No sooner have we all recovered from the New Year's Eve hangover, then the PR companies are sending us news of the new Spring product launches. Casio is one of the first out of the traps with the announcement of five new digital camera models, including one with some remarkable features.
The Exilim Pro EX-F1 is a new SLR-style camera very different in appearance to Casio's usual ultra-slim compact cameras. It is very different in function too. It has a 6-megapixel 1/1.8-inch high-speed CMOS sensor and 12x optical zoom lens, but its unique party trick is its incredible shooting speed. In continuous still-image mode it can shoot at an amazing 60 frames per second at full 2816 x 2112 resolution, while in video mode it can shoot 720p HD (1280 x 720) video clips at 30fps, 512 × 384 at 300 fps, 432 × 192 at 600 fps and 336 × 96 at an astonishing 1200 fps, with a maximum shutter speed of 1/40,000th of a second, enabling it to capture slow-motion footage of movements too fast for the human eye to register, such as the flapping of an insect's wings, or a bullet in flight. This kind of performance has only previously been available in specialist scientific cameras costing thousands of pounds.
The built-in flash is also very fast, able to illuminate up to 20 frames at 7fps, with an additional LED illuminator that can match the 60fps shooting speed. Movies can be output to a HD TV via an optional HDMI cable. As well as these unique features, the EX-F1 also has a hot shoe for an external flash, a full range of manual exposure modes, and a RAW capture mode.
Of course, this being Casio there are also some new ultra-thin models, including the rather gorgeous EX-S10, which sets a new standard for ultra-compact 10-megapixel cameras by being only 15mm thick. Despite this it has a strong stainless-steel body, a 3x zoom lens and a 2.7-inch 230k monitor. One particularly clever feature is an auto-shutter function that minimises motion blur by detecting movement in the frame, and waiting until the movement stops before taking a picture. It's such a brilliantly simple idea I'm amazed nobody's done it before. The S10 also features an H.264 video mode with 16:9 format for high-quality widescreen movies.
Continuing the theme of ultra-compact cameras, the Z80 measures a tiny 89.7 x 51.7 x 19.0mm and weighs just 100g. It has an especially low profile, and is designed to be ultra-portable. It has an 8.1-megapixel sensor, 3x zoom lens, and still manages to fit in a 2.6-inch 114k monitor. It too features the same motion-sensing technology and H.264 video mode as the S10. It also has face detection and a range of fun frame modes.
EX-Z100 and EX-Z200
These two new models have very similar specifications, with 10.1-megapixel sensors, 4x wide-angle zoom lenses with 28-112mm-equivalent focal length range, and 2.7-inch 230k LCD screens. They too feature the movement-sensing automatic shutter release, H.264 video mode and face detection, and auto Best Shot feature which determines the best scene mode for the shooting conditions. The difference between the two models is that the Z200 also features moving-sensor image stabilisation technology.
Pricing and availability on these five new models are yet to be confirmed, but they should be available in the UK in March 2008.