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Casio Exilim EX-FH100 (Black) review: Casio Exilim EX-FH100 (Black)

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The Good Flexible lens in a compact body; good control layout; useful and fun high-speed shooting options.

The Bad No fully automatic mode; mixed shooting performance; near-useless raw image capture.

The Bottom Line The high-speed Casio Exilim EX-FH100 is a compelling compact megazoom camera for those constantly worried about missing a snapshot.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Image quality 7

The Casio Exilim EX-FH100 camera is all about high-speed shooting and a high-zoom lens in a compact body. Its high-speed capabilities come courtesy of a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that let the camera capture 9-megapixel images at speeds up to 40 frames per second and movies at up to 1,000fps. It'll prerecord images before you fully press the shutter, too, so that you have the best chance of getting the shot you want. Casio combines those features with a 24mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 10x zoom, giving you a lot of flexibility for capturing things you normally can't catch with a point-and-shoot.

This camera is not for the lazy, though, or for those fearful of actually participating in taking photos beyond hitting the shutter release. It has plenty of easy select-and-shoot options for the high-speed features, but without a fully automatic shooting mode, taking a normal photo requires more effort. Also, regardless of how fast this camera is at continuous shooting, its other shooting speeds are below average in comparison--especially its raw capture--to the competition. The camera's photo quality is very good, as long as you're not looking for poster-size prints or to do a lot of heavy cropping. For those afraid of missing a shot, this might be the compact camera you want.

Key specs Casio Exilim EX-FH100
Price (MSRP) $349
Dimensions (WHD) 4.1x2.5x1.2 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 8 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 10 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CMOS (backside illuminated)
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, raw (.DNG)/Motion JPEG (.AVI)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 3,648x2,736 pixels / 1,280x720 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Mechanical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 520 shots
Battery charged in camera No; external charger supplied
Storage media SD/SDHC card
Bundled software Photo Transport, YouTube Uploader (Windows only)

The FH100's all-black metal casing and heft give it a very durable, high-quality feel. I'm not sure how much abuse it could actually take, but its design gives the impression that it'll withstand rattling around in a bag better than most compacts will. The camera is also remarkably small and can easily fit in a loose pants pocket or small bag. We have only two minor design complaints with the camera that you can remedy by paying attention. The camera's flash on the right side is so close to the hand grip that you can easily obscure it, and you can likewise block the left side of the stereo mic with a misplaced finger.

Past Casio models have had a couple seemingly unnecessary buttons that made them a little confusing to use. In this case, Casio's extra control options make sense, as it gives you direct access to the camera's two key capabilities: high-speed shooting of photos and video. On top is a power button, shutter release with zoom ring, and shooting mode dial. There is also a button for switching to continuous shooting--either high-speed or normal depending on what you've set it to in the main menu system.

On its back, to the right of the LCD, is a discrete movie record button with a selector for going between the high- and normal-speed capture modes. Below that are buttons for moving between playback and capture, a circular directional pad centered with a Set button, and a Menu button. Both the play and capture buttons will turn the camera on into their respective modes. Pressing up on the directional pad changes the amount of information on the display, down sets the flash, and left and right can be programmed to do a function of your choosing such as change focus, turn on face detection, set the self-timer, or change ISO. The Set button brings up mode-specific shooting options while the Menu brings up three tabs of recording, quality, and system settings. The FH100's menus are deep with options, too, nearly to the point of being overwhelming so if you're not one to play with settings this camera might be a poor choice. There's so much to experiment with here, it would be a waste not to dive into what it offers.

The FH100 is CIPA-rated for a remarkable 520 shots, and battery life was excellent in testing. However, the more you use the continuous shooting or other high-speed settings, the faster your battery will drain. The large rechargeable pack is behind a locking door in the bottom of the camera as is the memory card slot. You have to remove the battery to charge it. The camera uses SD/SDHC cards and supports Eye-Fi wireless SD cards that let you transfer photos off the card and onto a computer over a Wi-Fi network. Lastly, for connecting to an external display and/or a computer there are Mini-HDMI and Mini-USB/AV ports behind a door on the camera's right side.

General shooting options Casio Exilim EX-FH100
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto; 100; 200; 400; 800; 1,600; 3,200
White balance Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Tungsten, Day White Fluorescent, Daylight Fluorescent, Custom
Recording modes Program Auto, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Best Shot, Movie (Normal, High Speed)
Focus modes Spot AF, Multi AF, Free AF, Tracking, AF, Macro, Manual
Metering modes Multi, Center-weighted average, Spot
Color effects Sepia, Black & White, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Purple
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Unlimited continuous

What's most odd about the FH100's shooting modes is there is no fully automatic mode where the camera handles everything for you. There is an Auto mode, but it's really a program auto, giving you control over ISO, white balance, focus, metering, and more. And 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. Again, if a reliable put-it-there-leave-it-there mode is something you value over the capability to tinker with settings, this camera might not be a good choice.

The Casio EX-FH100's continuous shooting and high-speed movie presets are plentiful.
The Casio EX-FH100's continuous shooting and high-speed movie presets are plentiful.

On the other hand, there are the scene modes, what Casio calls Best Shot, such as Portrait and Scenery that you can switch to easily enough. In fact, if you're considering this camera for its high-speed functions, the BS options are plentiful, letting you select continuous shooting and high-speed movie options according to your subject. The Continuous Shooting options feature different amounts of prerecord photos. When you press the shutter release half way down, the camera will start to prerecord images. Once fully pressed it will record a certain number of shots before and after it's pressed.

As for high-speed movies, you can shoot at 120fps, 240fps, 420fps, and 1,000fps at resolutions of 640x480, 448x336, and 224x168 pixels, and 224x64 pixels, respectively. There are, though, variable 30-120fps and 30-240fps options letting you toggle the movie recording speed between 30fps and 120 or 240fps, basically going from normal to slow motion when the moment's right. Regardless of what type of movie, though, there is no use of the optical zoom while recording. While this is usually disappointing, the lens movement and autofocus are so loud that you would not want to use them while recording.

The high-speed CMOS gets put to further use in BS modes for night scenes, antishake, and high dynamic range. All of these options take a series of shots with a single press of the shutter and then combines them into one photo. Depending on the mode, it will help reduce image noise, motion blur, or exposure.

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