Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Casio Exilim Camera

by Janie Blank

Well, one would not expect buying a new digital camera to be so difficult when you have already decided what kind you want to buy!

I have been using a Minolta Dimage-X for several years. When I bought it, the Dimage-X was the slimmest, skinniest camera on the market. I am a prolific photographer, if not a very technical one. I am more from the school that is better to have the camera handy, and able to turn on and shoot quickly than having the perfect photograph. I am not very good at all of the adjustments. So buying a camera that is small enough to hide in an evening purse is part of my criteria.

Initially when I got my Dimage everyone commented on its slim size. But as time went on I started to see some cameras that were truly tiny. The slimmest ones appeal most to me. My niece and my daughters best friend both got Casio Exilim models. They seemed to take good pictures. We all attended a wedding and shared photos and I was happy with the quality. I still envied the smaller size but was not ready to replace my Casio. Last year I even spent $50 on a new battery because my old would not hold a charge. But a year later it had gotten to the point where I would only take a half dozen photos and my red light came on. We were out with friends on the boat and I was taking pictures of their daughters tubing behind the boat and the camera went dead and said battery exhausted. It was fully charged when I started out and I got just 20 shots. This is just not acceptable.

We discussed buying another battery but decided in the end that we will be traveling extensively in the near future and should just go ahead and get a new one before we leave. We have a trip planned to Southern California followed almost immediately with one to Europe. Two months later we will again spend the winter in Puerto Vallarta. The Holidays and many other picture taking opportunities are in between. Now is the time we decided.

I went online and looked at all models but pretty quickly narrowed my search to Casio Exilim. The biggest drawback, if you want to call it that, is that they do not include an optical viewfinder. The screen is much larger than what I am used to though, and I notice whenever anyone uses a digital now they always look through the screen so I think this is something I will quickly adjust to. I think my husband is still a little skeptical but there is a large price difference and money can sway him quite easily!

I immediately was attracted to the red model! I am part of a group that goes a several trips a year and we al want our own picture of the group. When we al throw our cameras down so someone can take the same shot with each camera – I know this is ridiculous – but I cannot help but think how nice it would be t have a red one! Knowing how long I keep a camera I thought I should get the latest and greatest which is 7.0 megapixels as opposed to 6.0. Now mind you my old one is 3.0! My husband says I will never be able to tell a 6.0 form 7.0 and I am sure he is right.

This created two problems. First is they cost about $100 more and secondly they are not yet available in most stores. We leave in a week for our trip so I did not want to chance ordering it.

The best prices seemed to be at Circuit City. We have one not too far away so we decided to go there and take a look. They had no 7.0 models. All were 6.0 or even 5.0. They also did not have all the models I had printed out from the website. And they had others I had not printed out. So much for all my research.

It also surprised us how many models that they had that were basically the same thing although they varied in physical size. Some were wider, some were thicker. They were all Casio Exilim with 6.0 megapixels.

The only red one was $229. This was $50 less than the one I was looking at online. I wanted to add a 1 gigabyte memory chip that was $40 with a $15 mail-in rebate. With tax and rebate my total cost was $269. This was considerably less than some of the other Exilims. The skinniest one was $299 and I was quite torn because on the one hand it was smaller but then it was not red AND it was $70 more. So I decided to go with the red! It is probably a quarter inch wider than the other Exilim and about the same amount wider than my old one. But it is also about an inch shorter than my old one and slightly thinner than the Minolta Dimage-X.

The model we ended up getting was the EX-Z60. The guy at Circuit City was not al that knowledgeable. He told us it came with a charging cradle and we were excited about that because the Dimage has a battery charger and that means that you must remove the battery charger each time you need to charge it. Over time my battery door became fairly loose. When we got home we found that this model actually does NOT have a cradle but has the same old battery charger and we will need to remove the battery as usual.

Before we even opened the box to look at the camera, I started to read the box. It said the Photoloader software would not work with a Macintosh 10X series computer. That is what I use. Oh, dear! We went to the MicroCenter before going any further and they said that just meant I could not use the Casio proprietary software but that with iPhoto I wouldn’t want to use it anyway. True. I have been using iPhoto now and not the Minolta. He did ask me how much I paid for the 1 gig memory card and he said theirs was just $15. I considered buying it and returning the one I had to Circuit City but decided it was on the other side of town and not worth it. Micro Center did not carry a red Exilim and their least expensive model was $299.

So, to make this long story short, it takes nice pictures. It is pretty. It is small. It certainly was inexpensive. I still have to remove the battery from the case to charge it. But it takes over 300 pictures without needing to charge it so I think in the end I will be way ahead in time and money and I should have a lot of fun with my little red camera!

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