Looking at the pictures of the EX-P505 on the right, it’s hard to get an idea of the size of it. The SLR-like design is reminiscent of large semi-pro models such as the Fujifilm FinePix S20 Pro or Nikon Coolpix 8800. The word “Pro” in the name also gives the impression that this is a big chunky camera, so it comes as a bit of a shock to discover upon opening the box that it is absolutely tiny. Measuring just 98.5mm wide and 55.5mm high, it can hide behind a large cigarette packet with room to spare. If you took a Fuji S20 Pro, scaled it down by about 20mm in every direction and reduced the weight by 285g, you’d have something the size of the EX-P505.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the EX-P505 has many of the performance and handling characteristics of an SLR-style semi pro camera. Start-up time is a respectable two seconds, and the camera switches on automatically when you unfold the monitor. Shot-to-shot time is a reasonable although not outstanding 1.5 seconds, but there is no continuous shooting mode.
The sculpted handgrip is small but comfortable to hold and provides a secure shake-free hold in conjunction with the textured thumbgrip on the back. There is a rubberised section around the bottom of the lens barrel for a two-handed grip, although to be honest this is more cosmetic than functional.
The main control is a large knurled mode dial on the top plate, leaving only two buttons and the D-pad on the back panel. There are two additional controls on the left of the lens barrel, one to engage the camera’s superb macro mode, and the other, labeled “EX”, providing quick access to white balance, ISO setting, metering mode and AF area. Since these are frequently used options this is a very useful control.
The 5x optical zoom lens is good, but the zoom control is designed to work with the video mode, so it’s very slow and smooth, making quick and accurate framing quite difficult.
Build quality is good, although because of its low weight the camera does feel deceptively delicate. The case appears to be ABS plastic, but its shape gives it an inherent strength. Our review model had already been used by another journalist who had clearly not treated it kindly, leaving several scratches on the case, but despite this rough treatment it still functioned perfectly well. Fortunately the large 2in flip-and-twist LCD monitor can be fully rotated and folded back against the camera body when not in use, protecting the surface of the screen.
Like most semi-pro cameras the EX-P505 has a separate lens cap which can be attached via a loop of string to prevent losing it. It also comes with a small lens hood which screws onto the filter thread around the mouth of the lens barrel, but unfortunately the lens cap does not fit over this.
The EX-P505 has most of the features you’d expect to find on a semi-pro model. It has a full range of manual exposure modes, although the range of aperture settings is somewhat limited, offering only six settings between the minimum F3.3 and the maximum F7.7, which is barely two stops of aperture control. Shutter speeds ranging from 60 seconds to 1/2000th of a second offer more in the way of creative input.
Far more useful is Casio’s signature Best Shot mode, with 22 built-in settings for particular types of photo, including portraits, scenery, children, fireworks and many more, each with a sample shot to show you what effects the setting will produce. There is also the option to design your own Best Shot setting, which can be saved and recalled later.