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Casio Exilim EX-FC100 review

Ben Pitt
21 May 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
345
inc VAT

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Specifications

1/2.3in 9.1-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (37-185mm equivalent), 146g

This is the third model in Casio's High Speed range of cameras.

Whereas the EX-F1 and EX-FH20 are both super-zoom models, the EX-FC100 fits into the slender Exilim range. It's well specified for a compact camera, with a 5x zoom, optical image stabilisation and 720p HD video capture. There's no manual exposure, however, which is disappointing at this price.

Like its High Speed siblings, the FC100 has plenty of impressive tricks on offer. As well as an HD video mode, it can record low-resolution, slow-motion video - a fantastic source of entertainment. However, its principal talents lie in continuous shooting, where it can capture 30 6-megapixel images in a single second. This is brilliant for shooting wildlife, sports and science experiments, and although it's not as fast as the F1's 60fps or the FH20's 40fps modes, it's still very impressive. In this mode, you can also set the camera to store a constant stream of images to the camera's cache. It keeps a running buffer of up to 25 frames before you even press the shutter button, which can make all the difference between capturing that perfect moment or missing it.

The Slow button provides a novel way of capturing a single picture with split-second precision. Pressing it sets the camera off, and it buffers around three seconds' worth of shots to the cache. It immediately starts playing these back on the display in slow motion. Simply click the shutter when you see the frame you want, and it's then saved to memory card. This is an ingenious way of getting group shots in which no-one is gurning or blinking, and it's great fun to use.

A couple of unusual scene presets take advantage of the fast continuous speed. One captures a burst of frames, identifies a moving object against a static background and superimposes it in multiple positions across a single frame. Another superimposes frames to reduce noise in low-light shots, shifting each one as necessary so they line up accurately.

As with the F1 and FH20, the FC100's image quality doesn't live up to the price. Noise was visible even in bright conditions at ISO 100, and Casio's clumsy noise-reduction processing gave details a slightly grubby appearance. In low light, ISO 1600 shots were hopelessly noisy, but automatic settings limited the sensitivity to ISO 400 and turned in acceptable results. Colours were vibrant with flattering skin tones, if you exclude the pallid flash-lit shots. The autofocus sometimes failed to lock on to subjects, but focus was otherwise sharp right into the corners of frames. HD video was detailed and sound quality was above average, but once again, the picture was noisy. In bright light, slow-motion video looked fantastic.

It's disappointing that the FC100's image quality isn't better - it compares well with images from £200 cameras, but costs significantly more. Despite this, if you like the sound of its impressive array of specialist tricks, the FC100 is well worth the extra cash.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
CCD effective megapixels9.1 megapixels
CCD size1/2.3in
Viewfindernone
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230 pixels
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent37-185mm
Image stabilisationoptical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution3,456x2,592
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; AVI (M-JPEG)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied32MB internal
Battery type3.7V 1,300mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested)300 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
Body materialaluminium
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight146g
Size59x100x23mm

Buying Information

Price£345
Supplierhttp://www.play.com
Detailswww.casio.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangeauto
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 6 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus3cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, tracking, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, muilti-motion image