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Quick Review

Casio Exilim PRO EX-P505 Digital Camera

 

Camera QuickLook
By
Mike Tomkins, Shawn Barnett, & Dave Etchells
Review Date
07/26/2005
User Level
Novice to experienced amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
digital camera Design
Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Good, 5.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
11x17s or 8x10s with heavy cropping
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
(At introduction)
$349.99

Introduction

Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Sample Pictures
Specifications
Conclusion

The Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505 is one of the latest offerings from a company with a long history of innovation in the digital camera field. They promise the "Unexpected Extra" in their products, and the Casio EX-P505 lives up to that billing. It's quite compact, with a spy-like stealthy feel. While something of a novelty camera, the Casio Exilim EX-P505 is a great "bring along" camera with a large zoom for casual outings, business, or vacation trips. Whether it deserves the PRO moniker will be seen in the test results below. Read on below for all the details on the Casio EX-P505!

 

Camera Overview

Though it looks like one of the many new long zoom digital cameras currently on the market, Casio's EX-P505 Zoom is a lot smaller; certainly smaller than it looks in pictures. It is Palm-size, though it has a big protrusion due to its internally-zooming 5x lens. Measuring 3.88 x 2.19 x 2.89 inches (98.5 x 55.6 x 73.4 millimeters) and weighing just 8.7 ounces (247 grams) with the battery and SD memory card, the EX-P505 is not suited for anything but jacket pockets and handbags, but it's still pretty small for a 5x zoom. As such, it's great for travel. A cap covers the lens, which can be tethered to the camera with the included strap. The lens is the same length whether closed or open, which should make it less vulnerable to impact damage. If set properly, it can also be quick on the draw (Memory settings return the lens to the default zoom and focus position, which can take more time; setting these to off speeds operation up considerably). With its 5.0-megapixel CCD, you can capture high resolution images, good for printing as large as 11x17 inches, or 8x10 inches with some cropping.

The Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505 features a 5x, 6.3 - 31.5mm lens, equivalent to a 38 - 190mm lens on a 35mm camera. Maximum aperture ranges from f/3.3 to f/3.6, depending on the zoom position, and can be controlled automatically or manually. Focus covers a range from 15.75 inches (40 centimeters) to infinity in normal shooting mode, with a Macro range from 0.39 to 19.7 inches (1 to 50 centimeters). The Casio EX-P505 offers both manual and automatic focus control, and features Infinity and Pan Focus settings as well. The Pan Focus option simply ties the focus to the zoom position, so that you can quickly snap an image without waiting on the autofocus to set. It essentially establishes a zone of focus, whose dimensions are shown when you press the shutter halfway. In manual focus mode, the central portion of the image is enlarged 2x as an aid to focusing. The P505 is one of the few cameras I've seen where this method actually seems to work. An AF Area option under the Record menu sets the AF point to Spot, Multi, or Free, with the Multi setting automatically choosing the focus point from one of seven AF points arrayed in the center of the frame, and Free allowing the user to move the AF point around the entire screen. A maximum of 8x digital zoom is available in addition to the optical zoom, effectively increasing the zoom capabilities to 40x. Keep in mind, however, that digital zoom always decreases the overall image quality because it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image.

For composing your shots, the Casio EX-P505 features a flip-out 2.0-inch, TFT color LCD monitor (which takes up most of the back panel and flips out 180 degrees and rotates 270 degrees). The LCD monitor reports basic camera setting information, including camera mode, the number of available images, focus mode, date and time, and battery power, among various other mode information. Additionally, it reports the selected aperture and shutter speed, whenever the Shutter button is halfway pressed. The Display button not only controls the amount of information on the LCD display, but also enables a small histogram for checking exposure. Through the Record menu, you can enable a Grid option that divides the image area into thirds, horizontally and vertically, making it easier to line up the shots. There's also a "target" mode that displays much more information with dramatic flare.

The Casio EX-P505 offers automatic exposure control, which keeps things simple for novice users, but also includes Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, as well as full Manual control for more sophisticated photographers. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 60 seconds, with the available range depending on the exposure mode. An On/Off button on top of the camera powers the camera on, and the Mode Dial on top controls the operating mode. To determine exposure, the camera uses a multi-pattern metering system, which takes exposure readings from areas throughout the frame and then determines the best overall exposure, or the user can switch to center-weighted or spot metering. You can increase or decrease the exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments, either by pressing the right and left arrow keys in Record mode, or through an option in the LCD menu. An ISO adjustment offers an Auto setting, as well as 50, 100, 200, and 400 equivalent settings. White Balance options include Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Incandescent, Flash, and Manual settings, which handle most lighting conditions. Image sharpness, contrast, and saturation options are also available.

