Casio makes many compact cameras bearing the "Exilim" name. Some have long zoom lenses, others have high speed shooting ability, and one recently-released Exilim is tough and waterproof. However most are modestly priced, thin cameras ideal for undemanding picture-taking needs. The Casio Exilim EX-S7 is a good example of an Exilim camera that falls under this category. For a list price at the time this was published of $139.99, you get a lot for your money.
The EX-S7 features a 1/2.33 inch sensor and 12.1 effective megapixels. Its lens has a focal length (35mm equivalent) of 35.5 - 106.5mm (3x optical zoom) with an aperture range of f/3.1 at wide angle through f/5.9 at maximum telephoto. It also has a 4x digital zoom. It comes with four different movie modes, including a 640 x 480 "YouTube" mode that is activated by a dedicated button.
It features many interesting scene modes and a useful "Auto Best Shot" mode, which automatically selects what the camera determines to be an appropriate scene mode based on present shooting conditions. It's an attractive, functional camera that should appeal to consumers looking to shoot occasional snapshots and movies. But does the performance and image quality of the EX-S7 live up to its appearance? Read on to find out.
BUILD AND DESIGN
The EX-S7 has a slim but strong body that appears to be a combination of plastic and metal. Its dimensions are 3.8 x 3.3 x 0.78 inches, and weighs only 4.3 ounces. Despite its small size, it feels solid in the hand. Our review unit was metallic magenta, with a retractable, black lens and lens ring.
The EX-S7 also comes in all black if you're interested in a more conservative color palette. It has a 2.7-inch 230,000 dot LCD screen. Its controls appear to be metal, but the tripod mount is plastic. Vulnerable parts of the camera include its thin, plastic door covering the battery and memory card compartment, and a rubber latch over the USB port. The latch is hard to move out of the way and is barely attached to the camera, so it won't take much force to possibly become detached, which will leave the port open to the elements.
Ergonomics and Controls
While the EX-S7 can be held with just the right hand, I could easily hold it with both since there is nothing on the left side of the camera that could get in the way. The camera's front has a self-timer lamp and pinhole microphone around the lens ring. The flash is located at the top, near the center of the camera. The left side of the camera contains a sturdy metal holder for the wrist strap and a USB port.
The top of the camera contains a recessed on/off button and the shutter button is encircled by a control ring, which I prefer more than the separate zoom switches used in many small cameras. The rear of the EX-S7 is dominated by the 2.7-inch LCD. To the right of the LCD is a dedicated button for recording videos at a YouTube-friendly 640 x 480 resolution. Below that is a circular panel for controlling flash and deleting pictures by pressing down, adjusting the display by pressing up and moving through the camera's menus. In the center is the set button, which accepts menu selections and gives you access to a shortcut menu.
Beneath the control panel are buttons that activate the menu and select the Best Shot mode. At the top of the panel are buttons that activate playback and picture taking. The bottom of the camera contains holes for the camera's speaker, a plastic tripod mount and the combination battery/memory card compartment. The camera uses an NP-80 rechargeable lithium-ion battery that according to Casio will last for 260 shots. In two weeks of using the camera, I charged it once and never saw the low battery icon. The EX-S7 also accepts SD and SDHC memory cards.
Casio provides a brief Quick Start Guide, with a comprehensive 180 page User's Guide in the form of a PDF file located on a CD. The CD contains Photo Transport, for moving photos from the computer to the camera, a YouTube uploader and Adobe Reader. It does not contain photo management software.
Menus and Modes
The EX-S7 uses a two-menu system: a main menu accessed by the menu button and a shortcut menu accessed by the set button. The main menu contains three columns; one for recording settings, another for adjusting quality (image size, compression level and movie resolution), and a third for set up. The shortcut menu contains many options, accessible only if the camera is in Auto mode, rather than Auto Best Shot mode or Easy mode. These options include image size, ISO and face detection, among several other settings, which are also in the main menu.
The EX-S7 provides the following shooting modes:
The EX-S7 has a 2.7-inch diameter LCD with 230,000 dots of resolution. The LCD brightness level cannot be adjusted and there is no viewfinder, so in bright lighting conditions you may have a problem seeing the screen - I know I did.
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