sky almost always loses the highlight areas. Shooting into the sun will produce dark foregrounds and lose the sky anyway so really it’s not worth doing. The camera uses a zonal metering system most of the time but switches to a centre-weighted system with certain scene modes. There’s no user control over it but you can lock the exposure compensation to the left-right joypad control if you like and this makes adjusting the exposure very easy. Personally, I found assigning the ISO range to these buttons to be more useful.
|Shooting in the sun, ISO100, 1/250, f/9.6, 8mm (35mm equiv: 47mm)||Colours, ISO100, 1/100, f/7.9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)|
|Dynamic range, ISO64, 1/160, f/7.9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)||Backlit, ISO100, 1/125, f/7.9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)|
In terms of image quality it’s reasonable with no great drop off towards the edges. There’s not much distortion at the wide angle and only a little bending at the end of the telephoto. However, once there, there’s not a lot of fine detail. Chromatic aberration is well controlled, you’ll really have to shoot through trees into a white sky to get it. On normal blue skies with buildings, there’s no fringing at all. Colour rendition is vivid as a default so landscapes look well saturated, people look healthy and skin tones are soft and flush. Red flowers can be a bit overdone and in harsh conditions you’ll see greenery get a bit over-saturated but for a compact, it’s generally good news throughout.
|Wide-angle, ISO64, 1/125, f/7.9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)||Telephoto, ISO64, 1/250, f/6.5, 24mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)|
|Flowers, ISO64, 1/160, f/7.9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)||Red flower, ISO100, 1/500, f/2.8, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)|
A quick word about the macro mode now – at 5cm closest distance, it’s not exactly ground breaking and in practice is wasn’t that easy to get the camera to focus on something that close, but for flower shots it’s reasonably effective and some good results are possible with the ZS5. With the ZS10, the macro focusing distance is 10cm which is not as good as the ZS5.
|ZS5 ISO64 | ZS10 ISO64||ZS5 ISO100 | ZS10 ISO100||ZS5 ISO200 | ZS10 ISO200|
|ZS5 ISO400 | ZS10 ISO400||ZS5 ISO800 | ZS10 ISO800||ZS5 ISO1600 | ZS10 ISO1600|
The big surprise was the inclusion of an ISO64 mode and at this there’s no noise present at all with images being very smooth. There’s not really any at ISO100, just the odd artefact in the shadows. However it starts to appear at ISO200 in the shadows though won’t be noticeable unless the image is blown up. At ISO400, there’s noise in the shadows and now in mid-tones areas as well but it isn’t too problematic, it just makes some of the edges rougher. At ISO800 the suppression system kicks in with noticeable effect so that there is no more noise than at ISO400, except in the shadows, because it’s being smoothed out. It makes the image decidedly softer. At ISO1600 it’s all over the background and shadow areas, losing the fine detail but in bright areas it’s still under control and it’s perhaps surprising that there wasn’t a further ISO3200 mode. Either way, this is still a decent result. The results from the ZS10 appear slightly softer overall, but with similar noise levels.
Shown above, the ZS5 results, below ZS10 white balance performance:
|ZS10 AWB - Tungsten||ZS10 Tungsten Preset||ZS10 AWB - Fluorescent||ZS10 Fluorescent Preset|
The ZS5 and ZS10 both performed similarly under tungsten lighting, however under fluorescent lighting, the ZS5 produced images with a slight magenta cast. The ZS10 produced images with a yellow cast on auto white balance under fluorescent lighting, and using the preset improved results.
|Close-up, ISO100, 1/500, f/2.8, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)||Wide-angle, ISO100, 1/320, f/2.8, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)|
|Portrait, ISO100, 1/160, f/2.8, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)||Image quality, ISO64, 1/200, f/3.4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 47mm)|
Additional shots, showing the slow-water mode, and telephoto:
|Slow water, ISO64, 1/20, f/4.4, 13mm||Telephoto, ISO64, 1/160, f/6.5, 24mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)|
The other specialist area is video which has a widescreen mode on the ZS5, and 720p HD on the ZS10. The quality here though isn’t great and it really suffers if you use the zoom, picking up all the handling noises as well. One for party scenes only.
Value For Money
With street prices around £80 - £99 with just £20 between the two models, it could make sense to go for the more compact model with improved video recorded. Competitors include the pocket-sized alternatives the Nikon CoolPix S3100, the Canon Powershot A3200 IS, Samsung ST95, Panasonic Lumix S3, and FS16. Certainly, the ZS5 does do a bit of everything and is a very easy camera to get on with, but with modest build quality and performance you’ll want to pick it up for nearer £80, or go for the more attractively styled ZS10.
Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 ZS10: Pros
Wide angle lens
Easy to use
Lightweight and portable
Compact body and 720p in ZS10
14 megapixel resolution
Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 ZS10: Cons
Nothing really outstanding
Telephoto image quality not great
10cm macro on ZS10
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Casio Exilim ZS5||Casio Exilim ZS10|
|Optical zoom||5x (approx 26-130mm), f/2.8-6.5||5x (approx 26-130mm), f/3.2-6.5|
|Max image size||4320 x 3240|
|Focusing system||Contrast detection auto focus|
|Focus points||Single, Multi-group|
|Focus type||Auto Focus, Macro, Super Macro, Infinity, Manual|
|Focus distance||5cm Macro, 15cm Normal||10cm Macro, 10cm Normal|
|File types||JPEG, AVI, WAV|
|ISO sensitivity||ISO64 - 1600|
|Metering system||Program AE|
|Metering types||Multi-pattern, centre-weighted|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2EV|
|Shutter speed range||4 sec – 1/2000 sec|
|Image stabilisation||Anti-Shake mode|
|Movie mode||848x480 and 640x480 at 30fps||1280 x 720 (30fps) 720p HD|
|Monitor||2.7 inch TFT (230k dots)|
|Media type||SD, SDHC, SDXC|
|Power||Li-ion NP-80 battery (180 shots)||Li-ion NP-120 battery (190 shots)|
|Box Contents||CD, strap, power lead, charger, AV cable|
|Body Colour||Black, Light Pink||Black, Light Pink, Blue, Dark Pink / Plum,|
|Size||95.8 x 56.9 x 20.7mm||94.9 x 56.3 x 19.3mm|
|Weight||142g inc battery and card||140g inc battery and card|