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Digital Cameras/Camcorders | First Looks
Fri 02 May 2008

Card-Sized Goodness

By Alvin Soon & Seow Tein Hee

How does one define credit card size slimness? Casio revealed its answer when it showcased the Casio EXILIM EX-S10, dubbed as "the world's smallest and thinnest 10.1-megapixel camera" to date. Small as it may be, there's more to be said about the EX-S10, so take a ride with us as we explore the galore of functions on the EX-S10.

Beyond the Slim Factor

Putting aside the EX-S10's claim as the anorexic poster child in the compact digital camera market, we take a look first at the overall design and layout of the EX-S10's controls. At the top of the EX-S10 body are the zoom controls, the Shoot and the Power button. The back of the EX-S10 is mainly taken up by the 2.7-inch LCD; there is no optical viewfinder on this camera. Located beside the LCD at the upper right corner is the Video Record button, with the Play and Record buttons just below it. A directional pad is below this, and the other buttons are Menu and Best Shot.

Casio's brochure focuses on the newly developed 2.7-inch Super Clear LCD on the EX-S10 and it certainly is bright and clear, allowing one to browse through the shots with absolute clarity even in the afternoon sun. The main controls on the menu are Resolution, Flash, Auto Shutter, Trigger Sensitivity, Face Detection, Multi-shot, ISO, Exposure and Display Time, features that delineates the EX-S10 clearly as a point-and-shoot camera.

Scenic Choices

With 36 preset scenes in its Best Shot, ranging from popular modes like Food to obscure ones such as Splashing Water, we found the Auto mode to be sufficient for most shots, sometimes even better. On certain modes like Food and Collection, we found the camera produced better quality images than those on Auto. Sharing a common problem with most other compact cameras in Night Portrait mode, the slower shutter speed with slow sync flash resulted in a blurry handheld shot. Reverting to Auto solved this problem. The EX-S10 does show a helpful summary of the shot's settings after it's been taken, but it would be more helpful if that was displayed during the shooting stage so users know what to expect.

In our first few shots with the EX-S10, we thought our blurry shots were the result of inappropriate settings such as low shutter speeds. Unfortunately, the results stayed the same after various adjustments. We were further surprised that even outdoor daylight shots at ISO100 produced noticeable noise in our photos. When we went back to our labs, we found that although the EX-S10 resolved all the lines in our resolution chart perfectly, noise was quite prevalent and compromised the quality of our shots. Even at a low ISO100 setting, this noise was noticeable.

We were quite excited to test the high quality H.264 MOV videos the EX-S10 records to, with the ability to shoot widescreen at 848 x 480 at its highest resolution of 29.97 frames per second. We found the EX-S10 delivered above-average video resolution, but in low-light situations video also had the same noise issue prevalent in its photos. There are no settings to tweak audio capture, so that's it for effective video capture. If Casio were to refine their video capture technology, we may find a well-balanced photo and video consumer camera from them in the future.

The Final Shot

The EX-S10 fits nicely into your pocket with its slim dimensions and light weight. However, it seems that there's a trade-off for its portability and ease-of-use; the noise levels and the LCD which gave noisy previews. Priced at S$499, the pricing on the EX-S10 is suited for those who don't mind paying a bit more for the slimness factor.

Product Specifications

  • Image Sensor: 10-megapixel
  • Zoom (Optical/Digital): 3x/12x
  • Focal Range (35mm eq.): Approx. 36 to 108mm
  • Imager: 1/2.3" square pixel
  • CCDLens: F2.8 (W) to 5.3 (T), f=6.3 to 18.9mm
  • Exposure: -2EV to +2EV (in 1/3EV steps)
  • Aperture: F2.8 (W) to F7.9 (W)
  • Best Shot: Includes 36 preset scenes
  • Shutter Speed: 1/2 to 1/2000 second (Auto), 4 to 1/2000 second (Night Scene)
  • Continuous Shooting: Approx. 1.2 seconds interval (Normal speed)
  • Metering Modes: Multi-pattern, center weighted, spot by imaging element
  • Sensitivity: Auto, ISO50, ISO100, ISO200, ISO400, ISO800, ISO1600
  • Movie Recording: MOV format, H.264/AVC
  • Flash Range: Approx. 0.2 to 2.8m (W), approx. 0.4 to 1.5m (T) in Normal mode
  • Recording Media: SDHC memory card, SD memory card, MultiMediaCard, MultiMediaCardplus compatible
  • Interfaces: USB/AV ports
  • Display: 2.7" LCD
  • Dimensions: 92.4 x 54.6 x 15mm
  • Weight: 125g