Casio EX-V8 Review
By Movable Type Admin
The 8.1-megapixel Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V8 SR uses a cutting-edge, internal 7X optical zoom lens to get you closer than you could ever imagine from a camera this size. Add to this, four blur reduction technologies, with a new CCD shift system that actually mechanically compensates for camera shake as well as an "Auto Tracking AF" function that follows moving subjects, keeping them continuously in focus until the photo is taken. Along with all of these powerful features, are exposure modes for everyone. More experienced users will appreciate full Manual, Shutter and Aperture priority modes, while beginner to novice users can use the Easy, Auto, or one of 34 "Best Shot" pre-programmed shooting modes. There's even 10 "Best Shot" Movie modes, which round out some of the features crammed into this amazing camera.
All of this is crammed into a shell that is small enough to be considered an ultra-compact digicam. The controls are well placed on the back next to the 2.5-inch Super Bright LCD. All controls have easy access and the in camera menus are very easy to navigate. The one problem that I found with this camera is that it is not easy to use with one hand, because of the style of the zoom slider. While using two hands, it is very easy for a finger from your left hand to get in the way of your shot without you knowing it because of the placement of the lens in the upper left corner.
There is no optical view finder, so the 2.5-inch screen is used for all of the functions on the camera, and takes up most of the back of the body. The high-quality display was quite usable in most outdoor conditions, with only a few angles that reflected the sun, making it difficult to see. While being used indoors, it "gains up" the live image, helping you compose your shots in dim lighting. The V8 does brighten and darken the live image in response to your exposure compensation adjustments, so you can accurately see what your final product will look like.
The EX-V8's shooting performance is outstanding. The time it takes to capture an image from the off position is just 1.6 seconds. The shutter lag when taking a picture, the time it takes for the image to be captured after pressing the shutter release, is instantaneous when the camera is already focused and still less than 1/10 of a second when allowing the camera to use the autofocus system. When left in single drive mode, it can capture an image approx. every 2.5 seconds or every 3-4 seconds with the flash, depending on the distance and battery power. If you are looking for better performance than this there are also 3 different types of continuous shooting modes. In normal mode, you can capture 5 shots in just 5.7 seconds and 4 shots in 6 seconds while using the flash. There is also a high speed mode, which will capture an image every 3/10 of a second. These images however, are only 2-megapixels. Finally there is flash continuous. It takes a burst of 3 shots with the flash in just 1/2 second. All of our tests were done using a Kingston Elite Pro 50x 2GB SD card, and the camera on auto settings with no flash, unless otherwise noted. Performance may very depending on subject distance, lighting, battery power, etc.
The 7x internal optical zoom lens provides an amount of versatility that you will not find in most ultra- compacts. With a 35mm film equivalent of 38mm-266mm, you have an excellent wide angle for shooting landscapes and large group portraits, and there is more than enough zoom to single out a subject in the distance or single out a person from a large group. There is slight barrel distortion at the wide angle end, and because of the anti-blur technologies, some of the images when using the telephoto end of the zoom are a little softer when handheld, so a tripod or monopod could be useful with this camera. There is also some evident pincushioning.
The image quality was very good all around. When shooting outside, the images where well exposed, sharp and well saturated. There are also in camera adjustments for the saturation. While shooting inside, you have to rely on a limited but slightly increased flash range of 8 1/2 feet at wide angle. This is sufficient for a close to mid portrait shot but will not illuminate a mid to large sized room. This is common for an ultra-compact camera, as they are very small and include very small batteries. With this being said, if you stay within the limits of the flash, you will be very pleased with the results producing excellent exposures with natural skin tones. You will, however, notice some red-eye if you do not use the red-eye removal flash setting. When using low ISO settings (200 or less), the image is clear with very little noise, however, as you go up, the noise does increase noticeably. Check the sample pictures for images with higher ISO settings (ISO 400 and 800).
Like past Casio Exilim models, the EX-V8 is loaded with helpful and "cool" features. In addition to Auto exposure mode, it has 34 Best Shot scene modes ranging from the typical Portrait, Scenery and Sports to the unusual Soft Flowing Water, Candle Light, and Splashing Water. The Text, White Board, and Business Card modes allow you to capture images at an angle or bad perspective, then correct the images in-camera to make the perspective as if you had shot the picture dead on to the subject. There's also the Anti-Shake technology, that will allow you to capture blur free images in lower lighting. Be aware that the Anti Shake and Image Stabilization features are great but come with a price of soft images and increased noise.
Movie mode has some excellent options, such as 848x480 (UHQ Wide) shooting mode, to match the dimensions of a widescreen TV, 10 pre-programmed "Best Shot" modes, and a video recording light that adds light in low light situations, improving the quality of the video. Another great feature is the ability to use the entire range of the 7x optical zoom while you are recording. It also records audio in stereo. These options are not common on most cameras. The movies are recorded as a .MOV with the H.264 compression, that provides a high quality video with little compression noise. These files can be large so a large memory card is recommended. Our results were pleasing when using the UHQ Wide or UHQ modes, however like we've seen with all of the Casio models that offer the YouTube movie mode, the quality of these movies is very disappointing.
Power is supplied by a small 3.7-volt 950mAh NP-50 rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, which is charged in- camera when placed in the included camera dock. Casio claims a battery life of approx. 240 shots or 100 minutes of continuous recording in movie mode on a fully charged pack. I had no problem capturing all of our samples and concluded all of our other tests on a single charge. However, we still suggest that you obtain a second battery and keep it charged to avoid the inevitable disappointment of finding a dead battery during a unique photo op.
Bottom line - The Casio Exilim EX-V8 is an extraordinary ultra-compact digicam. With a full set of manual,
and automatic controls, a slew of pre-programmed "Best Shot" modes, and the one of the best sets
of video features, it is definitely one of the best quality and most powerful ultra compacts on the market
at this time (10/2007). What makes it even more appealing is the MSRP of US$299. Combined this is one
outstanding camera with a price to match.
Casio has announced a Firmware Update Software Version 1.01 for the EX-V8
Improvements provided by this update: Stabilizes movie white balance.
Visit Casio's Support site for more details.
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