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Casio Exilim EX-H30 Digital Compact Camera Review

Duncan Evans reviews the Casio Exilim EX-H30 digital compact camera, packed with features and in a relatively small package.

|  Casio Exilim H30 in Compact Cameras
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Casio Exilim EX-H30 front lens

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 Front

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.

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Rear

Key Features:

  • 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
  • 16.1 megapixels
  • Energy saving mode
  • Dynamic Photo function

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Top

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 battery

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.

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Centre-weighted metering   Casio Exilim EX-H30 Spot metering
Centre-weighted metering, ISO200, 1/500, f/7.9, 4mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   Spot metering, ISO200, 1/200, f/7.9, 4mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Pattern metering   Casio Exilim EX-H30 Make-up processing
Pattern metering, ISO200, 1/320, f/7.9, 4mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   Make-up processing, ISO80, 1/125, f/3, 4mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Wide-angle   Casio Exilim EX-H30 AF Tracking
Wide-angle, ISO80, 1/200, f/7.9, 4mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   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.

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Premium Auto   Casio Exilim EX-H30 Macro
Premium Auto, ISO80, 1/160, f/3, 4mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   Macro, ISO200, 1/60, f/4, 7mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Purple colours   Casio Exilim EX-H30 White colours
Purple colours, ISO200, 1/320, f/4, 7mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)   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.

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting   Casio Exilim EX-H30 Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/13, f/4.4, 9mm (35mm equiv: 51mm)   Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light, ISO100, 1/10, f/4.4, 9mm (35mm equiv: 51mm)
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light   Casio Exilim EX-H30 Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/3, f/4.4, 9mm (35mm equiv: 51mm)   Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/3, 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.

Casio Exilim EX-H30 ISO80 Casio Exilim EX-H30 ISO100 Casio Exilim EX-H30 ISO200 Casio Exilim EX-H30 ISO400
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)
Casio Exilim EX-H30 ISO800 Casio Exilim EX-H30 ISO1600 Casio Exilim EX-H30 ISO3200  
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.

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Landscape processing   Casio Exilim EX-H30 Telephoto
Landscape processing, ISO80, 1/400, f/3, 4mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   Telephoto, ISO1600, 1/1000, f/5.9, 53mm (35mm equiv: 300mm)
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Telephoto and SR Zoom   Casio Exilim EX-H30 Digital Zoom
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

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Heavy duty battery
Casio Exilim EX-H30 24mm wide angle lens
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Premium Auto scene recognition
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Landscape and Makeup processing
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Superb 1cm macro
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Lots of features and control
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Effective noise control

Casio Exilim EX-H30: Cons

Casio Exilim EX-H30 Detail disappears at higher ISOs
Casio Exilim EX-H30 Advanced functions are buried in menus
Casio Exilim EX-H30 No continuous shooting at hi-res

FEATURES Casio Exilim EX-H30
OVERALL Casio Exilim EX-H30

Casio Exilim EX-H30: Specification

Price £209
Optical zoom 12.5x
Resolution 16.1Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3 inch
Sensor type CCD
Max image size 4608 x 3456
Aspect ratio 4:3
Focusing system Contrast Detection Auto Focus
Focus points Single, Multiple
Focus type Intelligent AF, Spot, Multi, Tracking
Focus distance 5cm Normal, 1cm Macro
File types JPEG, AVI
ISO sensitivity ISO80 - 3200
Metering system Multi-pattern, centre-weighted, spot
Metering types Program AE, AP, SP, Manual
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV
Shutter speed range 8-1/2000th sec
Frames-per-second n/a hi-res, 4fps at 1600x1200, 10fps at 1280x960
Image stabilisation CCD-shift type
Movie mode 1280x720 (24fps), 640x480 (30fps)
Monitor 3.0 inch LCD (460k)
Media type SD, SDHC, SDXC
Interface AV/USB
Power Li-ion NP-130
Box Contents AV cable, USB cable, CD, power charger, power lead, strap
Size 105 x 59 x 29mm
Weight 201.3g inc battery and card

Buy Online:
  • 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
Special Casio Cashback offer - £30 cashback on the H30 available until the 31st July 2011.

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Photographs taken using the Casio Casio Exilim H30

Waiting in style...Back to front?Sky Monsters!Up in the sky...Off-the-wall...Boats & Boatabilia...A cocky one!Wall tiles...The writing is on the wall...Icing on the cake!Things they do!Silly signs...Portuguese!Cars suck !!!Boats of Crete!

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