Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

By Ibraar Hussain

This is a sort of review of a small cheapo compact digital camera I have been using exclusively since early Spring.

I wanted a compact digital camera, as I loathe Smartphone cameras – I hate the standard focal length which these gadgets come equipped with and the photos all look like smartphone photos – characterless and awful. Yeah sure they have all the bells and whistles and you can photograph bats in near total darkness but I just wanted a compact which was very small and very quick with acceptable image quality. Something I could just grab, discreetly put away in a pocket yet pull out and use.

I asked Hamish and he recommended the Sony RX100 VII – well, my budget didn’t extend anywhere north of £50 so as you can guess options were limited!

I decided on a Casio EX-ZR800 from 2013.
Main Features
16 MP 1/2.3 CMOS Sensor
25-450 mm (18x) F3.5-5.9 Zoom Lens
80 – 3200 ISO
Sensor-shift Image Stabilization
3″ Fixed Screen
3 fps continuous shooting
1920 x 1080 video resolution
Built-In Wireless
108 x 60 x 31 mm, 222g. (Mostly metal and decent build quality with decent grip)

St. Peter’s Church Alresford

Now I like Casio, a shame their camera division is no more but they were pioneering computational photography before others and before Apple and many of these features are in the Casio EX-ZR800 I have. For example; HDR composed of multi shots, blurred backgrounds giving a shallow depth of field effect – easy to select and use. Sure the camera is over 10 years old so expect the speed of computing such effects not to be instant but they do work and are quite useful when using it creatively.

St. Peter’s Church
Arlesford
St. Peter’s Church Arlseford

What I really liked about Casio is that they specialized not only in computational photography but also in speed. This camera is quick, very quick. Quick to focus and to shoot. Focus being pretty accurate as well.

There is also another option of best Shot (just select it using the control PASM dial) – which is a kind of scene mode where you can select these features plus others such as Macro, fireworks, sweep panorama, best smile etc etc.

Also Premium Auto Pro (also on the Dial) where the Casio EX-ZR800 selects the best setting for the shot. One of my favourites is fixed focus snapshot mode which with just one press you capture the photo – as the name suggests great for fast snapshots and shooting from the hip!(within a set wider snapshot focal length)

The Casio EX-ZR800 shoots RAW and has Aperture priority but I just used it mostly in Program mode where I set the ISO metering etc.

The thumb control on the rear is customizable and I used it to get quick access to ISO, Flash, WB, metering (spot matrix etc – and Metering is spot on excellent) and Focus EV compensation – or just rotate it to adjust EV compensation. Overall in terms of use I found it to be fast with all necessary controls at the ready able to be selected on the fly.

Wrabness East Anglia

The LCD is pretty good for the age as well and decent in very bright sunlight which was a relief.

In use, well, it’s very fast allowing you to capture that moment and the zoom range is a useful 25mm to 450mm (you can get some good candids at longer zoom). The sensor stablization is very good for the age and can shoot at full zoom handheld at low ISO at moving objects – with out any issues.

West Mersea

The other great feature of the Casio EX-ZR800 is that it saves your focal length and reverts to that every time you turn it on – and also auto powers off to save battery life.
Battery life is decent and write times on Jpeg are about instant.

It also has stereo Mic and HD 1080p video but I didn’t shoot any video on it. The other features are all super High Speed features which I didn’t use.

I added a Optech/USA wrist strap and was good to go.

I mostly shoot in available light so I didn’t need anything more than ISO 200. My default was Jpeg Fine ISO 100 set at 45mm focal length – perfect for anything that I would like to shoot.

London, West End.

I played around with the Casio EX-ZR800 for a few days at home then went out to shoot on a nice late Spring day. Went for a stroll around the ruins of St. Peter’s Church in East Anglia – said to be haunted and also said to be a location where some people practise Witchcraft!

Anyway, spells aside, I was very pleased with the results! Nice look and metering was spot on!

I then over the months visited Clacton on Sea and London; I took my camera tucked in my trouser pocket and used it at my leisure. I’m not much of a ‘street’ shooter, but with this I could relax and take pictures without worrying!

Now in this day and age of smartphones I didn’t see a single person with a compact camera! I was quite a rare breed I must say. Also the beauty of having outdated crap is that no one batted an eyelid! I could just literally point and shoot! and I did!

West Mersea
West Mersea
Clacton on Sea

Then come November this year and a family emergency forced me to fly to Pakistan at short notice. I wasn’t there on holiday so I didn’t take my usual camera(s) but slipped the Casio EX-ZR800 into my bag. I am glad I did as I thoroughly enjoyed it! Again, a crappy old compact digital camera doesn’t attract the sort of attention one wants – I nonchalantly pointed and shot! Enjoying the zoom range and the wealth of subjects.

Punjab Province
Black Kite in Flight
Punjab Province
Punjab Province
Punjab Province
Punjab Province

Well, not a very good review perhaps, but the point of this post is to show you that the camera does matter – to a certain extent!

This Casio EX-ZR800 is excellent, sure the lens is slow and pixel peepers will easily notice aggressive noise reduction and noise but if used within it’s limits it’ll give you very good results.

Punjab Province
Punjab Province

I doubt I’d have gotten anything better with any other camera at any price range – for the type of photographs I took using this. All snap shots and some nicely composed architectural stuff.

Punjab Province

I’ll be using this Casio EX-ZR800 for a long time to come! A shame Casio are no more in the camera business as I can only imagine what they’d have managed today!

All photographs edited in Lightroom 5 on a Macintosh.

