Casio has two very similar inexpensive ultracompacts in its 2010 lineup: the Exilim EX-S7 and EX-Z35. The S7 is the more expensive of the two, though still fairly cheap, offering upgrades like 720p HD movie capture, a larger LCD, and the company's unique Dynamic Photo mode. More importantly, it has a newer and better image processor that, while not doing much to help shooting speed, definitely produces better photos than the Z35. If you need an ultracompact for casual snapshots and video, the S7 is a good choice for the money.
|Key specs||Casio Exilim EX-S7|
|Dimensions (WHD)||3.9 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||4.6 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||3x, f3.1-5.6, 35.5-106.5mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/Motion JPEG (.AVI)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000 pixels/ 1,280x720 at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||Digital|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||Li-ion rechargeable, 210 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||No, external charger included|
|Storage media||SD/SDHC, Eye-Fi wireless SD card support|
|Bundled software||Photo Transport, YouTube Uploader (Windows only)|
The S7 looks and feels better than its price would suggest. The camera is stylish-looking as well as extremely lightweight and thin. The LCD takes up most of the room on the 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 press 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. Pressing up and down on the directional pad changes the display information and flash settings, respectively. Left and right cycles the camera's Vivid Landscape and Make-up modes on and off. The former boosts saturation for the most important colors in a landscape while the latter smooths blemishes and softens facial shadows. Oddly, though, if you want to change focus modes, such as going to manual focus or macro, you'll need to go into the full menu system or change shooting modes. Luckily it's easy to navigate through the various settings, which include a handful of unique adjustments such as being able to pick what your focus frames look like (hearts, stars, flowers). You also get built-in support for Eye-Fi SD cards for transferring photos off the camera via a wireless network connection.
The battery and SD card slot are behind a somewhat flimsy, nonlocking door on the bottom of the camera. The battery life is CIPA-rated for 210 shots, which is on target according to my testing. However, using options such as the zoom lens or recording movies will shorten battery life. The only output on the camera is a Micro-USB/AV port behind a small cover on the right side of the camera.
|General shooting options||Casio Exilim EX-S7|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Day White Fluorescent, Daylight Fluorescent, Tungsten, Manual|
|Recording modes||Auto, Easy, Scene, Movie|
|Focus modes||Multi AF, Spot AF, Macro, Pan, Infinity, Manual|
|Macro||3.9 inches to 1.6 feet (Wide)|
|Metering modes||Multipattern, Center-weighted average, Spot|
|Color effects||Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Purple, Sepia, Black & White|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||Unlimited continuous|
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 S7 has 31 scene types to pick from, from standard options like Portrait, Landscape, and Night Scene to the unique options of White Board, Soft Flowing Water, For eBay, and For YouTube. There's also an Easy mode located in the regular menu options that locks down all but a couple of basic settings while the camera handles everything automatically. There are two other automatic shooting modes as well: Auto mode, which is more of a Program AE mode letting you adjust almost all of the S7's settings--just not shutter speed or aperture--and a Best Shot Auto that uses scene recognition to determine the appropriate camera settings. The Movie mode is 720p HD quality and the S7 does have the convenient one-touch record button. However, you don't get use of the zoom lens while recording.
Along with the aforementioned Vivid Landscape and Make-up specialty modes, Casio includes its oddball Dynamic Photo feature. If you take a series of shots of a moving subject or a single photo of a stationary subject, the camera can extract the subject and enable you to place it in another photo. It's nothing that can't be done in Adobe Photoshop, but this does it quickly in camera. The feature works OK, though for it 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. Dynamic Photo can be a lot of fun, but it's a feature that most people likely won't use or even understand.