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Casio Exilim EX-F1 - Casio Exilim EX-F1

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

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?

Verdict

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.

ChrisH 1

June 23, 2008, 5:00 am

Thanks Cliff;





Good review, but in a world of limited time noone can be expected to catch everything. A few comments/updates from an owner of an EX-F1:





1. Startup time is halved to 2 secs at most by installing the latest firmware (v. 1.02).





2. You do get 60 shots in a sequence. But you are not limited to having them all in one or two seconds. You can have them at 60, 30, 20, 15, 10 or less shots/second, so for instance at 10 shots per second you have 6 seconds of shhoting time. (You can also shoot at about 2 shots per second indefinitely using AUTO-N).





3. You say "of course" you can't save a burst of RAW images. You can't, but it's not "of course". The camera buffers raw images in its 512mb internal memory, and converts them to jpeg on save. Technically, you could save the raw images ... but it would take about 5 minutes, so I suspect Casio simply disallowed it as an option.





4. You don't really mention the precapture mode. This allows one to half-press the shutter. Images are now written to the internal buffer, cyclically. So, if for example you chose 20 shots per second and a 40 shot buffer, at any point in time you have the last 2 seconds of shooting in the buffer. Pressing the shutter fully saves 2 seconds of shots from before you pressed the shutter, and 1 second after.





So, if for example you're shooting your child's soccer match, all you have to do is stand near the goal, track the action, and when the ball goes in, press the shutter. You -know- you've got all the action as you have the 2 seconds before you pressed.





5. The video isn't full 1080p. It's 1080i, 60 fields per second. Of course, that could be de-interlaced to 1080p/30. As most TVs do 1080p/24, in some ways it's a pity that isn't offered as an option. It does do 720p/60, and pretty good video too.





6. For some reason, many people get upset over the fact that there is no sound with the slow motion videos. A moment's thought will prove of course that on replay at normal speed the sound would be slowed down 10 times (or more for the faster ones) and so be incomprehensible.





7. The movement-sensor feature is pretty clever. You can set the camera up pointing at an area of interest (say a flower), press the shutter, and walk away. When a bird visits the flower, the camera detects the movement, and shoots. Hey presto, 60 high speed shots of the action.





8. Conclusion: Value for money? If you don't actually want all those features, poor. Apart from impressing the neighbors, a Ferrari is an absolute waste of money if you don't want to drive fast. If you DO want the special features the camera has ... there's no alternative on the market. Some DSLRs can get good speed - the D40 will do 7 shots/second. But it's more expensive once you start buying lenses, and doesn't do video. For me, its - the Casio EX-F1: $1,200 in Australia. Catching my son in the air with his hands held high and a smile on his face as the ball goes into the net: priceless. 1/10th of a second either side of that shot, you can't see his face, or he's blocked by another player.

Ed

July 16, 2008, 1:34 pm

Wow, missed this one first time round. This looks like 80 per cent of my dream camera - super high speed shooting, HD video, and versatile lens all in one package. If only the lens was a more sensible range - 28mm (or lower) to 200mm, say. Without a wider wide angle, it is never going to replace an SLR or even conventional bridge camera. Then obviously the price is ridiculous.

pete coleshaw

October 6, 2008, 5:23 pm

some people expect a lot! - when is one fixed lens camera going to satisfy an enthusiast's every needs? seems to me that it does things no other camera does, and it doesnt cost a professional price - so why is this ridiculous? - having read the review, I'm having one!!

Ron 2

October 11, 2009, 12:44 pm

This EX-F1 has things other Superzoom cameras don't - Focus ring around barrel, external audio jack, threaded lens for filters, hot shoe.





I was looking at the Sony HX-1 and Canon SX1 IS. They are the 2 most popular cameras but they don't have most of the features above.





The list price being a whopping $999 is a big problem. It's twice the price of the Sony an d Canon BUT I'm almost willing to pay something in the range of $700-800 for it because Casio cared enough to put things on it that pro photogs use. The slow motion is just a great bonus toy for me but not my main reason for wanting to get it. Is this really from Casio? Amazing.

kkoster

January 9, 2010, 3:34 pm

If you're still interested in this camera, you might want to shop around for the price. In December 2009 I purchased the camera for £435 new in the box. There is still nothing like it around in terms of resolution and frames per second, especially if you're interested in high-speed photography/videography.





We made a budget music video with the camera and with a little creative help from 3rd-party applications, you can upscale the resolution (300fps produces acceptable results). Have a look at our test preview here: http://www.vimeo.com/8550023





Love this camera, waiting for Casio's next version!

Paul 34

June 12, 2010, 12:43 am

Just got mine. The high-speed modes are cool.


I'm looking for a feature to allow HD video shutter control.


The "Best Shot" mode is indicated when I review a video. But the supposed "fast shutter" modes do not seem to effect HD video recording. There's almost no documentation on how "Best Shot" modes effect video.





Tech support also owns a copy of the manual... that's about the nicest thing to be said about that.

DevotedDad

April 28, 2011, 10:37 pm

I absolutely love this camera and I have only the most basic of photography experience. I wish there was some tutorials to explain many of the features in plain English.

The slow motion is incredible. I have a video of water balloons being broken in slow motion here -
https://picasaweb.google.com/delevan.sean/ConvertedToMp4Videos?locked=true#5510985845297133394

I am wondering -

Does this camera have GPS capabilities?

If so, can you please explain in basic terms how I would use it?

Thanks

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