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Casio Exilim EX-F1 review




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Over the ten years that I've been using and reviewing them I've handled hundreds of different digital cameras, ranging from the cheapest budget compacts to professional studio cameras costing tens of thousands of pounds. I've seen sensor resolutions climb from a quarter of a megapixel to over twelve megapixels, I've seen zoom lenses of all shapes and sizes, I've seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of…oh, wait, wrong movie. The point is though, that I've seen every kind of feature, option, gadget and gimmick there is, and I'm perhaps just a little bit jaded. These days it seems that every camera that comes along has virtually identical features to every other camera. One manufacturer goes to twelve megapixels and everyone else follows suit. Another adds face detection, and within three months every new model has it. Smile detection? Same story. So it's a very rare and special thing when a manufacturer breaks the mould and produces a camera that actually surprises me. Casio has managed to do it though. When every other manufacturer is producing endless streams of near-identical cameras, Casio has produced something quite different; its first full-sized super-zoom camera, the Exilim EX-F1.

If you just look at the basic specifications, the EX-F1 doesn't sound that impressive. It's a six-megapixel SLR-style camera with a 12x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 36-432mm. There are plenty of cameras around with more than twice the sensor resolution, and many super-zoom cameras with much longer zoom range. However the EX-F1 has capabilities unlike any other camera on the market. It has a newly-developed ultra-high-speed CMOS sensor and LSI image processor and other speed enhancements giving it the ability to shoot full-resolution 2816 x 2112 pixel stills at an astonishing 60 frames a second with a maximum shutter speed of 1/40,000th of a second, shoot continuously with flash at seven frames a second, or to shoot video at an equally amazing 1,200 frames per second, allowing slow-motion shooting at up to 40x reduced speed. As well as this it can shoot video at full 1080P HD quality (1920 x 1080 resolution at 60 fields per second) with stereo sound and full use of the optical zoom. In many ways, the EX-F1 is a hybrid video/still camera. If it's a success, it may also be the first of an entirely new generation of digital cameras. Casio is definitely hoping so.

The EX-F1 is certainly an impressive-looking camera. It is larger than most current super-zoom models, measuring 127.7 x 79.6 x 130.1mm, nearly the size of the Fuji S100FS. Weighing 671g minus its very large 1950mAh Li-ion battery it is also quite a bit heavier than average. The general shape of the camera is the conventional SLR-style, with a large and very comfortable handgrip with a textured non-slip rubber coating and a sculpted shape on the back panel providing a secure thumb grip. The body is mostly plastic but the overall build quality is excellent, and there are some nice design touches. The top of the camera is very low and flat, and the flash housing only protrudes about 10mm above the top of the lens, but it is also very long, which enables the flash to be raised well above the lens. The flash housing also carries a powerful white LED lamp for video shooting.

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.


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.


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.


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 -

I am wondering -

Does this camera have GPS capabilities?

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


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