The S880’s performance figures make impressive reading. The camera starts up in a brisk 1.6 seconds, and shuts down again very nearly as quickly. The autofocus system is, as usual for Casio, exceptionally fast, which contributes to its impressive 1.5-second shot-to-shot time in single shot mode. In normal-speed continuous shooting it can shoot at one shot a second until the memory card is full, while in high-speed continuous mode it shoots at three frames a second, although only in 2.0-megapixel resolution. It is worth noting however that the face detection focus mode does slow down the single-shot cycle time to around two seconds, and continuous shooting cannot be used if face detection is active. The S880 has the same unusual face detection system as the EX-Z1200, in that it is actually a face recognition system. You can program it to recognise friends and family members, and it will attempt to focus on those faces instead of strangers. As usual with such advanced systems it is only partially successful, but it is impressive when it gets it right.
One of the reasons I heaped praise on the S770 was for its outstanding image quality, and happily the same is true of the S880. I used it in a wide range of situations, including a dimly-lit bar, a cloudy overcast day and even that rarity in these parts, a bright sunny day, and it never failed to produce excellent results. Low light focusing is extremely quick and accurate, and a good AF assist light means it can focus in total darkness at up to three metres. The lens is quite good, producing excellent centre sharpness and relatively little barrel distortion, although what distortion it does show is visible at both wide-angle and telephoto ends of the zoom range. The only disappointment was the corner sharpness, which was quite poor, especially in the upper right of the frame. Noise control was very good though, with good image quality at 400 ISO and usable images even at 800.
With the Exilim EX-S880, Casio once again proves that it is a force to be reckoned with in the digital camera market. Although it is competing with some very impressive products from other manufacturers, there are few that can match its combination of ultra-compact size, excellent build quality, striking design, crisp performance, superior image quality and fantastic value for money. If you’re looking for a pocket compact the S880 should be near the top of your list.