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Casio Exilim EX-H5 Digital Camera Review

Casio Exilim EX-H5 Digital Camera Review - We take an exclusive look at Casio's new compact super-zoom featuring a 24mm equivalent wide angle lens, 10x zoom range, image stabiliser, HD video recording, and a new image processing engine.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Casio Exilim Hi-Zoom EX-H5
Price : £13
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Features
Handling
Performance
ePHOTOzine verdict and ratings
Specification

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Casio Exilim EX-H5

It seems every manufacturer has a super-zoom compact in their range. They have grown in popularity due to the flexibility the large zoom range offers while the compact size means it can be slipped into a pocket out of harms way easily. These attributes make this kind of camera perfect for taking on holiday, or as a camera to keep by your side at all times. This Casio is priced at £149.99 and is aimed at those looking for that flexibility in a compact, easy to use package.

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Features
Casio's latest houses a 10x zoom lens with an angle of view equivalent to 24-240mm on a 35mm camera, which is a very useful range for a variety of subjects. You really notice the extra you can squeeze into the frame at the wide end of the zoom and it will come into its own when faced with taking pictures of architecture or group shots of people. To ensure the 240mm equivalent telephoto end of the zoom is usable, Casio have included a CCD shift Image Stabiliser to iron out camera shake caused by trembly hands. In use the system seems to work very well, throughout the zoom range allowing for sharp shots even under dull conditions.

At the heart of the camera lies a 12.1Mp CCD sensor producing image of 4000x3000 pixels in size, which at 300dpi will give you a 13x10inch print. In terms of bell and whistles, Casio appear to have taken simplistic approach and will suit anyone who is looking for ease of use over customisable features well. There is still plenty to play with though, as the Best Shot menu hides a plethora of automatic presets for almost every conceivable shooting situation.

HD video recording is accessible with one touch of the record button located on the rear of the body. The footage is recorded at 720p resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio and the maximum recording time is 29 minutes. The footage look sharp and smooth with no jerkiness but there is no optical zoom during recording, only digital zoom, which degrades the picture quality the more you zoom in.

A 2.7inch screen takes up much of the rear of the camera. In use I found it displays a nice contrasty image and it is easy enough to see what you're doing in daylight. Although it certainly isn't the highest resolution display I've seen, 230,400 dots is enough for pictures to appear clear and for the text to be easy enough to read.

Casio Exilim EX-H5 Key features: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Zoom Extended
To allow the zoom to fit into a slim body the lens extends in three sections.




Casio Exilim EX-H5 Top Panel
A bezel around the shutter button on top of the camera controls the zoom and the power button is nearby.
Casio EX-H5 Screen Detail
The rear of the camera is filled with the 2.7 inch screen. Movies can be recorded via the one touch record button.
 
Casio EX-H5 Battery detail
Power is provided by a 710MAh rechargeble Li-Ion battery

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Handling
Weighing 174g the EX-H5 is lightweight, but the smooth metal body feels well put together and certainly sturdy enough. The camera body is quite slim and there is no finger grip provided on the front and the camera body actually feels quite slippery at times. I occasionally found I would accidentally cover the flash with my finger as there is a ridge just below if which made for a better grip. I have quite large hands though, so I can't imagine this would be an issue for everyone.

Despite the small size, the minimalist approach pays off with the layout of the controls. I found all the buttons easy to operate with one hand, including the menus and zoom. Even though it's good practice to steady the camera with your other hand, I found one handed shooting quite easy due to the well-designed controls.

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Performance
During testing this camera produced plenty of sharp, well exposed pictures with plenty of detail. The focus system normally locks onto whatever is in the centre of the frame, but lightly depressing the shutter locks focus in place so you can focus and recompose if necessary. If Face Detection is enabled and you point the camera at the front of someone's head then the focus and exposure systems are overridden automatically to give preference to faces. I found the detection system to be pretty infallible so long as two eyes and a mouth are visible on screen. It didn't always work so well if people were looking away though.

As with many cameras of this type, the exposure system is often fooled by predominantly bright subjects. As this camera locks exposure as well as focus when the shutter button is lightly depressed I found the easiest solution was to point the camera away from the brightness whilst focusing.

