There are some cameras where it looks like there’s a specific market sector in mind by the manufacturer and there’s set of features to back it up. Then there’s cameras like the H30 where it appears Casio has stuffed in most of the good features it could find laying around the lab. Wide angle lens, big zoom, huge resolution, muscular battery, clever firmware, it’s all here and in a relatively small package.
Casio Exilim EX-H30: Features
The H30 is much the same size as recently launched ZS5/10 except that it’s about twice as thick. When you read the spec sheet, this is no surprise, in fact, the only surprise is that it isn’t bigger. To kick things off there’s a handsome 24mm wide angle lens. That extends out to provide 12.5 optical zoom, giving a 300mm equivalent telephoto. Now that’s a superzoom. Inside is CCD-shift stabilisation to help and the CCD itself boasts a jaw-dropping 16.1Mp resolution. That delivers an astonishing 15.3inch by 11.52 inch print at 300dpi. Controlling the action is a raft of program modes, scene modes and Casio’s Premium Auto. There’s complete control in the form of Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority program modes, there’s a silent mode for those sneaky shots in English Heritage buildings and xx scene modes available under the Best Shot moniker. On top of this the H30 offers fast continuous shooting, a choice of metering modes and super macro right up to the front of the lens. Oh yes, there’s also the rather clever slow motion water mode and an ISO range that delivers smoothness at ISO80 and high sensitivity up to ISO3200.
1000 pictures on one battery charge
24mm wide-angle lens
12.5x optical zoom with CCD-shift stabilisation
Exilim Engine 5.0
Premium Auto mode
1280 x 720 movie mode
Energy saving mode
Dynamic Photo function
Casio Exilim EX-H30: Handling
The build quality of the H30 is a kind of mix of the ZS5 and the ZS10. It has an average quality body, but with nice quality metal buttons on the back. The thing is, it’s absolutely packed with features, so you really want to be able to get at them, and aside from the addition of a mode dial on the top, there’s not much extra to let you. The mode dial offers silent, panorama photos, best shot, Premium Auto, Auto, AP, SP and manual modes. There’s an energy saving Eco mode button, though strangely you also need to put the camera into Auto mode as well for it to work. There’s no selection dial, which is something of an oversight on a camera with so much going on. Instead, controlling the functions is left to the Set button menu, which is different from the Menu button menus. The ones on the Menu button are more setup configurations like whether you want continuous shooting, what type of metering etc. The Set menu has aperture setting, exposure compensation, timer, ISO rating, AF area, flash and resolution/quality. The joypad dial only has two pre-programmed controls. One for toggling the display information, the other for setting the flash mode (or deleting image in playback mode). On the less-well specified ZS cameras, you can assign the left-right motion to a function as well. On the H30, which needs it more, you can’t. Mind you, when in AP mode, the aperture selection is quite rigid. You can select either the wide open f/3.0 or the narrow option of f/7.9. There’s nothing else, but to be fair, it’s the two extremes that you would want to choose between in practice. It’s also fairly annoying to have to go into the setup menu system to find the option for macro mode.
Casio Exilim EX-H30: Performance
With a choice of three metering systems, there’s something to keep everyone happy for what they like to use as a default. The zonal system doesn’t take that much notice of the sky as is usual for compacts, so in that regard it’s not much different from a centre-weighted system where you focus on the landscape. It also means that backlit subject tend to come out fine as well, though obviously blown highlights and white skies are often the consequence. Subtle tones of colour are preserved well, unless one of the technicolour scene modes is used, while other shades are bright and cheerful. Skin tones are fine and healthy and for those over a certain age, there’s the beauty processing available, with a scale of one to 10. On the first setting it does a little softening, on the strongest setting it really cleans up and softens skin while retaining the rest of the picture. There’s also an enhancement setting for landscapes that brightens shadow areas and covers everything with saturation goo. To be used sparingly.
AF Tracking, ISO200, 1/125, f/5.9, 53mm (35mm equiv: 300mm)
Turning on and ready to shoot time is around three seconds while focussing is pretty speedy at around a second for a lock on, or failed result. The area-wide focus is useful for clumps of things close up like flowers, but for single subjects with then normal point focus is the best choice. There’s also tracking focus, which only works if you turn Face Detection off first, and this is good for slow moving subjects on the ground where you aren’t zoomed in too far. It’s of no use for birds flying in the air. Face Detection itself works well, easily picking up people in scenes. As mentioned, macro mode is accessed through the setup menu, which is not helpful, or can be used automatically in specific scene modes or Premium Auto mode. With a super-macro mode of just 1cm, it’s superb for getting those really close to the lens shots.
One flaw comes in the form of burst shooting. There isn’t any. It’s one, hi-res shot at a time. There is a continuous mode of 4fps and 10fps but these drop the resolution rights down to 1600x1200 and 1280x960 respectively.
Premium Auto is Casio’s showcase firmware mode. It detects and sets an appropriate scene mode based on the content of the picture. It’s generally accurate and useful for those wanting a styled image without the effort of setting a scene mode first.
