Casio EX-P505 Review

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Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505

Steve's Conclusion

The most unique looking Exilim "Pro" series camera we have seen so far from Casio (as of 3/2005), the EX-P505 is a compact and advanced camera that offers users 5-megapixels of resolution combined with a powerful 5x optical zoom lens. In addition to high quality still images it also captures 30fps VGA MPEG-4 motion video with stereo audio. The very diminuitive EX-P505 is housed in a durable and lightweight body and employs a variable-angle 2.0-inch color LCD as its viewfinder.

Like its big brothers the EX-P600 and the EX-P700, it incorporates a shooting mode for every experience level photographer. Its Program AE mode is perfect for the beginner who wants to simply point and snap, or the intermediate user who likes to change setting like ISO, White Balance, etc. For those who like a bit more control, it offers Aperture and Shutter Speed priority modes so you can explore your more creative side as well as a full Manual mode that allows you to select every aspect of the exposure process.

The EX-P505's ergonomics are good and you won't believe how small it is until you actually hold one in the palm of your hand. The controls are well placed and functional, and thanks to the large "barrel" lens, it feels comfortable in your hands and because of its size and weight, you'll find it easy to hold with just one hand. the menu system was easy to access and navigate, and we like the ability to quickly change settings via the EX button on the side of the lens. This allowed for quick changes to White Balance, ISO, Metering and AF Area. Note that the EX-P505 does not have an optical viewfinder, all framing is done on the color LCD. The 2.0-inch LCD folds out 180° and rotates 270° and offers unlimited viewing angles. For the most part it worked well, but not perfectly. Outdoors in very bright sunlight it may need some "hand shading" to be seen and indoors it fails to "gain up" in low ambient lighting.

The EX-P505 is a robust performer - power up to first image captured measured only 1.8 seconds, confirming Casio's claims of "ultra-fast startup." The all important shutter lag (the time from depressing the shutter release to actually capturing the image) measured less than 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and just 3/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot-to-shot time averaged 2.1 seconds without the flash and 3.1 seconds using the flash. Unfortunately it doesn't offer a continuous shooting mode. The camera is very robust when reviewing images too. By holding down either the Left or Right buttons on the 4-way selector, you can zip through your images at lightning speed. Our tests were done using a Lexar 1GB SD card, Large/Fine quality, preview off, flash off, and all other settings at default unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, media, camera settings, etc.

The overall image quality when using Large/Fine mode was average. Our outdoor samples were relatively sharp and properly exposed. I noticed a number of our samples seemed a bit soft on the left and right sides of the image, but nothing a little sharpening in an image editor won't take care of. There was also an average amount of noise in high/low (bright/shadow) contrast areas as well as noticeable amount of Chromatic Aberration (purple fringing around extreme highlights.) The 5x optical zoom lens covers a 35mm equivalent of 38-109mm and has a 8x digital zoom feature. However as always, we discourage the use of the digital zoom as it degrades image quality, you'll achieve better results by cropping later in an image editor.

We were pleased with our indoor results, flash portraits were consistently sharp, well exposed and the skin tones appeared very natural. However when shooting in low-ambient lighting, the camera does have problems focusing; this is when a focus-assist lamp would come in handy. The pop-up flash was powerful and had no problems illuminating small to medium sized rooms. The EX-P505's Macro capabilities were great and the flash does an excellent job of "throttling down" to ensure you don't over expose the subject.

The EX-P505 is a respectable digital video camera too, it records MPEG-4 (.AVI format) movies at VGA resolution (640x480 @ 30fps) with stereo audio as well as lesser 15fps quality and smaller 320x240 resolution at 15fps. I noticed very little compression artifacts and the camera's autofocus system did very well at keeping up with fast moving objects. Unlike most digicams, the EX-P505's 5x optical zoom can be used during movie recording and it records stereo audio with two microphones. There's a variety of recording modes to chose from; normal movie recording (push shutter to start/stop), past movie (recording starts from 5 seconds before you press the shutter), short movie (records 4 seconds before shutter press and 4 seconds after), BestShot movie (like normal but you can chose one of 6 different pre-programmed scene modes.) Overall it captures high-quality movies and when using high-speed SD cards, the length of movies is limited only by available memory space.

Power is supplied by a proprietary 3.7v 1230mAh lithium-ion battery that's charged in the included BC-L30 rapid charger in 2 hours or less. This is a handy little charger that requires no cords; it has fold away prongs and plugs directly into the wall outlet. Casio claims this pack is good for about 220 shots on a full charge. We had no problem capturing our sample photos (about 100 images) and concluding our other tests before the battery was exhausted. The EX-P505 has only 7.5MB of internal memory and the average file size of a Large/Fine image is about 2MB, so you should consider purchasing a larger 512MB - 1GB SD. These cards are getting cheaper by the day; you can get a high-speed 512MB card for $65 (USD) or less.

Bottom line - the EX-P505 was a mixed bag. While it was a speedy performer and excelled in portrait and macro photography and records significantly "better than average" motion video, its average image quality and MSRP of $500 make it a bit expensive. If 5-megapixels and a 5x optical zoom are just what your looking for, check out our review of the Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom, which can be had for about $150 less.

Casio Announces Firmware Update For EX-P505

Casio has released EX-P505 Firmware Update version 1.01, the improvements in this update:

  • Increases USB communication speed.
  • Adds autumn leaves scene to snapshot BEST SHOT scenes.
  • Provides support for SD memory cards greater than 1GB.
Note that you will lose the Russian language support in the menus and you cannot undo the firmware once it has been installed.

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