As well as its unusual lens, the V7 has another trick up its sleeve. Until now Casio’s compacts have relied on increased ISO settings to reduce the effects of camera shake, not a satisfactory solution since Casio’s image processor doesn’t have the best noise control. The V7 however is the first Casio compact to feature CCD-shift image stabilisation, a very useful feature for cameras with long zoom lenses. I’ve used a number of similar systems, and I have to say I’m fairly impressed with the performance of this one. I found I was able to take sharp hand-held shots consistently at full zoom (266mm equivalent) at a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second, around three stops slower than the recommended speed for that focal length. That’s a pretty impressive performance, since most IS systems only provide a two-stop stability gain.
As well as a long zoom and a mechanical IS system the V7 is also not short of photographic features. It has aperture and shutter priority as well as full manual exposure. The available aperture range is limited to just three settings (minimum, maximum or half-way) and the range of shutter speeds in manual mode is only 60 secs to 1/800th (1/2000th in auto), but it does at least offer some degree of creative control.
The V7 also has Casio’s trademark Best Shot mode, this time with 33 settings, including the “Auto-framing” feature seen on the EX-Z1050. I like this feature a lot, and consider it far more useful than face detection. It helps you follow moving subjects, and as long as they are in the frame it automatically crops the image to bring them into the centre of the shot. It does reduce the image size, but it helps enormously with composition of action shots.
Handling is a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, the camera is light and compact, and fits easily into a shirt pocket, but I have to admit I’m not a big fan of the sliding-cover-doubling-as-power-switch style. The cover moves very easily, and I find it’s all too easy to switch the camera on accidentally while it’s in your pocket. Since there’s no protruding lens to pop out this isn’t going to cause any damage, but it will drain your battery. Another handling issue is the main mode dial. It is positioned directly under your thumb, and turns very easily, which does cause problems with accidentally changing the shooting mode. The edges of the dial are also very sharp, enough to be very uncomfortable on the thumb. If I owned this camera I’d probably take a small file or a scrap of fine sandpaper and smooth it off a bit.
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