DCRP Review: Casio GV-10
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Sunday, May 5, 2002
Last Updated: Sunday, May 5, 2002

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Not everybody likes to keep their cameras safe and clean when they're using then. Some people like to play rough, and take the camera into the great outdoors. While dust, sand, and water will probably destroy your Digital ELPH, the Casio GV-10 will make it through unscathed.

The GV-10 ($349) is water resistant, dust resistant, and shock proof. That doesn't mean that you can use it as a hockey puck, or go swimming with it (there is a big difference between waterproof and water resistant!), but it can take a lickin' and keep on tickin', if you pardon the cliche.

The way Casio pulls this off is by keeping the elements out of the camera. Any openings in the cameras are gasket-sealed, and locked tightly. Aside from all this fancy stuff, the GV-10 actually takes pictures too.

What's in the Box?

The GV-10 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 1.23 (effective) Mpixel Casio GV-10 camera
  • 8MB CompactFlash card
  • Four AA-sized alkaline batteries (not rechargeable)
  • Wrist strap
  • Lens cap w/strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring PhotoLoader
  • 94 page camera manual (printed)

While normally I'd complain about the inclusion of such a small memory card, the 8MB card included with the GV-10 is actually good enough to get started with on a 1.2 Megapixel camera.

What I will complain about is the battery situation. Casio only includes alkaline batteries, so it's up to you to purchase a set or two of NiMH rechargeables (highly recommended). Casio estimates that you'll get about 170 minutes worth of shooting on a set of batteries.

The lens cap is more like a plug you stick in your tub than a lens cover. But that keeps the elements away from the lens!

The only accessory I could find for the GV-10 was an AC adapter.

The GV-10 is compatible with Mac OS X and iPhoto. It also works with Windows XP. The included PhotoLoader software is pretty lousy (the Mac version, at least), and is useful for only basic photo manipulation.

The camera can be used as a "PC camera" for videoconferencing, but only on Windows PCs.

The manuals included with the GV-10 are about average.

Look and Feel

I've already described what's unique about the GV-10. Underneath the rubber coverings on the body, you'll find a very strong metal frame. This camera is not easy to break. The camera is quite small and is easy to hold with one hand. It may be a little to large to fit in some pockets, but it's not a large camera in any sense of the word.

The camera comes in the color you see in this review, as well as in red (!).

The official dimensions of the camera are 4.0 x 2.9 x 1.9 inches (WxHxD), and it weighs 250 grams totally empty. Let's begin our tour of the camera now!

Here's a look at the front of the GV-10. You can see the F2.8 lens, which is fixed focal length. The focal length is 4.6 mm, which is equivalent to 35 mm. The lens is not threaded. If you want a little more zoom, you can use the 2X digital zoom, but photo quality (and resolution) is drastically reduced.

The other major item on the front is, of course, the flash. The flash has a working range of 0.6 - 2.0 m.

Here's the back of the camera. The GV-10 has a 1.6" LCD that can be hard to see outdoors (more than normal), but indoors it's pretty useable. The brightness is not adjustable.

Just above the LCD is the optical viewfinder. Nose smudges on the LCD may be a problem for those who use their left eye with the viewfinder. There is no diopter correction for those with less than perfect vision.

Directly to the right of the LCD is the mode wheel. It has the following options:

  • PC Connect
  • Set Up
  • Playback
  • Record
  • Best Shot mode
  • Continuous shooting
  • Movie mode
  • Self-timer

A quick note about some of these modes. Best Shot mode is a handy feature which lets the camera pick the best settings for various situation. Below you'll see some of the 18 scenes available. Unlike the other recent Casio cameras, you cannot add additional scenes.

I couldn't find any exact numbers for how fast the GV-10 can shoot in continuous mode, but I'm guessing about 1.2 frames/second. I'll cover the rest of the modes later in the review. Back to our tour now.

Below the mode wheel is the Disp(lay) button, which toggles the LCD on and off, as well as the information shown on it. Above the mode wheel is the power switch.

Now, here's the top of the camera. There is no LCD info display, which means you'll need to use the main LCD to see basic settings. The three buttons at the center in the photo are for:

  • Flash {rec} / 9-thumbnail mode {play}
  • Digital zoom {rec} / Zoom & scroll {play}
  • White balance {rec} / Delete photo {play}

The white balance choices are auto, sunlight, shade, incandescent, and fluorescent. Just to the right of those buttons is the shutter release button (I wish it was a little closer to the side of the camera) plus two buttons for menu navigation. Though it's hard to tell, there are - and + labels on the two buttons below the shutter release. These are used for navigating menus, as well as changing the exposure compensation setting (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments).

On this side of the GV-10, you can see a number of things. On the left is the button for switching between regular focus and macro focus. The I/O ports on the right are USB and DC in (for optional AC adapter). There is no video out on the GV-10. You can see the gasket on the I/O port cover, at the bottom.

