on April 5, 2010
The Casio Exilim EX-FH100's four main draws over other cameras are it's low-light capability, its high speed burst photography, it's slow motion video, and it's loooong battery life.
The excellent low-light performance comes (mostly) from the back-illuminated CMOS sensor which allows for more light gathering than traditional sensors. The camera takes a better shot in low-light situations than similarly sized cameras (small sensor cameras) without the backlit sensor (Sony however has a similar sensor called EXMOR on some of its newest models).
The high speed features include both a high speed shutter that allows amazing action shots (30 shots at a rate of 40fps in burst mode), and high speed video filming for gorgeous slow-motion video (can slow 1 second down to 14 seconds at the max setting of 1,000fps).
The camera further leverages the above features for some neat tricks in difficult lighting situations, which are unusual abilities for this compact form-factor. The sensor and high speed shutter are used together for several preset modes that help in low light. "Lighting Mode" is suggested for situations where parts of the frame are bright and other parts are dim -- it takes several high speed shots at various settings, then combines them for a more evenly lit image. There's a similar mode for night shots. The combination helps keep noise unnoticeable even at high ISOs.
The stereo mic is a nice plus over most other cameras (though also present on the only current competitor to this product, Sony's Cyber Shot DSC-HX5V). Other notable features are the wide angle lens, and the availability of a mode that combines mechanical image stabilization with the continuous shutter mode to reduce blur. There are also modes that use the continuous shutter to record both before and after the shutter is fully depressed, to allow you to choose a different moment if for example the person you are photographing closes their eyes or changes their expression.
Spec for spec, The Casio Exilim EX-FH100 and Sony's Cyber Shot DSC-HX5V are nearly identical. However, the Casio has a few advantages - a larger aperture, longer battery life (520 shots vs. 310 shots), a faster continuous shutter mode (40fps vs. 10 fps), slow motion video, the option of RAW format (useful if you like to manipulate images with professional photo tools), and priority modes (aperture, shutter - which are common but Sony omits them on the HX5V). On the other hand, the Sony allows use of the optical zoom while filming video (in movie mode the Casio only does digital zoom), has a panorama stitching mode, and has GPS capabilities with position & direction metadata.
While the basic functions are easy to use - even switching from HD video to slow motion is just a toggle switch -- I suggest reading the full manual on the accompanying CD. Certain things are not obvious, such as how to find the two particular video modes that allows switching on-the-fly from HD video to VGA slow-motion video (you don't use the Regular vs. HS video toggle switch for this because doing so stops the recording. For a seamless transition, you actually set the toggle switch to HS mode, and then choose a setting in the menu for on-the-fly transitions, which are then operated via the left & right keys).
Thankfully, Casio has eliminated the pointless video length limit they had put on the previous model, the FH10.
Note that while 30fps video can be up to 720p HD, and slow-motion video at 120fps is VGA quality, increasing the slow-motion beyond this (max is 1,000fps) results in decreasing the screen area displayed as a trade-off to maintain video quality at that data transfer rate. Worth mentioning here is that video can be output via the mini-HDMI out port. A composite A/V cable is included, but if you want mini-HDMI to regular HDMI, you'll have to buy your own cable.
For still shots in continuous shutter mode, it will take 30 shots (or fewer if you release the shutter button) at a rate that is selectable from a scale of 1fps over the duration of 30s, up to 40fps within 1s (yes, you are limited to 30 shots, but the rate goes up to 40fps).
I suggest you set the image quality to Fine and up the sharpness to +2 if you're going to be cropping or printing to large sizes. You'll also want to use a SDHC card that is rated "Class 6" or higher to ensure the memory can achieve the necessary sustained write rate to record HD video or high speed shots.
on August 18, 2010
I purchased this as a compact camera, with an emphasis on HD video, for an upcoming road trip. I had an older Panasonic TZ3 and wanted a similarly sized camera with better video (HD) and preferably more manual control.
I spent a while researching the purchase both in Amazon reviews and elsewhere. While the Amazon reviews were luke warm, the feature set seemed good, and I'd always wanted to try a Casio camera. I also paid particular attention to a DPReview comparison of "Compact Travel Zoom" cameras since it included this Casio as well as the descendant of the TZ3 the Panasonic ZS7, and many others. It seemed like a perfect reference since in theory it was comparing all the cameras in this category side-by-side: [...]
