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Casio EXILIM EX-H10 Overview

Overview by Mike Tomkins
Review by Mike Pasini and Stephanie Boozer
Date Posted: 08/12/09

The Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-H10 is based around a 12-megapixel CCD image sensor behind an EXILIM Optical branded 10x zoom lens which features a generous 24mm wide angle. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.2 to f/5.7 across the zoom range, and focusing is possible to a minimum of just seven centimeters in Macro mode. Images are framed and reviewed on a 3-inch LCD display with 230,400 dots of resolution; as you'd expect the long-zoom Casio H10 doesn't include any form of true optical viewfinder.

The Casio EXILIM H10 uses contrast detection autofocusing, and includes face detection capability. Metering choices are multi-pattern, center-weighted, and spot, and shutter speeds from 4 to 1/2,000 second are on offer. The Casio EX-H10's ISO sensitivity ranges from a minimum of ISO 64 equivalent, through to a maximum of ISO 3,200 equivalent. Images are stored on Secure Digital cards or in 35.7MB of internal memory. Power comes from a proprietary NP-90 lithium-ion rechargeable battery, rated as good for 1,000 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards.

A couple of more unusual features on the Casio EXILIM EX-H10 are its landscape and makeup modes. In the former, the Casio H10 owner can capture either Vivid or Mist Removal landscape photos, with the option controlled via a dedicated button. In the makeup mode, the Casio EX-H10's face detection function is used to locate subjects' faces, which are then automatically adjusted to yield smooth skin tones and softened shadows. Again, this function is accessed via a dedicated button.

The Casio EXILIM EX-H10 goes on sale from mid-July 2009, with only a black body color available. Pricing is set at $299.99 in the US market.

 

Casio EXILIM EX-H10 User Report

by Mike Pasini

The afternoon the Casio EX-H10 arrived, I popped the battery in and took a Dynamic Photo (hang on, we'll explain) right away, having read about this unique feature on Casio's site. I showed it to my brother, who was visiting with his two pet chimpanzees, and he was just amazed.

Then we went to dinner and, while we were waiting for the burritos, the chimpanzees showed me their photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. On an iPhone.

The battle lines are clear.

On the one hand, you have a phone that is trying to do everything. Phoners are aware that their gadgets are masters of none of the tricks they perform (yes, they even drop calls, unlike a land line). But they can't get an apology in before people rave about the images they see on a screen that's larger than a digital camera's, and, fortunately for them, also smaller than a monitor.

On the other hand, you have the Casio H10, a pocket camera that takes better pictures. But who would know on that small screen that isn't hip to gestures? On the small screen, everything's just a phone shot.

So Casio has come up with the Dynamic Photo, among other tricks (like super slow-mo on some models and Make-Up mode on the Casio H10). Find a blank wall, put someone in front of it and tell them to jump around, then take the shot. When you play back the 20-frame sequence on the Casio H10, the moving part of the image will have been extracted so you can overlay it on any other shot you took, which serves as the background image.

Cool, everyone said. Then we forgot about it and flipped through the shots from Monterey of sharks, seahorses, eels, and more, enlarging with two fingers and rotating for a better display.

Or did we forget about it?

Dynamic Photo. A Dynamic Photo is an image in which something moves. It isn't like a movie, where everything in the frame can move, but more like an animated GIF, where just a part of the image moves. And, like an animated GIF, there aren't a lot of frames in the sequence. Just 20, which can making looping a little loopy.

I made a Dynamic Photo with the Casio H10 on my first try, after visiting Casio's Dynamic Photo Special Site to learn about the process. The Casio H10 itself included no documentation, although the camera does help you with timely prompts for part of the process.






But I wouldn't call capturing a Dynamic Photo on the Casio H10 easy.

The first problem I had was finding a suitable background to shoot the moving image. In this case, I enticed one of the chimps to stand in front of a bare spot on the wall and move his hand. But finding a bare spot can be tricky. You want a uniform background to make it easy for the Casio H10 to crop it out. If you happen to have a lampshade in there, you have to make sure the lampshade stays in the exact same spot of the image (or else it appears to be moving). Shadows have the same problem, so move your subject away from the wall. And you also want to make sure the bare spot doesn't share a color with your subject or there will be holes in your moving image where the color was the same as the background.

