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Casio Exilim EX-FH100 Digital Camera Review

Casio Exilim EX-FH100 Digital Camera Review - A compact aimed at advanced users with manual exposure control, a 10 megapixel CMOS sensor, 10x zoom lens with a 24mm equivalent wide angle and high-speed video recording functions.

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Category : Digital Cameras
Product : Casio Exilim High-Speed EX-FH100
Price : £45
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Features
Handling
Performance
ePHOTOzine verdict and ratings
Specification

Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Casio Exilim FH100
Gary Wolstenholme takes a look at Casio's Exilim EX-FH100. A compact camera with manual exposure control, a 10 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 24mm equivalent 10x wide angle zoom lens plus high speed shooting and video functions.

Priced at around £255, Casio's Exilim EX-FH100 sits near the top of their high speed range of advanced compact cameras, packing a lot of features into a reasonably compact body for a seemingly reasonable price. Having manual exposure control and a 24mm equivalent wide angle, as well as functions for ease of use, this camera will appeal to a wide range of photographers.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Features
Casio have pulled out all the stops for the on-paper specification of the EX-FH100. A back-illuminated 10.1 megapixel sensor should provide better quality at high sensitivities than the CCD sensors found on their lower-end cameras, producing cleaner images in lower lighting conditions. A CCD-shift image stabilisation system is also included to help iron out camera shake when a slower shutter speed is selected, again increasing the camera's ability in low light. The 10x zoom lens covers a range equivalent to 24-240mm on a 35mm camera, which should prove very useful for architecture, group shots in tight spaces or even for isolating distant subjects.

A range of different exposure options are available to choose from. For those looking for ease of use, besides the standard automatic mode there are a wide range of Best Shot scene programs to choose from, which in theory should improve the exposure and colour balance of pictures taken with the appropriate setting. Aperture and shutter priority auto modes are also provided alongside a full manual option, making the camera equally suited to those wishing to take more control of their picture taking.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100 Key features: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
The 10x zoom lens covers a range equivalent to 24-240mm on a 35mm camera. A 3inch screen with a resolution of 230,400 dots takes up much of the rear of the EX-FH100.
Despite the large zoom range the EX-FH100 is still fairly compact. Casio's NP-90 rechargeable Li-Ion battery promises to provide power for up to 300 shots.

High speed continuous shooting at speeds of up to 40fps up to a maximum of 30shots is possible allowing the exact moment to be captured in high speed situations. The resolution is reduced to roughly 7megapixels for this mode, which is still fairly respectable. High speed video recording is also possible at crazy frame rates of up to 1000fps, albeit at much reduced resolution. Those wishing to analyse their golf swing or similar in super slow motion will welcome this feature, alongside those who wish to use it for fun. During playback on the camera the footage can be sped up, slowed down or even played backwards as you wish. This feature can prove to be lots of fun, as I've found with previous Casios with this feature, whether it be a day-to-day mundane scene, or someone devouring a cream cake at high speed, it always looks quite different in slow motion.

Sample of high speed video at 240 frames per second.

High definition video recording is also possible at up to 720p resolution and at 30fps and a HDMI output is provided for trouble free viewing on your television.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Handling
Weighing approximately 227g, the EX-FH100 is a little heavier than some similarly specified compacts, but not overly so. The build quality is good giving a quite tough impression overall. The camera body is shaped an sculpted to fit the hand well, with a rubberised finger grip on the front allowing for a firm grip and comfortable use with one hand.

The controls are laid out very clearly, with enough space between buttons for even my fat fingers to operate the camera with ease. Common controls such as the zoom and video recording button all fall under finger or thumb.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Performance
In good lighting conditions and at the wide end of the zoom, the EX-FH100 is very responsive indeed, focusing quickly and with little noticeable shutter lag. The face detection system also works well when photographing people, finding faces swiftly and focusing quickly. Unfortunately when using the long end of the zoom, the camera sometimes need to hunt a little before achieving focus, especially in low-light conditions. In good light its performance is acceptable, although still noticeably slower than at the wide end of the zoom.

The metering system copes well with a wide range of lighting conditions. Lightly coloured or backlit scenes still tend to result in pleasing exposures. The face detection system also seems to aid the exposure metering, leading to good results whenever the system kicks in.

I found the camera tends to produce images with just enough contrast and natural looking colour saturation.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100 Performance: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
This predominantly bright scene has been exposed perfectly. It took a few attempts to get a sharp image of this squirrel as the focus tends to hunt around when photographing moving subjects at the long end of the zoom.
High contrast scenes are also dealt with well by the EX-FH100s metering system. Images generally have a good amount of contrast and natural colour saturation.

ISO and noise performance
Much has been made of back illuminated sensor technology by a number of manufacturers of late. The technology means that the sensor's wiring is located on the rear rather than on the front in the path of the light, which should allow more light through to the sensor and improve the camera's image quality at high sensitivities.