On the other side of the camera, you'll find the battery and CompactFlash compartments. OPening this door is like opening a vault. You have to hold down the release button and then turn that knob (not as easy as it sounds), and then you're set. Let's take a look inside.

Again, you can see how everything is sealed. The CompactFlash (Type I only) slot is hard to see in this shot -- it's to the left of the battery compartment. The GV-10 uses four AA batteries.

Finishing our tour with the bottom of the camera, you can see the plastic (I think) tripod mount off to the side.

Using the Casio GV-10

Record Mode

Since there's no lens to extend, the GV-10 starts up in just 3 seconds. And, since this is a fixed focus camera, there's no autofocus lag. There is, however, a short but noticeable amount of shutter lag. The camera has a startup screen (you can choose from two) and even says "See you" when you shut it off.

Shot-to-shot speed is very good on the camera -- just over a second between shots. Things are much slower if you use the 1600 x 1200 "Super" mode (which interpolates the image, by the way) -- it will take 8 seconds to process and write the image but you can take another one.

There aren't too many resolution and quality available on the GV-10 (after all, it is just 1.2 Megapixel), so here they are:

Resolution Quality Approx. File Size # photos on 8MB card (included)
1600 x 1200
(interpolated)
Super 850 KB 7
1280 x 960 Fine 500 KB 14
Normal 350 KB 20
640 x 480 Fine 150 KB 44
Normal 90 KB 78

The GV-10 doesn't actually have any menus in playback or record mode. The only menu is found in the Set Up mode. This becomes a bit annoying when you have to switch to setup mode to changed the quality setting. Anyhow, the choices in the setup menu include:

  • Delete All / Format card
  • Size / Quality (see chart)
  • Buzzer (on/off) - turns beep on or off
  • Print Order - for DPOF print marking
  • Date (Style, clock)
  • Opening (Type 1, 2) - which startup picture is shown
  • Language (English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Japanese)
  • USB (Normal, PC Camera) - note that the latter is for PCs only

And that's all for menus! This is a real point-and-shoot camera! So let's talk about photos now.

The GV-10 isn't exactly going to win any awards for its nightshot ability. With no manual controls and a very small lens, there's not a whole lot you can do with it. The results were not terribly impressive, as you might imagine.

Taking this macro shot was nearly impossible. Since the GV-10 has a fixed focal length, your subject must be 10 cm away, or the image will be blurry. That's why I'm so much closer to the subject than in other reviews. It still didn't turn out that great.

Here's one of my more recent photo tests: the flash shot of the hand. This is a close up of the picture, and it looks pretty good. If you blow it up (just click), you can see some vignetting as well as some barrel distortion.

I get the impression that Casio thinks that people won't be thinking of photo quality as their primary reason for buying the GV-10. That's because the photos are pretty lousy. They remind me very much of frame grabs from a video camera. That gives the images a pretty soft look to them. Take a look at the gallery to see what I mean.

Movie Mode

The GV-10 can record video clips of up to 10 seconds, without sound. Like most digicams, the resolution is 320 x 240.

Movies are saved in AVI format. You cannot use the digital zoom during filming.

Here's a quick sample.


Click to play movie (AVI format, 2.3 MB)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

The GV-10 has a very basic playback mode. As I mentioned earlier, there isn't even a menu in record or playback mode. So if you want to delete photos or mark them for printing, you must enter setup mode.

Here's what you can do in playback mode: delete individual photos, view 9 thumbnails at once, and use the zoom & scroll feature. The latter lets you zoom 2X into your photo, and then move around in it, using the +/- buttons.

There is no extra info available about your photos in playback mode. Moving between photos takes about two seconds, although a low resolution placeholder is shown soon after the button is pressed.

How Does it Compare?

As I said a few paragraphs ago, consumers won't be buying the GV-10 for its photo quality or feature-set. They'll be buying it because it's tough and can be exposed to the elements without being damaged. The camera is very basic and is truly point-and-shoot. The only controls are white balance, exposure compensation, and flash. The movie mode and playback modes are also limited. The scene mode was a nice add on, though I wish you could add scenes like on the other cameras.

What I liked:

  • Unique water, dust, and shock resistant body
  • Scene mode helpful for many situations
  • Fixed focal length means no AF lag

What I didn't care for:

  • Unimpressive photo quality
  • Limited controls
  • Only 10 second clips in movie mode
  • Very basic playback mode
  • Changing options requires trip to Setup mode
  • No video out

The only other low-cost, "tough" digicam I can think of is the Kodak DC5000. It looks to be superior in both photo quality and features.

Photo Gallery

Check out our photo gallery to see how the GV-10's photos look!

Want a second opinion?

Check out Steve's Digicams review of the GV-10. (Steve's photo samples were taken in the 1600 x 1200 interpolated mode, which I did not try)

Feedback

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests for personal camera recommendations.

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