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Quick Look: Casio Exilim EX-FS10

Quick Look: Casio Exilim EX-FS10

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Hi-speed and High-Def video make this pocket digicam stand out from the pack.

By Jack Howard

October 13, 2009

At first glance, the Casio Exilim EX-FS10 doesn’t appear much different from so many other slim cameras on the shelf, but there’s not many other cameras smaller than a deck of playing cards than can capture 30 frames per second stills or super high-speed video. I keep finding myself slipping this camera into my pocket (or camera bag), simply because of its slim size and super features.

 

When the Casio Exilim Pro EX-F1 first launched, it created quite a buzz for its high-speed capture, HD video capture, and high frame rate still capture and pre-capture, and rightly so. And now, many of the unique (and/or rare) features of the EX-F1 are trickling down to even some of the slimmest members of the Casio digicam tribe such as the sub-$200 3x zoom Casio Exilim EX-FS10. Click here for current pricing.


The EX-FS10 shoots 720p HD (1280x720) video or VGA (640x480) video, both at 30 frames per second, as well as high speed video at a couple of sub-VGA resolutions up to 1000 frames per second. Of these high-speed modes, I’ve found that I liked the just-slightly sub-VGA 210 frames per second option that captures 480x360 pixels, as you can see in our sample video below. The cool variospeed video capture that shifts from 30 to 210 frames per second is also at this 480x360 resolution. This 480x360 210fps video resolution is very usable, especially in montages and layered video projects.

Casio touts the “high speed” capture of the video mode on the EX-FS10 but what may be lost to some photographers is that it plays back at the standard 30 frame per second. High speed video capture dramatically expands time and that is why this feature really shines. Divide 210 captured frames per second into 30 frames per second playback. That means that each captured second of “real time” expands into seven seconds of “cinematic” playback time: a toddler’s backyard run seems epic, a dog shaking water after a swim shows droplets flying every which way in rhythmic super slow motion.

Obviously, there’s no sound capture in high-speed video modes, but it’s always easy enough to add some loops or tracks in iMovie or any basic video editing program. High Speed video works best in bright outdoor conditions. You’ll notice a fair bit of noise even in basic indoor situations. HD video is nice and crisp outdoors in daylight, and shows just a touch of shadow noise in basic indoor situations.  Also note optical zoom is possible during HD but not High Speed video capture.

 

 

On the still side, this baby will shoot 9 megapixel shots, but only in single-shot mode. Switching over to continuous shooting drops it down to 6 megapixels, but allows you to shoot at 30 frames per second. Yes, you heard right, we are talking about 30 6 megapixel stills here captured in one second–that’s large enough for 4x6, 5x7 and even 8x10 prints, at a blisteringly fast 30 frames per second for up to 30 frames. In playback, the bursts are played back like video clips, which is a great touch. (Also good to note is that the high speed video can be viewed at different playback speeds–both forward and reversed.)

Shutter lag has always been a huge user gripe with compact digicams for still shots, and like all the high-speed Exilims, the EX-FS10 allows for up to three tenths of a second pre-capture to overcome slow reflexes. Simply put, this means that the EX-FS10 is constantly “soft-recording” when the shutter is half-pressed, and once you pull the trigger, it saves a series of high-speed shots starting from the time offset. So even if you are a touch late with the shutter, you might have nailed that ball-on-racket ace of a sports action shot.

There’s 21 Best Shot modes for still and video, and curiously, the most manipulatable shooting setting is the “Auto” mode, which here on the EX-FS10 incorporates what other cameras call “Program”. But do bear in mind this is a pocket point and shoot–there’s no full manual mode and no RAW capture (but in my experiences reviewing and testing cameras, RAW capture on any chip smaller than a Four Thirds sensor isn’t usually worth the time and effort, but that’s a story for another day...) It’s a small-chip camera, so image quality is best at the lower ISOs, with some noise and resolution impact at higher ISOs. Another very cool feature of the Casio Exilim EX-FS10 is Eye-Fi SD card integration. The camera can be set to not power down when an Eye-Fi transfer is in progress. Battery life normally seems to last a ridiculously long time, although big Eye-Fi data transfers can sometimes drain the charge quickly.

The 230k dot 2.5 inch LCD get the job done and gains up and down nicely, even in bright sunlight, and the “slow” button really slows down the refresh rate of the screen, which is handy when tracking some subjects, but otherwise just a little confusing.

Here’s the bottom line

The Casio Exilim EX-FS10 takes up the same amount of real estate in a camera backpack, pair of jeans, or travel bag as a deck of cards, and is tons more fun! Super high-speed capture at 210 frames per second at 480x360 is amazing in bright conditions. That it also shoots 720p HD and 6 or 9 megapixel stills almost feels like a bonus after that. For such a small camera, it packs a lot of dedicated buttons, but it doesn’t feel cluttered or confusing, once you get the hang of Casio’s high-speed camera operations and menu styling.

Its light weight and small size combined with HD and high speed video make it a great hotshoe-mounted camera on a DSLR for simultaneous capture multimedia projects. Certain purists may bemoan the lack of full manual controls and RAW capture in still shooting mode, but when you focus on what the Casio Exilim EX-FS10 can do for this price, it makes it a great ultracompact camera for many photographers who need (or just really want) to capture high speed stills and video.

What do you think of High-speed capture and super slow-motion video? Do you have video samples to share? Let us know!

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