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About The Author

By Ibraar Hussain
Casual snap shooter formerly from London My Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/ibraar
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Comments

Eric on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 28/02/2024

Another great post. By the way your Flickr feed just had me shopping for an Olympus XZ-1 but I snapped out of it. This post reminds me that the eye of the person behind the camera matters most. Thank you for sharing.
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 28/02/2024

Thanks again Eric! Really appreciate your comments and for reading! And thanks for following me of Flickr The XZ- 1 was nice but I sold it and I’ve forgotten why. It was about 13 years ago. I really like my little Casio. It comes out with me in my pocket. I’ve just splashed out £9.99 on a Kodak Easyshare Z950 for the spring and summer - as really liking the Kodak colour pop and apparently this has the best color (and very good metering and WB) out of all Kodak’s compact cameras

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Ibraar Hussain on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 20/01/2024

I am pretty impressed with the Casio I’ve got an Olympus E-PM1 with the tiny 12-32 Panasonic lens. The Casio has a brighter nicer LCD display They’re about the same size and same 24mm at the widest At home now in room light - I was focussing both at the same time and the Casio was faster! Impressive little thing I have a Konica Minolta X1 as my next project - now this is going to be a huge challenge. It only gives acceptable results at ISO 50 - it’s also slow and very difficult to use in bright contrasty light - requires careful use of the Spot meter to get anything. It’s a proper crap camera but as I said it’s a challenge !!
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Ibraar Hussain on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 20/01/2024

Dave Powell And Murray - thank you my friends. For some reason I can’t post any direct responses to you ! Must be an issue with the new site I also didn’t get any notifications !!
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Ibraar Hussain on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 20/01/2024

Greg - it’s a phone isn’t it? I’m not being tribal - just stating a fact.
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Dave Powell on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 20/01/2024

Hi My Friend! You know, I always thought that those Casios were $#%&. But you've forced me into a major rethink. Your photographic "eye," however, also deserves credit. Great work! Dave
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Greg on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 20/01/2024

“It’s not a camera.” This stuff again? I shoot film, on rangefinders and SLRs, 35mm and 120. I shoot digital on everything from Sony (that little RX100vii is a delight, but it’s a little chunky in the pocket) to Leica to a Phase. And I shoot with an iPhone. And I love them all. Make relatively decent images with all of them, and I actually bet you won’t be able to tell which is which. I thought that actual photographers don’t engage in this weird tribalism. It is about the photographer, not the equipment. So why do you have to diss someone else’s equipment?
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Murray Leshner on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 19/01/2024

I was thinking 50£ but gave up trying to find the currency symbol, talked myself out of spelling out Pound which convinced me I must have read Euro. So I found the £ symbol at last. The amount of effort to find it reminds me of waiting in line for a rest room with a turnstyle that required money in exchange for entrance, on a road between Croatia & Hungary and desperately rummaging through a pocket full of coins from at least three countries, with my legs (and eyes) crossed. The person in front of me was either amused or convinced I was insane.
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Murray Leshner on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 19/01/2024

That Casio is not very krappy. It actually looks pretty decent. You shared many nice images! If you found one for 50 Euros, that was a good deal! I am seeing $150-200 on eBay in USA and more in Japan. I think I called modern auto-everything cameras 'computers with lenses' slightly before I started viewing phones the same way. Different packages. I think I buy computers and cameras and cars with the same logic...anything several years newer than my last purchase is an upgrade. I don't want the latest newest that costs so much I'm afraid to take it anywhere.
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 19/01/2024

I was lucky as they are often quite rare and only from Japan - the one I have.

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Stevenson G on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

That's great. I never had a Casio, but you've almost got me tempted. Although, probably most of the better compacts of that era would look just as good in your hands! I share your feelings on how phone photos look like phone photos. My current solution is to shoot in RAW (DNG actually) with my Nokia, then develop the photos in darktable. Using the sigmoid tonemapper, the images come out way more 'photo-like' then the harsh, overprocessed usual results. Especially the highlight rendering is beautifully gentle. I'm still stuck with the 25mm-ish focal length though....
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

Hi Stevenson Yes people sing praises of phone cameras as if they’re the bee’s knees. Firstly they’re not cameras they’re communication (and mass surveillance devices) handset devices with computer and camera functions.and payment functions Their ergonomics and speed as far as picture taking goes is very poor and slow. To take a picture one must hold phone - make sure you have it the right way - turn camera on phone on by either swipe swipe or one touch if set - then figure out which way to turn it while not looking at it. Then touch touch to get the right focal length or whatever - then touch to focus then ah I give up. By that time I almost always miss a fleeting moment and so don’t bother with it anymore. The main camera focal length is always very wide angle as you said about 25mm. And on the non pro iPhone you have a choice between super wide and very wide When you do get the results they look like iPhone shots and could be taken by me by my son my mum or the cat. Over processed pin sharp characterless rubbish. I’ve never seen an iPhone photo I like. Even portraits look awful. Sure they’re very detailed and you can shoot in near darkness but so what? It’s not a camera Whereas with even an old camera such as this - you know when it’s in your pocket which way to turn it - to switch it on - to aim and focus and shoot. Effortless and as it should be Sure there are always drawbacks - zooming is always a hassle when you have to toggle There’s not as much dynamic range and iso is limited . But it’s a camera and has camera experience and now with Light Room there’s so much scope to edit the image later. Thanks for the headsup re dark table I should look at that! Though this Casio doesn’t shoot DNG (I think) only JPEG and RAW. It also lacks a 6:6 square aspect ratio

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Roy on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

Another proof that it's about the photographer, not the equipment alone. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures!
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

Thank you Roy I just say getting the results I wanted with this gave me more satisfaction than with almost any other camera ever.

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Geoff Chaplin on Casio EX-ZR800 – My Cheapo Companion

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

Ibraar, thanks for the post - enjoyable to look at the images especially in the Punjab but particulary to hear about the camera and it's advantages. A star purchase I think. I hope the family situation worked out ok.
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

Thanks my friend !

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