Casio EX-H10 Review
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The Casio EX-H10 is the latest pocketable super-zoom camera, sporting a 10x wide-angle zoom lens with a focal length of 24-240mm and CCD-shift image stabilization mechanism. The 12 megapixel EXH10 also boasts a headline grabbing battery life of 1,000 shots, making it perfect for extended trips away, plus a large 3.0-inch LCD monitor and 720p 1280x720 HD movies. Measuring less than 1 inch / 25mm thick, the Casio H10 is currently the world’s thinnest and lightest camera among digital cameras with a 10X or greater optical zoom lens. Available in black, gunmetal grey and pink, the Casio EX-H10 retails at £299 in the UK and $299.99 in the USA. Can the EXH10 de-throne our current reigning travel super-zoom king, the Panasonic DMC-TZ7? Carry on reading to find out...
Ease of Use
The Casio EX-H10 is an extremely well-made, compact digital camera, with a shiny metallic grey metal body and excellent overall finish. It's just about small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, measuring 102.5 (W) x 62.0 (H) x 24.3 (D)mm. The EX-H10 will fit inside either a trouser or shirt pocket or handbag, and it only weighs 164g without the battery or memory card fitted. Casio boasts that the EX-H10 can take 1,000 shots on a single battery charge - we managed just over 750 shots and the usual amount of image reviewing before the battery icon began to flash.
The Casio H10 features a 10x optical zoom lens that's equivalent to a focal length of 24-240mm in 35mm terms. The 24mm wide-angle focal length provides an entirely new outlook that can only increase your creativity. You won't want to go back to a "standard" 35mm zoom after using the 24mm lens on the EX-H10. The 10x zoom lens obviously makes this one of the most versatile compacts in terms of focal range, especially as it is coupled with Casio's very effective anti-shake system, which helps to ensure that the majority of photos taken in good light are sharp. The H10's lens isn't particularly fast though at either the wide-angle setting, with a maximum aperture of f/3.2, or the 240mm telephoto setting, with a maximum aperture of f/5.7.
As with almost every Casio camera that we've reviewed before, the EX-H10 is one of the better models around in terms of build quality, despite being made predominantly of plastic. The overall finish is excellent, looking and feeling much more expensive than its price-tag might suggest. There's a small raised hand-grip on the front which helps you to get a good grip on the camera, although it is a little slippery. The plastic tripod mount is dead-centre in the bottom of the camera, but changing cards or batteries is not possible while the H10 is mounted on a tripod because the compartment door hinge is too close to the tripod socket.
The Casio EX-H10 has relatively few external controls, just 12 in total, which reflects the fact that this is a simple camera in functionality terms, with very limited photographic control on offer. All the controls are clearly labeled using industry-standard symbols and terminology, with just a couple of Casio-specific buttons that require a quick read of the manual. Located on top of the EX-H10 are the On / Off button and the tactile Zoom Lever and Shutter button.
There are also two buttons above the LCD screen. The Landscape mode button makes colours more vivid, filters haze, and performs other processing that enhances the beauty of natural scenery. You can choose from two settings, Vivid Landscape or Mist Removal, with Off, +1 (Weak) and +2 (Strong) strengths available for both. The Make-up mode button smoothes the skin texture of the subject and softens facial shadows caused by harsh sunlight for better looking portraits. You can set one of 13 levels in the range of 0 (no correction) to +12 (maximum correction).
On the bottom are the tripod mount and lockable battery compartment, which also houses the SD memory card slot. On the rear of the EX-H10 is the large 3 inch LCD screen, with a number of controls to the right, including a traditional round navigation pad. You can directly access the various flash options by clicking down on the navigation pad, whilst up is used to toggle between the various Display modes (no information, shooting info, shooting info with histogram). The Set button in the middle performs two main tasks - it selects menu options, and also accesses the EX-H10's Control Panel.
This is a vertical list of options displayed on the right of the LCD screen, which provides quick access to some of the camera's more important options, including image size, ISO speed, auto-focus area, and continuous shooting. You can also pick and choose the settings that you want to show in the Control Panel from 14 different options. This system is a good compromise given the size of the camera's LCD screen and therefore the limited space for external controls. It takes a little while to get used to the presence of this on-screen list, but you can toggle it off using the Display mode if it proves too distracting.
