Casio EX-S10 Review
By Movable Type Admin
At just .59 of an inch thick, Casio introduces the Exilim S10. This ultra-thin, ultra-compact digital camera contains all the exciting features of its Exilim siblings, but returns to the stylishly thin body. It features a 10-megapixel imaging sensor, 2.7" SuperClear LCD screen, 3x optical zoom lens and some very advanced auto shutter and face detection features. As seen on other Exilim models, it also includes the preset "For Ebay" and "For YouTube" modes along with many other "Best Shot" pre-programmed shooting modes. There is also a separate record button that allows you to instantly start capturing video while in most still shooting modes.
The super compact and slim S10 has a very heavy and sturdy feel to it, although its "thinness" does take a little time to get used to. At first it's a little hard to hang on to, especially if you have large fingers. Once you get the hang of it you'll find the controls are well placed. The zoom control is located around the shutter release and the one-touch movie recording button is on the top right corner of the back. The 2.7" SuperClear LCD is large enough to display your shooting settings on the side at all times. Pressing the center of the 4-way controller allows you to access these options without going into the menu. The screen is easily seen in all lighting conditions, including direct sunlight and "gains up" nicely in low light situations.
Casio's face detection software is very advanced and gives you several different settings to make sure that you get the pictures that you want. There is a standard face detection that will locate and focus on faces like all others do. Then there is a family setting, where you can record your family members into the camera. This allows for the camera to distinguish and take priority over other faces if you wish it to. You can also set higher priorities for some of the faces that you have saved within the camera. This guarantees that the most important people in your photos are always in-focus and exposed correctly.
Performance of the S10 is very good for a 10-megapixel camera in its price range. On startup, it was able to capture the first image in just 1.6 seconds. The shutter lag, the time between pressing the shutter release until the actual image is captured, was almost instantaneous. When allowing the autofocus to work it was as fast as 2/10 of a second! In single shot mode, I was able to capture 5 shots in 11.2 seconds without the flash and 11.9 seconds with it. There are also several continuous shooting modes to choose from. Normal continuous was able to capture 10 images in 11.1 seconds without and 5 in 9 seconds with the flash in full 10-megapixel fine images. High speed continuous does not allow for the use of the flash and only records in 2-megapixel resolution, but is able to capture 10 images in just 2.6 seconds. There is also a flash continuous mode. This will capture 3 10-megapixel images with the flash in just 6/10 of a second. All of our tests were completed using a Sandisk Extreme III 1GB SD memory card, ISO Auto, Program mode, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
Image quality from the S10 was good. In most of the sample shots the exposure was correct with the exception of the canon shot, which came out slightly overexposed. The colors in all of our shots is very natural looking. The 3x optical zoom has a 35mm equivalent of 36-108mm. It is sufficient for shooting and framing landscapes and individual and group portraits but is not powerful enough to single out distant objects. It produces very crisp and clear images throughout, with only very slight edge softness. At the wide end of the zoom I noticed some slight barrel distortion as well as some chromatic aberrations. Our portrait shot taken outdoors was right on, the S10 did not overexpose the face, even in the direct sunlight.
The quality of the indoor images was also good. The exposures were controlled very well with or without the flash. The auto white balance also did a very nice job of keeping the colors natural. Even when shooting in macro mode with the flash, the flash was controlled well. The flash itself has a range of up to 9.19' when shooting at the wide angle. This is not enough for you to fill a large room or shoot from too far away, but it does an excellent job when you stay inside its range.
Movies are recorded as a H.264/AVC MOV file, which are compatible with iTunes and your Ipod. This is a high quality video compression scheme that greatly reduces file size while retaining a high level of quality. The videos run very smoothly with no compression artifacting when captured in UHQ quality. The camera also does an excellent job of recording audio without a lot of ambient noise. The camera also has a wide movie recording mode with a resolution of 848x480 that fits nicely on today's widescreen TV sets.
Powering the S10 is a 3.7v 720mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery pack with included external charger. This battery did an excellent job, allowing me to complete all of my tests, including capturing almost 200 images and several videos in the process. Even with this excellent battery life, we suggest having a spare battery pack, charged, and on hand at all times. A dead battery is not a good excuse for missing a photo opp.
Bottom Line - A stylish and ultra-thin 10-megapixel digicam, the Casio Exilim S10 is also quite the performer. This camera is very easy to use, and comes loaded with pre-programmed "best shot" modes for any shooting situation. The only setback is the outdoor exposures were sometimes a little overexposed. With a MSRP of around US$250, it's a good value.
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