The second problem I had was framing the movement. I had zoomed in to make the hand fill most of the Casio H10's frame (chimps are not known for their reserve) and his hand quickly went out of the frame. I couldn't see that, though, because to take 20 quick shots, the LCD doesn't update. You don't know until it's too late. And even then, you'd be moving the camera which could easily make the background a moving object.

The third problem was taking the reference shot of the background. I couldn't get the chimp to get his hand out of the scene. I begged. I cajoled. I bribed. Fortunately ice cream was invented long ago and my chimp took off at the mere mention of it. Then, still holding the Casio H10 where I'd shot the moving segment, I took the reference shot.

Then it got easy.

The Casio H10 took a few seconds to crop out the background and display the moving hand to me. That was pretty cool. Just like that, I had this disembodied hand flying around on a gray background. I passed the camera around. Everyone was impressed. The Casio H10 did that? Yep.

But wait!

To actually assemble a Dynamic Photo, you have to go into the Casio H10's Playback mode and get into the menu system to indicate you want to see a Dynamic Photo in action. Otherwise, you just get one of the 20 640 x 480 moving segments (with a file extension of .JPE).

When you select Dynamic Photo, you have a little work to do. The Casio H10 prompts you for a background image, then for the sequence. Your background image apparently has to be in a 4:3 aspect ratio (3:2 and 16:9 didn't work). Because my background image was resized down to 1,600 x 1,200 and the sequence images are 640 x 480, I had to then position the moving image on the background. Once you do that, the Casio H10 plays the composited image for you, which is actually a set of 1,600 x 1,200 composited JPEGs (with the usual .JPG file extension).

Now that really was cool.

Not to mention a bit of a surprise when I transferred the first of the Casio H10's images from the card to a computer and found I had a lot more than I thought. Each sequence was 20 images and each dynamic photo was another 20. So there were 40 images for every dynamic photo I took.

Do you need a tripod to hold the Casio H10 still? Well, it makes it easier, but this isn't a magic trick that requires expensive props. It's a gag. And you can do it pretty well if you just have a blank background and hold the camera in the same position for both the sequence and the reference shot.

Click to view movie. FLV player required.

Dynamic Photo. A 48 KB Flash movie created on Casio's Dynamic Studio site. (Flash Movie player or plugin required.)

And what do you do with those 20 or 40 JPEGs after they've left the Casio H10? You upload them to Dynamic Studio, Casio's free service for building and converting Dynamic Photos into FLV, MPEG1/MP4, MOV, GIF, or 3GPP/3GPP2 files.

If you upload the JPE images, you can overlay them on a pastel background. If you upload the composited JPG images, you can build the movie you saw in Playback mode.

You can convert the composited images yourself, of course (and even add audio, something the service doesn't offer). Adobe Flash Player (at least version 9) is required to upload images or view movies. You can also download the converted movies, which is a good idea because the movies are only stored on the server for 30 days.

I used the default shooting settings on my first Dynamic Photo, but you have options. Press the Set button to select between a 20 fps one-second sequence, a 10 fps two second sequence, a 5 fps four-second sequence or a still subject. You only get 20 frames for any of the moving options, but they can be spaced out over more time. It is a nice option, though to have the still subject, too.

Casio has also provided some moving clip art you can composite with a background of your own. The collection includes a party popper, bouquet, heart, dinosaur, Teddy bear, witch, stars, and fireball. These are libraries of 20 JPE images you'll have to unzip on your computer after download and then copy to an SD card. The card should have been formatted in the Casio H10 so you can copy the 100SOZAI folder into the DCIM folder on the card.

Make-Up Mode. Another thing your cellphone can't do that the Casio H10 can is get into mirror mode and let you touch up your makeup. Even the sunvisor in the passenger seat of your car can do that, though. So why not your Casio H10?

