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Sitting pretty at the top of Casio's high speed range of digital camera, the EX-FH25 sports a 20x optical zoom lens with image stabiliser, a high sensitivity 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, a wide angle equivalent to 26mm on a 35mm format camera and high speed video recording funtions all for a shade under £300.
The impressive zoom lens will make the camera appeal to those who feel limited by the zoom range on standard compacts who may be after something that is easy to use, but with that extra bit of scope for creativity.
Casio Exilim EX-FH25: Features
The lead feature many will be looking at when considering this camera is the massive 20x zoom lens, which covers a range equivalent to 26-520mm on a 35mm camera. This should provide ample wide angle for shooting in tight spaces, and plenty of telephoto for drawing in distant subjects. The lens also sports a mechanical image stabilisation system, which should help to make the long end of the telephoto more useful in lower lighting conditions.
A 10.1 CMOS sensor takes care of recording images formed by the lens. Casio state that it is a high sensitivity sensor, with ISO settings up to ISO 3200 available, although they make no mention of it being one of the new back illuminated types, that have proven themselves capable at such high sensitivities.
With this being one of Casio's high speed range of camera, there are high speed shooting and high speed video features included. In the high speed shooting mode, images can be taken at a rate of up to 30 frames per second at a reduced resolution of 7 megapixels, allowing you to choose the image you desire from a batch taken at very high speed. The high speed video functions allow videos to be taken at frame rates of up to 1000 frames per second, albeit at great reduced resolutions. In use I found this feature a lot of fun to experiment with and I can see it being of use to those wishing to analyse sporting technique, such as a golf swing, as well as it having the ability to make the most mundane of daily occurrence look truly wonderful. HD video recording is also possible at much more pedestrian frame rates. 720p HD video can be recorded at 30 frames per second. HDMI connectivity is included for seamless integration with your HD television.
A large three inch screen fill much of the rear of the camera and has a resolution of 230.400 dots, which isn't the highest I've seen. Despite this the screen does a decent job and is easy enough to see in all but the brightest daylight. For those times where you'd rather use a viewfinder, an electronic one is provided above the screen with a resolution of 201,600 dots. The EVF is clear and sharp and I found it easy enough to use while wearing glasses. A dioptre adjustment dial is provided if you'd rather adjust the finder to your prescription.
|Sample of high speed video switching between 30 and 240 frames per second.|
Casio Exilim EX-FH25: Handling
The EX-FH25 is a typical size and weight for a bridge camera, weighing 483g without batteries installed. Contoured rubberised finger grips are provided around the front and on the rear of the camera which help give a secure and comfortable hold of the camera body.
I found the control layout exceptionally easy to get to grips with and the menu system clear and easy to follow. Major controls such as the shutter release and zoom fall under finger and thumb making the camera easy enough to use held in one hand.
Casio Exilim EX-FH25: Performance
In use I found the camera to be very responsive for a bridge camera, focusing quickly and only having shutter lag noticeable when shooting high speed action. When the face detection system is active the camera is especially fast at focusing. The face detection system also appears to affect the metering, giving well-balanced results each time under a wide range of conditions.
Focusing is very quick at the shorter end of the zoom, but as I've found with quite a few other large zoom compacts, the focusing speed and accuracy drops as the lens is zoomed in. When out and about testing the camera, I attempted to take some pictures of Squirrels, but the camera could not focus quickly or accurately enough to get a usable image.
The Ex-FH25 produces images with natural looking colours, and a reasonable amount of contrast, which gives pleasing results with a wide range of subjects.
ISO and noise performance
By keeping the pixel count to a sensible 10.1 megapixels, Casio have created a bridge camera that is capable of producing decent results at moderately high ISO sensitivities.
Image taken between ISO100 and ISO400 have no significant signs of noise, with images at ISO400 showing a few signs of noise reduction smoothing fine detail. At ISO800 noise levels start to become more apparent but are still at acceptable levels for small prints and sharing on the web, at this setting the colour saturation is reduced in images as the noise reduction system attempts to control the appearance of the noise.
