The S200 performed about as well as expected in terms of speed. The camera takes just a second or so to power up, and shot-to-shot times were acceptable for the class.
Auto focus speed in good lighting is very reasonable. Dim lighting is trickier, but I found the AF system fairly reliable, especially with the help of the focus assist lamp. Shutter lag wasn't noticeable.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR||0.01|
|Casio Exilim EX-S200||0.01|
|Canon PowerShot SD4500||0.02|
|Kodak EasyShare M590||0.03|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Casio Exilim EX-S200||0.17|
|Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR||0.19|
|Kodak EasyShare M590||0.30|
|Canon PowerShot SD4500||0.49|
Continuous shooting modes are disappointing considering that there's no full-resolution continuous shooting mode available. Scaling down to 2 megapixels will allow you to shoot at 4.4 fps, and reducing image size to 1 megapixel boosts the framerate to 10 fps.
Casio claims that the NP-120 rechargeable battery included with the S200 will record about 270 images with standard LCD brightness settings in Auto mode. Based on my results, this seems a bit optimistic. I did a lot more menu diving and video recording than a typical user might do, but be prepared to purchase an additional battery if you're planning on taking the S200 on an extended day of shooting.
The S200 uses sensor-shift image stabilization to help combat blur in images due to camera shake. If you don't expect it to perform miracles, then it seems to be a satisfactory system. A few images I took indoors under fluorescent lighting at 1/60th shutter speed and slower came out clear. The greatest problem I saw with regard to image clarity was when the camera raised the ISO. At ISO 400, my images weren't blurry due to camera shake, but they were smudgy thanks to high levels of digital noise.
Results will continue to get worse with less available light and higher ISO settings. Even though the sensor-shift stabilization seems to be doing a good job, the S200 seems to be suffering from overcrowded sensor syndrome. But more on that later.
So are you better off using the on-board flash shooting indoors and in dim light? Based on my testing, that's a viable option. Using the flash will bring ISO back down, and with it, noise levels will decrease. The handheld shot below on the left was taken at ISO 800 and details are pretty murky. With the flash on, details are brought back though there are some shadows and reflections. Skin tones were slightly washed out with the flash on full force, but using the "soft" option helps.
The Casio S200 features a 27mm wide angle lens, which is always a benefit when you're trying to get a picture of the whole family in front of the Christmas tree, or the Grand Canyon, and so forth. The lens isn't especially fast with a maximum aperture range of f/3.2 at wide angle and f/5.9 at telephoto. It extends to an equivalent of 108mm, or a 4x optical zoom magnification.
Casio touts the S200's "SR Zoom" function as being able to expand the optical zoom range by 1.5x without degrading image quality. This is evidently achieved through processing by the camera's Exilim Engine 5.0. According to Casio's press materials from the camera launch, it does this by "analyzing and adjusting the contours in images and the relief of the subject."
Panasonic has attempted to do the same kind of thing with its "Intelligent Resolution" technology. Skeptics argue that additional processing in-camera doesn't make up for the harm that's done using digital zoom, which is essentially what Casio's SR Zoom is doing.
So did SR Zoom offer a little more reach, or is it best left alone? Take a look at the series of images below. They were shot indoors under reasonably good lighting at a model train display.
Wide angle 27mm
Standard zoom 108mm
Digital SR zoom
Once the lens is extended into SR Zoom territory, fine details are a distant memory. To be fair, results might be a bit better outside in ample light. Still, the system didn't seem to do much more than make the noise problems that were already there more apparent. For the best results, stick to standard zoom and be careful not to stray into digital zoom territory.
Chromatic aberration was the lens flaw I saw cropping up most frequently. I saw a very small amount of barrel distortion and virtually no pincushion distortion at the wide and telephoto ends of the range, respectively.
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