Casio EX-S600 Review

 
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Casio EXILIM EX-S600 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Good overall color, with pretty good saturation and hue accuracy.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.
Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Casio Exilim EX-S600 does oversaturate the strong reds and some blues a little, but results are still pleasing. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. Here, the EX-S600 performed fairly well, though skin tones were a hint flat in some cases.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Though the EX-S600 often pushed cyan toward blue and red toward orange, overall color was pretty good, especially in green tones.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Nearly accurate color with the Manual white balance setting. Less than average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance +0.7 EV Incandescent WB +0.7 EV
 
Manual White Balance +0.7 EV  

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was a little warm with the Auto white balance setting, and slightly magenta with the Incandescent option. With Manual, however, results were much closer to accurate. The Casio Exilim EX-S600 required less than the average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at only +0.7 EV. Overall color looks just about right, though the blue flowers are a bit dark and purplish. (Many digital cameras have trouble here, but results are still good overall.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Bright colors overall, though high contrast under harsh lighting. Slightly better than average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Casio Exilim EX-S600 produced very high contrast images, with hot highlights and deep shadows. The camera's lower contrast settings were very subtle, and really didn't help matters much at all under harsh lighting like the shots above. Both shadow and highlight detail were limited. Overall color, however, is pretty good, with generally good saturation.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
Moderately high resolution, 900 ~ 1000 lines of strong detail.

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 900 lines per picture height (though you could argue for 1,000 lines horizontally), with extinction at around 1,300. Artifacts were visible as low as 800 lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail. Beware that while you might be able to make out what look like distinct lines at numbers higher than those we've mentioned here, the camera is just doing its best to continue interpreting the lines. So the lines you see at 1,200 and higher are really only artifacts generated by the camera's imaging system.

Strong detail to
900~1,000 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
900 lines vertical

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Reasonably sharp images overall, though some edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits detail in the shadows.

Fair definition of high-contrast elements, though with visible edge enhancement and mushy details. Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the darker parts of Marti's hair here. A dramatically watercolor, or painting-like appearance.

The Casio Exilim EX-S600 captures fairly sharp images, albeit with some visible edge enhancement artifacts on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.) In the leaves, bricks, and even the needles and branches in the background, the tonal handling results in a more paint-like effect however.

Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop above right shows this, with darker areas of Marti's hair showing limited detail. In addition to the noise suppression, some image noise is also getting in the way of detail definition.

ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate to high noise at the normal sensitivity settings, and very high noise at the highest settings.

ISO 50 ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400

Noise levels are moderate to high at the Exilim EX-S600's lower sensitivity settings, with some blurring in the fine details. At ISO 200 and 400, noise is much higher, with strong blurring.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
Fairly high resolution with good overall detail, but high contrast and limited shadow detail. Pretty good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and slightly darker conditions.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight:
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

The Casio Exilim EX-S600 produced very high contrast with washed-out highlights and deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above. Noise suppression is visible in the shadows, as well as strong noise, contributing to the loss of detail there. I chose the +0.7 EV exposure, despite hot highlights. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
50
Click to see EXS6LL0503.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL0504.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL0505.JPG
4 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL0506.JPG
4 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL0507.JPG
4 sec
f2.7
ISO
100
Click to see EXS6LL1003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL1004.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL1005.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL1006.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL1007.JPG
4 sec
f2.7
ISO
200
Click to see EXS6LL2003.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL2004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL2005.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL2006.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL2007.JPG
2 sec
f2.7
ISO
400
Click to see EXS6LL4003.JPG
1/8 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL4004.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL4005.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL4006.JPG
1 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6LL4007.JPG
1 sec
f2.7

Low light:
The Casio Exilim EX-S600 captured bright images down to the 1/2 foot-candle light level (about 1/2 as bright as average city street lighting at night) at the lowest ISO settings. Though at ISO 400, images were bright to about 1/4 foot-candle. The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to just above the 1/4 foot-candle light level with its AF assist light turned off, and down to the lowest light level with the AF assist. Do keep in mind though, that the longer shutter times necessary here absolutely demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Flash

Coverage and Range
Fairly dim exposures at the default exposure setting, about average positive exposure compensation required. Pretty good range though.

38mm equivalent 114mm equivalent
Normal Flash +1.0 EV Slow-Sync Flash +0.7 EV

Flash coverage was slightly uneven at wide angle, and still a little uneven at telephoto. Indoors, under incandescent background lighting, the Casio Exilim EX-S600's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get bright results. The camera's Night Portrait mode produced a more balanced exposure, and required less positive compensation at +0.7 EV. However, the longer exposure resulted in an orange color cast from the background incandescent lighting.

Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft
Click to see EXS6FL06W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6FL07W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6FL08W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6FL09W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.7
Click to see EXS6FL10W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.7
16 ft
Click to see EXS6FL16W.JPG
1/60 sec
f2.7

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft
Click to see EXS6FL06T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.2
Click to see EXS6FL07T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.2
Click to see EXS6FL08T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.2
Click to see EXS6FL09T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.2
Click to see EXS6FL10T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.2
16 ft
Click to see EXS6FL16T.JPG
1/60 sec
f5.2

At wide angle, the EX-S600's flash was bright and powerful to about 16 feet. At telephoto, the flash was brightest only to about eight feet before decreasing in intensity.

Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide Angle Telephoto
Click to see EXS6FL_MFR092WAXXXX.JPG
9.2 feet
Auto ISO
Click to see EXS6FL_MFR046TAXXXX.JPG
4.6 feet
Auto ISO

Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims. In the shots above, the EX-S600 performs to Casio's specifications, producing bright exposures at the rated distances with its ISO set to Auto.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Mediocre print quality, somewhat muted color, good 8x10 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 5x7; higher ISO shots are only passable even at 4x6.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

With the Casio EX-S600, we found that it had enough resolution to make good looking 8x10 inch prints. At 11x14, its prints were softer looking, just out of the realm of wall acceptability unless a simple subject fills the frame. At high ISO, image noise levels are too high beyond ISO 200, with ISO 400 and beyond essentially unusable above 4x6. It's really not the best performance we've seen, but understandable given the camera's small size.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Casio EXILIM CARD EX-S600 Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Casio EXILIM CARD EX-S600 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

Casio EX-S600

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