Expanding on the popular super duper fast camera range, Casio introduce the Exilim EX-FC100 with 30fps and HD video capability.
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Specification
- Zoom: 5x optical (37-185mm)
- Resolution: 9Mp
- Sensor size: 1/2.3in
- Sensor type: CMOS
- Max. image size: 3456x2592
- File type: JPEG
- Sensitivity: ISO100-1600
- Storage: SD, SDHC, Eye-Fi wireless card compatible
- Focus types: Contrast detection, spot, free, tracking
- Normal focusing: 40cm-infinity
- Close focusing: 3cm-50cm
- Metering types: Multi, centre-weighted, spot
- Exposure compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
- Shutter speed: 4sec-1/40,000sec
- Flash: Built-in
- Monitor: 2.7in TFT LCD, 230,000dot
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Power: Li-Ion battery
- Size: 99.8x58.5x22.6mm
- Weight: 146g (excl. battery and card)
For around £300, the Casio Exilim EX-FC100 offers a 5x optical zoom, 9Mp and 30fps continuous shooting. Keeping with cameras displaying new technology, the Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR
costs around £279 and has a similar 5x optical zoom, higher 12Mp resolution and a new HDR sensor. Meanwhile the Nikon Coolpix P6000
has a 4x optical zoom, 13.5Mp and built-in GPS capability.
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Features
Casio set new standards in camera performance with the release of the EX-F1 Pro. The bridge camera managed to take 60 photographs in one second making it the fastest commercial camera available. They followed this up with the FH-20 which wasn't as fast but could record at 9Mp which is 3Mp more than the first offering.
Now Casio have expanded the range of super fast cameras with a small, smart compact type that records at 30fps (frames per second) but also gives you HD video, a 5x optical zoom and 9Mp resolution.
It's a busy camera with buttons and switches all over the place which includes the dedicated continuous shooting button on the top plate while on the back is the video record button for all those YouTube nuts out there.
Actually, anyone interested in using the EX-FC100 for YouTube will be happy to know that the camera has a YouTube function which creates a separate folder on the memory card for you to locate the videos you want quicker. YouTube also have a new HD upload option which is great news for users of this camera.
The usual on screen quick menu has been installed to the FC100 but has had some notable changes made to it including lag correction and two options to adjust the settings for the slow motion view button on the top of the camera.
This button is found just above the screen and will capture one to three seconds of video then keeps repeating it until you press the shutter release. At that point, it'll capture the frame you want. This is great for fast moving or unpredictable subjects such as animals as you can film them in slow motion and make sure you get the best possible image.
Capturing for one second will work at 30fps, two seconds will use 15fps and three seconds will work at 10fps. It means if your reflexes are bad or it's a slow moving object you can use the three second option and get a longer amount of film to use. At the opposite end is more frames to choose from but in a shorter time. You can also choose the speed of the slow motion video if your reactions aren't the best.
One of the things I found difficult to get used to on the new Casio cameras is the record and playback buttons for switching between taking pictures and looking at the ones you've already taken. I say it's difficult because normally pressing the shutter release button halfway will take you out of the playback system but it doesn't happen on the Casio cameras. You can only change between by pressing those two buttons. It would be nice to have the other option too so if you've recently changed companies you don't get caught out but it doesn't take long to get used to the Casio way.
Pressing up on the navigation pad on the back of the camera will scroll through the different display options while pressing down will give you the flash options and also acts as a delete button in playback.
Below the navigation pad are two buttons for entering the main menu and the BS or Best Shot menu. This is simply the scene selection but Casio have more than any other company I've seen such as portrait, landscape and sports but also has more precise options such as autumn leaves, fireworks, multi motion image and also has space for a registered user scene.
Delving into the main menu can be a pretty daunting task because although Casio's aren't the most difficult to use, the menus can be pretty vast to incorporate all the features that they store. For simplicity there are only three tabs for recording options, quality and the set-up menu. In the record menu, you can change options such as focusing, anti-shake, continuous shooting, digital zoom, assign the left and right key on the navigation pad or add a grid to the display.
In the quality tab you can change the image resolution, video quality, frames per second rate, metering modes, sharpness, saturation or contrast. Finally the set-up menu is for the more core features of the camera such as enabling the Eye-Fi option, changing the file number from continuous to renew, changing the world time and date as well as the auto power off and video out.
For those of you that read our story on the new Eye-Fi card this time last year, the card can piggy back a free wifi signal to upload images to your computer without the need for cables or card readers. The Casio FC100 is one of the first cameras in the UK to have this feature and certainly, along with the EX-S12, EX-S5 and EX-FS10 from Casio, is the first compact to have this feature.
