|Home | Reviews | Q&A | Links | Gallery | Free Photo Hosting|
The CASIO Exilim EX-S100 is unique in the following way:
"With the EXILIM CARD EX-S100, CASIO presented a world first; the first digital camera to feature a "ceramic lens". This high quality material is predominantly used in high end technology at present due to its high resolution capability and precise refraction. In the EX-S100, the space saving lens enables a 3.2 megapixel resolution with a 2.8x optical zoom. The small camera, no bigger than a bank card, is now quicker and more impressive than ever before."
Casio have this to say about the camera: (from 'Exilim Adventure' in the Fun section on www.exilim.co.uk)
"The EX-S100, on the other hand, returns to the basics of the original EXILIM by adding zoom capabilities to a camera that embodies the basic concept of the original EX-X1: a camera you can keep with you all the time and capture those special moments whenever they happen. The EX-S100 is capable of a host of advanced features like 2.8X optical zoom, a big 2.0-inch LCD monitor screen, and auto focus, all packed into a thin design that puts the emphasis on quality and elegance. Though it was quite difficult to reconcile the needs of both a highly refined design and a slim body, we were able to achieve our success by using the world's first ceramic lens to develop a thin zoom lens module, along with high-density component mounting technology. The EX-S100, which is the flagship model of the entire EXILIM lineup, was honored with a 2004 Good Design Award by the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization (JIDPO). The EX-S100 is truly the perfect choice for anyone looking for a take-along-anywhere digital camera that provides the very best in terms of design, form, and function."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: It's
very compact and slim and made out of stylish silver metal.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - a large memory card and a small case would have been nice - the printed manual's pretty short as well, although the inclusion of the cradle is quite nice, and would normally cost you extra on other cameras.
Battery usage: Charging the battery takes 140 minutes. The battery life is rated as 180 shots, and up to 540 shots in continuous mode according to Casio. This is very impressive considering the small size of the battery, which is rated at 680 mAh. Battery life seemed very good.
Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the Play / Photo buttons, or the Menu/Record mode - alternatively you can set the left/right buttons to change the record mode.
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is quite low resolution, but updates smoothly - the colours appear fairly accurate. There is a live histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.
Photo menu options are: Record mode (Snapshot, Bestshot (scenes), Movie, Picture with voice memo, Dictaphone), Self-timer, Size, Quality, Exposure compensation, White Balance (Auto, Sun, Cloud, Shade, Flourescant 1 + 2, Tungsten light, Manual), ISO, AF area (spot, multi - multi seems to speed up focusing), Auto pan-focus (this will speed up shot taking), Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, Flash intensity, Flash assist, Grid, Digital zoom, Review, Icon help, L/R key (can be set to change mode, exposure, white balance, iso, self-timer).
Pan focus mode and live histogram - shutter, aperture, and ISO speed are displayed when you half press the shutter. Setup menu on right above
Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) Sounds, Startup image, File number, World Time, Date style, Adjust, Language, Sleep, Auto Power Off, Rec/Play button setup, USB (Mass storage / Pictbridge), Format, Reset.
In playback mode, pressing up will display a calandar preview of all the images on the memory card, as shown above on the left.
Scene modes are: Portrait, Scenery, Portrait with scenery, Coupling shot, Pre-shot, Children, Candlelite portrait, Party, Pet, Flower, Natural Green, Sundown, Night scene, Nightscene portrait, Fireworks, Food, Text, Collection, Monochrome, Retro, Twilight, Business cards and documents, White board, Custom scene mode. Each scene mode has an explanation to explain what the photo does, and how the photo should be taken. Custom scene mode allows you to setup your own camera settings that can be easily accessed in future.
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:
Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is very quick. The zoom is quick up to 4x
Playback menu options: Slideshow, Favourites, DPOF, Protect, Rotation, Resize, Trimming, Dubbing, Create Album (creates a HTML album of photos), Alarm, Copy.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 9.3mb memory provided with the camera:
You can fit a small number of images on the 9.3mb memory card - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, and there is a very good choice regarding image compression.
