The Casio Exilim EX-H10 is an exciting camera--on paper. A 24mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 10x zoom, 12-megapixel resolution, 3-inch LCD, HD movie capture, and a battery life of up to 1,000 shots, all tucked in a 1-inch-thick body. Unfortunately, its physical self is a little less rosy, like just OK photo quality, mixed shooting performance (though its shutter lag is minuscule), and a cramped control layout. However, the battery life is stellar and although the lens isn't perfect, it's on par with the competition. So if you're after that lens in the smallest body possible, want to go an entire vacation without recharging, and aren't looking to turn your photos into fine art, the H10 is worth considering.
|Key specs||Casio Exilim EX-H10|
|Dimensions (WHD)||4 x 2.5 x 1 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||7.2 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||3-inch LCD, 230K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||10x, f3.2-5.7, 24-240mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/Motion JPEG (.AVI)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000 pixels/ 1,280x720 at 24fps|
|Image stabilization type||Mechanical and digital|
|Battery type, rated life||Lithium ion rechargeable, 1,000 shots|
|Storage media||SD/SDHC cards|
The most extraordinary thing about the H10 is its size. Like Fujifilm's F70EXR, it is extremely compact considering the wide-angle lens and 10x zoom. It'll easy slip in a handbag or pocket. The lens also makes up the bulk of the camera's weight, making the balance a little awkward. Still, a nice bump out on the front provides some extra grip, helped by a small thumb rest on back.
Beyond its size and smart outward appearance, the design is kind of a mess. Directly on top are the power button and shutter release with zoom ring. Slightly farther back but still on top are two more buttons. One is for activating a Landscape Mode that can be set to boost color saturation or correct for misty and cloudy conditions. The other button is for Casio's skin-smoothing Make-up Mode. It seems odd to have dedicated buttons for these two modes over other things like turning on face detection, continuous shooting or a timer, or even Casio's Dynamic Photo mode, but, well, they're there. Moving on back to the right of big and decently bright LCD are the remaining controls crammed onto a small panel. At the top is a fast movie record button, followed down by Camera, Playback, Directional, Menu, and Best Shot (BS) buttons. They're all tightly packed making wrong button presses easy for even average-size hands. The Camera button seems redundant since you can use the shutter and power buttons for its functions. The circular directional pad is difficult to press, particularly the left side, which is too close to the bump created by the LCD's right edge. I'm guessing Casio was trying to save as much space as possible, but the result affects usability--never a good thing.
As for the rest of the interface, you can leave it as is or you can basically tailor it to how you shoot. For example, the Set button at the center of the directional pad launches a shortcut menu for commonly used shooting settings. You can stay with what Casio programmed or pick eight of your own favorites to put there. Dig deeper and you'll find a spot to select what settings the camera remembers once it's turned off and on again. For anyone intimidated by menu systems, though, the camera can be a bit overwhelming. Not that it's difficult to navigate just that there are a lot of things that can be tweaked.
|General shooting options||Casio Exilim EX-H10|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Day White Fluorescent, Daylight Fluorescent, Tungsten, Manual|
|Recording modes||Auto, Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Scene, Movie|
|Focus modes||Multi AF, Tracking AF, Spot AF, Manual, Macro AF|
|Metering modes||Multi, Center-weighted average, Spot|
|Color effects||Black & White, Sepia, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, and Purple|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||Unlimited continuous|
Like the bulk of Casio's cameras, the H10's shooting revolves around its BS scene modes. There are 36 to pick from, plus one for voice recording , or you can put it in Auto and decide on the camera settings for yourself. Basically everything but shutter speed and aperture are at your disposal in Auto including adjustments for color saturation, sharpness, and contrast. If you compile a mix of settings you like for a particular subject or situation, you can easily establish a User Scene mode for them; you can create up to 999 of them, in fact.
Along with the aforementioned Landscape and Make-up specialty modes, Casio includes its oddball Dynamic Photo feature. By taking a series of shots for a moving subject or a single photo of a stationary subject, the camera can extract the subject and allow you to place it in another photo. It's nothing that can't be done in Adobe Photoshop, but it does it quickly in camera. It works OK, though to get a really good crop the subject needs to be against a solid background that the camera can easily recognize as not being the subject. For example, if a bright light hits your subject and your background is white, the camera will remove chunks of brighter areas from your subject since it figures they're part of the background. It can be a lot of fun, though. (See the slideshow later in the review for an example.)
Shooting performance is mixed, but excels on probably the most important speed: shutter lag. The H10 from off to first shot takes 1.8 seconds. Its shutter lag is remarkably low at 0.2 second in bright conditions and 0.4 second in dim. Where it falls apart is in shot-to-shot times. Without the flash it takes 3.3 seconds to be ready for the next photo; turning on the flash pushes that time out to 4.4 seconds. Its full-resolution continuous shooting speed is dreadfully slow, too, at only 0.4 frames per second.