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Casio Exilim EX-S5 review: Casio Exilim EX-S5

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The Casio Exilim EX-S5 is capable of producing very good photos without a handful of caveats typical of budget-priced compact cameras. It looks nice, feels well constructed (except for a flimsy battery compartment door), is easy to use, and has a healthy feature set for its price. So what's the "but"? The S5's performance is slow and its shutter lag is especially long. Otherwise, it's a respectable ultracompact for the money.

7.0

Casio Exilim EX-S5

The Good

Slim, pretty design; very good feature-to-price ratio; above average photo quality for its class.

The Bad

Long shutter lag.

The Bottom Line

A budget ultracompact worth buying, the Casio Exilim EX-S5's only real issue is shutter lag.

You wouldn't know by looking at the S5 that it streets for only $130. Available in pink, black, silver, blue, or purple bodies with chrome accents, the camera is stylish looking as well as extremely lightweight and thin. The front does, however, scratch easily and collect fingerprints. The wide-screen LCD takes up most of the room on back save for the slim panel of controls. Your thumb naturally rests between the right edge of the LCD and a dedicated Movie mode button; one press starts recording and a second stops it and sends you back to shooting stills. Below that are Playback and Camera Mode buttons; a circular directional pad and a Set button; and Menu and Best Shot (BS) buttons.

All of the camera's settings are accessed through the Menu button. However, for faster access to shooting options, a panel of settings can be set to appear on the screen's right side. You can also program the left and right directionals to change things like ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation. Oddly, though, neither has the option to change focus modes, so changing to manual focus or macro requires you to go into the full menu system. Luckily it's easy to navigate through the various settings, which include a handful of unique adjustments like being able to pick what your focus frames look like (hearts, stars, butterflies) and menu color schemes. You also get built-in support for Eye-Fi SD cards for transferring photos off the camera via a wireless network connection.

If there's one thing you can rely on Casio's cameras for, it's abundant scene modes. Accessed with a press of the BS button, the S5 has 22 scene types to pick from including standard options like Portrait, Landscape, and Night Scene to the unique options of Fashion Accessories, Soft Flowing Water, and For eBay and For YouTube. There's also an Easy mode located in the regular menu options that locks down all but a couple basic settings, the camera handling everything automatically. The actual Auto mode is more of a Program AE mode letting you adjust all of the S5's settings--just not shutter speed or aperture. The Movie mode is VGA-quality video and the S5 does have the convenient one-touch record button. However, you don't get use of the zoom lens while recording. One last thing: the S5's continuous shooting option uses the settings from the first shot--including focus--for all successive pictures. It's fast, but not really all that useful, especially for moving subjects.

Performance from the S5 is typical for its category: slow. From power on to first shot takes an OK 2.5 seconds and that's the average time you'll be waiting between shots, too. Turning on the flash drives that time out to 3.1 seconds. However, while some people don't mind waiting a couple seconds between shots, the S5's lengthy 1-second shutter lag in bright light and 1.2 seconds in dim is a real damper.


Noise becomes visible at ISO 200 and increases from there. Casio goes easy on the reduction, so despite an increase in image noise, you still get very good detail and decent sharpness.

The S5 has surprisingly good photo quality considering its budget-friendly price tag. Like most point-and-shoot cameras, it hits a wall at ISO 200 with an increase of salt-and-pepper noise. Casio never gets heavy-handed with the noise reduction; the light touch made pictures taken at higher ISOs look grainy, but left detail intact. The result: usable images up to ISO 1,600 (of course this depends on how picky you are). The Tungsten white-balance setting we used for the ISO images above makes things a bit cool, whereas the auto white balance leans toward warm. There is a manual option, which turns out accurate results, as does the outdoors settings. Colors are pleasingly natural and reasonably accurate. Exposure for the most part is good, too, though clipped highlights are not uncommon. There's also a healthy amount of purple fringing in high-contrast areas and some barrel distortion at the lens' widest position (which frankly isn't that wide).

Maybe it's my lower expectations for sub-$130 cameras speaking here, but the Casio Exilim EX-S5 is a very good camera. I can't recommend it if you're trying to shoot sports, kids, or pets with it, or portraits of impatient people for that matter; the 1-second shutter lag in bright conditions is just too long for moving targets. Everything else about the S5 is solid, though, so if you can deal with the performance issues, it's a pretty sweet deal.

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Casio Exilim EX-S5
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Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

7.0

Casio Exilim EX-S5

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 5Image quality 7