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Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 vs EX-ZS10 Digital Compact Camera Review

Duncan Evans takes two beginner-friendly compacts, the Casio Exilim ZS5 and ZS10 for a test run.

|  Casio Exilim ZS5 in Compact Cameras
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Casio Exilim ZS10

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.

Casio Exilim ZS5 front lens

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 Casio Exilim ZS10
Casio Exilim ZS10 Front - click to enlarge Casio Exilim ZS10 Top - click to enlarge
Casio Exilim ZS10 Casio Exilim ZS10
Casio Exilim ZS10 Back - click to enlarge Casio Exilim ZS10 Battery - click to enlarge

Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 ZS10: Features

The aim of a camera like the ZS5 is to do a little bit of everything so that most circumstances can be catered for. The question is whether it can do enough of everything to deliver a satisfying user experience. The headline features are a whopping 14Mp resolution, a 26mm wide angle view and a 5x optical zoom giving a reach of 130mm in 35mm terms. The pyrotechnics of the high speed new Exilim engine have passed this model by so there are few surprises in store. There are no program modes as such, just an Auto mode and a variety of scene modes. Even the clever Premium Auto of other Casios is absent.

Casio Exilim ZS5 front

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.

Casio Exilim ZS5 rear

Key Features:
  • 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
Casio Exilim ZS5 top

Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 ZS10: Handling

With black matte plastic (other colours are available) and plastic chrome touches the ZS5 isn’t top quality, and suffers in direct comparison to the ZS10, but it doesn’t feel cheap, just lightweight. The zoom rocker is easy to use and has firm feedback while the buttons on the back may be almost flush but are easy to operate. The controls consist of an on/off button and fire/zoom on the top. The recording modes are accessed by going into the menu system on the back. This overlays onto the live image unless you go into the setup menu where it takes over the entire screen. The choice is either a general Auto mode or a choice of 22 scene modes. The ZS5 and ZS10 can also capture audio as well, and if this is directly to the built in 14Mb built in memory, then there’s over 40 minutes of it available. The scene modes are all very standard, from portraits to landscapes, backlit subjects and low light subjects. The Slow Water mode stands out and is a very attractive feature to have on the camera. Movie capture has it’s own dedicated button, and this can be a standard 640 x 480 resolution or a widescreen version which is extended out to 848 pixels wide on the ZS5, and 1280x720p on the ZS10. The menus and controls are all easy to use.

Casio Exilim ZS5 battery

Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 ZS10: Performance

Turning on and ready to shoot time is a typical 4 seconds while focussing it’s either hit or miss in under two seconds. If the contrast detection focus can’t get a lock then it doesn’t bother hunting around. Shutter lag is also minimal so there are no real delays to getting the camera out and grabbing a shot. Also in terms of speed, there’s a continuous shooting mode that delivers 5 shots in 10 seconds, but does so evenly so you can expect 0.5fps. There’s a built-in flash but it isn’t very powerful, rated to reach only 2.86m, though that should be enough for group shots. There are red eye, auto and forced on modes and the entire thing takes up to five seconds to recycle the charge. It is effective in bright, backlit conditions though.

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.

Casio Exilim ZS5 shooting into the sun   Casio Exilim ZS5 colours
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)
Casio Exilim ZS5 dynamic range   Casio Exilim ZS5 backlit
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.

Casio Exilim ZS5 wide-angle   Casio Exilim ZS5 telephoto
Wide-angle, ISO64, 1/125, f/7.9, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)   Telephoto, ISO64, 1/250, f/6.5, 24mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
Casio Exilim ZS5 flowers   Casio Exilim ZS5 red flower
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.

Casio Exilim ZS5 ISO64 Casio Exilim ZS5 ISO100 Casio Exilim ZS5 ISO200
ZS5 ISO64 | ZS10 ISO64 ZS5 ISO100 | ZS10 ISO100 ZS5 ISO200 | ZS10 ISO200
Casio Exilim ZS5 ISO400 Casio Exilim ZS5 ISO800 Casio Exilim ZS5 ISO1600
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.

Casio Exilim ZS5 Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting   Casio Exilim ZS5 Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/13, f/3.4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 47mm)   Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light, ISO100, 1/10, f/3.4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 47mm)
Casio Exilim ZS5 Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light   Casio Exilim ZS5 Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/3, f/3.4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 47mm)   Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/3, f/3.4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 47mm)

Shown above, the ZS5 results, below ZS10 white balance performance:

AWB Tungsten AWB - Fluorescent Fluorescent - Fluorescent
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.

Casio Exilim ZS5 close-up   Casio Exilim ZS5 wide-angle
Close-up, ISO100, 1/500, f/2.8, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)   Wide-angle, ISO100, 1/320, f/2.8, 5mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)
Casio Exilim ZS5 portrait   Casio Exilim ZS5 image quality
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   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: Verdict

If you are in the market for an entry level camera that offers a big resolution, a wide angle lens, a respectable zoom and macro function and a set of easy to use controls then the ZS5 or ZS10 is the camera for you. Providing you can get it at the right price. The ZS10 with more compact body, improved video quality, and more attractive colours and styling appears to be the better choice, however, if you just want a compact budget camera, then the ZS5 would do the job.

Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 ZS10: Pros
Casio Exilim ZS5 ISO64 mode
Casio Exilim ZS5 Wide angle lens
Casio Exilim ZS5 Easy to use
Casio Exilim ZS5 Lightweight and portable
Casio Exilim ZS5 Compact body and 720p in ZS10
Casio Exilim ZS5 14 megapixel resolution

Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 ZS10: Cons
Casio Exilim ZS5 Nothing really outstanding
Casio Exilim ZS5 Telephoto image quality not great
Casio Exilim ZS5 10cm macro on ZS10

FEATURES Casio Exilim ZS5
HANDLING Casio Exilim ZS5
OVERALL Casio Exilim ZS5

Casio Exilim ZS5 ZS10: Specification

  Casio Exilim ZS5 Casio Exilim ZS10
Price £80 £99
Contact www.casio.co.uk
Optical zoom 5x (approx 26-130mm), f/2.8-6.5 5x (approx 26-130mm), f/3.2-6.5
Resolution 14 megapixel
Sensor size 1/2.3in
Sensor type CCD
Max image size 4320 x 3240
Aspect ratio 4:3
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
Frames-per-second 0.5fps
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
Interface USB/AV out
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

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Photographs taken using the Casio Casio Exilim ZS5

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