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Casio Exilim EX-S880 Review
by Ben Stafford -  10/25/2007

Casio's latest card camera, the Exilim EX-S880, hasn't changed much since its predecessor, the S770. Resolution has been increased to 8.1 megapixels (from 7.2), the 2.8 inch LCD is the same, and the camera body is still the same slim, stylish one that we've seen before. The other new features are that the S880 has the new YouTube mode that we've seen on the other recent Casio cameras and a face detection system.

Casio Exilim EX-S880
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NUTS & BOLTS

Sensor

The S880 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 S880 is a 2.8 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.

Casio Exilim EX-S880
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Lens/Zoom

The Exilim EX-S880 has a 3x optical zoom lens that extends from the camera when you power it on. While off, the lens is protected by a built-in lens cover. The 35mm equivalent focal length is 38-114mm.

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.

You can also use the Face Recognition focusing features and there are several settings available, including the ability to make your family's faces higher priority than other faces in the shot. Obviously, you can turn it on or off, but there are a few other options. The normal mode does what you expect - detects faces in the image and then prioritizes on the largest face in the center of the frame. There is also a Family First mode. This mode will prioritize on faces that have been "registered" in the camera as family members. To do this, you use the "Record Family" mode and let the camera walk you through the face registration. Once your family is set up, you can use the "Edit Family" option to set priorities on the registered faces. You can also set the face recognition system to either be able to recognize more faces (5-10), or for it to minimize the time it takes to recognize up to five faces.

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 5.9 inches.

Flash

The built-in flash has a wide-angle range to 12.8 feet. At telephoto, it only reaches to 6.6 feet. The S880 can also use flash during continuous shooting, but with much lower output each time. If you use flash continuously, the wide angle range is 5.6 feet.

Memory Media

There is approximately 10.8MB of internal storage in the S880. If you really want to take pictures though, you can use the memory card slot that accepts SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMC plus 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 to charge the battery and you can also plug in a USB cable. None of the cables will plug directly into the camera.

 

Data Usage

If you install the Casio Data Transport software, you can “print” any document to the camera. Once the software is installed, connect the camera to the computer, and from the document’s print menu, you can “print” to the camera. This way you can view Word docs, web pages, etc on the camera.

Power

The camera is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The estimated number of shots per charge, per CIPA standards, is 220 shots. Charge time is approximately 150 minutes.

Casio Exilim EX-S880
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EXPOSURE

The “auto” capture mode on the S880 is essentially a program auto mode, where you can modify the ISO, exposure compensation, white balance and so on. There are no manual modes on the camera, as is typical of this camera’s target market. If you want to get creative, you can use one of the many (over 30) Best Shot scene modes. A dedicated button provides quick access to the Best Shot menu.

Movie Mode

There are quite a few different movie quality settings on the S880. The highest resolution/quality captures movies at 848x480 resolution, 30 frames per second, with monaural 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 S880 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.

Metering

The S880 is capable of multi-area metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering. Exposure compensation can be used to provide +2 to -2 stops of adjustment in 1/3 step increments

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 64, 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-S880 is a very slim camera at only 0.7 inches thick. The camera itself feels sturdy and is built well. The camera has a nice glossy finish and nice styling. 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 although the power button is right next to it, the power button is well protected from accidental pushes. The controls on the back of the camera (including zoom rocker switch) are a little cramped, but the buttons are prominent enough that they're easy to operate.

On the front of the camera, you'll see the lens, flash, microphone and focus assist lamp.

Casio Exilim EX-S880
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On the top of the camera, you'll find the shutter button, power button, a button to enable capture mode, a button to enable playback mode, a Disp button to modify the display, and a Data button to access any data files on the camera.

Casio Exilim EX-S880
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The battery/memory card compartment is on the bottom of the camera along with a tripod mount and cradle jack.

Casio Exilim EX-S880
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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

The S880 was very easy to use. The speed of operation was always snappy, focus times were good and cycle times (time between shots) was fast enough to capture those fleeting snapshot moments. Battery life was pretty impressive as well.

The other thing that I like about these latest Casio cameras is the screen layout with the camera settings on the right margin of the frame. It's easy to see the current settings and they're not laid over the image that you're trying to capture. It also makes it easy and straightforward to modify the settings.

Image Quality

Overall, image quality is good to very good. There are times when the camera does struggle, but nothing out of the ordinary - the flash is underpowered and the white balance can struggle in some lighting. Indoors, the camera likes to increase the ISO up to ISO 200 to ensure correct exposure with the flash. When this happens, shots can be pretty grainy. The stated flash range of 12.8 feet is very optimistic - I was getting best results up to about 8-9 feet or so. Color reproduction was accurate, but a bit saturated for my taste.

Details were noticeably soft at the corners of the frame at both wide angle and full telephoto. Depending on the subject, you won't always notice it, but if your subject had detail that goes to the edges of the frame, you will see it. The pictures below demonstrate the detail that you'll find at wide angle and telephoto. These shots are an extreme case (where detail softness is very noticeable), but it gives you an excellent demonstration - look at them at full size to get the full effect.


Wide angle (view medium image) (view large image)

Telephoto (view medium image) (view large image)

Barrel distortion (straight lines bow away from center) at the wide angle setting was noticeable. Pincushion distortion, at telephoto, was not as noticeable.


Wide angle barrel distortion (view large image)

Telephoto test for pincushion distortion (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 64

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400


ISO 800
 

Sample Images

Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Casio Exilim EX-S880 sample image
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Timing/Shutter Lag

Overall, the camera operates nice and quickly. Start up is less than 2 seconds. Focus time is very good under normal conditions and up to about 2 seconds under tough 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 around 2-3 seconds.

Conclusion

The Casio Exilim Card cameras typically don't change much from their predecessors and the S880 is just a minor upgrade from the S770. The most significant updates are that the S880 has face detection capability and Casio's new optimized-for-YouTube movie capture mode. The S880 can take some good pictures, but it struggles a bit indoors, with shaky white balance and an under-powered flash. Camera usability is good, with quick performance, easy to change shooting settings, and excellent battery life. If you're looking for a reasonably priced, stylish, ultra-thin camera, the Casio Exilim EX-S880 deserves to be considered.

Pros

Cons