Instead of putting a mirror finish on the LCD, the Casio H10 offers a Make-Up mode that starts by recognizing the faces in the image, but doesn't stop there. It does a little retouching, too, making "adjustments to smooth skin in images and soften facial shadows caused by sunlight, creating beautiful photographs of people's faces. The photographer can choose from one of twelve levels of skin beauty using different strengths of image processing, and can shoot after viewing the results in the LCD monitor."

Casio clearly thinks this is as important as the ISO setting or EV compensation, so the Casio H10 has a button dedicated to it, suitably encased in chrome and embossed with little stars or sparkles. The Casio H10's Make-up button will enable a little post-processing that we found did in fact smooth even my leathery skin (as if I'd taken the trouble every night all these long years to plaster my face with cold cream), and eliminate the dark bags under my eyes (from writing this stuff on tight deadlines).

And, yes, the retouched me was still recognizable.

Landscaping. Living through yet another summer full of fog, I found the Casio H10's Landscape button (also chrome) intriguing because it offered two modes: Vivid mode and Mist Removal mode, both in two levels (+1 or +2, accessible when you enable the feature with the chrome button and then hit Set to adjust it).

You might think Vivid mode just boosts saturation like most Landscape Scene modes. But Casio says the H10 actually does high-speed image analysis to enhance only "the hues of an image registered by the human brain." That's supposed to give you a more "striking" image, although my brain registers plenty of hues, especially before breakfast.

Mist Removal takes advantage of the same high-speed processing to fiddle with contrast. It's a far cry from using a polarizing filter (you won't see what you see from behind your Oakleys) but it helps. More cameras should offer it.

Samples of both are on the Casio site as well as the gallery.

More. There are a couple of other features we found worth noting on the Casio H10, like Auto Best Shot and Handheld Night Scene mode. They're worth highlighting because Casio has given them non-standard names so you just might miss them, especially when comparing cameras.

Auto Best Shot, for example, usually goes by the name of intelligent Scene mode. But Casio calls Scenes by the name Best Shot (and has a Best Shot button instead of a Scene mode to make it clear). In fact, Casio has 38 Scene modes (or Best Shot options), so the Casio H10 is no slouch when it comes to Scene modes. Auto Best Shot can figure out if you're shooting a Portrait, Scenery (Landscape), Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Flower (Macro), or Sports scene and automatically set the camera as if you'd selected that Scene mode from the Casio H10's Best Shot menu.

The real question with intelligent Auto modes is how fast they recognize the situation. Do they, in other words, slow you down? Are they, ahem, worse than shutter lag?

It was hard to tell with the Casio H10, frankly, because sometimes it would report what it had set up and sometimes not. I always heard it grinding away, though, in a way it doesn't do until you half-press the Shutter button in Auto mode. So I didn't wait for a report (which often never came anyway, perhaps because the Scene was the same). In short, the Casio H10's Auto Best Mode didn't get in the way -- and it was nice to have for Macro shots. Except it limits your shooting options to Image Size, Flash, and Self-Timer settings.

There's also a Multi-motion Image Scene mode that looked intriguing but in the brief time I had to play with the Casio H10, I wasn't able to get it to fly. The concept is interesting, though. You stabilize the Casio H10 and press the Shutter button as a moving subject crosses the frame. Instead of taking one exposure of the scene, the Casio H10 opens the shutter several times, catching what would be a stop-motion image in video but compositing it into one still frame. So your subject would appear several times, crossing the frame. You've probably seen this done with flash against a dark background. A dancer, or a basketball shot.

I tried it two ways. The first was just traffic at an intersection. The Casio H10 complained that it couldn't register the image. Apparently the background has to be simple (like a sky). The second was at the ballpark where I thought I might catch a 95 mph fastball with it. Nope. The Casio H10 didn't complain, but, like the batter, it didn't see the ball either. I looked in vain for a seagull circling overhead, but the sky was full of interesting clouds that day.

One Thousand Shots. You might just think that kind of workload would explain why the battery in the Casio H10 is so large. It's a good bit bigger than any compact digicam battery we've recently recharged, but the real reason is simple. The Casio H10 can take, Casio says, about 1,000 shots before a recharge, which is about three times more capacity than other digicams.

