DCRP Review: Casio QV-2300UX Plus
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, August 14, 2000
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2001

The design of the Casio QV-2300UX hearkens back to the Casio cameras of old. People who have been following digital cameras for a long time will recognize the resemblance to the old QV-10 and QV-100 series, with the swiveling lens, plastic body, and the lack of an optical viewfinder. While the $799 QV-2300UX Plus shares those traits, it adds many features found on the high-end digital camera, and perhaps the best part of all, the IBM Microdrive.

What's in the Box?

The "plus" in QV-2300UX Plus means that you get a Microdrive in the bundle. I'm not aware of any regular non plus model available. The bundle you get with the camera is very good:

  • The 2.1 Mpixel Casio QV-2300UX camera
  • 340MB IBM Microdrive (travel kit)
  • Four non-rechargeable batteries
  • Soft case
  • Wrist strap
  • Lens cap w/strap
  • USB cable
  • Serial cable
  • Video cable
  • PhotoLoader CD-ROM
  • Basic reference and full manuals

You get everything you need in the box, with the exception of rechargeable batteries and an AC adapter. On other models, Casio has made a "Pro" package available, which includes both.

The Microdrive set inside the PC Card adapter

The Microdrive Travel Kit, worth over $400, includes the 340MB Microdrive plus a PC Card adapter and plastic carrying case. Two notes about the Microdrive: One, it uses up your batteries a lot faster than your conventional CompactFlash card. Secondly, it won't work in high altitudes or in areas with low barometric pressure. The table below shows you just how many photos you can store on the Microdrive in this camera:

Image Size Quality File Size Number of Images
1600 x 1200 Fine 850KB 401
Normal 600KB 562
Economy 350KB 943
800 x 600 Fine 200KB 1587
Normal 150KB 2054
Economy 120KB 2494

Even in the highest quality mode, you've got room for way more photos than you could possibly take! (Well, me at least).

A plastic lens cap protects your lens, and thankfully includes a strap.

I didn't use the PhotoLoader software that came with the camera, but in the past it's been about average.

The manual that I was given wasn't complete yet, so I won't comment on its quality.

Look and Feel

Like I said in the introduction to this review, the QV-2300UX has inherited many traits from the original Casio cameras, including some not-so-desirable ones. For one, the plastic body feels cheap, and the various doors on the camera look like they could snap off. Something else that I'm not a big fan of is the lack of an optical viewfinder. While this might not bother some people, it's a must for me.

The camera does fit well in your hand, with adequate room for both hands. Size-wize, it's about 4.5 x 2.25 x 2.5 inches. It weighs 245 grams without batteries, according to the manual.

Taking a look at the back of the camera, you can see rotating zoom lens on the left, and the LCD and buttons on the right. The 1.8" LCD is fluid but a bit on the grainy side. Once you're in bright light, it becomes unusable (as on all digital cameras). And since you don't have an optical viewfinder, you'll have to cover up the LCD so you can see it!

The button just above the word "Casio" is the power button; just east of that is the zoom lever. The zoom mechanism is responsive and smooth when activated.

The buttons below the LCD play duel roles -- it will be one thing in record mode, and another in play mode. In record mode, you've got (left to right): Shift (for changing settings like shutter speed, white balance, etc), flash, macro/infinity/manual focus, and self-timer (2 or 10 sec). In play mode, you've got: photo info, change folders, thumbnail mode, and delete.

The switch to the right of the LCD toggles between record and play mode.

Looking now at the top of the camera, you can see the menu button and arrows for navigating it. Just above that is the shutter release button, which gives good feedback. If you've seen some of Casio's other recent offerings, you'll notice that the 2300 doesn't have the Mode button -- or the electronic mode wheel -- that their other cameras do.

Underneath a plastic panel to the left of all the buttons, you'll find ports for serial, USB, and video out, as well as one for your AC adapter. While this plastic panel stays shut, it looks like it could bust off if you're not careful when it's open.

Here's one side of the camera, not much to see here.

And here's the other side, complete with that CompactFlash Type II slot. If you think the 340MB Microdrive can store lots of photos, wait until the 1gb version ships this Fall! The plastic door covering this slot is questionable too, so be careful.

And finally, the bottom of the camera. There's four batteries in that compartment on the right, and there is also a plastic tripod mount in the middle.

Using the Casio QV-2300UX

Keeping with our more detailed reviews, I'll talk about the following in this second: Record mode, Movie Mode, and Playback Mode.

Record Mode

The camera takes about six seconds to "warm up" before it's ready to start taking photos. If you put your ear up to the camera, you can hear the hard drive sounds of the Microdrive.

There are a number of different modes you can put the camera in:

  • Program (auto) mode
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Night scene
  • Scene
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Full manual

Program mode is the point-and-shoot mode. When you compose your photo and push the shutter release down halfway, you'll have to wait for around a second while the focus locks. When you push it down all the way, there is no noticeable lag. In the highest quality mode, you'll have to wait about 4 seconds before you can take another photo.

Portrait, landscape, and night scene mode automatically choose the best settings for each of these situations.

Above was an example of night scene mode, taken from the usual spot on Twin Peaks. There's a little noise in there, but the quality is comparable to the other 2 Megapixel cameras out there.