The EX button on the side of the lens barrel brings up something like a function menu that accesses White Balance, ISO, Metering, and AF area settings in a hurry.

Along with the complete manual control, the Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505 offers 22 preset "scenes" for specific shooting situations, through the Best Shot mode option of the Record menu. Scene modes include Portrait, Scenery, Portrait with Scenery, Children, Sports, Candlelight Portrait, Party, Pet, Flower, Natural Green, Soft Flowing Water, Splashing Water, Sundown, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Fireworks, Food, Text, Collection, Monochrome, Retro (sepia), Twilight, and Register User Scene (which lets you register favorite settings and save them as a preset).

The Casio EX-P505 also features Movie and Audio modes. The Audio Snapshot mode records audio to accompany a still image, for up to thirty seconds per image. Movie mode records moving images with sound for as long as the memory card or internal memory has space. Movies are recorded at 640 x 480, 30 frames-per-second in either HQ or Normal rates, and 320 x 240-pixel, 15fps setting. You can add short audio clips to captured images through the Record and Playback menus. Some of the "Unexpected Extras" Casio promises are here in video mode, including Playback zoom, which allows you to zoom in on videos while playing them back. On-Camera movie editing provides basic editing, and Motion Print allows printing of movie frames, with one big one in the middle and the four before and after appearing on a filmstrip above and below the image. There are also Best Shot modes for movies, including Portrait, Scenery, Night Scene, Fireworks, and Silent.

A Self-Timer mode provides either a two- or 10-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and when the camera actually takes the picture, allowing you to get into your own shots. An X3 Self-Timer setting takes three consecutive self-timer images in rapid succession, with a 10-second shutter delay before the first. The camera's flash operates in either Auto, Off, On, or Red-Eye Reduction modes, and features an intensity adjustment. The EX-P505 also features a Flash Assist option, which digitally brightens underexposed flash shots.

Two Memory controls allow the camera to return to the last used Focus and Zoom settings. This can significantly slow power up time, however, so we recommend that this be turned off until needed (it's on by default).

The Casio EX-P505 stores images on SD / MMC memory cards, and also has a paltry 7.5 megabytes of internal memory. Since the camera does not come with a memory card, there's no choice but to buy at least a 128- or 256-megabyte card at purchase so you won't miss any shots due to lack of memory space. A BC-30L external charger comes with the camera, and plugs in via two swing out prongs. The camera also has a DC-In terminal for using the camera in one place for long periods of time. Since the EX-P505 does not accommodate AA batteries in any form, I also highly recommend picking up an additional NP-40 battery pack and keeping it freshly charged. A software CD loaded with multi-language Casio Digital Camera Software and a detailed instruction manual comes with the camera, and provides minor editing tools and image organization utilities, plus ULEAD Movie Editor SE. I applaud the inclusion of an electronic version of the manual, but really think that not including a full printed instruction manual with cameras is a disservice to consumers; the printed multi-language Basic Reference is insufficient at best.

Basic Features

  • 5.0-megapixel CCD.
  • Large, articulating 2.0-inch color TFT LCD monitor.
  • Glass, 5x, 6.3-31.5mm, equivalent to a 38-190mm lens on a 35mm camera.
  • 8x digital zoom.
  • Automatic and Manual exposure controls, plus 22 innovative preset Scene modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to 60 seconds.
  • Maximum aperture of f/3.3 to f/3.6, depending on lens zoom position.
  • Built-in flash with four modes.
  • SD/MMC memory card storage, though card not included.
  • 7.5 megabytes of internal memory.
  • Power supplied by one NP-40 Long Life rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack.
  • 2 Software CDs loaded with Casio Digital Camera Software and instruction manual for Macintosh or PC.
  • USB connection for quick download of images to a computer, or prints from a PictBridge-compatible printer.

Special Features

  • Movie with sound mode.
  • After-capture audio record mode.
  • Playback zoom.
  • Motion print mode.
  • Flash assist option.
  • Two- or 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release, plus Triple Self-Timer mode.
  • Macro lens setting.
  • Auto Macro mode.
  • Manual focus, Pan Focus, and Infinity fixed-focus settings, with an adjustable AF area.
  • Saturation, Contrast, and Sharpness settings.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with six modes, including a manual (custom) option.
  • Sensitivity adjustment with four ISO equivalents and an Auto setting.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.