In that review this Casio earns a high recommendation, with relatively minor reservations, and is one of 2 top picks. Unfortunately I have to disagree with DPReview this time, since I have now tested both the Casio (their top pick) and the Panasonic ZS7 (not among their top picks), and I much prefer the Panasonic for reasons I'll explain.
First and most important is photo quality. To put it succinctly, it is really pretty mediocre. The DPReview tests showed it to be inferior at night shots, which I was ready for and didn't mind so much since I have a decent dSLR. Unfortunately I found that even the photos in daylight are not as good as I expected, or as good as the DPReview samples led me to believe. I was using the default settings (as I believe was DPR), with a mix of auto and manual controls. Yet I struggled to get anything better than mediocre (at best) shots.
I found I got the best results on manual since the auto settings would often choose slower shutter speeds than were needed to freeze movement (presumably in an effort to keep ISO and noise down). What disappointed me more was, even when I got a sharp shot, there was noticeable noise reduction, even for fairly bright pictures. The remarkable clarity shown in the DPR shots vs. other cameras (for daytime scenes at least) wasn't really evident, even testing against my several generations old Panasonic TZ3. And I don't believe there is any control over noise reduction either. With RAW support being basically unusable with 15 second wait times, and anyway limited to 200ISO (useless), you really have less control than may be needed to get great results.
Something else that contributed to worse than desired photo quality was the poor image stabilization. I realize this camera's zoom has a fairly long reach, especially for such a light and small camera, but I also have the ZS7 to compare it against, and I can tell you this Casio does not have a good IS system next to the ZS7. DPR's test show this as well, but again I didn't really expect it to be quite as bad. Unfortunately this affects video too, making low-light video especially jumpy (unnecessarily so, as my ZS7 videos later showed me).
Additionally, while DPReview does mention the slow startup time, it was definitely more annoying than I expected. It's funny how the little things can compound issues like this, and in the case of the Casio the fact that it does not respond to the zoom lever once startup is finished unless you depress it *after* startup is complete was what made it extra annoying. Imagine this: you see a distant subject you want to capture, you press the power button and while you're waiting you turn the zoom dial so that as soon as the camera is ready, it will start zooming. Makes sense, right? But it doesn't work that way. Other cameras, including the ZS7, do.
I found no really quick and easy way to tell when exactly it had finished startup, since even the display being on and splash screen gone doesn't indicate it's totally done yet. It probably sounds like I'm exaggerating the point, but I truly found that the lack of "buffering" of inputs created uncertainty that would delay actual use of the camera sometimes even beyond the 3 second startup time. And when you're trying to grab a shot of a bird or other moving subject, 3 seconds is a long, long time. So if you imagine yourself ever wanting to catch anything in motion, consider the slow startup time heavily in your decision. I know I personally did not give it enough weight when I decided on this purchase.
As for video quality, in daylight it's pretty decent, no doubt. It's high definition (720p) and fairly clear. You can get relatively long recordings out of it with a large memory card. But the poor image stabilization is an issue, as I said. I also didn't think I would miss the lack of zooming that much, but I ultimately found it really was frustrating not to have it. The ZS7 does zooming while filming just fine. One nice thing about the Casio with video is it lets you zoom in on video in playback, a feature I liked a lot for HD videos on such a small screen, but it's a minor benefit. You also appear to have some manual control (shutter speed, aperture?) over videos, which I will admit seems better than the ZS7 which can sometimes overexpose bright portions of scenes with tricky lighting (think concerts, with a main performer lit with a bright spot against a dark stage - the main performer will be almost white, losing a lot of detail).
The high-speed videos were a brief novelty, but as others (and DPR) have said, the low resolution and high light levels needed to capture anything definitely keep it as a novelty and ultimately seldom used. Worse than that I found the video switch would often get moved from HD to HS (high speed), so I would end up taking a low resolution, high speed shot (without audio!) of a scene I wanted to take an HD video of (with sound!). This obviously only happens when you're in a hurry and not paying attention, but the point of a point and shoot pocket camera is it's supposed to not require as much thought and planning, and ultimately I didn't find that to be the case with this Casio.
I suppose in summary perhaps the DPReview did tell me most of what I needed it know: it's slow to start up, has noise reduction issues in image quality, doesn't zoom while filming video, etc. I just didn't think it would be that bad in practice, especially since they ultimately gave it high marks and a top pick. If you actually read their review and experiences, ignoring the numeric ratings and top pick, you probably wouldn't pick this camera up though, it's just that the scores throw you off. So I know I'll be sure to consider the review text a lot more heavily than scores in the future (though I certainly read the reviews in-full many times before buying in this case, and still got caught out). Also pay attention to the Amazon reviews (I usually do), and don't assume that lack of experience or different requirements can entirely explain someone's dissatisfaction. I made this mistake once and won't do it again.