So Casio took these preset "scenes" and one went big step further when they created "Scene mode". Here, you can choose from 30 different situations (and create your own), and the camera will use the settings needed for said situation. You've got your choice of:

  • Landscape with people
  • Face
  • Face and chest
  • Full front
  • Two subjects
  • Floral closeup
  • Flower field
  • Forest
  • Autumn leaves
  • Blue sky
  • Sunset
  • Bright beach
  • Night scene with people
  • Fireworks (!)
  • Dancing lights (think long exposure of cars on a freeway)
  • Structures
  • Food
  • Text
  • Special effects (different filters)

Each of these different scenes has it's own screen in the menus (see above), and it tells you what it's changing. Autumn leaves, for example, requires hard sharpness, high saturation, and enhanced reds. Fireworks gets you a small aperture, bulb shutter, infinite focus, and daylight white balance. It even tells you to use a tripod -- good advice. If you want to make your own scenes, you can do that too.

Normal Sharpness

Hard Sharpness

In our traditional macro test, I couldn't help but notice that Mickey seemed a little "soft" in the sharpness department. So I went into the menus and bumped up the sharpness to "hard". If you blow them up and look carefully, you can see the difference.

On the whole, a lot of the QV-2300UX 's photos seemed a little soft, and a little "brown" too. I'm not sure of the cause for either.

Record mode

Getting back to modes now -- there are also shutter priority, aperture priority, and full manual modes available. In shutter priority mode, you can choose from speeds as slow as 60 seconds (bulb mode) to as fast as 1/2000 sec. In aperture priority mode, you can choose from f2.8 or f5.6. Finally, there's full manual mode, which is something that Casio's cameras have had for quite some time, but they've never actually mentioned it in the manual until now. In this mode, you can select both the aperture and shutter settings that you want. You've got the same choices as in the individual priority modes.

And now, a quick look at the menu system. Casio continues to have the flashiest menus out there-- but they're also some of the best designed.

If you hit Menu while in Record mode, you'll see the menu above left. All those little icons are animated, and when you move all the way to the right, it scrolls over to the menu above right.

Pretend you chose Function in the previous menu -- then you'd be presented with the above left screen. If you choose "Size/Quality", you'll get the menu above right. Here are the options available in the Function menu:

  • Size/quality (see above)
  • Sensitivity (ISO) - 80, 160, 320
  • Filter - B&W, sepia, red, green, blue, yellow, pink, purple (haven't seen this many choices before)
  • Exposure mode - Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, full manual
  • Metering - multi, center-weighted, spot
  • White balance (the usuals plus manual mode)
  • Grid (superimposes a grid over on the LCD for helping you compose a photo)
  • Flash intensity
  • Sharpness, saturation, and contrast
  • Date stamp
  • Digital zoom - auto, 2X, 4X
  • And other misc. settings

I'm not always found of having to delve through menus to change things, and the engineers at Casio know that. You can change a few of the settings found in the function menu by holding down "Shift" when you're in record mode.

Movie Mode

Casio has had movie mode for quite a long time, although they still are just video-only. You have your choice of normal movie mode, where you hit the shutter release and record for up to 16 seconds. Or you can do "past" mode, where it saves the 10 seconds of video that happened BEFORE you pressed the shutter release button. Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.

Thankfully, the QV-2300UX is one of those cameras where you can use the optical zoom during filming. Here's a little sample for you:

Video the movie (1.3MB, M-JPEG codec required)

I'd like to see longer recording times here, and maybe some sound too, but overall it's a nice extra feature to have.

Playback Mode

Casio has had one of the best playback modes for a long time, with lots of features and fast processing times.

When you scroll between photos, it loads up a lower res version first, then replaces it seamlessly with the high res version. That makes going from photo to photo nice and quick. If you want to view more information about the photo, just hit Info, and you'll get the information you can see above.

Hitting the Menu button gives you the usual options, such as zoom, DPOF, and slide show. The zoom and scroll features is fast and smooth, though navigating inside a zoomed photo is clumsy since there's no four-way switch on the camera. You can delete the photos without a trip to the menu by just hitting the delete button below the LCD.

Another Casio exclusive feature is the ability for the camera to generate HTML files for your photos. I'm not going to give you all the details in this review, but you can see a sample from a previous one to see what I mean.

How Does it Compare?

There are two ways to look at the QV-2300UX Plus: As a $800 camera, and as a $400 camera with a $400 memory card. I tend to choose the latter option, though the camera is really packed with features for a $400 camera. The downside here is that the body quality is sub-par, and the lack of the optical viewfinder would immediately remove it from my list if I was in the market. I am a big fan of Casio's other recent cameras though -- the QV-2000UX and QV-3000EX. In fact, you can pick up a QV-2000UX Plus with a Microdrive and almost the same feature set as the QV-2300UX Plus, plus an optical viewfinder and better photo quality, for around the same money.

What I liked:

  • Lots of features
  • Cool "Scene" mode
  • Well designed user interface
  • Fast processing
  • USB support
  • IBM Microdrive in the box

What needs work:

  • Poor quality plastic body
  • No optical viewfinder
  • No uncompressed TIFF mode
  • No sound with video
  • Photo quality often soft and "brownish"

There aren't any other cameras that have this many features with a Microdrive in the box, at this price. Well, except for the two Casio cameras I mentioned at the top of this section. The only other cameras that stand out as competitors (in that they can use the Microdrive) are the Canon PowerShot S10 and S20, though they have far fewer features than the Casio cameras do.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try these cameras yourself before you make any purchases.

Photo Gallery

So how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Check out Steve's Digicams First Look at the QV-2300UX.

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com.

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