And that, fans, is using CIPA's strict testing standards that require zooming before each shot and firing the flash half the time. You know, stuff you don't routinely do. So you can expect even more shots from one charge of that large Casio H10 battery.

Of course the 11 hours of continuous playback can be eaten up with those Dynamic Photos and showing off the smooth skin of your Make-up mode self portraits pretty quickly, too.

But if you're going to saddle people with a large lithium-ion battery, you might as well make it worth their while.

Lens. The Casio H10 may be compact but it packs a 10x optical zoom that starts off at a refreshingly wide angle of 24mm before topping out at 240mm in 35mm equivalents.

That's a pretty wide-angle view, which means you can get some dramatic (and amusing) distortions close up or just capture the whole room from one corner to the other.

But it's also a pretty generous optical range at 10x. Casio isn't the first to offer a 10x compact, but while the herd is happy with 3x and the occasional 5x, it's nice to see a compact go as far as 10x. No one ever had too much optical zoom.

With 11 elements in 10 groups (including an aspherical lens), the Casio H10 zoom has a maximum aperture of f/3.2 at wide angle and f/5.7 at telephoto. Minimum aperture is f/7.5. Add the 4x digital zoom and the EX-10 can stretch 40x from its 24mm starting point. And you can focus on a subject just 2.8 inches from the lens in Macro mode at wide angle.

Sensor-shift image stabilization means that the Casio H10 will deliver more sharp pictures at those long focal lengths. But it also promises good shots with very low shutter speeds in dim light.

Design. In other respects the Casio H10 is pretty conventional. It's a little thick to be an ultracompact, but it isn't much larger, really, and it does have a 10x zoom. The two-tone body hides the thickness nicely.

The chrome that does the hiding looks a bit retro on the front, curving around the top corner to swallow the flash. The brushed nickel rim around the 10x lens is a nice design element.

The speaker is on the bottom of the Casio H10 to get the benefit of bouncing the sound off whatever you sit the camera on, a nice touch. The plastic tripod mount is right next to it, with the hinge to the battery compartment tucked right up alongside it. The chrome frame has a plastic cover for the USB/AV port on the right side of the camera.

On the back panel, the 3.0-inch Super Clear LCD has 230,400 pixels in a 960 x 240 resolution.

Which leaves us with just the buttons and other controls to describe.

Controls. On the top panel, the large Shutter button is ringed by the Zoom lever, which zooms quickly and smoothly enough to refine your composition.

To the left of that combination is a recessed but not miniscule Power button. I had no trouble turning the Casio H10 on or off because it was easy enough to find and large enough for my finger to actually press. Power buttons seem to be the least considered aspect of digicam design. I'm glad to report the Casio H10 has a usable one.

On the far left of the Casio H10's top panel are the two chrome buttons dedicated to the Landscape Vivid/Mist Removal feature and Make-Up mode.

There's no Mode dial on the Casio H10 but there are two Mode buttons on the back panel just above the four-way navigator. The top one takes you into Record mode and the bottom one Playback. Either of these also power the Casio H10 on, but only the Power button can power it off.

Below the Casio H10's four-way navigator are two more buttons: the Menu button for major camera settings and the Best Shot button to select a Scene mode.

In the top right corner of the Casio H10's back panel is the Movie button. Press it any time you're in Record mode and you'll be capturing video. I found it a bit awkward to use. It's as small as the Power button, not as large as the Shutter, and tucked into the corner, inside where your thumb rests. So you're trading a little stability to find and press it. Not how you want to start a movie capture.

Settings for the various Record modes are available via the Set button in the middle of the four-way navigator, which brings up a menu along the right side of the LCD with the active options.

The four-way navigator itself assigns the Up button to toggle through the Display options on the LCD and the Down button to cycle through the Flash modes and function as Erase in Playback.

The Left/Right buttons can be set up to set the Metering, EV Shift, White Balance, ISO, Self-Timer, or simply be disabled. The Record menu L/R Key option determines their behavior.

