Review: Casio QV-3500EX
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2001
Thursday, June 28, 2001
perhaps better known for electronic watches, Casio is actually a
pioneer of consumer digital cameras. Their QV-3000EX
(see our review) was
the first 3 Megapixel camera on the market, and they have cameras
that date back to the days before digicams were cool (anyone remember
the QV-10?). The QV-3500EX
is an enhanced version of the QV-3000EX, with the two biggest features
being Best Shot Mode (explained later) and support for Epson's PRINT
Image Matching (for best quality prints of your digital photos).
QV-3500EX comes in two packages: the standard package ($599) includes
a 16MB CompactFlash card, and a "plus" package (under
$900) which includes the 340MB IBM Microdrive! I tested the standard
on to find out about Casio's latest 3 Megapixel camera!
in the Box?
QV-3500EX has a pretty good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.3 Mpixel QV-3500EX camera
CompactFlash card (standard bundle) -or- 340MB IBM Microdrive
alkaline AA batteries
featuring PhotoLoader and drivers
the good news. If you get the "plus" package (recommended),
you can have a photo bonanza. The 340MB Microdrive can literally
store thousands of your photos. Casio includes a lens cap with strap,
so the lens will be protected from the elements (or clumsy camera
reviewers). The QV-3500's manual is pretty good as well.
the warning: if you get the Microdrive and plan to take it to high
altitudes, you may have trouble. And I quote:
Microdrive may not operate properly in areas where barometric
pressure is low. Because of this, you should avoid using it at
last but not least, the bad news. Casio includes 4 lowly alkaline
batteries which will be gone in no time (especially with the power
hungry Microdrive). They'll end up in the trash quickly, so when
it's time to replace your batteries, try some NiMH
rechargeable batteries instead.
other complaint is about the PhotoLoader software. It's ... not
great ... and that's being polite. It will get your photos off the
camera but don't expect miracles.
far as accessories go, the lens is threaded (58mm), and you'll need
to pick up the Conversion Lens Adapter (LU-35A) before you can use
any external lenses. Those include Wide, Tele, and Macro converters.
QV-3500EX is a good-sized camera that won't fit its way into your
pockets. Like most of Casio's cameras, it's made almost exclusively
of plastic -- and feels a bit cheap, to be honest. That said, it
is easy to hold, and the controls are well-placed.
dimensions of the camera are 5.3 x 3.2 x 2.3 (W x H x D) and it
weighs just 320 grams, which is surprising considering its size.
Let's begin our tour of the QV-3500 now...
3500's F2.0 lens is actually made by Canon, and has been seen on
many other cameras, not just from Casio. The focal range of the
lens is 7 - 21 mm, which is equivalent to 33 - 100mm.
QV-3500's flash has a working range of approximately 0.5 m - 4 m.
The flash intensity is adjustable in the menus.
onto the back of the camera. The 1.8" LCD is bright and fluid,
as is placed in an area where you're less likely to smudge it.
optical viewfinder is large, and has a diopter correction knob for
those of you with glasses.
the left of the LCD are buttons for invoking and navigating the
3500's menu system. The four-way switch also adjusts the manual
settings (up/down) as well as exposure compensation (left/right)
while in record mode.
down the shift key gets those three icons at the bottom of the LCD.
the right of the LCD are the Shift and Preview button. The Shift
button is used to quickly change the Exposure, Metering, and White
Balance modes, without having to enter the menu system.
the far right of the above photo, you can see the zoom control lever.
This lever has very little "play", which I found annoying,
though it does responsively operate the zoom lens.
let's take a look at the top of the camera. The LCD info display
shows things like flash status, battery life, and shots remaining.
To the right of that, you'll find the following multifunction buttons:
setting [rec] / Change folder [play]
(Macro, Infinity, Manual) [rec] / Resize photo [play]
Shot (more on this later) [rec]
(2 sec, 10 sec) [rec] / Delete photo [play]
above all those buttons, you can see the shutter release button,
with the power switch around it.
is one side of the camera, where all the I/O ports are found under
a sturdy plastic cover. Here you'll find:
(for optional serial connection and wired remote control)
onto the other side of the camera. The CompactFlash slot on the
QV-3500EX is probably the worst one I've seen in years. The plastic
door is hard to open and the card almost impossible to remove --
it's even hard to load!
is a Type II CompactFlash slot, so the IBM Microdrive is fully supported,
even the 1gb model.
the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the battery compartment,
as well as as tripod mount. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the tripod
mount is plastic.
the Casio QV-3500EX
QV-3500EX takes just about four seconds to extend the lens and prepare
for shooting. Focusing takes under a second in most circumstances.
Shot-to-shot speed is very good, with about a 2 second delay between
shots at Normal quality. If you use any of the Best Shot modes,
or longer exposure times (!), the shot-to-shot speed slows dramatically,
as the camera appears to be doing some kind of processing of the
the zoom lens responds quickly to the controls, the zoom action
itself is on the sluggish side.
an uncompressed TIFF file will take upwards of 40 seconds, though
the camera lets you cancel recording if you like.
Best Shot mode is one of the newest and coolest features of the
QV-3500EX (and all new Casio cameras). You can pick one of 64 "scenes"
and the camera will pick the best settings for you! You can even
make your own scenes if you are so inclined.
are 28 scenes built into the camera, and there are 36 more on the
CD-ROM that you can put on the CompactFlash card and then use. Be
sure to lock those scene files first so they don't get erased if
you format the memory card!
are a selection of scenes available on the QV-3500EX:
love that last picture... I'd like to try my hand at that one myself!
let's take a look at the menu options available on the QV-3500.
