The latest addition to Casio's EXILIM range of ultra-compact digital cameras - the EX-Z3 - represents a significant performance boost on previous models. With a 3.2 megapixel CCD (compared to the 1.24 and 2.0 megapixel EXILIM cameras introduced in 2002), a 3X optical zoom lens and enlarged LCD monitor, the EX-Z3 offers high-level photographic features despite its tiny 88 x 55 x 11.3 mm size.
Unveiled at the 2003 CES in Las Vegas, the EXILIM EX-Z3's optical zoom uses a totally new type of 3-segment telescoping lens mechanism that makes it possible to provide 3X optical zoom in such a thin camera configuration. This means that the resolution of an image can be sustained when you zoom in - unlike digital zoom - delivering better results and a far more versatile camera. The optical zoom can also be combined with the 4X digital to deliver 12X zoom.
A range of one-touch shot modes designed to provide easy composition without sacrificing the creative element are included in the EX-Z3. For example, the "Coupling Shot" can take one picture of two people at separate times: When there are only two people present, Person A composes the image of Person B against a background and presses the shutter release. This freezes the image on the monitor screen. Then they switch places, and Person B composes the final image now with Person A included. The final recorded image shows both Person A and Person B, as if they were both standing in front of the camera. The same process can be applied to backgrounds, opening up an array of picture that go beyond "happy snap" applications usually associated with a digital camera this size.
Other standout features include 30 second movie recording with sound, an in-cradle slideshow function, a Triple Self-timer that records three consecutive shots with a single shutter release, calendar screen and a promised "quick response" time of 0.01 seconds.