The Big Girl’s Guide to Photography: Casio Exilim ZR3500 Review

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Packing light for a vacation can be a really time-consuming affair, especially if you’re a girl… with her (photography) needs. I have used cameras from point-and-shoot to APS-C DSLRs (crop frame sensors) to Full Frame DSLRs and even Mirrorless cameras. Each type of camera has their winning qualities and,  on the opposite end, their limitations or disadvantages.

I’ve been asked very often by friends about which cameras they should consider and I always advocate this:

Buy a camera which you’re comfortable with and sure to use anywhere, anytime.

Since I dish out unqualified but somewhat useful advice that much, I have decided to start a series called “The Big Girl’s Guide to Cameras” to answer any pressing beginners photography related questions and review any cameras and equipment I have had the pleasure of testing. I’m no expert, but I think I know a thing or two.

I was given the opportunity to test the Casio Exilim ZR3500 for two plus weeks and here’s my thoughts on the functions and user-friendliness of the model.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Casio Exilim ZR3500 is a simple to use, stylish compact camera with a decent battery life. It is packed with different pre-sets for every occasion and several nifty selfie taking features. It delivers sharp photos all within a light body that you can carry around with ease at all times.

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Above photo is not shot using a Casio Exilim ZR3500

It comes in four colours: Yellow, Beige (Champagne), White and Pink. I was provided the Pink set seen pictured in this post on loan.

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This is the perfect point-and-shoot for beginners to photography because it’s almost as fuss-free as shooting with a smartphone camera (if you prefer to have everything mostly automatic). The only difference is that the shots do come out looking a lot sharper and richer in both colour and detail.

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That’s a lot of Casio Exilim ZR3500s

IMPRESSIVE FUNCTIONS I LOVED

Make-up Mode

It has the most incredible “Make-up Mode” I’ve ever come across. It intuitively distinguishes between skin and everything else. The beautifying filter developed by Casio is top-of-class because it not just applies the effect uniformly onto the photo, blurring or affecting the entire picture, but it identifies skin and only applies the make-up effect is at those areas.

You want to know something really amazing? Even tiny brow hairs get “skipped” over in the beautifying process and they remain sharp and well focused. The make-up mode can also be adjusted to a higher intensity or lower for incredibly flawless skin or just a mild radiance. It also allows you to adjust skin tone (fairer or tanner).

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Face has never looked smoother, more radiant and as flawless as with make-up mode

Tilt-Type LCD Screen

To help you get the perfect selfie, the Casio Exilim ZR3500 features a really awesome 180 degrees tilt- type LCD screen. If you love shooting self portraiture or videos, the tilt screen will prove to be one of the best features on this little gadget because you’re able to see if you’ve got yourself placed right in frame before the countdown ends on your self timer.

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Convenient LCD screen tilts 180 degrees for easy self shooting

Motion Shutter

Activate the countdown timer with a simple wave of your hand. Just place your palm at the motion shutter icon displayed on the LCD screen and that will kickstart the countdown to the release of the shutter. Place this on a tripod or flat surface a distance away, wave and then strike a pose. Say goodbye to the same one-armed pose in every shot because you need to have one hand on the shutter. Charming.

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Placed the camera on the table and used motion shutter!

Front Shutter

A second shutter button is found right at the front of the camera. It is ergonomically placed in a position that will make taking portrait selfies very convenient.

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Portrait selfies, no problemo!

Versatile Wide Angle Zoom Lens

When you’re travelling, you’ll definitely appreciate a wide angle lens because it captures more of the jaw dropping landscape. The Casio Exilim ZR3500 is equipped with a zoom lens that is 25mm at its widest and 300mm when zoomed out all the way. This is a pretty all-encompassing range. Take a photo of anything with this camera, from beautiful landscape shots to closer shots of delectable snacks.

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Wide angle means you can capture more details

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Great food shots too with the ZR3500

Exilim Auto Transfer

One of the functions I really loved on this was the seamless transfer of photos to my smartphone or tablet. I could send them one by one and select when I wanted to send them or I could download them automatically through the Exilim Connect app on my mobile devices.

The inclusion of both Bluetooth® Smart and WiFi Wireless Transfer technology makes transfer fast and efficient. This function allows me to instagram better quality photos (especially selfies) while I’m on the go. No fuss and no stress.