A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Casio Exilim EX-S100:
128mb SD memory card
The CD-ROM contains Photo Loader (2.2E) - this lets you view the images
and creates a html gallery viewable by date with a built in slideshow,
and Photo Hands (1.1E) - this lets you retouch photos (Contrast, Brightness,
Saturation, Sharpness, Noise removal, Filter), Resize, Rotate and Print
photos. Both programs seem pretty basic and you may be better off using
Google's Picasa 2 which is free.
Speed: The camera is very quick to switch on and take photos - the camera is quick to focus and good at focusing indoors (better than the Dimage X60 and much better than the Fuji F440 for example). The screen updates are quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is very quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 4x, this is quick. The camera shutter response seemed quicker than normal when pre-focused. Shot to shot time is quick, but is slower when using the flash - as you have to wait for the flash to recharge. The shot time of the camera can be increased further by using the camera's auto 'Pan Focus' mode which allows the camera to set the optimal focus distance without having to wait for auto-focus.
Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are very easy to use (I especially like the big play/record buttons). The camera is very compact - but easy to hold and use, although be careful not to drop the camera! The menus are very responsive, very easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as various scene modes for simple point and shoot operation.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well - although for probably stylistic reasons the labels are the same colour as the rest of the body so don't stand out as much as they would if they were different colours. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically, and was the correct weight - it seemed a decent weight and felt very well built.
Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour. It has a fairly weak flash, so doesn't cope so well with group photos. The camera did a very good job at focusing the majority of the time. Red-eye didn't seem to be a problem. Images had fairly high noise, especially when left on automatic.
Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO50, 100, 200, and 400) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.
Noise levels appear low at ISO50 and ISO100. At ISO200 noise becomes much more noticable and in my test photos it was high but just about acceptable, at ISO400 noise seems very high.
Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and high saturation. There was quite good detail. Noise seemed on the high side, and best results were obtained using ISO50 or ISO100. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.
Zoom: This camera has a 2.8x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens noise is about average, not overly loud, but not especially quiet. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are at 6 steps between wide and telephoto.
Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing seemed very low.
Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to macro mode* - you can use the macro mode at wide angle, all the way to telephoto - however zooming in allows you to get the closest picture. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 17cm away from the subject from the front of the lens - thus best results are acheived using the zoom. *You don't actually have to switch macro mode on to use the macro mode, the camera will automatically try focusing at the macro setting if the subject is close enough. This makes the camera even easier to use, meaning you're more likely to get the photos you want without even having to switch it to macro mode - I can see this as being very useful for people who are just starting to use a camera.
The macro mode is good - the camera does a good job of toning down the flash, and colours and detail are good. I especially like the auto-macro feature.
- 15fps with sound - you can't use the optical zoom whilst recording,
but you can use the digital zoom whilst recording. You can use the optical
and digital zoom prior to recording. The movie is recorded as an AVI file.
Length is only limited by the memory card size. The quality of the movie(s)
is good although the size and frame rate is quite average.
Summary: There is a LOT to like about this camera, and very little to dislike! There are so many options and features it puts other well known brands to shame! The CASIO Exilim EX-S100 is an ultra compact, pocketable, take anywhere camera, one of the world's smallest. It's very quick and fun to use, and produces very pleasing results. The camera is very stylish and tough and features far more controls than other ultra compact cameras, allowing you to be more creative, and customise the camera to your own personal style and preferences. The camera is very easy to use for beginners, with numerous scene modes, auto macro-mode and easy to use play / photo buttons. This camera would suit beginners with the easy to use docking station - and would suit more advanced photographers looking for a ultra compact take anywhere camera - this is definitely a camera I'm going to be keeping for a long time - Highly Recommended!
While writing this review - CASIO announced the 5 megapixel upgrade to the S100, the Exilim EX-S500 - the S500 features a larger 2.2" screen, anti-shake technology, plus a VGA 30fps MPEG4 video mode. I can imagine people trying to decide between the S100 and the S500, so here's what I'll recommend: If you want an ultra compact camera with you at all times and want to take photos now, and will only occassionally want to print the photos at A4 size, then buy the S100, which I expect will be around half the price of the S500, but if you already have a camera that suits you and have more money to spend, and want a better video mode, and higher resolution pictures then wait for the S500, which should be available in July 2005.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.