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Casio Exilim EX-S10

Finally: 10 megapixel in a ultra-slim Casio
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

When Casio introduced its Exilim EX-Z1000 in April of 2006 it was the world's first ten megapixel compact camera. Did Casio set the world aflame with this milestone and a nice round number. Not quite. Unfortunately, the Z1000 and its successors, the Z1050 and Z1080, became a bit of a missed opportunity. Apart from the 10 megapixel imager, they didn't offer much of the goodies that Casio always baked into its digital cameras, and -- worse -- they weren't as sleek and sexy as Casio's almost impossibly thin Card Series cameras. In January of 2008, Casio rectified this situation with the introduction of the Exilim EX-S10. The EX-S10 brings 10 megapixel resolution to Casio's ultra-slim and elegant Card series.

Best looking 10-megapixel camera yet

As you can see above, the S10 is gorgeous. We chose to show it in red; you can also get it in silver, blue and black. How big is this latest stainless steel bodied Casio Card camera, and how slim? Its footprint is 3.7 x 2.15 inches. That's about the size of a credit card, a bit wider perhaps. It is just 0.55 inches thick and it weighs a minuscule four ounces without battery. Yet, this ultra-slim little camera can take 10-megapixel pictures. That's 3648 x 2736 pixels. To put that in perspective, even a giant 1600 x 1200 pixel display could show less than a fifth of one of this Casio's pictures. As for printing, even if you print at a very high 250 pixel per inch resolution (200 is usually more than good enough), you could easily run 14 x 11 inch enlargements if you had a printer capable of doing that. Casio claims "poster size" prints from the 10-megapixel mode, and that is not an exaggeration.

Powerful movie features and more

Casio has always been innovative with the movie features of its digital cameras, and the new S10 continues this tradition. There is a dedicated movie button that lets users record video at the touch of a single button. And the S10 uses the AAC audio codec for movies. AAC is the default audio format for iPods, the iPhone and many related products. This means you can replay movies shot with the EX-S10 on iPods and other such devices as well as record movies in a format compatible with Apple iTunes and iLife'08. Video is recorded in high quality H.264. Yes, that makes it YouTube compatible. Further, you can shoot wide-format 848 x 480 pixel video at a full 30 frames per second. That's higher resolution than the MiniDV format of dedicated digital video cameras and is perfect for playback on 16:9 aspect ratio wide-format TVs.

The EX-S10 has can do other tricks. A motion blur detection technology enables the camera to automatically take a photo at the instant when your hand stops shaking or the subject stops moving. That can be used to capture the moment of a smile and a variety of other fun things.

Great LCD

Like almost all small digital cameras, the EX-S10 no longer has an optical viewfinder, which means you have to rely on the LCD at all time. Despite its diminutive overall size, the S10 has a large 2.7 inch display that uses the increasingly common wide format, and is razor-sharp thanks to 230k pixels, which translates into a 960 x 240 screen resolution. The large screen can be put to good use in several ways. The S10 lets you select a special 16:9 aspect ratio HDTV format or you can use the standard 4:3 format and have room for a handy vertical menu bar along the side of the display.

The S10 has a 3X optical zoom that can be multiplied to 12X via a 4X digital zoom. ISO sensitivity ranges from 50 all the way to 1600. Shutter speed ranges from 1/2000th of a second to four seconds. As you'd expect, the S10 does not have any manual modes (except for a manual focus option), but makes up for it with no fewer than 36 scene modes, accessible via onscreen menu. There is a special "YouTube" capture mode, an eBay mode, as well as the by now mandatory face recognition. The little Lithium-Ion battery is rated for 280 images, over three hours of continuous playback, and almost seven hours of voice recording.

Clean interface

In terms of controls, things are simple. On top of the S10 there's a small, recessed on/off button and the shutter surrounded by a zoom ring. On the back is the movie record button, a small four-way navigation disk with a SET button in the middle and four small buttons. Unlike most current cameras, Casio didn't assign a lot of extra functions to the four directions of the navigation disk. Push down to bring up the flash mode menu, up to toggle DISP modes. The MENU and Best Shot buttons are below the nav-ring, the record and playback buttons above.

Bottomline

What it all means is that with the Casio Exilim EX-S10 you get 10-megapixel in an almost impossibly small and thin camera without giving up the usual array of fun and useful features Casio is famous for, and the list price is just US$249. You can shoot high resolution movies at full speed and in a video and audio format that fits into today's world of iPods, YouTube, eBay and other electronics and services that increasingly work together. And do expect the S10 to be an instant conversation piece whenever and wherever you use it.

We like:

  • Elegant, ultra-thin stainless steel body
  • 10.1 megapixel resolution
  • Terrific 2.7-inch wide-format LCD
  • 36 different modes
  • Fun movies modes and H.264/AAC recording
  • 848 x 480 movies at 30 frames per second
Not so much:
  • Embossed symbols and icons hard to read
Specifications CASIO EX-S10
Status Added 01/2008
Camera Type Ultra-compact/ultra-slim
Size 3.7 x 2.15 x 0.55
Weight (oz.) 4.0 w/o battery and SD Card
Effective Pixels 10.1 mp
CCD Type 1/2.3
Max pixel size 3648 x 2736
File formats JPEG (Exif 2.2), MOV format, H.264/AVC, WAV (mono)
Compression fine, normal, economy
Movie recording (best) til full, with audio @ 30 fps
Max movie pixels 848 x 480
Voice recording Yes + 30 second audio snaps
Lens 6 lenses, 5 groups
Focal length 6.3-18.9mm (36-108mm)
Zoom (optical/digital) 3X/4X
Aperture f/2.8 - f/5.3
Focus modes Auto, manual, macro, pan, infinity
Focus minimum/macro 6 inches, 1.3 feet
Shutter speed 1/2000 to 4 sec
Sensitivity (ISO) auto/50/100/200/400/800/1600
Autofocus system contrast type: spot/multi/tracking; AF assist light
Metering multi-pattern, center-weight and spot by imaging element
White-balance modes auto, daylight, overcast, shade, day white FL, daylight FL, tungsten, manual
Shooting modes auto, 36 scenes
Exposure compensation +/-2EV in 1/3 steps
Viewfinder Type none
LCD size 2.7" LCD (230k) (960x240)
LCD type "super clear LCD"
LCD construction fixed
Flash type built-in
Flash range up to 9 feet
Flash modes 5 (auto, on, off, soft, red-eye reduction)
Camera internal memory unknown
Storage Medium SD/MMC
I/O USB via cable
Battery type NP60 Li-Ion (3.7V, 1200mAH)
CIPA Battery life (LCD/off) 280 images
"Estimated Price" US$249.99
Contact www.casio.com

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