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High Speed: Casio EX-FH100 Review

Casio EX-FH100 Review
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

The Casio EX-FH100 has been making waves since its announcement at CES due to its inclusion of a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 10x optical zoom and—most notably—high-speed video and still recording. Priced at $349.99, the FH100 offers a lot of features, including full manual shooting and the ever-alluring possibility to capture slow-motion video, all in a sleek and compact body. The fact that the FH100 can shoot high-speed movies at 1,000 frames per second (fps) and burst mode stills at 40fps tops the list of reasons that it’s an exciting piece of equipment, and the superb quality of its still image capture makes it a nice overall camera, albeit with a few frustrating UI kinks.

High Speed Still Images

High-speed shooting is accessed at any time by pressing the HS button on top of the camera, or by turning the shooting mode dial to the red Continuous Shooting option. With the HS button you can toggle between continuous shooting and single shot, regardless of whether you are in CS mode, Manual, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. Continuous shooting is not available when shooting in Best Shot mode. In continuous shooting mode, you have the option of capturing up to 30 images at rates of up to 40fps. These choices are accessed by pressing the SET button. For capturing action such as sports or fast-moving subjects such as pets, the EX-FH100 is almost unparalleled among compact cameras.

Super Slow Motion Video

As I mentioned, the show-stopping feature of this camera is its ability to shoot high-speed movies at up to 1,000 frames per second—which allows for a super slow-motion effect (33 times slower than true life). With video becoming not only popular but expected in compact cameras these days, the Casio EX-FH100 goes above and beyond in delivering exciting possibilities for creating slow-motion movies with pocket-size equipment. The drawback, however, to recording these impressive slow-motion movies at 1,000fps is that the resolution is substantially decreased, bringing videos all the way down to 224 x 64 pixels in size (640 x 480 at 120fps, 448 x 336 at 240fps, 224 x 168 at 420fps).

What Needs Work

This camera is a serious piece of equipment—both the features and the price reflect that—and yet the thing handles quite inelegantly. The screeching electronic noise that the lens motor makes when you zoom and focus is truly painful. It sounds as if the camera is frying on the inside. Frankly, it sounds cheap. And then there’s the auto focus lag, which is a problem in several of the shooting modes from the Best Shot menu—even when you press the shutter release half way down. The worst of it happens when shooting in “Multi-motion image” mode from the BS menu. Once the image is finally captured, the screen goes black and then says “Busy…Please wait…” for 15 seconds. Obviously in the interim you are bound to miss any other photo-ops. It’s hard, however, to complain too much about this when the high-speed camera offers continuous shooting mode to make sure you capture a whole sequence instead of worrying about shot-to-shot lag time. But sometimes you just want to take one picture, not 30, not 10, not even 5.

The layout of the camera’s buttons also leaves much to be desired. Where one’s thumb would naturally sit when gripping the camera, the video record button also sits. There is also the chance that a thumb will inadvertently press the HS button when pressing the shutter release because of where it sits, making it easy to accidentally switch to or from high-speed mode. The camera’s large 3-inch LCD is nice and bright, but is probably the culprit as to why buttons seem awkwardly placed in the meager space beside it.

Conclusion

The battery life of the EX-FH100 is remarkable, and its compact size makes it easily portable, though it is noticeably heavier than many point-and-shoot cameras on the market right now. Because it uses a backlit CMOS sensor, it does incredibly well in low-light, capturing sharp images even in the dimly lit temperate rain forests of northern Washington State. With a whole host of Best Shot scene modes, as well as Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, the EX-FH100 does stand alone as a feature-rich compact digicam, but if you are looking into purchasing this camera it’s most likely for its specific high-speed capabilities.

Casio EX-FH100

  • MSRP:
  • $349.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.1″W × 2.5″H × 1.2″D; 0.77 lbs.
  • Image Sensor:
  • 10-megapixels, 1/2.3-inch high-speed CMOS (back-illuminated type)
  • Still Recording Format:
  • RAW(DNG),JPEG (Exif Ver. 2.2),DCF 1.0, DPOF compliant
  • Memory:
  • SDHC Memory Card compatible
  • Display:
  • 3.0-inch TFT color LCD
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • Still images: RAW/10M(3648×2736)/3:2(3648×2432)/
    16:9(3648×2048)/9M(3456×2592)/7M(3072×2304)/
    4M(2304×1728)/2M(1600×1200)/VGA(640×480) High-Speed Movies: 224×64(1000 fps)/224×168(420fps)/448×336(240fps)/640×480(120fps)/448×336(30-240fps)/640×480(30-120fps) HD Movies:1280×720(30fps)
    STD Movies: 640 x 480 (30fps)
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto/ ISO100/ ISO200/ ISO400/ ISO800/ ISO1600/ ISO3200
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable lithium ion battery (NP-90) x1
  • Contact:
  • www.casio.com
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