The fastest digital camera around
Resembling a small digital SLR in looks and layout, Casio’s EX-FH20 Exilim differs by having a large zoom lens attached to its front.
The very broad 20x focal range is equivalent to 26-520mm on a film camera, allowing the capture of landscapes and group portraits at the wide end of the zoom as well as extreme close-ups of faraway action at the maximum zoom end.
For shot composition and playback, the FH20 has a large and bright 3in screen and smaller electronic viewfinder above that. A firm moulded grip section houses four AA batteries that not only power the camera for up to 200 photos, but also contribute to its solid feel. Further helping to steady the grasp, a rubber ring encircles the lens barrel.
It distinguishes itself from the rest of the ‘superzoom’ cameras around with its startling ability to record still images in machine-gun-like bursts of 40 frames per second (fps), if you don’t mind a drop in the resolution from nine to seven megapixels.
It can also record high-definition video of 1280x720 pixels at a speed of 30fps, with creative modes that include a slow-motion option. Like a digital SLR it offers top-quality Raw shots (which are not processed by the camera, allowing you to work on them easily on the computer) in addition to the standard Jpeg images, and there are 18 Best Shot modes for common subjects and light sensitivity stretches up to ISO1600.
While this suggests a jack of all trades, at £399 the FH20 is as costly as a package of a digital SLR with a lens. Sadly it’s slower to power up than its competitors, with a wait of around three seconds, and its huge zoom lens range can’t be used during shooting of videos. That said, for stills it can’t be faulted: the lens glides through its range, and very quietly too.
Pictures taken straight from the FH20 were evenly exposed, displaying colours that were well saturated and warm, although they softened when attempting to shoot handheld at maximum zoom. At its 40fps setting, particularly when shooting moving subjects, focus inevitably wandered.
Still, such speed could make the difference between getting the shot or not, and for the innovation alone this camera is worth considering.
Not perfect, but set against the dearer F1, the FH20 is good value for an all-in-one camera Good points Broad focal range; smooth and responsive zoom; high-speed capture and HD movies; large screen Bad points Sparse controls; some image problems; no optical zoom when shooting video
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