Casio Exilim EX-H5 Performance: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Flower Best Shot
The pink flowers are rendered vibrantly in the scene.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Natural Green Best Shot
A specific scene mode is provided to reproduce natural greens accurately.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Underexposure
Predominantly bright scenes can often come out under exposed.
 
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Vivid Landscape
The Vivid Landscape preset boosts the midtones and colour saturation.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Flash Portrait
The built-in flash provides adequate fill-in reducing shadows in daylight.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 BSS Portrait
The Portrait mode automatically applies a 'Make-Up' effect, which smooth skin detail for a more flattering result.

The standard automatic mode works well in a range of situations, but for everything else there is the Best Shot menu, which provides a range of options where special treatment regarding colour, exposure and sharpness may be required. A mode for natural green foliage ensure colours are faithfully reproduced and the Vivid Landscape option lifts mid-tones and increases colour saturation to ensure you scenic views don't look flat and lifeless. The portrait mode has a strange quirk in that it automatically applies a 'Make-Up' effect to the image after it is taken. This basically smooths out skin detail to give images a more flattering appearance, although I found it also smooths quite a bit of other detail too, which can be seen in a persons hair for example.

The built in flash is powerful enough to fill out shadows in daylight, as well as to provide illumination indoors when it's dark. I found the flash exposures to be pretty accurate most of the time, only over-exposing when shooting a predominantly light subject in the dark. Faces are well exposed by the flash when the face detection kicks in.

ISO and noise performance
From the base sensitivity of ISO64 to ISO200, images appear clear and sharp without much evidence of noise reduction softening the image. As the sensitivity is increased to ISO400 and beyond the camera's noise reduction system starts to smooth out the noise, and unfortunately some of the detail, especially in the shadows. If you take a close look at the images taken at ISO800 and ISO1600 outdoors, you'd be forgiven for thinking the area under the welcome sign on the building wasn't made of bricks at all as much of the detail has been smoothed out. Despite this images taken at these sensitivities will do for modest-sized prints and sharing on the web.

When testing the camera outside at ISO3200 a very peculiar thing happened. The conditions were too bright for the camera to take an image at this setting, but instead of recording an over-exposed image, the EX-H5 rewarded me with a completely black frame so care may need to be taken when manually setting the ISO yourself. Indoors the camera had no problem taking an image and here you can see the noise reduction is really having to work hard to smooth out the noise in the image. At this high sensitivity, the colour saturation has also been reduced, I presume in an attempt to control the amount of coloured speckles present.

Overall I feel the noise performance is acceptable for a camera of this type, with the emphasis being on noise reduction, rather than preserving detail. This approach may not be favourable to photography enthusiasts, but it will certainly suit someone who might put their pictures from their holidays, or latest night out on Facebook, or nip to their local high street lab for a set of 7x5inch prints.

Casio Exilim EX-H5
Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test

 
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test ISO64
ISO64
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test ISO100
ISO100
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test ISO200
ISO200
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test ISO400
ISO400
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test ISO800
ISO800
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test ISO1600
ISO1600
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Outdoor ISO Test ISO3200
ISO3200
 

Casio Exilim EX-H5
Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Casio EX-H5 ISO Test Image
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Indoor ISO64
ISO64
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Indoor ISO100
ISO100
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Indoor ISO200
ISO200
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Indoor ISO400
ISO400
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Indoor ISO800
ISO800
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Indoor ISO1600
ISO1600
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Indoor ISO3200
ISO3200
 

White-balance
In a variety of different conditions, the EX-H5 auto white-balance works well just leaving a hint of warmth much of the time. In fact it works so well that the result using auto is virtually indistinguishable from images taken with the incandescent preset under incandescent light. In daylight colours are rendered accurately. Fluorescent lights are the bane of white balance system normally. The fluorescent preset gave quite cool tone under the lights in our studio.

