Flick the movie mode selector (it has a separate shutter release so it's always ready to go) to High Speed and welcome to a surreal new world. With shutter rates from 300fps (512x284 pixels) to 1,200fps (336x96), you can shoot jaw-dropping slow-motion movies where water swirling in a glass or pigeons taking flight become hypnotic art-house classics. Whether you find this a cool gimmick or genuinely useful will probably depend on how often you fire bullets at eggs or track down hummingbirds.
While you get a tonne of features with the F1, you also get a big lump of camera. At 700g, this Casio is much heavier and bulkier than many budget SLRs -- and remember there's no swapping out that 12x lens. Although the lens is stabilised (both optically and digitally), it's not as efficient as the best systems, from Panasonic and Canon, say. You won't want to use high ISOs to keep things sharp, either, as anything over ISO 400 adds pretty unpleasant grainy noise.
For a camera that's so fast on the shutter, the controls can feel sluggish -- especially the lazy zoom, which takes seconds to move between wideangle and telephoto. A simple clickwheel selector next to the smart 71mm (2.8-inch) screen helps, although the flickering EVF is no substitute for an SLR's optical viewfinder.
And as exciting and innovative as the ultra-high speed CMOS sensor is, many will balk at paying such a high price for 'just' 6 megapixels these days -- especially now 12-megapixel resolutions and above are becoming the standard.
Casio has made a brave new camera. With its ultra-high speed stills and movie shooting, anyone who shoots primarily sports, wildlife or parties should put the Casio Exilim EX-F1 at the top of their shopping list. But that's a pretty specialised bunch, and with its inflated waistline (and a price tag to match), this undeniably impressive camera may prove to be a bridge too far.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide