The camera never lies, or focuses

A warning for anyone who’s considering buying a digital camera this Christmas: test it carefully, especially in low lighting conditions, and pay particular attention to the auto-focus. Oh, and keep the receipt.

I’d decided to replace my ageing Kodak camera and settled on the Casio Exilim Z30, a credit card-sized camera with excellent picture quality and very long battery life. It comes with lots of plaudits including glowing reviews from all the digital camera magazines. Unfortunately I encountered a little problem with it: as soon as the sun goes down, its ability to take shots disappears too.

The problem seems to be the auto-focus. Without fail, whenever I tried to take a shot in low lighting conditions or with the flash, the result was a blurry nightmare. That’s partly because my RSI-addled hands shake somewhat, but it hasn’t been a problem with any of the digital cameras I’ve owned in the past. And it happened whenever other people used the camera, too. For example, here’s a picture that my wife took:

Other than resizing it, I haven’t edited it at all: that’s what every night shot and indoor shot looked like. Which is a shame, because in daylight the results are stunning. Here’s a shot I took in LA a few weeks ago:

Good, isn’t it? But unfortunately I don’t need to take those kinds of shots very often, whereas I do need to take lots of night-time and indoor shots. And because of that, the Casio’s utterly useless for me. It demonstrates just how important it is to know exactly what you need when you’re buying a gadget – and to keep the receipt.