Directly above the navigation pad are the self-explanatory Playback and Camera buttons, which switch between the two modes. Above these buttons is the very welcome inclusion of a dedicated Movie button, which makes it quick and easy to shoot a movie without missing the start of the action. The EX-H10 can record HD movies at 1280x720 pixels at 24 fps, standard quality movies at 640x480 pixels at 30fps, and VGA movies at 320x240 at 15 fps, all in the AVI format.
There are some limitations to the EX-H10's movie mode. The AVI format choice results in some massive file sizes that quickly fill up your memory cards, and the length of a movie is bizarrely limited to only 10 minutes. The sound quality is not that great, with the usual background noise that accompanies movies shot with cameras that only have mono sound. Even worse, you can't use the optical zoom at all during movie recording (although there is a digital zoom setting available).
The Menu and Best Shot buttons are positioned below the navigation pad. The menu system on the Casio EX-H10 is perfectly straight-forward to use. Quite a lot of the camera's main settings are accessed elsewhere, so the main menu system isn't actually that complicated. A row of 3 icons along the top of the LCD screen represent the Record, Quality and Set Up sub-menus, with most of the options being the kind that you set once and then forget about. Due to the large and bright LCD screen, the various options are easy to access and use, especially as only 6 are shown onscreen at one time. Accessed via the Best Shot button, the Casio EX-H10 offers Auto and a comprehensive range of 38 different scene modes aimed at the user who just wants to point and shoot, making this camera particularly well-suited to the beginner, although picking the most appropriate one can get confusing!
There is a single port on the right side of the Casio EX-H10 (when viewed from the back) which accepts both the USB interface cable required to connect the camera to a printer or computer, and the AV cable. There are no controls on the left side of the EX-H10. Overall the camera body feels very well-designed and not at all cluttered, despite the presence of the large 3 inch LCD, which has a wide viewing angle from left to right, average resolution of 230,000 dots, and is visible in most conditions. There is no optical viewfinder on this model.
If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the comprehensive and fairly easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Unfortunately Casio have chosen to cut costs and only supply the full manual as a PDF on a CD, rather than in printed format. Not much use if you're taking pictures and need to find out what a particular option does.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
The start-up time from turning the Casio EX-H10 on to being ready to take a photo is fairly quick at around 3 seconds, and it takes about the same time to zoom from the widest focal length to the longest. Focusing is very quick in good light and the camera happily achieves focus indoors or in low-light situations, although there's no focus-assist lamp. It takes about 0.5 second to store an image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card - there is a very quick LCD blackout between each image.
In Continuous mode the camera takes just 0.7 frames per second at the highest image quality, which is very slow for this class of camera, although the shooting rate is at least maintained until your memory card is full. There are also two High-speed Continuous Shutter modes, which shoot at 10 frames per second at 1280 x 960 pixels (up to 20 shots) or 4 frames per second at 1600 x 1200 pixels (up to 8 shots), and a Flash Continuous Shutter mode, which takes 3 frames per second at 1600 x 1200 pixels (up to 3 shots).
Once you have captured a photo, the Casio EX-H10 has a good range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view up to 25 thumbnails onscreen at once, and zoom in and out up to 8x magnification. You can view slideshows with different effects and interval settings and set the print order and the transfer order, and also protect, rotate, resize, trim, and copy an image.
There's a range of options for editing your images and movies in-camera, including Dynamic Photo which extracts images of a moving subject and combines them with a still image to form a new background, Movie Editing for trimming your movies, Lighting, Red Eye correction, White Balance, Brightness, Keystone and Color Correction. The Display button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and white balance, and there is a small histogram available during shooting and playback which is helpful in evaluating the exposure. A third press of the Display button shows just the image with no information displayed.
In summary the Casio EX-H10 is a stylish, well-built and compact point-and-shoot digital camera with the obvious attractions of a large LCD screen, HD movies and versatile 10x zoom lens.