So as I indicated several times in this review, I ultimately went with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black), and am much happier with that. Review to come soon.
on June 26, 2010
I purchased this camera to be a compact point-and-shoot that I could take with me everywhere. The main purpose, for me, was to photograph and video my newborn daughter.
With those expectations set, I was extremely pleased with the camera! It certainly won't compare to a DSLR in terms of photo quality, or a dedicated video camera in terms of movie quality- but for the size and price,it's great.
When I started shopping, I had a few important criteria. Note that these criteria immediately rule out any sort of DSLR (mainly due to size and price)
Must Have features:
- Portability: I needed a pocket-ish-sized camera, one that I could take everywhere.
- Affordability: I was on a relatively strict budget of under $400.
- HD Video: I wanted to be able to record at least 720p.
- High-speed photo: This is an incredible feature for photographing action (and babies, children, animals, etc).
- High-speed video: I have always loved high-speed (slow-motion) video.
- * Shockproof / waterproof: I plan to do a lot of outdoor photography, so this would be nice.
Ultimately, the Casio ticked off all the boxes save for that last one- it is not waterproof, nor (I imagine) very shockproof. My wife also owned an older Casio Exilim model, and we've been very happy with it, in terms of size versus image quality. So I made my decision, and went with the fh-100.
So far, I've been quite pleased with the camera. It takes fairly nice-looking photos and HD video, and the high-speed features are tremendously fun.
If you are interested, you can check out my YouTube channel for examples of HD and high-speed video, and my picasa albums for examples of photo quality:
My main complaints, after a few months' usage, largely boil down to missing "wishlist" features, and other "hey, it's a point-and-shoot" type of issues:
- Limited aperture range:. It's a beefy camera, but it's still a point-and-shoot.
- No intervalometer: This has forced me to use other cameras for time lapse photography.
- No zoom or autofocus (or manual focus, for that matter) while recording video.
- No A/C power: Not uncommon with cameras, but worth mentioning.
- 4GB video limit: It does not continue to shoot video once the 4GB file size limit is reached, without manual intervention.
Those last two complaints make it difficult to take long video, even with a large memory card.
Clearly these are all minor issues. I would love to see an intervalometer added via some sort of software update, but otherwise I am quite happy with the camera.
The battery life is great, but it's still worth buying an extra battery in my opinion, so you're never waiting for it to charge. (Also, I have an Eye-Fi card- which is like a battery vampire)
GTMax Replacement Standard Lithium-Ion Battery for Casio Exilim High Speed EX-FH100
on April 5, 2010
I've owned Sony Cybershots my whole life. The reason I switched over was the slow-motion recording feature. However, not only is this feature incredible on this camera, but the picture quality is unbelievable! I've been taking the most amazing pictures, on par with DSLR's!
As for the slow-motion feature, it's extremely easy to use, especially to activate. The HD and Slow-Motion toggle is a great little piece of hardware, and the dedicated video button makes it that much more amazing. As for video quality, WOW! Not only is HD Recording amazingly clear, but switching to 120, 240, or even 420 FPS looks absolutely amazing.. hilarious too! 1000 fps is way too slow for what i'm using it for, and besides the video quality at this speed is too low.
As for picture quality, 10x zoom is great, I haven't gotten a single blury shot, and low-light performance is very good. I've been looking for a camera that takes good night pictures, especially at parties. The camera makes skin look natural, not greasy and shiny like other cameras. Colors looks spectacular.
As for the screen, i wish it had better quality. I see myself taking pictures and not being impressed with how they look on the camera. But once I download them to my mac, they look STUNNING!
Overall very impressed with the camera. I couldn't be happier!
on April 4, 2010
I've been looking for a reasonably priced camera/camcorder for viewing golf swings for a long time, and this camera has finally done the trick. I have given it 5 stars on that basis. (Note: golf clubs travel up to about 135 miles per hour, so this review would be applicable to recording anything up to that speed.)
