DCRP Review: Casio Exilim EX-FH20
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At first glance, the Casio Exilim EX-FH20 ($599) may look like just another super zoom camera. It has a big lens (20X), a 9 Megapixel sensor, a 3-inch LCD, manual controls, RAW image support, and all the gimmicks you'd expect on a modern digital camera (face detection, scene modes, etc.)
The FH20 definitely has some tricks up its sleeve, though. Like the ability to shoot at up to 40 frames/second (at 7 Megapixel), with a "pre-recording" function that ensures that you don't miss that perfect shot. Or how about recording video clips at 1000 frames/second (albeit at a very low resolution), which can be replayed in slow motion. If you want more "conventional" videos, the EX-FH20 can do that too -- in high definition.
These high speed features come at a price, though. Literally, the EX-FH20 is the most expensive super zoom on the market. Keep reading to find out if this camera is worth the price!
What's in the Box?
The EX-FH20 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like most cameras these days, Casio has built memory into the EX-FH20, instead of bundling a memory card. There's just under 32MB of onboard memory on the FH20, which holds a grand total of five images at the highest quality setting. Thus, you'll want to buy a large, fast memory card right away. The camera supports, SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMCplus cards, and I'd recommend picking up a high capacity, high speed (Class 4 or greater) SDHC card. 2GB is probably a good starter size, though movie enthusiasts may want to opt for a 4GB card.
The EX-FH20 uses four AA batteries for power. The camera comes with alkalines, which will quickly run out of juice, and end up in your recycling bin. My advice is to buy a set or two of NiMH rechargeables (2500 mAh or better), plus a fast charger. Here's what kind of battery life numbers you can expect from the camera with rechargeables installed:
One camera I really wanted to put on the above list is the Kodak EasyShare Z980. Unfortunately, battery life numbers are not available yet for that camera. In the group of cameras that remain, the Exilim EX-FH20 turns in strong numbers, coming in about 13% above average (when equipped with 2500 mAh rechargeables).
I like cameras that use AA batteries, as you can buy them anywhere in the world, unlike the costly proprietary batteries used by some of the competition.
Casio includes a lens cap and retaining strap to protect your lens from harm. The lens cap doesn't come off too easily, which is a good thing in my opinion.
Some ultra zoom cameras support optional accessories like conversion lenses, lens hoods, remote controls, and even underwater cases. The EX-FH20 is not one of those cameras. In fact, it has just two accessories available:
Well, that was easy. Something else that won't take long is describing the EX-FH20's software bundle -- because there really isn't one!
YouTube Uploader for Windows
Yes, on this $599 camera, the only real software you get is YouTube Uploader for Windows, which makes it slightly easier to send files to the popular video sharing website. There's no photo transfer, organization, or editing software included, nor does Casio provide anything to work with the fancy videos the camera can produce. And what about a program to open the FH20's RAW (DNG) images? Nope, nothing there either.
Things don't get any better in the documentation department, either. First, only a basic "starter" manual is included in the box, and it's a real mess. Each page has three languages on it, which makes finding information quite challenging. If you want more information, you've got to load up the PDF file that's included on a CD-ROM on your computer. This manual is only in one language and has a decent amount of detail, though it's not what I'd call user friendly.
Look and Feel
The Exilim EX-FH20 is a midsize super zoom camera. The body is made mostly of plastic, though it feels pretty solid in most areas. The exceptions are the someone flimsy door over the battery compartment, and the plastic tripod mount (on a $600 camera?!). The FH20 has a good-sized right hand grip, giving the camera a secure feel in your hands. There's a nice spot for your thumb as well, that keeps it away from the screen and surrounding buttons.
Casio did a good job with the ergonomics on the FH20. The most important controls are within easy reach of your fingers, and Casio didn't go overboard with buttons. One thing that surprised me was the lack of a dedicated movie recording button on this very video-centric camera.
Now, here's a look at how the Exilim EX-FH20 compares to other super zoom cameras in terms of size and weight: