Review: Casio Exilim EX-S2
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Friday, October 11, 2002
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
a few weeks after I finished my review
of the Casio Exilim EX-S1, the new Exilim
EX-S2 ($299) was announced. It's basically the same tiny camera
as its predecessor, but with a 2 Megapixel CCD. For another $100,
you can pick up the EX-M2
model, which offers sound recording and MP3 playback.
Exilim vs. Sony DSC-U10
funny, but since I reviewed the original EX-S1, a smaller camera
has appeared: the Sony
DSC-U10. I didn't think they could get much smaller than Casio's
Exilims, but Sony has done it. Look for a review of that camera
in the future.
10/14/02: Several readers wrote in to say that the
Exilim is actually smaller than the Sony, at least in terms
of volume. The Exilim has 50% less volume compared to the Sony.
I doesn't seem that was when you use the Sony, but they are
let's get into the details on this latest Exilim model. Since it's
virtually identical to the EX-S1, I will be reusing a lot of text
from that review, updating where necessary.
in the Box?
Exilim has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
2.0 (effective) Mpixel Exilim EX-S2 camera
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
adapter / battery charger
featuring PhotoLoader software and drivers
117 page manual (printed)
you have a camera this small, you've gotta have a proprietary battery.
Casio uses one called the NP-20, which seems familiar for some reason.
This 2.3 Watt/hour battery will get you about 65 minutes of juice
per charge, according to Casio. Charging the battery (in the USB
cradle) takes two hours.
EX-S1 in dock
of the USB cradle, this is a dock similar to those found on other
cameras. Unlike Kodak, HP, and Fuji, Casio actually includes the
dock with the camera. You use the dock to transfer photos as well
as recharge the battery. The dock does not have to be powered to
use the USB connection, which usually isn't the case with docking
Exilim has a slot for Secure Digital / MultiMedia cards, but one
is not included. Instead, the camera has 12MB of built-in memory.
A "dummy card" sits in the SD/MMC slot to protect it from
dirt and dust.
just how small is the Exilim? Have a look:
Camera in hand
enough for you? Never though I'd say this, but now that I've seen
the aforementioned Sony camera, the Exilim isn't so little.
far as accessories go, your only options are cases. You can get
natural leather or black leather models. That's it!
PhotoLoader software has never been a favorite of mine. Their manuals,
however, are pretty good and are much easier to read than most.
don't have to tell you that the Exilim is tiny -- you already knew
that. It fits into any pocket with ease, and is easy to hold with
one hand, as you'd expect.
body is all metal, which means that it's both sturdy and attractive.
One thing that you have to watch out for with these metal cameras
is their amazing ability to get dirty and scratched (I know from
Exilim's dimension are 3.5 x 2.2 x 0.4 inches (W x H x D), and it
weighs just 88 grams (3 grams more than the EX-S1).
begin our 360 degree tour of the EX-S2, starting with the front.
Exilim has an F3.2, fixed focal length lens (the S1's lens was faster
at F2.5). What that means is that it's always focused, so there's
no need to "half press" the shutter release button in
order to lock focus. In fact, it won't even let you half press it.
Anyhow, the Exilim's 7.5 mm lens is equivalent to 36 mm.
other major item on the front of the camera is the flash. The flash
has a relatively unimpressive range of 1 - 2 meters.
has managed to fit a 1.6" LCD on this tiny camera. What's funny
(and sad at the same time) is that some new, expensive, and much
larger Nikon cameras have the same size LCD as the Exilim! Images
on the LCD are bright and movement is smoothly reproduced.
above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which as you'd expect is
pretty small. No diopter correct is available.
to the right of the LCD, you'll find the menu button, four-way switch,
and mode switch (you can see that this will be a short review!).
four-way switch operates the 4X digital zoom while in record mode.
In playback mode, it marks photos for printing (DPOF) and also deletes
them. Pushing to the left in record mode also switches between record,
best shot, and movie mode (this is customizable). I should add that
the switch isn't the greatest... it's not easy to maneuver and I
often pressed one way, and got the other.
the top of the camera, you will find the shutter release button
and the rather small power button. As I mentioned earlier, the shutter
release button is one step only -- no pre-focusing is needed.
really dumb thing is that the power button and shutter release button
feel the same, and you end up pressing the wrong one. I shut the
camera off numerous times when I wanted to take a picture.
not much to see on this side of the camera, other than how thin
the other side, you'll find the battery compartment, with the NP-20
but not least, here's the bottom of the Exilim. In the center is
a connector for the dock. When you're not docked, a rubber cover
protects it. To the right of that is the SD/MMC card slot, which
has a plastic "dummy card" to protect it as well. The
Exilim cameras do not have a tripod mount!
the Casio Exilim EX-S2
it has no lens to extend, the Exilim starts up in just one second.