Viewing a golf swing without a blurry image requires a very fast shutter speed -- this camera will do up to 1/40,000 of a second (although 1/8,000 may be fast enough). Importantly, the shutter speed can be set manually (shutter priority mode) to the fastest speeds with this camera, whereas some other cameras/camcorders that advertise fast shutter speeds do not allow them to be manually set to the fastest speeds, which makes them unacceptable for this purpose. Granted, you need a lot of light to use the extremely fast shutter speeds, but that should not be an issue for golf swings unless you are trying to record indoors (I was able to get a good image at 1/8,000 outside without being in direct sunlight).
You also want a fast frame rate to be sure that you get a lot of images for one swing -- this camera will do up to 1000 frames per second (fps). The image quality natually goes down as the frame rate goes up, and the quality is not great at 1000 fps, but I have found 120 fps to be quite adequate with a reasonable image quality for viewing a golf swing.
Again, this rating is based on the uses described above; I do not have an opinion on the quality of the basic images quality (e.g., individual still pictures) relative to other similarly price cameras.
on July 28, 2010
This camera replaced a several year old Canon point and shoot, last in a line of point and shoot Canons, and it compares vary favorably with them all. I'm still fooling with it, but I have had the most satisfying results in natural light using the red square and "A" exposure settings. The "BS" setting doesn't give me the pictures I want. I added a slave flash that's much bigger than the camera and I'm set for portraits and small groups of people. It's a bit slow cycling between exposures, and the built in flash isn't terribly powerful. My pictures are generally very sharp with minimal artifacts. I haven't used the movie mode yet and may never. The camera is a bit too small, so it's hard to touch the "on" button without looking at it, and it could use a bigger grip surface. The camera seems much more solid than my old Canons. The focus speed is not outstanding. On power up/down, the noise the lens makes extending/retracting into the body is disturbing, but it seems to just be a feature of this camera. Battery and memory card access is top notch. The Casio has been able to capture images that compare favorably with ones I've taken with my Canon Rebel DSLR, but of course the little Casio is usable over a narrower range of exposure situations. This is really a usable camera, especially considering the price. Sharp photos! Just OK image stabilization. I think I like it, but I'll be sure in several years. It's less of a compromise camera than I thought.
on June 25, 2010
I've played with this camera for a week and I love it. It looks nice, fits in your pocket, and it's amazingly fun to play with the slow motion video.
The pictures are great. I'm not a big photography expert, so I can't say too much about the picture quality. Compared to other point-and-shoot cameras I've owned like the Canon PowerShot SD870, it's just as good if you're taking normal pictures. However for low light and high speed, this camera kicks ass.
But mainly I played with video, it was the main reason I bought this camera. So far it met my expectations. It's really fun and it's just like what you see on YouTube. It's great for analyzing your golf swing or martial arts. It also works in room lighting, but it can be a bit dark at 420-1000fps. When you're outdoors, it works perfect. The resolution at 1000fps is quite small though but it works very well.
One minor downside is that the built-in memory is very slow, so when you first get the camera, your experience will be inferior. It will not have much capacity, your HD video recording/playback will be slow and jumpy (as another reviewer pointed out), and 1000fps videos will take a long time to record, and some videos may skip frames. But since I put in a Class 6 8GB SD card, all those problems went away.
I've had no issues transferring the videos/pictures to my computer via SD or usb plug.
Overall I think it's great value and I would recommend it.
on July 16, 2011
I purchased this camera for the sole reason that it does high-speed capture. While the 1,000 fps has very grainy, small format videos, the 450 fps videos are awesome! I was pleasantly surprised by the usefulness and clever presets that make switching between modes quick and easy. It does not use standard mini-USB which I found annoying since it means that I have to bring an extra cable with me, but the little camera bag I picked up takes care of that. The very first thing I did when I got the camera was to pick up a 16G Class 10 SD Card, gotta have the space for videos and the high class rating for high speed transfer rate. All in all it is a lot more camera for $200 bucks than I expected and has allowed my students to explore some interesting phenomenon that we otherwise would not have been able to observe. Honestly I am amazed at how many capabilities they have packed into this little camera.
on August 29, 2010
I chose this camera primarily for a combination of slow-motion video, HD video, and acceptable photo quality. It's a good choice if that combination of features meets your requirements, but if you're mostly interested in taking really great photos, look at other cameras. In my experience, Canon point-and-shoot cameras produce better photos and they're generally less expensive.