By using a combination of this technology and by keeping the pixel-count relatively low at 10 megapixels, the EX-FH100 manages to produce images with no signs of noise up to ISO400, where a little noise reduction can be seen to be softening fine details, although the quality is still very good here. ISO800 is also very usable, with a little more noise reduction being evident, but none of the brightly coloured speckles you'd expect from a compact at this sensitivity. ISO1600 again shows more aggressive noise reduction reducing fine details and the colour saturation has been reduced also, but again it is very usable.

Only at ISO3200 do the noise levels become so significant that you may consider avoiding the setting altogether, but in smaller prints and for sharing on the web, nobody need know what setting you used here.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100 Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200

Casio Exilim EX-FH100 Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200

White-balance
Under incandescent lighting the EX-FH100's auto white balance does a reasonable job of suppressing unwanted amber colour casts, in fact the specific preset for tungsten light seemed to come out more amber in our studio test. Again under fluorescent lighting the camera appears to perform better in auto white balance than the specific preset does. The fluorescent preset is very magenta under the warm white fluorescent tubes in our studio.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting. Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

Buffer read/write times
The delay from shot to shot on the EX-FH100 is around 2.1seconds on average, which is a little slower than I expected from a camera that makes much of its high speed capabilities. When using the high speed continuous mode, the camera will take all 30 shots as a set. The time in total to take these shots plus write them to the card on the fastest speed in around 5.9 seconds on average when using a Lexar Class 10 SDHC card, which is much more impressive. Another little quirk I noticed during use was that the camera would sometimes report a low battery warning after recording high speed video or high speed continuous shooting, showing the strain these features put on the battery as the camera tries to write all that data to the card as quickly as possible.

Lens performance
The 10x zoom lens fitted to the EX-FH100 put in an impressive performance during testing. Images appear sharp from edge to edge with only a little barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom. Flare and ghosting is kept under control, only showing in very harsh lighting conditions at the wide angle of the zoom. I did not notice any significant colour fringing, even in high contrast situations towards the edge of the frame.

For a camera geared up to be able to take good quality snaps in low light, I find the maximum aperture of the lens slightly disappointing. It ranges from f/3.2 at the wide end to f/5.7 at the telephoto end. I suppose this is the compromise you make for the compact dimension of the camera though.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100 Lens quality: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
The 24mm equivalent wide angle is useful for capturing wider scenes. This shot, taken from the same spot as the image to the left shows the pulling power of the 240mm equivalent telephoto.
A slightly disappointing minimum focus distance of 7cm in the macro setting means it can be difficult to fill the frame with smaller subjects. Images are sharp from edge to edge with minimum distortion, even at the wide angle end of the zoom.

Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Verdict
Creating a compact digital camera that stands out from the crowd can't be an easy task nowadays, but I feel that Casio have managed it this time with the EX-FH100.

The camera provides god quality at high sensitivities for a compact, a useful zoom range and plenty of features to keep either advanced photographers or snap-shooters smitten. The video recording features work well and I found the high-speed movie a lot of fun to use. All this and the price tag is quite reasonable too. There are plenty of camera that don't perform as well as this, which also cost more, making this camera seem like good value for money.

The Casio EX-FH100 is a well-specified camera for a reasonable price.
Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Pros

Good quality at higher sensitivities for a compact
Useful zoom range
High speed video
High frame rate continuous shooting
Manual exposure control
Handling and build quality

Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Cons
Auto focus can hunt at long end of the zoom
HS modes put large strain on the battery.

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE
OVERALL

Casio Exilim EX-FH100: Specification
Price £255.00
What comes in the box Rechargeable lithium ion battery, lithium ion battery charger, AC power cord, USB cable, AV cable, strap, CD-ROM.
Contact www.exilim.co.uk
Lens 11 lenses in 10 groups, including aspherical lens, f = 4.3 to 43.0mm, F3.2 (W) to F5.7 (T)
Resolution 10.1Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3-inch
Sensor type High-speed CMOS (back-illuminated type)
Max. Image size 3648 x 2736
Aspect ratio 4:3
LCD monitor size 3inch
Focusing system Contrast detection
Focusing modes Auto Focus, Macro Mode, Infinity Mode, Manual Focus, Face Detection
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO100-3200
Metering system Multi-pattern, center weighted, spot by imaging element
White-balance Auto WB, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Day White FL, Daylight FL, Tungsten, Manual WB
Exposure compensation -2EV to +2EV (in 1/3EV steps)
Shutter speed range 30 to 1/2000 second (high-speed continuous shutter: up to 1/40000 second)
Continuous shooting Up to 40fps
Anti-shake mode Sensor Shift stabilisation
Movie mode 1280 x 720 (30 fps)
Media type SD, SDHC
Interface USB, HDMI
Power Rechargeable lithium ion battery (NP-90)
Size (wxdxl) 105.0 (W) x 63.2 (H) x 29.9 (D) mm, 29.0mm thick excluding protruding parts
Weight (with battery) 227g

The Casio Exilim EX-FH100 costs £255 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Casio Exilim EX-FH100

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