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Exilim Connect app wirelessly allows you to transfer photos from camera to device

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Various transfer options

Effective Auto Mode

This model has a fantastic Premium Auto Pro mode which is generally Auto mode on steroids. It’s damn amazing. People give Auto mode a lot of flak, but when you’re looking to quickly snap a shot that just looks great, who is going to give a damn whether you use Auto, Program or Full Manual especially if these are just shots you want to remember the moment by.

That said, the ZR3500’s Premium Auto Pro mode makes shots more beautiful with less thinking and almost no effort – save for composition. Focus on framing to improve your shots instead of countless settings when you’re on the move and can’t afford spending too much time experimenting. After all every second longer you fiddle with the settings without knowing if it works, you maybe allowing the moment to slip away.

With Premium Auto Pro, you’ll have less problems to deal with whether they are back lit photos, incorrect shutter or ISO settings under harsh or low light conditions.

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Challenging night shots still looking generally good and sharp on Premium Auto Pro

A Flash That Actually Allows You to Take Decent Night Shots

It is precisely because this camera was designed to be basic and easy-to-use, there’s a lot of easy settings to achieve great photos in most conditions. While the flash is not going to get you professional shots of the calibre of a seasoned photographer with a DSLR and external flash, it is really good enough. The make-up mode when switched on actually helps soften the flash and makes it look natural. The flash itself isn’t a wham-bam-in-your-face kind of harsh light so this is really pretty good.

I still look like an Asian and not a ghost – so the flash does work

FINAL REVIEW

Clearly, this camera knows what it is and what it is not. It makes no promises of being able to completely replace your digital SLR or mirrorless camera, but makes a pretty good addition to your line-up when you want to take a break from lugging a brick (and its accessories) around. The fact is, it’s not apologetic about its disadvantages clearly, because its limitations just can’t be considered “disadvantages” at all. It’s great at what it was meant to do.

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No editing required – shot taken in Bangkok

What it is though, is a reliable camera that will allow you to capture all those moments in a quick click. It is an all-in-one selfie machine through and through. It is small, compact and with ultra quick start up time and zero time lag. This is the camera you never have to worry no one else knows how to use when you want them to take a photo of you on a vacation or out at a group dinner. I speak from experience since I use DSLR and mirrorless systems. Seriously, no one knows how to damn operate the thing properly and even other photographers, if they are not used to the camera, may not be able to take great shots with it immediately.

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Hey selfie time!

I’d recommend this model if you hate to fiddle around too much with a thousand different settings and you just want to capture fabulous photos while you’re on holiday or take adorable picture perfect selfies.

For a second opinion, check out these reviews:

Techie Lobang | Explore Life Lah! | JuneduJour | Maybelline | SuperAdrianMe | Cyndi

The Casio Exilim ZR3500 is retailing at SGD$579 and is available from all Casio authorised retailers.

This post was brought to you by Casio Singapore

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6 Responses to The Big Girl’s Guide to Photography: Casio Exilim ZR3500 Review

  1. Adrian Eugene Seet May 23, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Love how everyone has perfect skin. 😉
    And yes people don’t look like ghosts even with the flash.

    • Carrie May 23, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      Never thought a camera would be able to so consistently “correct” skin imperfections till it’s so flawless in the shot. Damn good!

  2. Shannon September 21, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    Hello! Came across your blog post while searching for the review. So do you think this camera would actually be suitable for vlogging thru out the day and would still hv good quality and can capture sound properly? Thank you!

    • Carrie September 22, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

      Hi Shannon, it does have some creative functions to allow you to do some really fun videos. Sound wise, I think the inbuilt mic is decent. I would think this is subjective and depending on what you’re expecting, but on a whole, this is a point and shoot and works well for casual videos and I would assume vlogging would not be a problem especially from an arm length or two away.

  3. Joy Amposta. August 9, 2016 at 6:47 am #

    Is this camera available in Germany? Where did you get this cam?

    • Carrie August 9, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

      Hi Joy, I am based in Singapore. You might want to go to your local camera dealer regarding available CASIO models and make an enquiry. You can try Amazon if you’re unable to locate it in Germany. Hope you find the camera. 🙂

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