Casio has fancy, animated menus on the surface, and more traditional
menus underneath. The top level choices are:
- goes to more menus
(Past) - more on these later
- assists you in taking panoramic shots
Function brings up the more traditional menu, with the following
Shooting (on/off) - captures 3 images at an interval of 0.5 sec
- see chart below
(ISO 100, 180, 300, 500)
(Black & White, Sepia, Red, Green, Blue)
Mode (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Full Manual)
- more below
(Multi, Center, Spot)
Balance (Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Manual)
(Off, Red, Green, Blue, Flesh Tones)
Intensity (Strong, Normal, Weak)
(Hard, Normal, Soft)
(High, Normal, Low)
(High, Normal, Low)
Zoom (Off, Auto, 2X, 4X)
various basic camera settings (date, etc.)
are four exposure modes, as I mentioned above. Here's a rundown:
Mode: camera picks best exposure settings
Priority: you pick aperture (F2, F2.3, F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8), camera
picks shutter speed
Priority: you pick shutter speed (60 sec - 1/1000 sec), camera
you pick both the shutter speed and aperture
here's that chart of the various resolution and quality options
I was promising, for both the standard and plus packs:
images on 16MB CF card
images on 340MB Microdrive
think the above chart says it all - the Microdrive rocks.
feature, not found in the menus, is the Focus Frame Location feature.
This lets you choose one of 9 areas on the LCD for the camera to
let's take a look at some sample photos.
took a lot of tinkering to get the QV-3500 to produce the image
above. They always came out too dark in Program mode, so I had to
take matters into my own hands. The shot above (I believe) had a
shutter speed of 1/4 sec. You can get as close as 6 cm (2.4")
in macro mode, at full wide-angle. You can NOT zoom all the way
to full telephoto in macro mode (two-thirds of the way).
our nightshot this time, I decided to try something other than the
San Francisco skyline. So here's Coit Tower, at night. Of the 5
cameras I took with me on the trip, this one fared the best. There
are chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) at the top of the tower,
and a bit of noise, but otherwise it's not bad.
photo quality on the QV-3500 was kind of a mixed bag. Some shots
in the gallery look great (the macro flower shot, for example),
while others (the Fisherman's Grotto shot) show lots of JPEG compression.
For the record, the Fisherman's Grotto shot was taken with "Normal"
compression. Blow it up and you'll see a lot of JPEG jaggies. Check
out the gallery and decide for yourself
about the QV-3500EX's photo quality.
Additional photos added 6/28/01!
made some of the first cameras with a movie mode, and sadly, it
hasn't improved much since. There's no sound recorded with the movies
-- most other 3.3 MP cameras support this now.
nice thing is that you can use the optical zoom while filming --
now this is a rarity!
are two movie modes: regular, and past. Regular is the traditional
movie mode we all know, where you depress the shutter release and
film for 30 seconds. Past is kind of the opposite: it records the
30 seconds BEFORE you pressed the button. I can't really see the
use of this, but there you go.
file format for these movies is AVI, using the M-JPEG codec. The
resolution is fixed at 320 x 240.
a somewhat exciting sample movie for you:
Click to play movie (1.4MB, AVI format, 10 secs)
playback mode has always been very good, and that continues here.
The basic features such as slide shows, DPOF print marking, and
image protection are all here.
is the "zoom and scroll" feature, which lets you zoom
into your photos 2X or 4X, and then "scroll" around in
them. The scrolling speed on the QV-3500 is nothing short of amazing,
especially when compared to the other cameras I'm testing.
feature that most camera makes skip over is the ability to delete
a group of photos, as opposed to all or one. The QV-3500EX has that
feature, and I think all cameras should have it.
feature unique to the QV-3500EX is the one-touch resize button (on
top of the camera). With this button, you can resize your photo
down to 640 x 480, perfect for e-mailing.
can get a decent amount of information about your photos as well,
including exposure settings, resolution/quality settings, and even
neat trick that the camera can do is create HTML pages containing
your photos and their specs. Here's a sample, from our classic QV-2000UX
Does it Compare?
area in which the Casio QV-3500EX stands out the most is value.
For less than $900 (probably closer to $800), you can get a full-featured
3.3 Megapixel camera, with full manual controls, unique Best Shot
mode, and an IBM Microdrive with virtually limitless capacity. The
three major downsides for me were the cheap-feeling plastic body,
over-compressed "Normal" quality images, and lack of sound
recording in movie mode. This is one camera you'll want to try in
person before you buy, to see if these issues bother you. (If you
can't find a QV-3500EX in the store, try the QV-2000UX or QV-3000EX,
which are very similar).
value with Microdrive (costs less than most cameras that include
Shot mode - handy
good playback mode
works in movie mode
I didn't care for:
plastic body, crummy CompactFlash slot
photos seem over-compressed
sound in movie mode
rechargeable batteries included; PhotoLoader software isn't great.
are tons of 3.3 Megapixel cameras, so here are a few I recommend
you check out before you buy: Canon
PowerShot G1 (also supports Microdrive), Casio
QV-3000EX (older version of QV-3500EX), Nikon Coolpix 990
DSC-S75, and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the QV-3500EX and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
Digicams review of the QV-3500EX.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not ask for personal camera