Steve's Conclusion

By Matt Metzker

Steve's SnapShot
casio_h15_275.jpg
  • 14-megapixels of resolution
  • 10x optical zoom lens
  • 3.0-inch Super Clear LCD
  • 1,000 shot battery life
  • Premium Auto Mode
  • New art filters
  • Movies at HD or SD resolutions with audio
  • Dynamic Photo
  • SD/SDHC memory card slot
  • USB/AV output

Pros
  • Wide angle 24mm lens
  • 10x Optical zoom
  • Captures decent photos outdoors
  • Some great best Shot modes
  • The Oil Painting art filter is great
  • Excellent build quality
  • Incredibly long battery life
Cons
  • The Crayon art filter does not look like crayon, it comes closer to Color Pencil
  • The Watercolor Art filter comes no where close to looking like a watercolor print
  • HD video indoors show a bit of graininess
  • Average shooting performance
  • AF motor is loud in continuous auto focus mode
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.1 - 4 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = Instant
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10  of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.7 seconds (average of 10 shots)
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 3.2 seconds (average of 10 shots)
  • Normal CS Mode =  1.8.1fps @ 14m
  • 4fps Mode = 4.0fps (@ 2M) takes up to 8 frames
  • 10fps Mode = 12fps (@ 1M) takes up to 20 frames
  • Flash CS Mode = 2.5fps (@ 2M) Takes 3 frames
Bottom Line
A quality camera at a respectable price. The EX-H15 should make a great choice for those looking for a versatile camera that can be tucked away easily, yet shoot nice photos in most applications.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a good camera to catch some of those special moments or need one for work with a good zoom lens that is easy to carry with you at all times.
The casio EX-H15 is a compact super-zoom boasting 14-Megapixels and a 10x zoom for close to the action picture taking. Loaded up with tons of Best Shot modes, Continuous Shooting options and HD video and still images, the H15 boasts some very appealing specifications.

When opening up the EX-H15's box, I wasn't sure what I would find after reviewing Fujifilm's JZ500, which is a direct competitor (14-Megapixels and a 10x zoom in a compact package). The Casio is a bit bulkier for a compact, but will still fit fine in a purse, backpack or baggy pocket. This unit feels great in your hand and the added "bump" on the right hand side works well as a grip for your fingers. I prefer the thicker body as it gives you something to hold onto. The camera is constructed with a metal front and a plastic back with a bit of plastic trim, which seems to be quite durable.  

The best Shot modes have expanded and Casio has introduced a few art filters to the mix. My favorite Art filter is Oil Painting. The least impressive was Water Color, and Crayon was just sort of there looking more like a colored pencil filter than crayon. How good the filters do depends on the subject your framing. I did a portrait shot of my son in all three filters that didn't impress at all, but the two on the samples page turned out pretty good. The Water Color filter looks nothing like a water color print (more like a color negative) and hopefully Casio will improve the filter on forthcoming models. Overall I was impressive with these features and I applaud them for being able to incorporate these into the camera along side Dynamic Photo mode; which still amazes me. They have also added a retro filter which blends a sepia filter with low contrast. Splashing Water and High Sensitivity are new as well and just add more variety to the arsenal. The EX-H15 also has the Make-up button that has been on previous cameras. This will put you directly into Make-up mode (smoothing out skin tones and hiding freckles) or Vivid Landscape. If you are currently in Premium Auto mode (new also) most other options are disabled and the camera makes all the big decisions for shooting pictures.

The EX-H15's shooting performance was not the fastest, but it didn't do too bad. From power-on until the first image is captured takes between 3.1 and 4 seconds. Shutter delay, the time elapsed between pressing the shutter and capturing an image, was about 1/10 of a second including autofocus, and when pre-focusing the camera the time was instantaneous. The Shot to shot delay averaged 2.7 seconds between frames without flash, and around 3.2 seconds with flash. When switching to Continuous Shooting mode, the camera performed quite well. There are several continuous or burst capture modes to choose from: Normal CS Mode was shooting at almost two frames per second which is not super impressive. The 4fps mode did just as its name implies shooting 8 frames (the max it will do in one burst) at 4fps. The image quality goes down as the camera will save these images at 2-Megapixels. 10fps mode sped things up a bit shooting at about 12fps with a max burst of 20 frames taken at 1-Megapixel. The last mode is Flash CD, which shot at 2.5fps taking 3 images at a time at 2-Megapixels.  When using any one of the last three modes, the images are saved as a group that can be kept and played back as a movie-type file, or using the Playback menu, they can be broken up into individual files. Our tests were done using a OCZ Class C6 4GB SDHC card, 14M Fine quality, Auto mode, flash off, ISO Auto, and all other settings at default. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media used, etc.

Looking at the sample pictures I shot with the camera outdoors, the EX-H15 took some very eye pleasing photos. The bright sunshine did manage to give it some trouble with anything white (producing strong exposures), and there was some chromatic aberrations. However,  for the most part the images were colorful and crisp. The zoom worked wonderfully and even at 100% the presidential seal on the museum looks nice and sharp (this was taken hand held). On a more overcast day the camera did well and didn't suffer from blown out whites quite as much. The only other complaint was that in the full sunlight the LCD had quite a glare that did effect framing pictures.

Indoor performance was pretty good too, the flash has definitely got the power needed to catch people (or pets) even at distances of 5 or more feet away. The room at home I tested the camera in is pretty dark for the most part and the camera lit up my subjects with no problem. The controlled shots we take of the M&M man yielded some great results as well. We did notice some edge softening at all ISO settings, but at around ISO 800 the entire image starts to get a bit fuzzy (this is when looking at 100%), but even the thermometer in the lower right-hand corner is still legible. As with most compact consumer cameras, ISO 1600 shows plenty of noise throughout the image at 100%, along with most of the smaller text being much harder to read. Having said that, I still feel you could create a 4x6-inch or larger print that would still look fine at this settings. The maximum ISO 3200 setting however looks pretty bad. 

Movie capture was a lot of fun. I love to shoot in the "silent" mode. We have seen this before, but I am glad it's still around. The EX-H15 shoots video in 1280 HD format and with its 24mm wide angle lens you get theater-like recordings. As you will see in the short clip on the samples page, indoors we did get some graininess due to the low light. Outdoors with ample sunlight the video sharpened up more.

A big selling point for the EX-15 is an incredible amount of battery life. Casio's website extols the virtues of this battery as lasting 1000 shots. No that's not a typo, 1000 shots, 9 hours of continuous playback or 6 hours of movie recording. And after 269 images (a couple of those being movie clips) and countless times of turning the camera on and off, I still have a full battery. The camera comes packaged with an AC charger, which uses a power cord instead of the handy fold-away prongs we see on many chargers. It would behoove me to mention that Casio does point out that using the Premium Auto mode will be more of a drain on the battery and setting the camera to the power saving feature means having a darker than normal LCD to look at.

Bottom line -The Casio EX-H15 is well worth the $300US price tag. Its is an all around good camera for indoor and outdoor shooting, and has a usable high-speed shooting options for the kids sporting events. Not to mention the 10x zoom will bring Mt. Rushmore that much closer on the family vacation. Add to that some cool and fun to use art filters, the Dynamic Photo process and making some classic silent movies, and one wonders what more you could ask for?..Oh yea it will fit in a pocket to boot!

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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