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Build and handling
The decision to use CMOS instead of CCD for the sensor is an interesting one. Typically, CMOS has been seen as the lower quality brethren in terms of image quality although it's well known for its lower power consumption qualities.
I like the feel of the camera, it doesn't feel flimsy when I hold it and holding it like a normal compact (about a foot away from my face) the controls fall to my fingertips. The buttons are responsive and my only real complaint is the plastic tripod bush. The battery door feels solid with little play in it and it even has a locking switch with a spring loaded release to keep it shut.
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Performance
30 photographs in one second freezes this wind turbine nicely.
It's difficult to test the continuous shooting on the Casio high speed models because they don't do a sequential burst mode that I can test over a ten second period. Instead they have a one second burst that is set to 30fps maximum on the Casio Exilim EX-FC100. This can be dropped down to as few as 5fps in the function menu on screen after you've pressed the continuous button on top of the camera.
To use the continuous shooting you have to sacrifice pixels and the FC100 only runs at 6Mp which is the same resolution as the F1 but that runs at 60fps. It means that the buffer is smaller but this is a lower classification camera.
Even though the camera says maximum 30fps, it doesn't mean that it will run at that speed. My tests proved that depending on the light source, it had to drop the number down and in really low light it was only managing three frames per second. This was due to the longer exposure required so makes sense but increasing the ISO didn't help the situation.
Shutter lag sits at the 0.08sec which is the average result for my testing but could differ from the maunfacturers results which tend to be more clinical. Casio have fitted an inventive feature to the Exilim EX-FC100 where you can correct the lag if you find your reactions aren't all too clever. In the quick menu, you can adjust the lag correction between 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3sec which is great if you're photographing a spontaneous action at an event or taking pictures of the kids.
Looking at the colour test chart shows a boost in the primary colours with a smooth earth brown and forest green. I also like the tone of the skin tile but I think the orange could be richer. There's colour in the pastel tiles and the mono tones are nicely balanced.
A decent result from the colour test chart but some colours could be improved on.
On the surface it looks ok but fringing lets the image down.
Fringing on the white bars of the lock brings the landscape test shot down to earth with a bump as it's otherwise a pretty nice shot. Metering is good but it was an overcast day so it wasn't exactly challenging and there's enough detail in the foreground.
With a 3cm close focusing, this could actually be the perfect distance.
A macro focusing of 3cm isn't the closest I've seen but the ones closer than this tend to get shadows from the lens in the picture. With that in mind, this could actually be the perfect distance to be away from the subject as the detail shown on this image of the vintage camera is great.
Slight colour fringing is evident on the toothed lens bezel as it contrasts with the aperture ring but it's minimal and can only really be seen at full magnification.
Despite setting the white balance to shade which will boost orange slightly to contrast the blue tone that a daylight shadow brings, the image is still displaying a cooler tone to it. There's also a lot of noise suggesting a higher ISO but the EXIF data hasn't recorded so I can't confirm what the camera did.
Adding flash has certainly improved matters regarding noise and colour tone which are the two main problems of not using the flash. It is a little harsh and has started to reflect off the head so could do with a little less power to counteract this issue.
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Noise test
Normal portrait mode has given a cooler tone despite the white balance override. Noise is also present.
Adding flash is still a cool result but not as bad and the noise issue from before is gone.
Up until this point I've been quite impressed with the Casio Exilim EX-FC100 with its speed, features and build quality. However, to have noise coming in at ISO100 is unacceptable but it's there on the grey tile. There's plenty of detail still present which means that noise control hasn't kicked in at this stage unlike ISO200 where the image is starting to smudge out.
Matters get worse as the sensitivity increases although the processor puts up a brave fight, the noise is far too aggressive. I'm surprised that it can get this bad with a resolution of only 9Mp. I say only as there are cameras out with higher resolution on a similar size sensor and they don't display noise until later in the stage.
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Verdict
The ISO100 test.
The ISO1600 test.
I really like this camera and it's such a shame that the noise reduction isn't as good a version as it deserves. I got some really nice pictures with it and I had good fun making a slow motion video that you can see on ePHOTOzine.tv here:
Casio Exilim EX-FC100 slow motion video
It's great to have all the uber-fast features of the Casio speed series in a compact as I think it brings this amazing technology to more people.
If this Casio can sort out the noise issues that the FC100 displays then it's certainly a compact I'd consider investing in. However, that said I still really like it and it still scores highly.
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Plus points
Super fast continuous shooting
1000fps slow motion video
Good macro setting
Casio Exilim EX-FC100: Minus Points
White balance can't always cope
Flash can be harsh
The Casio Exilim EX-FC100 costs around £269 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Casio Exilim EX-FC100