Review: Casio Exilim EX-100

It has been less than six months since Casio launched its flagship compact camera Exilim EX-10. Digital Life reviewed it in February.

But already Casio has updated its flagship model.

No matter which way you look at it, the EX-100 is a dead ringer for the EX-10. Even the placement of buttons is the same.

The Mode dial, lens zoom lever and shutter release button are on top, easily accessible with your right index finger. Other than the usual Aperture-Priority and Program modes, the Mode dial also has Art Shot, Intelligent Bracketing and Time-Lapse modes for quick switching of modes.

Like the EX-10, the EX-100 has an aperture ring in front and a wheel dial at the back. So, in Manual mode, you can quickly adjust the aperture with the ring, and the shutter speed with the wheel dial.

Overall handling is superb. The two cameras share the same 12.1-megapixel 1/1.7-inch image sensor, Exilim HS3 image processor and 3.5-inch tiltable display. They even have the same sturdy die-cast magnesium body.

But where the EX-10 had little more than a small line of plastic to help you hold it, the EX-100 has a textured grip that provides more comfort for your fingers.

The EX-100 is 5g heavier and, when the lens is extended, about 2mm thicker than the EX-10. But this is a tiny and worthwhile trade-off given that EX-100 has a 28-300mm lens, compared with the EX-10's 28-112mm.

More amazingly, this lens has a constant big aperture of f/2.8 throughout its entire focal range.

Usually, a camera with such a big zoom lens would have a maximum aperture of only f/5.6 or f/6.3 at its maximum focal length. Such cameras also tend to be much bigger, such as the DSLR-like Fujifilm FinePix S1 reviewed last week. But the EX-100 is only 50.5mm thick with lens extended.

Another highlight is its dual bracketing or Intelligent Bracketing function. This mode lets you shoot nine frames using two different parameters, such as white balance and saturation, in just one second.

The EX-100 has seven dual bracketing functions; the EX-10, only four. For example, you can shoot eight frames with different combinations of white balance and contrast plus one normal shot. You can then choose the best shot.

Yet, Casio is not merely banking on these "fast" features. Its newest camera is also made for selfie fans. Other than the Power button on the camera's top, you can power up the camera by simply flipping up the display, which can be tilted upwards to 180 degrees. This is a quick way to start shooting selfies.

For the same purpose, there is also a front shutter release. Or you can use the hands-free option. Just press the shutter release, step back, wave and the camera will take a shot 2sec after detecting a wave.

Flipping the display 180 degrees will reveal a flip stand on the back of the camera. Pull this out and you can sit the camera on a flat surface for a group photo. Just remember to wave again.

Make-up mode can smoothen your complexion minus the hassle of Photoshop. Adjust the intensity (level 0 to 12) to your liking, take a selfie and amaze your friends with the youthfulness of your skin.

The EX-100 works almost as fast as the EX-10, taking about 1.2sec to power up, and shuts down in some 2.7sec. Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 45MB per second, it shot 30 JPEG images in 0.9sec before the buffer ran out.

Autofocusing (AF) is almost instantaneous and spot-on in bright light. In dim conditions, focusing takes around 1.2sec with the help of an AF assist light. Its competition usually takes around 2sec. But at the 300mm range, the AF takes around 1sec to get a sharp focus even in bright light.

Image quality is good, with vivid colours and smooth skin tones, especially when you increase the intensity of Make-up mode. Details are also crisp and distinct.

I particularly liked the Monochrome option in Art Shot mode. It gives pictures a strong contrast and film-like grain, reminiscent of the black-and-white shots of yesteryear.

On the downside, its noise performance lags behind that of its rivals. Noise artefacts are visible at ISO 400 (as against ISO 800 for its competitors). Furthermore, purple fringing is prevalent especially when using longer focal lengths, such as from 150mm onwards.

Videos shot with EX-100 are sharp with minimal wind and ambient audio. But the zooming of the lens can be quite loud.

Battery life takes a slight beating. Where the EX-10 managed about 450 stills on a full charge, the EX-100 can manage only around 390. However, it is still better than its peers' usual score of 300.

The Casio Exilim EX-100 follows the EX-10's tradition of a nice build, great handling and repertoire of features, such as selfie and dual bracketing. Then there is a superb 28-300mm lens with a constant f/2.8 throughout. Unfortunately, it also inherits its hefty price tag and so-so image quality.


Price: $1,199

Image sensor: 12.1-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS

Lens: 28-300mm f/2.8

Display: 3.5-inch tiltable LCD with 920,000 dots

Sensitivity: ISO 80 to 25,600

Shooting speed: Up to 30 frames per second

Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Weight: 389g (body with battery and memory card)


Features: 5

Design: 4

Performance: 3

Value for money: 3

Battery life: 4

Overall: 4

This article was published on May 14 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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