Modes. The Casio H10 features 38 Scenes in Best Shot mode. Ready? They are: Auto, Auto Best Shot, Dynamic Photo, Portrait, Scenery, Portrait with Scenery, Self-Portrait (one person), Self-Portrait (two people), Children, Sports, Candlelight Portrait, Party, Pet, Flower, Natural Green, Autumn Leaves, Soft Flowing Water, Splashing Water, Sundown, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Fireworks, Food, Text, Collection (to shoot your collectables), For eBay, Backlight, High Sensitivity, Monochrome, Retro (sepia with low contrast), Twilight, Multi-motion Image, ID Photo (multi-image ID photos), Business Cards, and Documents, White Board, Silent (video that imitates silent movie film), For YouTube, and Voice Recording. Additionally, you can Register User Scene.

The Best Shot video styles complement the Auto Movie capture which offers 720p HD recording at 24 fps as well as 640 x 480 at 30 fps with a 320 x 240 at 15 fps LP mode as well. Movie mode only supports digital zoom toward telephoto, effectively cropping the image, lowering the resolution.

You can use the Casio H10's optical zoom to compose the first frame. Be sure to use a 4:3 aspect ratio for standard video or 16:9 for HD because there's no Movie mode to let you compose before recording. You just record.

Click to view movie. AVI player required.

HD 720 Movie. A 30.4MB file lasting 11 seconds. Optical zoom is not supported. (Click to download AVI file.)

When you press the Casio H10's Movie button to start recording, you can use digital zoom to zoom in only. Once zoomed in, you can zoom back out. You can't zoom out from the optically set zoom position. Optical zoom is disabled once video recording begins.

You do get monaural sound from the Casio H10's videos.

Oddly missing from the list of 38 Scene modes is Handheld Night Scene. I really liked this feature on the FC100. It composites a set of images taken rapidly when you press the Shutter button, reducing noise and keeping blur to a minimum. There was nothing like it on the Casio H10 sample I had.

Menu System. Because you can record or playback either stills or movies, the Casio H10's Menu button includes options for both stills and movies. That was, for some reason, a bit confusing at first.

To set Movie mode to record HD video, for example, you have to press the Set button and slide over to the Quality tab to find the Movie resolutions. Which sounds simple, but if you're shooting stills, you expect the Quality tab to just have the Casio H10's still options and so you look around for a Mode dial to make sure you have Movie mode options.

The Set button accesses the recording settings displayed alongside the right side of the LCD, including still image size (and aspect ratio), Flash mode, Autofocus mode, Lighting, ISO, Continuous Shutter, Face Detection (Make-Up and Landscaping, too), EV, and Date/Time display.

To select a Best Shot mode, you press the BS button. To capture a movie, just press the Movie button.

Storage & Battery. The Casio EX-H10 uses SDHC or SD memory cards, and has 35.7MB of built-in memory. Casio notes that the camera is compatible with the WiFi Eye-Fi Card as well. A 1GB card will hold about 122 high quality still images and capture an HD movie of 5 minutes 27 seconds. Clips can be as long as 4GB. To handle the demands of HD recording, a high speed SD card is recommended, as always.

The Casio H10 is powered by an NP-90 rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Using CIPA testing standards, Casio reports a capacity of about 1,000 still images (roughly three times the usual number) or 11 hours of playback. Additionally, the battery capacity is capable of continuous voice recording of up to 21 hours and 30 minutes.

And an AC adapter is available as an optional accessory.

Shooting. I took the Casio H10 out for a walk one afternoon and spent another afternoon with it at the Oakland Coliseum where the local nine were trying to sweep the Texas Rangers.

Two things immediately struck me about the Casio H10 on my walk.

The first was that the 24mm wide-angle lens let us include things in the frame I just wasn't used to seeing with a 28mm or 35mm wide angle. The image shot under the scaffolding is one example. Normally, I wouldn't have been able to see the start of the boards directly above us.

The second was that normally a 10x could get me nearly anywhere, but the wide-angle start of 24mm left me feeling like I was coming up short. Compared to a 10x zoom that starts at 35mm that's true, because that lens's maximum telephoto would be 350mm, whereas the Casio H10 only gets to 240mm.

So I dabbled quite a bit with the Casio H10's digital zoom on my walk. Until I saw what it looked like when I got back to the bunker. Not pleased with the results, I avoided it for the most part the next day at the Coliseum. I did use it for a few shots, though, because I had to.