Although noise is clearly visible at ISO1600, images taken at these settings will still make decent postcard sized prints, as chroma noise is kept under control. Some fine details are lost to the noise and the smoothing effect of the noise reduction. ISO should be kept as a last resort, as noise is quite prevalent and areas of fine detail are reduced to a splodgey mush, as an be seen on the brickwork on the outdoor test. Still the results will be fine for sharing at low resolutions on the web when you have no other choice but to select such a high sensitivity.
|Casio Exilim EX-FH25 Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
|Casio Exilim EX-FH25 Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
The Auto white balance on the EX-FH25 performed particularly well in our studio, especially under incandescent light, where there is only a slight whiff of an amber colour cast. Under the warm white fluorescent lights there is a bit more of a yellow cast, but it isn't overly strong. Selecting the appropriate white balance preset for the conditions produces very accurate colours under either lighting condition.
Buffer read/write times
In single shot mode, on average it takes the camera around 2.1 seconds before it will allow you to take another consecutive shot, which is about typical for a camera of this level. In the high speed continuous mode, the camera surprisingly only takes 3.33seconds to complete taking the burst of 30 shots and to write them to the class 10 Lexar SDHC card I had installed, which is very good.
The 20x optic fitted to the EX-FH25 seems to be a competent performer, producing images with a little barrel distortion at the wide end and a little pincushion at the telephoto end. Neither level is overly disturbing though. The lens also seems quite resistant to ghost and flare, even when shooting into strong light and chromatic aberrations are only visible on very close inspection in areas of extreme contrast towards the corners of the frame.
A macro function with a closest focus of 7cm is provided, but if that isn't close enough a super macro mode can also be set, that will enable you to get with a centimetre of your subject.
Casio Exilim EX-FH25: Verdict
Casio's EX-FH25 offers a lot of exciting and fun features that should keep all but the most demanding photographers smitten. The 20x zoom range offers plenty of flexibility in a compact form and the high speed modes allow you to be creative, or simply to increase your chances of getting the shot you desire.
Even without these extras, the EX-FH25 proved itself a capable camera in testing, producing images of good quality in a wide range of conditions. If this camera ticks all the boxes for features, then the £300 price tag should represent good value for you.
Casio Exilim EX-FH25: Pros
20x zoom range
High speed continuous shooting
Better than average quality at high sensitivities
Easy to use
High speed video modes are a lot ofun
Casio Exilim EX-FH25: Cons
Slow and sometime inaccurate focusing at long end of the zoom.
Casio Exilim EX-FH25: Specification
|What comes in the box||AA-size alkaline battery (LR6) x 4, USB cable, AV cable, strap, lens cap, cap holder, CD-ROM|
|Lens||14 lenses in 11 groups, including aspherical lens, F2.8 (W) to 4.5 (T) , f=4.6 to 92.0mm , equivalent to 26-520mm on a 35mm camera.|
|Sensor type||High sensitivity CMOS sensor|
|Max. Image size||3648 x 2736|
|LCD monitor size||3.0 inch|
|Electronic viewfinder||0.2-inch LCD, Equal to 201,600 dots|
|Focusing system||Contrast detection|
|Focusing modes||Auto Focus, Macro Mode, Super Macro, Manual Focus|
|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|
|Shutter speed range||30 to 1/2000 second|
|Continuous shooting||Maximum 30 frames per second at 3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Anti-shake mode||CMOS-shift image stabilisation|
|Movie mode||HD Movies 1.280 × 720 (30 fps) High Speed Movies HS 1000 (224 × 64, 1000 fps), HS 420 (224 × 168, 420 fps), HS 240 (448 x 336, 240fps), HS 120 (640 x 480, 120fps), HS 30-240 (448 x 336, 30fps - 240fps), HS 30-120 (640 x 480, 30-120 fps)|
|Media type||SD, SDHC|
|Power||4x AA batteries|
|Size (wxdxl)||122.6 (W) x 81.4 (H) x 84.5 (D)mm|
|Weight (without battery)||483g|