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Casio Exilim EX-V8 Review
by Ben Stafford -  10/4/2007

The Casio Exilim EX-V8 is Casio's second ultra-compact, ultra-zoom digital camera.  Its predecessor, the V7, was introduced in January 2007, and Casio decided to follow it up pretty quickly, with the V8 being announced at the end of August 2007.  The V8 offers 8.1 megapixel resolution, a 7x optical zoom, CCD-shift image stabilization, 2.5 inch LCD, and a YouTube video mode in a body that is only an inch thick.

Casio Exilim EX-V8
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NUTS & BOLTS  

Sensor 

The V8 has a 1/2.5 inch CCD that captures an effective 8.1 megapixels.  At 8 megapixels, images are 3264 x 2448 pixels.

Viewfinder/LCD

The LCD on the V8 is a 2.5 inch, 230,400 pixel, Bright LCD.  There is no optical viewfinder.  The LCD provides a nice fluid view of the scene, is pretty close to color accurate, but the white balance is not always accurate indoors, so the preview may have a color cast.  Under bright outdoor conditions, the LCD is still viewable.  As lighting conditions change, the LCD gains up or down automatically to allow easy framing even in pretty dark conditions.

Lens/Zoom

The Exilim EX-V8 has a 7x optical zoom lens that doesn't protrude at all from the camera - the zoom mechanism is completely internal.  The 35mm equivalent focal length is 38-266mm.

Casio Exilim EX-V8
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Casio Exilim EX-V8 sample image
Wide angle (view medium image) (view large image)
Casio Exilim EX-V8 sample image
Full telephoto (view medium image) (view large image)

While the V8 doesn't have optical image stabilization, it does have mechanical image stabilization, which I'll just talk about here.  A mechanism shifts the sensor to counteract any camera shake.  In fact, when you hold the shutter button partway, you can hear the mechanism in action.  There are several modes of operation.  Besides disabling it, you can set it to Auto, Camera Shake, or Image Blur.  In Auto mode, the camera boosts sensitivity to capture moving subjects as needed and uses the mechanical IS.  Camera Shake mode just minimizes hand shake by using mechanical IS.  Image Blur increases sensitivity to increase shutter speeds to stop moving subjects from causing blurry images and no mechanical IS is used.

The contrast detection AF system takes care of focusing during normal auto focus mode and macro mode.  You can also choose infinity focus or manual focus.  The focus area can be set to spot, multi-area, or tracking AF.  Tracking AF lets you obtain focus on a particular area of the frame and if you move the camera, the focus point stays on the original subject.   The tracking works to the edge of the frame.  There is also a focus assist lamp for illuminating dark subjects.

In normal focus mode, you can focus on subjects as close as 1.3 feet.  In macro and manual modes, you can focus on subjects as close as 3.9 inches.

Flash

The built-in flash has a wide-angle range to 8.5 feet.  At telephoto, it only reaches to 5.6 feet.  The V8 can also use flash during continuous shooting, but with much lower output each time.  If you use flash continuously, the wide angle range is 7.2 feet.

Memory Media

There is approximately 11.8MB of internal storage in the V8.  If you really want to take pictures though, you can use the memory card slot that accepts SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMCplus memory cards.

Image/Movie File Format(s)

Images are stored as JPEG only.  A full resolution, Fine quality (highest setting) image weighs in at about 4.59MB, so you can get approximately 210 images on a 1GB memory card.

Movies are captured as Quicktime (.mov) files (H.264 compression) and audio (using the stereo microphones) is saved as WAV files.

Connectivity

The only connection point is through a cradle that Casio supplies in the box.   Into the cradle, you can plug in the charger and you can also plug in a USB cable.  None of the cables will plug directly into the camera.

Casio Exilim EX-V8
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Power

The camera is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.  The estimated number of shots per charge, per CIPA standards, is 230 shots.  Charge time is approximately 150 minutes.

EXPOSURE  

The Exilim EX-V8 has a few more exposure settings than most of the other Exilim cameras.  In addition to the easy mode - which really simplifies things - and the Best Shot preset scene modes, there is an auto mode (program auto), aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, and manual mode. 

The auto mode does everything for you, but also allows you to adjust other exposure-related items like exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, etc.  Aperture priority mode lets you manually set the aperture (to control your depth of field), but the camera determines the best shutter speed.  Shutter priority is the opposite of this - you manually set the shutter speed.  Manual mode lets you manually set the aperture and shutter - you'll need to play around until you get the exposure that you want. 

Using the manual exposure modes was simple and straightforward.  All you had to do to adjust shutter speed or aperture was to use the "Set" button to select what you wanted to change and then just move left or right with the control pad.

Movie Mode

There are quite a few different movie quality settings on the V8.  The highest resolution/quality captures movies at 848x480 resolution, 30 frames per second, with stereo audio.  The lowest resolution and quality is 320x240, at 15fps with mono sound.

Movies are recorded as H.264/AVC MOV format and can be played back with Quicktime.