On my walk I was blessed with an unusually clear day. But I had some distant landscapes that I tried the Landscaping options with. I used both +1 and +2 settings and was disappointed in the results from both. The sky colors were just unreal. In fact any distant feature (like mountains) lost their subtlety. Buildings looked a bit clearer, but the Landscaping feature really wasn't ready for prime time and avoided it.

One thing I really did enjoy with the 24mm lens was Macro shooting. At that focal length a little distortion is added to the image, which makes for some fun. You can avoid the distortion by zooming in, though, so it isn't forced on you.

At the ballpark, there's no substitute for good seats, and I had nice ones. The Casio H10's 10x range was pretty good for most shots. And the camera's response in Auto mode was good enough I really wasn't tempted to switch to Sports mode. Of course, I was watching baseball but I got a play at the plate in Auto.

Battery life was excellent with the Casio H10, even though I was showing off the shots and running slide shows of the day's events quite a bit.

I did manage to observe one situation in which the Casio H10 just hung up, but it really wasn't the camera's fault. I was back at the bunker and had started a slide show. I passed the camera off and somewhere in the middle of the show the news arrived that the show had frozen. Indeed it had. I pulled the battery (none of the buttons were responding) to restore functionality.

The culprit was my network. I had used an Eye-Fi WiFi SD card in the Casio H10, and it was trying to transmit images to my laptop, which was not paying any attention, having gone to sleep.

The Casio H10 is Eye-Fi compatible, meaning it won't power down so the card can transmit images. A small icon shows up in the corner of the LCD to indicate the presence of an Eye-Fi card. Other sessions in which I used the card caused no problems.

 

Casio EX-H10 Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center.
Wide: Soft in upper left.
Tele: Sharp at center.
Tele: Softest at upper left corner.

Sharpness: The Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-H10's wide angle and telephoto settings produced moderate blurring in the corners of the frame, though blurring doesn't extend very far in toward the center of the image.


Wide: Low barrel distortion; slightly noticeable
Tele: Low pincushion distortion, slightly noticeable

Geometric Distortion: The Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-H10's lens shows lower than average barrel distortion (0.4%) at wide-angle, and a low amount of pincushion distortion (0.1%) at telephoto as well. At both settings, distortion is just slightly noticeable on certain subjects.


Wide: Moderate and bright
Tele: Also moderate and bright

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle and telephoto is moderate in terms of pixel count, but fairly bright.


Standard Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-H10's standard Macro mode captures a sharp image with only mild blurring in the far corners. Minimum coverage area is 2.99 x 2.24 inches (76 x 57 mm). Exposure is bright with external lighting, but enabling the flash results in a very dark exposure, probably a response to the strong reflection in the brooch.


 

Casio EX-H10 Image Quality


Color: The Casio EX-H10 produces good overall color, with pretty good saturation and hue accuracy. Strong blues and darker greens are the most saturated, while most other colors appear either almost spot-on accurate or just slightly muted. Some color shifts are noticeable in the magenta tones, which are pushed toward red, cyans, which are pushed toward blue, and reds, which are pushed toward orange. However, general hue accuracy is within acceptable parameters. That said, dark skin tones are pushed toward green, but lighter tones have just a hint of red.


64
100
200
400
 
800
1,600
3,200

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is a hint soft at ISO 64, though blurring doesn't become noticeable until ISO 200. By ISO 400, chroma noise is just becoming visible, though what's more noticeable is luminance noise, as well as strong noise suppression efforts. At ISOs 800 and above, the effects of image noise are quite strong, so that all fine detail is obliterated by ISO 3,200, and images look more like they're being viewed through fogged glass.


Wide: Bright
Tele: Dim
Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) shows good intensity at Casio's rating of 11.5 feet, though the camera increased the ISO to 400 here. The telephoto test also came out bright at 6.5 feet, though again, the camera raised the ISO to 400. Thus, the Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-H10's flash will be sufficient in most situations if you stay within the manufacturer's distance ratings.

