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Casio Exilim EX-S7 review: Casio Exilim EX-S7

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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.

Casio Exilim EX-S7 (black)
6.6

Casio Exilim EX-S7

The Good

Nice design, features, and photo quality for price.

The Bad

Long shot-to-shot times; short battery life.

The Bottom Line

The budget-friendly Casio Exilim EX-S7 offers a slim design and a better-than-basic feature set, and its photo quality is good for the price, too.

Key specs Casio Exilim EX-S7
Price (MSRP) $139.99
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.

The S7's shooting performance is average for its class, though that average isn't particularly great. It takes 2.3 seconds to power on and capture the first shot. Then you're waiting a painful 3.3 seconds to take another shot; 4.3 seconds if you're using the flash. Shutter lag is on par with a budget ultracompact: 0.5 second in bright conditions and 0.9 in dim lighting. Continuous shooting is pretty slow, too, at 0.5 frame per second. In the end, those expecting zippy performance because of the camera's size will likely be disappointed.

Casio Exilim EX-S7 photo quality
At and below ISO 200 the Casio Exilim EX-S7's photos are very good, and they're still decent up to ISO 800.

The S7 has 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 in noise and softness. However, the S7 doesn't get too heavy-handed with the noise reduction until its top sensitivity of ISO 1,600. That means you'll get good photos indoors and out, but in low light conditions the results are best suited for use at small sizes or on the Web. Colors are nice and natural-looking and remain fairly consistent across the entire ISO range. Exposure for the most part is good, too, though the camera did occasionally overexpose subjects and clipped highlights are not uncommon. There's also a healthy amount of purple fringing in high-contrast areas, but no worse than for other cameras in its class, and there was some barrel distortion at the lens' widest position (which frankly isn't that wide).

Video quality is OK: good enough for Web use and undiscerning HDTV viewing. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of video from most compact cameras. The zoom lens does not function while recording, but you do have a digital zoom.

Casio's Exilim EX-S7 has some extras that push it just beyond an entry-level point-and-shoot, but without losing its affordability. Generally, lower-end ultracompacts make you sacrifice photo quality and performance for the slim style and features. The S7's biggest performance problem is the wait between shots, and its photos are decent except at its highest ISO. If you can live with those limitations, the S7 is a good, budget-minded ultracompact.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W330
1.8 
3.4 
2.6 
0.7 
0.4 
Nikon Coolpix S3000
2.3 
4.1 
2.7 
0.7 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot A3100 IS
1.8 
3.9 
2.3 
0.7 
0.5 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3
1.1 
4.5 
2.8 
0.7 
0.5 
Casio Exilim EX-S7
2.3 
4.3 
3.3 
0.9 
0.5 
Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Larger bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

Casio Exilim EX-S7 (black)
6.6

Casio Exilim EX-S7

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6Image quality 6