About the Casio photo quality... I've posted three nature close-ups to show that this camera is capable of reasonably nice macro shots. The trick in shooting tight close-ups with this camera is to move back from the subject and zoom all the way in on it (camera set to "macro" focus). You can get a larger subject that way, essentially seeming to be closer to your subject. This technique tends to create a nice "bokeh" or background blur, while the subject is well-focused. The camera usually takes an attractive photo, although it also produces a large share of duds. It does a fair job of autofocusing, although sometimes it hunts or focuses on the background even when the center spot is clearly aimed at the foreground subject. To be sure that you have a good shot, take lots and lots of pictures -- this is the digital age, you don't have to pay for film and processing just to see whether a picture is any good, so why not fill up your camera card? Delete the duds and extras later.
Unless you have a full minute or two between shots, you need to set it to take JPEGs, and even then it isn't very fast at saving the highest quality shots. And when it comes to saving RAW photos, this is one of the slowest cameras I've ever worked with. Much as I prefer RAW, on on the Casio EX-FH100 it's way too slow for nature photography, where a few seconds delay is enough for your subject to walk, fly, or swim away. The camera's JPEG photos, when greatly enlarged, show an odd splotchy characteristic that reminds me of the paint effects filters you find in image software such as Photoshop. This means that cropping and enlarging is iffy. Might look good, might not. I'm Photoshop fanatic, and I have over a decade of experience at photo editing, so I don't have a lot of trouble fixing some of the quirkier JPEG artifacts produced by this or other cameras. Most people aren't inclined to play with photo editors, however. Fortunately, this camera's pictures start out fairly big, and most people don't require giant poster-sized copies of all their photos. For snapshots and pictures up to 11-inches, it's not too bad, and every now and then it produces a great photo worthy of poster size.
With its good-to-great but sometimes bad-to-terrible photo performance, I might have chosen a different camera, but the video swayed me, and I'm happy I bought the Casio. The HD quality is very nice. It looks as good or better than many dedicated HD camcorders, and it's easy to use. On a tripod, especially, the results are attractive. As many have mentioned, don't look for crisp HD quality in slow-motion videos from this camera. With the slow-motion features, you're getting VHS quality at best, and the quality and image size greatly diminish as you select slower and slower video speed. For my purposes, I usually select the 30-120 option, which provide VHS video quality that you can easily switch between normal speed of 30fps to 1-fourth speed of 120fps. The camera was great for slowing down butterflies and other flying insects, and it did a good job of muffling the effects of a windy day when trying to videotape wildflowers on the prairie, making the rolling fields look mesmerizingly musical. I had a lot of fun setting up this camera on a pond's edge and capturing leaping frogs and playful dragonflies. The slow motion helped when panning the camera by hand, reducing my spazzy shakes and jitters. I don't do sports video, but that would be an interesting use as well, especially for coaches helping athletes review their performance.
Be warned however, if recording an event, or shooting vacation footage, or working on any other project using HD and a variety of slow-motion video: because of video size and quality differences in each of this camera's settings, it takes a bit of editing and resizing work to combine all of that footage into a single movie. I use Vegas Studio, or Pinnacle, or Adobe After Effects and Premier, whichever is easier for a particular project. (If you're looking for an easy photo editor with great features, you couldn't go wrong with Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro Pack.)
All in all, I really liked the video features in the EX-FH100, and I'm excited to see how Casio evolves this line of cameras. Could you use this as a sole camera for amateur to prosumer level nature photography/videography, or if you're on a trip and want to carry just one camera? I think so, particularly if you have suitable image and video editing software.
For this camera, I also purchased the Maximal Power DB CAS NP90 Replacement Battery, a cheap knock off that works as well as the Casio battery, and has functioned well for me over 100 hours of nature photography. It properly fits the camera, fits the charger, has an equivalent battery life. As for the camera's battery power usage, I think it's great. I get a full 6-8 hour fieldtrip of photos, HD video, and slow-motion video from a single charge, so Casio is to be commended for remarkably efficient use of resources with its camera engineering.
on August 4, 2010
I have been recommending this camera to all my friends with kids. This camera is so easy to use. You can switch between functions quickly. I was able to use the camera without ever having the read the instructions. The best feature is the burst shots which allow you to take a bunch of photos in a row. I had another camera that would do this but the photos would often come out blurry. This camera takes clear photos every time. The burst feature is perfect for babies that always seem to put their hands in front of their faces right when you snap a shot. The picture quality is great in bright lighting and decent enough in low lighting. The video is also really good though it eats up lots of memory.