White colours, ISO200, 1/1000, f/4, 7mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)
As far as battery life goes, one charge will see you through the day. The CIPA rating is 1000 shots with a bit of flash and playback. When used out and about, I didn’t even come close to making a dent on the battery. It really is a charge it up and forget it feature.
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/13, f/4.4, 9mm (35mm equiv: 51mm)
There’s a few comments to make about the white balance performance. Firstly, that just like the macro mode, it’s absolutely buried in the menu system. The next is that in outdoor use it’s spot on. The fun is where the lighting is mixed and for indoor shots with tungsten and fluorescent, mixed with window light, again, really first rate results. The only fly in the ointment came when using flash in a mixed natural-tungsten situation and here the result was a little too warm. Otherwise, generally excellent results.
ISO80, 1/3, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO100, 1/4, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO200, 1/8, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO400, 1/15, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO800, 1/30, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO1600, 1/60, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO3200, 1/125, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
The ISO range runs from 80 right up to 3200 and with a colossal 16Mp resolution packed into such a small space, it was always going to be interesting to see how the noise reduction system coped. At up to ISO200 there’s no problems at all with nice clean results. At ISO400 though the noise suppression starts to work and this irons out detail, leaving the odd artefact in the image. At ISO800 it’s really significant, to the extent that there’s not much point in recording a 16Mp image because you are losing the detail that the extra resolution brings. At ISO1600 there’s no fine detail and noise, though thankfully not coloured, is visible throughout. Finally, at ISO3200 the image is noticeably soft because there’s no real detail, there’s copious noise in the shadows but it is kept to a reasonable level in the mid-toned and lighter areas, plus, there’s no colour noise or shifts either.
Telephoto and SR Zoom, ISO400, 1/320, f/5.9, 53mm (35mm equiv: 300mm)
Digital Zoom, ISO400, 1/400, f/5.8, 53mm (35mm equiv: 300mm)
On to the lens then and the 24mm wide angle is a really asset. The f/3 aperture isn’t the best you could hope for, but is understandable given the great range of the lens. There’s some distortion at the wide angle, but not that much and it has enough sharpness for a compact. At the telephoto end it’s often necessary to increase the ISO setting to ensure against camera shake, but even so, the images are softer, but with very little distortion. The do lose some contrast though, but a good result all the same. There’s colour fringing shooting against white skies and shots with bright white objects in them will lose highlights and also show fringing, but white objects in overcast conditions suffer from neither. Overall, there’s little complaint about the results obtained in a typical day out shooting inside and out.
Casio Exilim H30 Sample Video:
The Casio Exilim H30 record 720p video at 24fps, and lets you use the optical zoom while recording, as well as digital zoom. The video is saved as an AVI file (Motion JPG), with mono sound, and quality is good.
Value For Money
With a price of £209 the EX-H30 offers all kinds of good value from the high resolution to the telephoto lens, superb macro and shooting features. The Olympus SZ-20 is less and offers the same kind of resolution and telephoto range, but full HD video and better continuous shooting. However, the H30 has a battery that will go all day so for holidays where you are out all day, it’s a great choice. Around the same kind of price you can pick up a Canon PowerShot SX220 HS which has a 14x optical zoom and for more reach there’s the Nikon CoolPix S9100 with an 18x lens for another £40. The Casio Cashback offer gives you another £30 off the H30, so it certainly makes it even more appealing.
Casio Exilim EX-H30: Verdict
Consistently good results and a great feature set at an attractive price make the H30 a great camera for day trippers. The only flaw is the fact that the camera has the rear body styling of a more beginner camera so that the advanced features are all hidden in the menu systems. This can be frustrating because there’s lots to explore and use. However, the relative slender styling of the camera means that it’s easy to carry around and the sneaky quiet mode on the top dial makes it possible for surreptitious indoor photography. There’s good colour rendition at all times and plenty of detail if you stay at ISO200 or below.
Consistently good results and exceptional battery life at an attractive price make the H30 a great camera for day trippers.
Casio Exilim EX-H30: Pros
Heavy duty battery
24mm wide angle lens
Premium Auto scene recognition
Landscape and Makeup processing
Superb 1cm macro
Lots of features and control
Effective noise control
Casio Exilim EX-H30: Cons
Detail disappears at higher ISOs
Advanced functions are buried in menus
No continuous shooting at hi-res
AV cable, USB cable, CD, power charger, power lead, strap
105 x 59 x 29mm
201.3g inc battery and card
Exilim EX-H30 16.1 Megapixel Compact Camera - 4.24 mm-53 mm - Black (7.6 cm 3" LCD - 12.5x Optical Zoom - Optical IS - 4608 x 3456 Image - 1280 x 720 Video - Motion JPEG AVI) available from UK Digital Cameras for £219.99
Exilim EX-H30 16.1 Megapixel Compact Camera - 4.24 mm-53 mm - Black (7.6 cm 3" LCD - 12.5x Optical Zoom - Optical IS - 4608 x 3456 Image - 1280 x 720 Video - Motion JPEG AVI) available from Jessops for £229.95
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Digital Camera - Black (16.1MP, 12.5x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD available from Amazon UK for £207.00