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Casio Exilim EX-S880 - Casio Exilim EX-S880
Despite its compact size the S880 handles surprisingly well. The upper right side of the body protrudes slightly, the back is subtly sculpted to make a viable thumb grip, and the rounded shape of the body fits into the hand snugly. The controls are small and most of them are clustered around the right side of the rear panel, but even so they are quite easy to operate. The only part that my large hands found to be a bit fiddly was the small circular D-pad, which sometimes went in a direction other than that I had intended. Main shooting options are controlled via an on-screen menu which occupies the right-hand edge of the 16:9-format monitor screen. I particularly like this control method, and find it to be a lot quicker and more intuitive than most function button menus. It's appeared on a number of Casio cameras before, and I hope it will continue to appear.
The removal of some of the buttons to the top edge of the camera helps a lot, especially since the S880 has an extra button for its unusual "Data" mode, which can be used for transporting and viewing documents. This requires the installation of the Data Transporter software from the CD, which adds a driver to your PC (or Mac) that treats the camera as a printer, enabling you to export text documents and other files to the camera's memory card. It exports them as a high-contrast, low compression JPEG format files, which to be honest is not the best way to transport documents. The text has no anti-aliasing, so it appears rather harsh and jagged, and of course it cannot be edited. Since it is perfectly possible to store text documents on the memory card simply by copying them across when the camera is connected via USB, I really don't get the point of this feature, but I suppose it could be useful for secure data transport. Perhaps HM Revenue and Customs could look into getting an S880; it could save them a lot of embarrassment...
Fortunately some of the other features are rather more useful, although no less unusual. Since you're reading this on a website, you've probably encountered the enormously popular video sharing site YouTube, where millions of people post video clips of the minutiae of their lives for all to see. Casio is most certainly aware of it, because the S880 has a dedicated YouTube Capture mode, which shoots video clips in the H.264 format at 640 x 480 resolution, optimised for uploading. The software CD also contains a YouTube uploading utility to make posting your video clips even easier. Surely internet stardom awaits.
There are also plenty of other more common features, including multi-point focusing, adjustable contrast, saturation and sharpness, a portrait enhancer for smoother skin tones and a dynamic range expander, which suppresses over and under exposure in high contrast situations. There are plenty of features in playback mode too, including audio dubbing, resizing and cropping, and a useful perspective correction feature for shooting documents and business cards. There is a specific Best Shot mode for this, as well as one for photographing whiteboards, handy for quickly copying lecture notes.
The S880 has no image stabilisation, which to be honest isn't a major disadvantage in a 3x zoom camera. It does have an "Anti-shake" mode, but that just boosts the ISO setting, trading increased image noise for a faster shutter speed, so it is best avoided unless really necessary.
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