The other feature worth noting here is that the V8 includes Casio's YouTube Best Shot movie capture mode.  In this mode, movies are captured at settings optimized for publishing on YouTube.  Movies captured this way are also placed in a separate folder on your camera's memory card so that the supplied YouTube Uploader software can easily find the movies.  This software, provided by Casio allows you to upload multiple movies directly to your YouTube account.

Here's a video made (with the YouTube mode) at the DigitalLife show where we were talking a look at the new Palm Centro. You'll heard Brighthand Editor in Chief, Ed Hardy, giving the narrative.

Metering

The V8 is capable of evaluative metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering.

White Balance

You can keep white balance set to auto, but you'll get better results in mixed lighting if you try the other presets (daylight, overcast, shade, day white fluorescent, daylight fluorescent, tungsten) or set a manual white balance.

Sensitivity

Auto ISO is obviously the default, but you can set it manually to ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800.  If you use the High Sensitivity Best Shot mode, the camera will go up to ISO 1600.

In-Camera Image Adjustment

During image capture, besides being able to change the exposure settings, there are a few other things that you can get creative with.  The portrait refiner mode reduces noise in skin tones.  You can apply a color filter (B&W, sepia, red, green blue, yellow, pink, purple).  You can also adjust the sharpness, saturation, and contrast.

After the image is captured, you can adjust brightness, apply keystone correction, and make a color correction, as well as resizing and trimming your shots.

CONTROLS, DESIGN, ENGINEERING, & ERGONOMICS

The Casio Exilim EX-V8 easily qualifies as an ultra-compact, ultra-zoom camera.  It's slim (1 inch thick),  and easily pocketable.  The camera itself feels sturdy and is built well - the sliding lens cover operates smoothly and the battery/memory card compartment door is solid.  The camera has a nice finish on it as well.  Since it does fall in the ultra-compact category, it's not the most comfortable to hold and I highly recommend that you use the wrist strap to keep it from slipping out of your hand.

The shutter button placement is good and the mode dial is easy to access with your thumb.  I'm not a huge fan of the zoom control (thumb-operated slider switch), but it's not the worst that I've used.  The rest of the buttons and control pad are easy to operate.

On the front of the camera, you'll see the stereo microphones and focus assist lamp below the sliding panel that covers the lens.  Once open, both the flash and lens are uncovered.

Besides the shutter button (which is on the top, of course), all the controls are on the back of the camera.

Casio Exilim EX-V8
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Casio Exilim EX-V8
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The battery/memory card compartment is on the right side of the camera (when you're looking at the back).

Casio Exilim EX-V8
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On the bottom of the camera, you'll find the tripod mount and cradle connector.

Casio Exilim EX-V8
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Included

Included along with the camera, is a battery, cradle, power cord, USB cable, wrist strap, AV cable, two CD-ROMs (one with full manual, one with software), and a printed basic manual.

PERFORMANCE

Overall usage of the Casio V8 was enjoyable.  The camera was ready to shoot quickly, it was easy to access the menu system, and making settings changes was straightforward and intuitive.  The image stabilization system does a good job, but you'll probably hear the mechanism in action while you hold the shutter button down partway.

Image Quality

I was pretty impressed with image quality outdoors.  Colors were strong, but not too oversaturated, something that I've noticed in other Casio cameras.  Shots showed excellent details across the entire frame.  Default exposure was also very good in a variety of lighting conditions.

The auto white balance struggled a bit with some lighting indoors, and shots taken with flash where not very impressive.  The flash reach was pretty minimal and red-eye was a pretty big problem.

There was a fair amount of barrel distortion (straight lines bow away from center) at the wide angle setting.  Pincushion distortion, at telephoto, was not as noticeable.  Chromatic aberration was well controlled and only noticeable under magnification over 200%.


Barrel distortion example, at wide angle (view medium image) (view large image)

ISO performance was pretty typical of compact point and shoot digital cameras.  Shots taken up to ISO 200 were acceptable, with above that getting pretty noisy and grainy.


ISO 50

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800
 

Timing/Shutter Lag

Overall, the camera operates very quickly.  Start up is less than 2 seconds.  Focus time is very good under normal conditions.  If you get a pre-focus lock before your shot, by pressing the shutter button partway, shutter lag was less than 0.1 seconds.  Even without pre-focus, shutter lag was still only 0.1-0.2 seconds.  Shot to shot times were also good at less than a second and the flash would charge quickly at less than 2 seconds.

Sample Images

casio exilim ex-v8 sample image
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casio exilim ex-v8 sample image
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casio exilim ex-v8 sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)
casio exilim ex-v8 sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)
casio exilim ex-v8 sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)
casio exilim ex-v8 sample image
(view medium image) (view large image)

Conclusion

The Casio Exilim EX-V8 is a capable ultracompact ultra-zoom camera, but mainly outdoors.  The 7x optical zoom lens is nicely stabilized and performs well for being such a compact lens.  The YouTube video mode worked well and the stereo sound capture was a nice feature.  Image quality was very good outdoors.  If you need to use flash indoors, results weren't as good, with the weak flash and red-eye showing up way too often.  Battery life was very good and the camera operated very quickly overall.  If you're in the market for a compact ultra-zoom, definitely give the EX-V8 a look.

Pros

Cons