Auto WB: Good, slightly warm
Incandescent WB: Also good, slightly reddish
 
Manual WB: A hint warm, but the most natural of the three

Incandescent: All three of the Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-H10's white balance settings that we tested actually performed much better than average under Incandescent lighting. The Manual setting turned in the best results, though both Auto and Incandescent modes were very close.


Printed: ISO 64 shots look quite good printed at 16x20 inches, usable for wall display, though with slight softening in the far corners. 13x19-inch prints look even better. ISO 100 shots likewise look fine at 16x20 inches. Detail starts to degrade at ISO 200, making 13x19-inch prints preferable. More dramatic change starts at ISO 400, whose prints suffer from very soft detail among low-contrast elements at 11x14, looking better at 8x10. ISO 800 shots are acceptable at 8x10, but low contrast detail is again quite blurred. ISO 1,600 shots are soft, with a hazy glow at 4x6, but usable. ISO 3,200 shots are too soft even for 4x6, but might be usable for small Web posting. You're better off using the Casio H10 at ISO 200 or lower, making only smaller prints with ISO 400 and up. The Casio H10 a good performer overall, as it's certainly not unusual for cameras to lose detail as ISO rises, but it's not the best low light camera we've seen.


 

Casio EX-H10 Performance


Shutter lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is good, at 0.56 second at wide angle and 0.91 second at full telephoto. The camera's "Quick Shutter" mode tested at 0.35 second. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.007 second, exceptionally fast.


Cycle time: Cycle time is on the slower side, capturing a frame every 3.37 seconds in single-shot mode. A 10 frame-per-second Continuous mode captured 20 frames at a zippy 0.10-second interval, but only at 1280 x 960 pixels.


Flash Recycle: The Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-H10's flash recycles in a somewhat slow 6.8 seconds after a full-power discharge.


 

Casio H10 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Solid, attractive build
  • 24mm wide-angle lens
  • 10x zoom
  • 3-inch LCD
  • 12-megapixel sensor with low noise at lower ISOs
  • Good small grip out front
  • Face detection
  • 1,000-shot battery life, 11 hours playback
  • Dynamic photo mode allows overlay of animation on a still image
  • Auto Best Shot mode selects the best Scene mode for each shot
  • Low distortion for a long telephoto
  • Good Macro mode
  • Good, well-balanced color
  • Excellent printed results at lower ISO settings
  • Good flash performance
  • Auto white balance does well in tungsten lighting
  • Good shutter lag at wide-angle
  • Very fast prefocus shutter lag
  • 35 Scene modes include Business card, Whiteboard, and ebay modes are unique
  • Buttons are easy to press accidentally
  • Camera is somewhat thick and heavy
  • Wide-angle end leaves telephoto at only 240mm
  • Digital zoom quality is poor
  • Landscape mode isn't ready for prime-time
  • Camera only zooms digitally in video mode
  • Menu is confusing at first
  • Image corners are slightly soft
  • Moderate, bright chromatic aberration
  • Slow shot-to-shot time
  • Slower autofocus at telephoto
  • Slow flash recycle

Compact enough to take anywhere with a wide-ranging zoom and HD video capture, the Casio H10 really doesn't need any gimmicks to stand out from the crowd. But it has them. Dynamic Photo was fun but not something that will lead to a career, Landscape mode could go back to the drawing board, Make-up mode will endear you to your aging relatives, and there are Best Shot scene modes for just about any situation.

Image quality for this 12.1 megapixel camera was very good in general with accurate color and good contrast. Digitally zoomed shots were the one disappointment, which is also not a surprise. Lens quality is rather good, with reasonable corner sharpness for the focal length range. You have to decide, though, if you want the 24mm wide angle or would rather have a longer telephoto on this 10x lens. We wouldn't call that a disadvantage as much as a choice. Auto White Balance does a decent job with tungsten lighting, and autofocus speed is about average for the long-zoom category. Time between shots is a bit slow, as is flash recycle time. Printed results are impressive up to ISO 400, where they rather abruptly degrade. This, too, is about average performance, with a high grade at the lower ISO settings.

Casio is famous for some clever photo tricks and the Casio H10 has at least one new trick, but we'd have given it a Dave's Pick anyway for its good optical and image quality.