Casio Exilim EX-H5 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 AWB under Incadescent Light
Auto white-balance under Incandescent Light
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Incandescent Preset under Incadescent Light
Incandescent preset in incandecent lighting
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Fluorescent preset Fluorescent Light
Fluorescent preset in fluorecent lighting
 

Buffer read/write times
The peculiar thing about this camera is that image processing and write times vary quite drastically depending on the mode selected. With no effects applied it takes 1.88 seconds before another shot can be taken whereas with the vivid landscape option enabled it takes 4.88 seconds, which is a sizeable delay. Skipping from image to image in playback is virtually instant, making skipping through a large batch of files a pleasure.

Lens performance
A 12Mp sensor in a compact camera such as this can be quite demanding on the lens, and in this case Casio have produced an optic that is up to the job. Images appear sharp from edge to edge, with only a little softness creeping in at the corners if you look closely enough. Chromatic aberrations are kept to a minimum, with the occasional hint of a pale blue fringe sometimes appearing in very high contrast object close to the corners, but it is at a level you wouldn't normally notice, unless you specifically went looking for it.

The maximum aperture of the lens is quite modest at F/3.2-5.7, which may mean the camera has to rely on boosting the sensitivity to attain the correct exposure. This kind of aperture is typical of a lens of this type and is a compromise you make for the compact size of the camera.

Flare was rarely an issue during testing and was only present in the most extreme of conditions. Overall I feel the optical performance of the EX-H5 is good, and that the lens is well-matched to the sensor.

Casio Exilim EX-H5 Lens quality: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Wide angle
A 24mm equivalent wide angle allows a lot to be captured which is perfect for landscapes and group shots of people.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Telephoto
Taken from the same spot as the image to the left, this shows the pulling power of the 10x zoom at maximum telephoto.
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Super Macro Mode
In super-macro mode you can only get within 7cm of your subject.
 
Casio Exilim EX-H5 Lens Sharpness
The lens is capable of resolving plenty of detail right to the edges of the frame.

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Verdict
With the EX-H5 Casio have proved that they know who their target market for this kind of camera is. If you require the convenience of a large zoom, and ease of use is your priority then Casio have designed this camera just for you.

The image quality and colour rendition at lower sensitivities is good and even at high ISOs, the camera applies enough noise reduction to smooth out the blotches at the expense of fine detail. This kind of approach will suit those who snap and share memories, more than it will an enthusiast after something they can slip in their pocket to take pictures when their bulky gear has to be left at home.

Overall the camera is easy to use, well built and is capable of taking great pictures.

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Pros
Good picture quality at lower sensitivities
Good build quality
Very simple and easy to use
Useful zoom range with 24mm equivalent wide angle
Effective Image Stabiliser

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Cons
No optical zoom during video recording
Noise reduction may be too heavy-handed for some
No finger grip on front of camera body

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE
OVERALL

Casio Exilim EX-H5: Specification
Price £149.99
What comes in the box Rechargeable lithium ion battery (NP-80), lithium ion battery charger, AC power cord, USB cable, AV cable, strap, CD-ROM, Reference Manual
Contact www.exilim.co.uk
Lens 11 elements in 10 groups, including aspherical lens
Max Aperture F3.2 (W) to F5.7 (T)
Resolution 12Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3-inch
Sensor type Square pixel CCD
Max. Image size 4000x3000
Aspect ratio 4:3
LCD monitor size 2.7inch
Optical viewfinder No
Focusing system Contrast Detection Auto Focus
Focusing modes Auto Focus, Macro Mode, Super Macro, Infinity Mode, Manual Focus, Face Detection
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO64-3200
Metering system Multi-pattern by CCD
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 4 to 1/2000 secs
Continuous shooting Up to 10fps. Normal mode 1.4fps
Anti-shake mode CCD-shift image stabilization
Movie mode Yes
Monitor 2.7-inch TFT color LCD, 230,400 dots
Media type SD, SDHC
Interface USB
Power Rechargeable lithium ion battery
Size (wxdxl) 103.5 (W) x 59.4 (H) x 29.1 (D) mm
Weight (with battery) 174g

The Casio Exilim EX-H5 costs £149.99 and will be available from Warehouse Express shortly.

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Comments


24 Sep 2012 7:33PM
Nice pictures ..

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