By Josh Fate
Timing Test Results
|Casio's Exilim EX-S7 is an entry-level ultra-compact camera with a nice set of features and very good overall performance. It lacks a little in image quality as there is a lot of softness on the right side of the images.|
Pick This Up If...
|You are looking for a camera that can easily be dropped in a purse or pocket and taken anywhere. It is easy enough for anyone to pick and start shooting with.|
The Casio Exilim EX-S7 is an affordable and ultra-compact entry-level digicam. Designed to be incredibly easy to use and carry, this 12.1-Megapixel camera is one of the easiest in both respects. Featuring intelligent auto, several pre-set "Best Shot" modes, 720p HD video capture, a 3x optical zoom lens and a 2.7-inch LCD, this camera does not fall short on features. This slim and stylish unit is available in black and purple.
At less than 1-inch (0.78") thick, the S7 can easily be transported in a small purse or pocket without any trouble. It can be difficult to hold onto with just one hand, but when using two hands with the "pinch technique", it is incredibly easy to operate. The camera's basic setup is very simple, with just enough controls on the camera body for quick, basic operation. You do have the option to add shortcuts to the left and right sides of the 4-way controller for the settings that you use the most. Framing and viewing your images is very easy on the 2.7-inch, 230,160 dot LCD screen. This bright screen is easily seen in most lighting conditions. Direct sunlight makes it a little harder to see, but it is manageable.
Performance from the S7 is very good for an entry-level camera costing less than $150. It is able to capture its first image just 2.0 seconds after being turned on. When the camera is prefocused, the shutter lag is less than 1/10 of a second, while it ranges from 2/10 to 5/10 of a second when allowing the auto focus system to work. Single shot mode allows the camera to capture 5 images in 10.1 seconds or a shot-to-shot delay of just over 2 seconds. When shooting with the flash, the shot-to-shot delay jumps to 2.5 seconds, which is still pretty impressive for a camera of this size. This camera also features two continuous shooting settings. Normal Continuous allows the camera to capture 10 images in 18.4 seconds (0.54fps) or if you need the flash, it can capture 10 images in 28.2 seconds (0.35fps). There is also a High Speed Continuous mode, which captures a series of 2-Megapixel images. We were able to capture 8 images in 1.8 seconds (4.44fps) before the buffer filled. These images are saved in a single file, which can be shown as a movie or separated if you would like to print just one. With 2-megapixels, you still have plenty of resolution to create usable 4x6-inch photos. All of our tests were completed using a Lexar Professional 133x 2GB SD memory card, Auto mode, ISO Auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. All times may vary depending on lighting, camera settings, media, etc.
Our outdoor sample images show that the camera captures a descent overall image. Exposures and colors look very good, but the big issue with our sample images is the edge softness on the right side of ALL of the photos we captured, which is very noticeable when viewing your images at 100%. However, it's not likley so show up in your typical 4x6-inch to 8x10-inch prints. Framing your images is accomplished with the 3x, 35.5 - 106.5mm optical zoom lens. This lens is set up mostly for portrait photography as neither the wide or telephoto ends are exaggerated one way or the other. It can capture descent landscapes at the wide end and will get you a little closer to your distant subject on the telephoto end.
Looking at our indoor samples, you will see well exposed, vivid images at the lower ISO settings. In auto mode, the camera's longest shutter speed is ½ second, which is not always enough in low light situations. If this is the case, the camera will tell you that the image will be underexposed so you can change your shooting mode. ISO 64 through ISO 400 produce very good results for an entry-level camera. Even at ISO 800 you can see some of the fine details within the image, although there is also some noticeable noise. When you get to ISO 1600, the image has enough noise to consider it unusable when making prints. To assist with your low-light images, Casio has built in a small flash unit. Although this flash only has a range of up to 9.5' (Wide at ISO Auto), it will help with your portraits or any other close shots.
Casio's Face detection technology works very well in Portrait mode, allowing the camera to quickly recognize and follow faces within the frame. This allows you to quickly capture images of your friends and family. The camera then sets the exposure and white balance so that the face is the top priority in the image. Our sample portrait image shows a well exposed face along with a good amount of facial detail within the image. The Red-Eye reduction flash worked very well, as we saw virtually no traces of red tint in our people photos.
One of the S7's best features is its ability to capture video at any time, no matter what shooting mode the camera is in. This "hybrid" camera is also capable of capturing 720p HD movies, which is a feature that is becoming more common, but not always on cameras in this price range. The camera is able to capture excellent video, that plays back relatively smoothly either on the camera's LCD screen, on a computer or on a TV via the included USB - A/V cable. Capturing the sound for your movies is a small, built-in mic that is incredibly sensitive. This mic will pick up any sound around the camera, including some that you might not notice at the time, such as the wind in our sample. To help avoid this, be careful where you position yourself when shooting.
Powering the S7 is a 3.7V, 700mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. While completing our tests, we were able to capture 150 images and videos with the camera still showing two of the three battery level icons. The camera is more than capable of capturing the 260 images that Casio claims is possible on a single charge (CIPA). As with all digicams, we recommend purchasing a second battery to keep charged and on hand at all times. A dead battery should never be an excuse for missing a photograph.
Bottom Line - Casio's Exilim EX-S7 is an ultra-compact, entry-level model featuring a 12.1-Megapixel imaging sensor, 3x optical zoom, 2.7-Inch LCD and 720p HD video capture. Its compact size allows it to be easily carried in a small purse or pocket, which allows you to have it on you at all times. For an entry-level model, the performance is good, but the softness on the right side of our sample images is a quality concern if you are planning on making large (13x19 or bigger) photo prints. With a MSRP of US $139.99, this is one of the smallest cameras available in this price range. A camera in the same price range with a little better image quality that you might want to look into is the Canon PowerShot A3000 IS ($149.99).
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