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One downside to the mass of powerful electronics and software powering the EX-F1 is that, like a computer, it takes a long time to start up, in fact just over four seconds. Fortunately the other aspects of the camera's performance match its shooting speed. The autofocus system is as fast as in most Casio cameras, which is to say very fast indeed, and its low-light capabilities are also good. The camera focuses quickly and reliably in a dimly-lit room, and thanks its bright green AF assist lamp it can focus in darkness at a range of at least three metres. Naturally the single-shot mode performance is impressively quick, maintaining well over a frame a second with focusing between shots.
One concern with such a strange camera is its image quality, especially considering its relatively low resolution. However it wasn't so long ago that most professional DSLRs were only six megapixels, and it is certainly big enough for decent sized prints. The EX-F1 has a RAW mode to get the best out of its sensor, although this is of course not available in high-speed mode.
The lens performs extremely well, and there is virtually no barrel distortion in JPEG shots, although comparing RAW shots indicates that there is some cheating going on. The camera removes some barrel distortion during processing, which could be a problem if you shoot in Raw at wide angle. The distortion isn't great, and can be ignored on many subjects.
Rather more worrying is the camera's high-ISO noise. Shots as low as 400 ISO show a great deal of image noise, and the 1600 ISO maximum id very bad indeed. Other than that however, the image quality was very good, with excellent dynamic range, good exposure and colour rendition and plenty of fine detail.
So far then the EX-F1 is looking very interesting, however there is one major drawback. It currently costs £650, considerably more than a good entry-level DSLR with a couple of lenses. For all its unique abilities, can it really survive at such a high price?
The Casio Exilim EX-F1 is a unique camera, and one which may herald a new generation of hybrid still/video cameras. It has several unique abilities which some users will find extremely useful, however it also has some problems. Its still image quality, while good, is no match for the best of the current high spec super-zooms, and its alarmingly high price will also discourage potential buyers. It's a brave attempt by Casio to break the status quo of the current digital camera market, but one I fear that may not succeed.
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