Since there's no focusing to be done, you just press the shutter
release button and the picture is taken. Shutter lag is not a problem.
speed is pretty good too. You will wait just 2 seconds before you
can take another shot, at the fine quality setting.
EX-S2 does not have a burst/continuous shooting mode.
a look at the image size/quality choices on the EX-S2:
photos on 12MB built-in memory
the EX-S1, the S2 can produce pictures at 1600 x 1200 without interpolation,
thanks to its 2 Megapixel CCD. The built-in memory doesn't hold
a ton of pictures at the high resolution, so buying an SD or MMC
memory card isn't a bad idea. There is no TIFF or RAW mode on the
Exilim has an attractive and easy to use memory system. Here's what
you'll find in the menus:
mode (Snapshot, best shot, movie)
(Auto, off, on, red-eye reduction)
(Off, 10 sec)
(1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480)
(Fine, normal, economy)
(on/off) - whether picture is shown on LCD after it is taken
shift AKA exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, sunlight, shade, light bulb, fluorescent, manual)
key (REC mode, EV shift, flash, white balance) - define what left/right
on the four-way switch does
camera manufacturers take note -- the point-and-shoot Exilim has
manual white balance!
new to the EX-S2, the Best Shot mode has been on other Casio cameras
for years. Here's how it works: you select a scenario on the LCD,
and the camera picks the best settings for it! The choices are:
(low contrast + sepia color filter)
(high saturation + magenta color filter)
additional "memory" menu lets you choose what settings
are stored when the camera is turned off. The choices include REC
mode, flash, digital zoom, and white balance. There is also the
standard-issue setup menu for setting the date and all that fun
did not do the macro or night shot tests with the EX-S2. Why? Well,
for one, it has no macro mode. The minimum distance to the subject
is one meter, so close ups are out. I didn't perform the night shot
test because the camera lacks a tripod mount.
the EX-S2's photo quality isn't going to win any awards, it's certainly
very good for a tiny camera like this. Images can be soft, and there
is some distortion in the corners of the frame sometimes, but overall,
I think most people will be happy with what the S2 produces. Take
a look at the photo gallery to judge
EX-S2 can record silent movies up to 30 seconds in length (the EX-M2
model records sound). Movies are saved in the AVI format, using
the M-JPEG codec.
use the digital zoom during filming.
is a sample movie for you to check out.
Click to play movie (1.0MB, AVI format)
view it? Download QuickTime.
being a low-cost camera, the Exilim has a pretty full-featured playback
mode. The basic features like DPOF print marking, zoom and scroll,
and image protection are here, but there's no slide show.
and scroll lets you zoom up to 4X into your photo and then move
around in it.
can also resize images (to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240) and copy images
from the internal memory to an SD/MMC card.
unique feature is a "favorites" area -- you can mark your
photos as favorites and then easily access them later via the menu.
camera doesn't display any exposure information with your photos.
It does move through your photos very quickly, though.
Does it Compare?
the Exilim models, and now the Sony U10 have taught me something
about these ultra-small cameras. If you view them as primary cameras,
they're not really competitive at their respective prices. But if
you think of them as a secondary, always-in-your-pocket camera,
then they are very appealing. While the Exilim isn't the smallest
camera anymore, it's still tiny. It offers quite a few manual controls,
and takes pretty good pictures. They're not going to win an award
for best photo quality, but for 4x6 prints, e-mail, or webpages,
they are adequate. The EX-S2 and its MP3-playing cousin, the EX-M2
are both worth checking out if you're looking for a small, portable
cool, tiny body
memory plus a SD/MMC slot
photo quality for a tiny camera
controls, even manual white balance
dock for photo transfer / battery charging
I didn't care for:
optical zoom (can't see how they'd do it)
sound in movie mode (get the EX-M2 for that)
distortion in corners of images
on top of camera feel too similar -- can't tell them apart
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the Exilim EX-S2 and it's competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
out Steve's Digicams for another
review of this camera!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.