Think Casio, and calculators, keyboards and retro digital watches usually spring to mind. But since the turn of the decade the company’s Exilim range has been quietly making its mark on the compact camera scene, and the 9.1MP EX-FC100 is the latest recruit.
It certainly has an impressive menu of features – aside from the 2.7in LCD, 5x optical zoom and HD movies, there’s focusing, white balance and exposure options, macro and super-macro modes for close-ups and a four-mode flash. Phew.
But the EX-FC100’s killer feature is hinted at by the two capital letters on the front of the camera: HS.
HS stands for ‘High-Speed’ which, rather than giving the camera a quick turn of pace, ensures that there’s a steady supply of jazzy shooting selections for action scenes.
A high-speed burst mode grabs a remarkable 30 shots per second – in the cam’s 6MP mode, not its top whack, sadly – and there are other options to record at 15fps, 10fps, 5fps and 3fps. That’s versatile by any snapper’s standards.
Shooting at the speed of life
The high-speed story doesn’t end there, instead taking a trip to the dark side. High-speed night-time photos see the camera combining images taken in burst mode and aligning the position of your subject to form an accurate single shot. This helps reduce the risk of your snaps turning out blurrier than an impressionist painting.
Underpinning all the burst modes is ‘Best Selection’, which automatically picks the top shot from a set of images captured in burst mode.
Although it’s not in the same ballpark as the Sony Cyber-shot T900 or some of Canon’s IXUS models, the EX-FC100 still has a streamlined chassis. Initially it feels a touch too plastic, but it’s surprisingly durable, and after a few false starts you’ll definitely find a comfortable way to hold it and snap your shots.
Snapping the past
A sluggish autofocus and optical zoom let down the business end of the Casio, but elsewhere there is (literally) brighter news. Colours don’t suffer over-saturation and look believable, and it’s good with fine detail, too, nicely replicating the gentle flow of a river.
Unlike close rivals from Nikon and Sony, which break the 10MP barrier, the EX-FC100 also delivers the almost-too-good-to-believe pre-record mode. Thanks to a buffer memory the camera saves up to 25 frames prior to you pressing the shutter release. This makes it possible to capture a moment already passed – mind-bending, but true.
Add to this collection face detection features, a YouTube mode and the ability to record 720p high-def movies – though we’re not making a song and dance about the quality of this last one – and you’ve got a pretty impressive compact that, while lacking in star quality, will take more than decent holiday snaps.