DCRP Review: Casio Exilim EX-V8
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For a long time, if you wanted a "big zoom" camera, you had to buy a bulky ultra zoom model. Things have started to change though, with ultra-compact, high zoom cameras from Canon, Casio, Pentax, and Sharp now available.
In this review I'm taking a look at Casio's Exilim EX-V8 digital camera ($279). It packs an 8.1 Megapixel CCD, 7X optical zoom lens, image stabilization, and 2.5" LCD display into a slim metal body. Other features include a widescreen H.264 movie mode with stereo sound recording, face detection and subject tracking AF, a unique continuous flash shooting mode, and more scene modes than you could possibly need.
A lot of the compact, big zoom cameras I've tested have some serious compromises that come along with them. Sometimes its related to ergonomics, other times image quality, and a few times, both. Will the Exilim EX-V8 break the mold? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The Exilim EX-V8 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
Like most cameras these days, the EX-V8 comes with built-in memory in lieu of a bundled memory card. Casio has put a paltry 11.8 MB of memory into the EX-V8, which holds just two photos at the highest image quality setting (why do they even bother?). With that in mind, you'll want to buy a larger memory card, and fast. The camera supports SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMCplus memory cards, and I'd suggest starting with a 1GB card. While it's worth spending the extra bucks for a high speed card, you don't need to go overboard.
The EX-V8 uses the NP-50 lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which resembles a pack of gum. The battery holds 3.5 Wh of energy, which seems kind of low considering the size of the battery. How does that translate into battery life? Have a look at this:
Casio's engineers did a good job at getting nice battery life out of relatively low power battery. While it's not quite the best in the group, the V8's battery life number (which is the same as on its predecessor) is still 15% above average.
Two quick notes about the proprietary lithium-ion battery used by the EX-V8 and cameras like it. Spare batteries are expensive (about $40 a pop), and you can't use an "off-the-shelf" battery when your rechargeable dies. That said, you won't find cameras this small with anything else.
You'll use the included camera cradle for charging the battery, transferring photos to your computer, or connection to a television. In fact, you can only use the dock for the TV and computer connections, which I'm none too pleased about. At least the camera and dock support the USB 2.0 High Speed standard, so transferring images to your computer will be quick.
As far as battery charging goes, it takes around 2.5 for the battery to charge (inside the camera) via the dock. You can also purchase a standalone charger, which I'll mention in the accessories section below.
The Exilim EX-V8 has a sliding lens cover that not only serves as protection for the lens -- it's also the camera's power switch. If you've read my reviews of Sony's T-series cameras, then you already know that I don't like these sliding lens covers. That's because they're way too easy to bump (like when you're putting the camera into your pocket), which can turn the camera on when you don't want to.
The EX-V8 is fairly light in the accessories department. Probably the most interesting item is the EWC-110 underwater case ($190), which lets you take the camera up to 40 meters beneath the sea. There's also the BC-40L external charger ($40), which you can use instead of the dock for charging the battery. Lastly, Casio offers a ton of different camera cases, in a variety of materials and colors.
PhotoLoader with HOT ALBUM in Windows Vista
Casio's bundled software was never very good, and I'd argue that this all-new version (known as "Photo Loader with HOT ALBUM" is even worse. It's still totally basic, with only image viewing, printing, and e-mailing functions. The software appears to be Flash-based, and it's awkward and slow to use. It's also for Windows only, so my fellow Mac users will want to use iPhoto.
Features on the main screen include slideshows, variable thumbnail sizes, calendar view, and print ordering -- well, sort of -- the camera just puts the photos you want to print on a memory card or CD. There's also an album feature ("HOT ALBUM") that lets you create a CD-ROM containing a slideshow, complete with the music of your choosing. If you pony up for the "premium version" ($3 for two years), you can burn the images onto CDs and DVDs as well.
Editing in PhotoLoader
Want to edit your photos? Well, you won't be doing it with this product. You can rotate photos, and that's it. In the year 2007. Get with it, Casio!
YouTube Uploader in Windows Vista
Something else included with the EX-V8 is Casio's YouTube Uploader. As you've probably figured out by now, this too is for Windows only. The software scans for movies on your memory card (regardless of whether you took them in YouTube mode) and will upload them to your YouTube account. The interface a bit primitive, and it can't actually show you the movie you're looking at in the software itself (though it'll launch QuickTime or WMP for you), but it does work.
The V8's basic manual, with three languages per paragraph. Are you kidding me?
Casio includes documentation in a variety of forms with the Exilim EX-V8. First up we have a fold-out quick start guide to get you up and running. Easily the worst piece of documentation is the printed basic manual, which attempts to cover every language in the world in one book. The English section has French and Spanish in it too, so finding what you're looking for is way too challenging. The full camera manual -- the most useful of the bunch -- is found only on the included CD-ROM disc, which I'm not happy about. The quality of the manual is fine (and at least it's only in one language), but I don't believe that users should have to load up a PDF to get help with their camera.
Look and Feel
The Exilim EX-V8 looks exactly like its predecessor, the EX-V7. It's a compact (but not super-tiny) camera made mostly of metal, and everything feels well put together. The camera is easy to hold and operate with just one hand, though the unconventional zoom controller takes some getting used to. Casio has kept buttons to a minimum on the V8, so you don't need a Ph.D. to figure it out.
|Images courtesy of Casio|
It seems like all compact cameras have to come in more than one color, and the EX-V8 is no exception: you can get it in silver and black. From what I can tell, the black one is exclusive to BestBuy stores.
Now let's take a look at how the EX-V8 compares to other cameras in its class in terms of size of weight: