Review: Casio QV-3EX
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2001
Thursday, March 8, 2001
days, cameras seem to be getting smaller -- and more stylish. The
PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH from Canon was a big hit. A few months
later, Casio quietly announced the QV-3EX
($799), which offered a small, metal body, 3.3 Mpixel resolution,
and an IBM Microdrive in the box. It's too bad an optical zoom didn't
make it with the rest of those features. Read on to see what I thought
about the QV-3EX.
in the Box?
QV-3EX has a great bundle, with everything you need (and then some)
right in the box. Inside you'll find:
3.3 Mpixel Casio QV-3EX camera
IBM Microdrive (which is a CompactFlash Type II card)
Li-ion rechargeable battery
adapter / battery charger
featuring PhotoLoader software and drivers
in English and German, plus manuals for software and AC adapter
should note up front that there may be a configuration of the QV-3EX
that doesn't come with the Microdrive -- instead it will have a
measly 8MB CF card.
can't complain about a bundle that includes all this great stuff
-- heck, they even give you a carrying case!
QV-3EX is the first Casio camera that uses a proprietary rechargeable
battery. The NP-L7 looks familiar (anyone know what other cameras
use it?) and can last between 65 and 270 minutes, depending on the
IBM Microdrive continues to impress. Now available in sizes as large
as 1gb, you can store a lifetime of photos on a single card. Do
keep in mind that the Microdrive is not recommended for use in high
PhotoLoader software is pretty bad. I guess it does what it's name
implies-- it loads photos. It displays photos. That's about it (it
can't even rotate them). The Panorama Editor is Windows only and
isn't automatic like some other products out there. I'd consider
picking up a copy of PhotoDeluxe or PhotoShop instead.
manual included with the camera covers all the QV-3EX's features
and is fairly well put together.
QV-3EX is a small, metal-bodied camera that is heavier than it looks.
It does feel well built, and fits snugly in your hands. The QV-3EX
works well as both a one and two hand camera. The dimensions of
the camera are 4.5 x 24 x 1.3 inches, and it weighs 215 grams empty.
Let's begin our tour of the camera now, shall we?
main item of interest here, not to mention the biggest disappointment
with the camera, is the lens. The F2.6 lens has a focal length of
8.1 mm, which is equivalent to 40mm on a 35mm camera. There's no
optical zoom here, and the 3.2X digital zoom is no substitute. The
lens is auto-focus luckily, and has macro and infinity settings.
lens has a built-in cover, so no lens cap is needed.
onto the back of the camera, which has the traditional Casio "look".
The 1.8" LCD is fluid and bright (though you can't make it
the LCD is the optical viewfinder. There's no diopter correction
for those of us with glasses. I did find the viewfinder to be just
the right size for this little camera. If you're a left-eye viewfinder
user, you'll find nose smudges on the LCD display.
controls to the left of the LCD invoke and navigate the menus, The
Set button also doubles as the zoom button in playback mode. The
Disp(lay) button turns the LCD on and off.
top of the camera is pretty standard for a digital camera. The LCD
info display shows remaining photos (yep, 240), battery strength,
and flash settings (among other things).
that are buttons for:
settings [rec] / Info [playback]
(manual, infinity, macro) [rec] / Change Folder [play]
(10 or 2 sec) [rec] / Delete [play]
the right of all that, you'll find the shutter release button. I
wish it had a little more range of motion. Just below that is the
power switch -- there's play, off, and record.
the right of that is the mode wheel, which has the following options:
notes about the manual modes:
priority mode - choose from F2.6, F4.2, or F6.6
shutter priority mode
manual mode - same aperture choices plus shutter speeds ranging
from 1 sec to 1/3000 sec
the side of the camera you'll find the I/O ports. There's normally
a rubber piece that goes over these, and it can be removed completely.
Ports here include digital (for serial), video out, USB, and DC
the other side, you'll find the CompactFlash Type II slot, with
the included Microdrive shown in the foreground. My only comment
is that the door is bit awkward to open.
you can see the bottom of the camera, as well as the battery. The
battery cover stays closed and has a lock for double protection.
There is also a plastic tripod mount.
the Casio QV-3EX
QV-3EX takes about three seconds to start up. The lens retracts
its cover, and extends slightly. There's a pretty good amount of
lag while the camera focuses when you depress the shutter release
halfway -- between 1 and 2 seconds (that's below average). When
you fully depress the button, the photo is taken in about half a
second. In Fine mode, there's around a 4 second wait before you
can take another photo. As I've mentioned, the camera has only a
stepped digital zoom -- which is smooth (as you'd expect). Do note
that when using the digital zoom, the recorded image size is 1008
what you'll see on the LCD in record mode
nice feature in record mode is a histogram that can be displayed
on the LCD during composition. A histogram displays brightness (vertical
axis) in terms of the number of pixels (horizontal axis).
still contend that Casio has the best menu system in the business.
They're designed well, look nice, and are quick to navigate. What
has also impressed me is that Casio gives you a choice (in record
mode): for beginners there's a simple, graphical menu with limited
options. When you're ready for more complex options, you can switch
to a more traditional hierarchical menu. Here's a list of all the
options available in the record mode menus:
(Fine, Normal, Economy) - more on this below
(2016 x 1536, 1008 x 768) - more below
(Hard / Normal / Soft)
(High / Normal / Low)
(High / Normal / Low)
1 (I have no idea why they called it this)
Mode (Single, Continuous, AE Bracketing)
(Multi / Average / Spot)
Balance (Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Manual)
- more on this below
Intensity (Strong / Normal / Weak)
Speed (Fast / Normal / Slow)
(High / Normal) - Similar to ISO setting on other cameras
Mode (Normal / Past) - more on this later
(Color / Black & White / Sepia)
(Off / On) - displays grid on LCD during composition.
Stamp (Off / YMD / D H:M / YMD H:M)
(the usual stuff)
now a few more details about some of these. First, the quality and
on 340MB Microdrive
the chart above should illustrate just how absurd (in a good way)
the Microdrive is. 2000+ photos on one card? Yep.
nice feature (that I think every camera should have) is a white
balance mode. Sure, you've got the usual white balance choices (described
in the list above), but what about those situations where the presets
just don't work? Like, my "studio" which is a dining room
in real life. No matter what you try, the preset white balance settings
just don't cut it. With manual white balance, you shoot a sheet
of white paper (or whatever you want to be white), and you're set.
The QV-3EX has this feature and it's appreciated. Now onto our photo
macro test came out a little dark, but it was pretty good nonetheless.
first tried the "Night Shot" mode but the results were
too dark for my taste. So I set the camera into full manual mode
(F2.6 / 1 sec) and got the result you see above. Since the slowest
shutter speed you can get is 1 second, this is as bright as this
scene will get. You can see what everything is, though I wish it
was a bit sharper. There is no noise to speak of in this shot.
I'd give the QV-3EX an "average" rating on photo quality.
The photos I took (see the gallery) seem
a bit noisy/grainy to me. I couldn't see any evidence of chromatic
abberations (purple fringing) in the shots that I took. One way
to really make the photo quality fall is to use the digital zoom.
Take a look at the shots with the 1008 x 768 resolution in the gallery
to see what I mean.
going to discuss the movie and panorama modes on the QV-3EX next.
camera can record 30 second clips at 320 x 240, in AVI format. No
sound is recorded. There's also a "past" movie mode, that
can be best described by an example. Suppose you're going to record
a movie of your baby. You're getting set to start filming, and 5
seconds before you start, baby utters her first words. You first
think "darn, I can't believe I missed that!" But if you're
using Past mode, it would've recorded it. Past mode records the
10 seconds preceding the moment you hit the shutter release button.
to view movie
(AVI format, 3MB)
sample above is a Normal movie, taken from high above Union Square
in San Francisco.
QV-3EX has a panorama helper mode, which is designed to make it
easier to stitch a bunch of shots together into one. After you take
each frame, it creates a transparency of what was on the far right,
and you're supposed to pan over to the right until what was on the
right is now on the left (what a mouthful). This sounds good in
theory but is tough out in the bright sunlight -- but I guess there
are no good solutions here.
can have the camera stitch the photos together for a preview, but
unfortunately, you still have to use Panorama Editor (Windows only)
to do it "for real". I guess I've been spoiled by Canon's
great PhotoStitch software, which does it automatically. With Panorama
Editor, you've go to move each frame into position which isn't easy.
I got so frustrated that I used Canon's software instead and got
the result you see below.
things are a little wacky in this shot.
QV-3EX has a very complete playback mode, with all the necessities
and then some. The basics are here: slideshows, DPOF print marking,
protection, and 9 thumbnails mode.
between photos is exceptionally fast, though a low res thumbnail
is shown before a high res version replaces it.
the "zoom and scroll" feature, you select the area you
want to zoom into first and then hit a button. You can zoom in as
close as 3.2X the original size. Once zoomed, you can move around
in the photo.
"Info" button on the top of the camera adds a histogram
and some basic exposure information over the photo -- a first for
a Casio camera -- and much appreciated.
last, nice feature I will comment on is the "Card Browser".
If you turn this on, the camera will create HTML pages for all your
photos when it shuts off. You get an instant photo album! You can't
add comments or anything, but it works if you want just the photos
in an easy-to-browse format.
Does it Compare?
Casio QV-3EX is a full-featured, small, easy-to-use camera, that
I would recommend unconditionally if it had just one more feature:
an optical zoom lens. At $800, it's overpriced. The 340MB IBM Microdrive
sells for around $360 retail, so I would imagine that it's considerably
less from an OEM standpoint. If you deduct, say, $300 for the Microdrive,
you're left with a $500 camera. Casio's QV-3000EX Plus camera is
larger, but a 3X optical zoom, shutter priority mode, and more --
for the same price. I can't recommend a camera this pricey that
doesn't have a zoom lens, unfortunately.
designed controls and menus
of manual controls (but no shutter priority mode?)
nice playback mode
words: IBM Microdrive
I didn't care for:
shutter priority mode
sound in movie mode
is lacking (to say the least)
you're looking for a small camera with a zoom lens, check out the
Canon PowerShot S10,
The first two support (but do not include) the Microdrive. If you
want a Microdrive bundle and like the Casio "style", take
a look at the QV-3000EX.
Don't write off the Fuji FinePix 4700
or upcoming FinePix
always, I recommend a trip to your local reseller to try these cameras
before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the QV-3EX!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.