Review: Casio Exilim EX-S1
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Thursday, August 1, 2002
a world of look-alike cameras, it's not hard to get excited when
you see a camera like the Casio
Exilim EX-S1 ($299). The Exilim is the smallest camera out there,
by far, and is just 0.4" thick.
EX-S1's sister camera is the EX-M1,
which adds a microphone and MP3 playback capability. The EX-M1 is
the Exilim perform as well as it looks? Find out now!
in the Box?
Exilim has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
1.2 (effective) Mpixel Exilim EX-S1 camera
Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
adapter / battery charger
featuring PhotoLoader software and drivers
115 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 80 minutes of juice
per charge, according to Casio. Charging the battery (in the USB
cradle) takes two hours.
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
Exilim with Kyocera Finecam S4 and deck of cards
enough for you?
far as accessories go... well, there aren't any. I should add that
neither of the Exilim models support video output to a television.
PhotoLoader software has never been a favorite of mine. Their manuals,
however, are pretty good and are much easier to read than most.
I mentioned, the Exilim EX-S1 is a tiny camera -- the smallest one
I've tested. It fits into any pocket with ease. It's 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.
Exilim's dimension are 3.5 x 2.2 x 0.4 inches (W x H x D), and it
weighs just 85 grams! By comparison, the Kyocera Finecam S4 pictured
above has dimensions of 3.8 x 2.2 x 1.2, with a mass of 175 grams.
begin our 360 degree tour of the EX-S1, starting with the front.
Exilim has an F2.5, fixed focal length lens. 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 5.6 mm lens is
equivalent to 37mm.
only other item on the front of the camera is the flash. I'm still
amazed that they could fit one on a camera this small. The flash
has a relatively unimpressive range of 1 - 2 meters.
you get the EX-M1 model, you'll also find a microphone on the front.
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! The resolution
on the LCD isn't terribly high, but the images 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!).
The four-way switch could be better in terms of movement -- I would
try to push it inwards but it would go down.
four-way switch operates the 4X digital zoom while in record mode.
In playback mode, it marks photos for printing (DPOF) and also deletes
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. Wow, is it 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, with
the plastic dummy card shown. The Exilim cameras do not have a tripod
the Casio Exilim EX-S1
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 major
problem, as the camera is quite responsive.
speed is pretty good too. You will wait just 2 seconds before you
can take another shot, at the fine quality setting.
EX-S1 does not have a burst/continuous shooting mode.
a look at the image size/quality choices on the EX-S1:
photos on 12MB built-in memory
1600 x 1200 resolution is done via interpolation. The camera only
records 1.2 million pixels, so it has to guess about 800,000 of
them in order to create that 1600 x 1200 image. So while the image
will be larger, it may have more artifacts and other weird stuff
than the native resolution. 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, night scene, movie)
(Auto, off, on, red-eye reduction)
(Off, 10 sec)
(1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480)
(Fine, normal, economy)
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! Everything else in the above list should be
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 set-up menu for setting the date and all that fun
did not do the macro or night shot tests with the EX-S1. 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.
can, however, comment on the photo quality. It's not great, but
certainly not horrible either. Images have a soft look to them,
reminiscent of a video grab. I get the impression that most people
will buy the Exilim for its looks, rather than it's ability to take
photos. You should be able to get decent 4 x 6 inch prints out of
it. Take a look at the photo gallery
to see what I mean.
EX-S1 can record silent movies up to 30 seconds in length (the EX-M1
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. The quality isn't great
-- it looks like they have the compressed cranked up pretty high.
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 instantly, though.
Does it Compare?
I said earlier, people won't buy the Exilim EX-S1 (or the MP3 cable
EX-M1 model) for their picture quality. They buy it for its size
-- this thing is as close to a "spycam" as I've seen.
The picture quality is pretty average, but is fine for small prints
and webpages. Despite being a point-and-shoot camera, the Exilim
has a good number of features, including manual white balance. The
fixed focal length lens means fast startup and shooting speeds.
On the downside, there's no macro mode or tripod mount. It's also
expensive for a 1.2 Megapixel camera. For those who want a small
camera to carry with you, the Exilim should definitely be on your
list. If it's going to be your primary camera, I'd look carefully
at other cameras in this price range!
ultimate small camera -- it's just plain cool!
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 recording on EX-S1 model (get the EX-M1 for that)
on top of camera plus the four-way switch need a redesign
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the Exilim EX-S1 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.