It's got 9 megapixels, a 3x zoom and they want how much for it? Casio's new 'High Speed' Exilim EX-FS10 had better have something pretty smart up its sleeve to justify its £300 asking price. And it has, including the ability to turn back time and capture the shot you just missed...
It's called a 'pre-record' function, and, no matter how many times you use it, it still has a hint of witchcraft about it. You can use it both for movies and this camera's high-speed continuous shooting mode. What happens is that you half press the shutter and the camera starts recording stills or movie clips, but only into a kind of rolling buffer. When something happens that you wish you'd caught, you press the shutter the rest of the way and the camera pulls the last few seconds out of the buffer, as well as capturing live footage from that point on. So it's not witchcraft at all -- it just feels like it.
Oh, and there's much more. The EX-FS10 features Casio's Continuous Shutter technology, which lets you capture shots at, frankly, stupid speeds. It'll shoot 30 pictures at 30 frames per second, and, although it's not at full resolution, it only drops to 6 megapixels. That's perfectly adequate for decent-quality enlargements.
And then there's the high-speed movie mode, which can run at 210fps, 420fps and 1,000fps, although at progressively lower resolutions, so that, by the time it's running at full pelt, clips measure a microscopic 224x64 pixels. That's okay for motion analysis in a physics lab, but perhaps rather on the wee side for the rest of us.
Never mind, though, because the slower frame rates offer progressively higher definition, and, if you shoot at normal speed, you get excellent-quality 1,280x720-pixel high-definition movies. You need to keep the camera as still as possible to avoid jitter, but the definition is extremely good.
Casio's Continuous Shutter technology has other party tricks. You can use high-speed and low-light anti-shake modes that combine pictures taken in a high-speed sequence to produce a blur-free result, and there's a slow-motion mode that lets you record a moving subject, play it back in slow mo and pick out and save the best shot.
The EX-FS10 takes pretty good still shots too. The non-extending lens seems substantially better than Casio's usual offerings, with little distortion or chromatic aberration and good sharpness across the frame, except at the very edges. It's just as sharp at full zoom too.
There are a couple of issues though. Price is one, obviously. The EX-FS10 is a pretty good little camera, and it's certainly well made, but there's no way it's worth £300 unless you're going to use the high-speed shooting and Continuous Shutter often. The LCD display's on the small side too, and the controls and options for all these high-speed functions, perhaps inevitably, do get confusing.
The Casio Exilim EX-FS10 is a fun package. Although it looks like a stills camera, it's really all about capturing action and movement, and Casio's high-speed, Continuous Shutter technology does this in a way that would once have been impossible without highly-specialised equipment. And you get all this in a smart little body that you can slide in your shirt pocket.
Edited by Charles Kloet