Casio's latest top of the range flagship is the Casio EX-V7 digital camera that was announced at PMA 2007 in Las Vegas. We were able to get a first look hands on with the new 7 megapixel camera. So what do we think? Read on to find out.

Claiming to be the “world's thinnest” the Small and compact, but not to the same extent as previous Casio cameras we've seen in the past, is the slimmest digital camera with 7x optical zoom.

That 7x optical zoom is equivalent to 38-266mm on a 35mm camera, so it's not particularly wide-angle, but it does ensure that you can get into the action.

Taking images at 7x zoom could give you major camera shake and to stop this Casio has opted for what it calls "mechanical CCD shift technology". In reality this means that even at high zooms it's possible to take a steady picture.

It backs up the mechanical capabilities with an “Anti-Shake DSP”, which boosts the ISO and increases shutter speed to freeze the action and in practice we would have to say it works.

That powerful lens is covered by a sliding lens cover that acts as the on switch dominates the front and slid back reveals the non-protruding lens. Because this is also the power switch it means the top of the camera is sparse featuring only the shutter button meaning you aren't likely to press the wrong one in a panic to get the shot.

Unlike the HP 837, the slider was easy to use and we can't see it getting stuck in the same way.

On the back and there is a plethora of buttons alongside the rather small (well compared to other models announced at PMA) 2.5-inch LCD display. Next to the bright screen you have the traditional D-pad, a function dial that allows you to access playback, mode settings and the video option and the zoom controls.

Strangely the zoom controls are tucked further in to the camera than we would have expected and the end result is that you have to stretch your thumb to get to them rather than being just there at the tip.

With 33 choices of Best Shot including an eBay Best Shot mode that automatically reduces the size of the image, to make it quicker to upload product images to eBay, Casio have seemed to cover all the bases when it comes to taking a picture.

Other features aside from the large zoom function for a compact include the ability to record in H.264 the new MPEG-4 format that allows you to record around 1.5 times longer than with conventional MPEG4. Other video features include 16:9 widescreen support so its ideal for your widescreen television as well as an “Auto Tracking AF” to follow moving subjects.

First Impressions

On a first look, the Casio EX-V7 looks to offer a good feature set in a compact case. The sliding lens does add to the bulk of the model and the zoom toggle a tiny bit of discomfort when using it, however the picture quality is good, and the H.264 recording option for video a welcomed inclusion.

The Casio EX-V7 will go on sale for around $400 in the US in March, and around £300 in the UK in April.