Recommendation

Though unusual, the Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505 should be popular for the gadget lover. The camera's point-and-shoot style should appeal to novices, while the manual and 23 preset shooting modes give the camera more exposure versatility than most standard point-and-shoot designs. A 5.0-megapixel CCD delivers high quality images, good for printing or distributing via email, though noise suppression tends to flatten out subtle detail a little, even at low ISO, and even there's more noise left in the images than with many competing models. The 5x optical zoom lens offers more creative options than the 3x zooms on many cameras, giving you the ability to tightly frame your subject for a photo, even if you can't get physically get very near. The large tilt/swivel LCD display helps you frame subjects from unusual angles, although the lack of an optical viewfinder may be offputting to some potential buyers. An excellent choice for advanced amateurs, the Casio EX-P505's high resolution, powerful lens and well-rounded feature set should also appeal to more experienced photographers looking for a second camera to complement their digital SLR.

 

Design

Small, compact, and always ready to shoot, the new Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505 digital camera is fun, user-friendly, and a sure bet for consumers with active lifestyles and a gadgety sensibility. Its "just-what-you-need" styling is free from any extreme protrusions or excessive controls, and the lens is fixed in its solid housing, so the mechanism inside is far less likely to be damaged. Measuring 3.88 x 2.19 x 2.89 inches (98.5 x 55.6 x 73.4 millimeters), the EX-P505 fits well in jacket pockets and mid-size handbags. With the battery and memory card, the Casio EX-P505 weighs just 8.7 ounces (247 grams). Because the small size might be a little difficult for larger hands to hold onto, a beefy wrist strap is included for security if the camera slips through your fingers. The camera's lens cap can be tethered to the camera. The body feels reasonably sturdy overall, although there is a little creak / flex to the panels, and the LCD display hinge has a little flex to it.

The front of the camera features only the lens, grip, and self-timer lamp. The lens does not come out, and features threads just inside the lip to accept the small lens hood. The grip is a decent one for the camera's size, though only two fingers can wrap around it.

The right side of the Casio Exilim EX-P505 features the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap. A rubber door opens to reveal the DC In jack and a USB/AV port.

The left side of the camera is mostly smooth, with only two buttons located on the side of the lens barrel. The Focus button is labelled with a flower symbol and located nearest to the front of the camera and cycles through the available focus modes. Directly alongside this button, the EX button displays the camera's shortcut menu when in any Record mode. Neither button has any function in Playback mode.

The top of the lens barrel is dominated by the pop-up flash, which automatically rises from the camera body as required. A gentle push with your fingertip lowers the flash again, and the mechanism is very smooth indeed - you can hardly feel the catch that locks the flash back down again. Behind the flash at the rear left of the camera's top panel, the Flash button cycles through the available flash modes. On the top of the pop-up flash (or the rear when it is raised), eight holes in two clusters mark the two halves of the camera's stereo microphone, and a further eighteen-hole grille to the left of the power button is the camera's speaker. When set to full volume, this speaker is surprisingly loud, making the camera's various audible cues easy to hear in most situations. Finally, wrapping around from the top rear of the lens barrel into the rear of the camera is the operation lamp, which can light either green or red to indicate a wide range of situations including power status, memory card access, focusing, flash charging, and more.

The Shutter is mounted out on the front of the grip at a comfortable angle, and is surrounded by the zoom ring. The mode dial is back in the right corner of the top panel, where it can be easily turned with the thumb.

The rest of the Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505's controls are on the rear panel, along with the 2.0 inch articulating LCD monitor. The display swivels out 180 degrees from the camera's rear, and swivels 270 degrees to up, down, forward or backward - offering great flexibility when framing photos. A Multi-controller is just right of the LCD monitor, with a Set button at its center. In addition to navigating menu screens, the Left and Right buttons of the Multi-Controller access a number of camera functions, depending on the setting of the "L/R Key" option in the Record menu. The Menu and Display buttons are left of the Multi-controller, both above and below. In Playback mode, the down arrow on the Multi-controller serves as the delete key.

The Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505's bottom panel is flat, featuring a plastic threaded tripod mount, the Cradle connector jack, and the memory card and battery compartment. A sliding door protects the memory card and battery compartment, and slides out before opening. Inside, the battery and SD/MMC card slots line up side by side. Though the battery compartment is too close to the tripod mount to allow quick battery changes while shooting with the camera on a tripod, I doubt this will be much of an issue with the camera's users, given the camera's highly portable design. A spring-loaded latch keeps the battery from falling free when the door is open.

 

Camera Operation

The EX-P505's user interface is straightforward, with only a few external controls and an easily navigable LCD menu system. For standard point-and-shoot operation, the most basic features such as flash, focus mode, and zoom are all accessible via external controls. An external mode dial controls the main operating modes, with choices including Playback and nine Record modes - Snapshot, Best Shot, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual Exposure, Past Movie, Short Movie, Movie Best Shot, and Movie modes. Three menus are available in any Record mode, and two are available in Playback, delineated by subject tabs at the top of the screen. The arrow keys of the Multi-Controller scroll through each selection, and the Set button in the center of the pad confirms any changes. It shouldn't take much more than half an hour to become familiar with the camera setup, even without the manual.

 

Record-Mode Display:
The EX-P505 has four Record mode displays, shown at right. The first displays the image area and a fairly comprehensive information overlay, including resolution and quality settings, flash mode, camera mode, etc., and the aperture and shutter speed whenever the Shutter button is halfway pressed. The second mode, called the EX Finder View, wouldn't look out of place on the space shuttle, covering most of the screen with a histogram, icons, and simulated dials and gauges, aiming to make it easy to identify key information on exposure variables quickly. (Personally, I found this display cluttered and rather difficult to use while framing images.) The third display mode is similar to the first, but adds a small histogram, for double-checking exposure. The fourth and final mode shows the image area only, with just the focus/exposure brackets displayed in the center of the screen. A Grid option under the Record menu enables a grid display that divides the image area into thirds, vertically and horizontally, for easier framing.

Playback-Mode Display
In Playback mode, you can use the EX-P505's zoom control to zoom in or out on an image, or show an index display of the captured images on the memory card. The Display button controls the level of information displayed over the image, and accesses a histogram display as well.

 

External Controls


Power Button
: This tiny silver button, located on the top panel next to the Mode button, turns the camera on or off.


Zoom Rocker
: To the right and in front of the Power button on top of the camera's handgrip, this rocker dial controls the camera's optical and digital zoom (if enabled) in any record mode, zooming in when pulled to the right, and out when pushed to the left. In Playback mode, moving this rocker to the telephoto position zooms into images to check fine details, and moving it back to the wide angle position zooms back out. If the full image is displayed, tapping the rocker to the wide angle position once will call up a nine-image thumbnail display.

Shutter Button: Located in the center of the Zoom rocker, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed.


Mode Dial
: At the back right corner of the camera's top panel, this dial controls the camera's operating mode. Choices include Play, Snapshot, Best Shot, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual Exposure, Past Movie, Short Movie, Movie Best Shot, and Movie modes.


Flash Button
: Near the top left corner of the camera's top panel, and directly behind the pop-up flash unit, this button selects from the available flash modes when in Record mode. It has no function in Playback mode.


Focus Button
: Located on the left side of the camera's lens barrel, near the front and next to the EX Button, this button selects from the available focus modes when in Record mode. It has no function in Playback mode.


EX Button: Located next to the Focus Button, the EX button calls up the EX-P505's shortcut menu when in Record mode. It has no function in Playback mode.


Menu Button
: To the right of the tilt/swivel LCD monitor when it is closed against the rear of the camera, this button activates the LCD menu display in Record and Playback modes. Pressing this button also cancels the menu display.


Multi-Controller and Set Button
: Just below the Menu button on the right side of the camera's rear panel, this four-way rocker button features arrows pointing up, down, left, and right. In the center is the Set button, which confirms menu settings. In any settings menu, the four arrow keys navigate through menu options, highlighting selections.

In any Record mode, the up and down arrow keys select from the available exposure variables presuming more than one variable is available (ND filter, aperture, shutter speed, Focus, and whichever variable has been assigned through the L/R Key setting, if any), and the left and right arrow keys adjust the current variable.

In Playback mode, the right and left keys scroll through captured images. When an image has been enlarged, all four keys pan around within the view. When viewing images normally, the down arrow displays the delete menu, with options for deleting the current file or all files.


Display Button
: Below the Multi-Controller, this button cycles through the available LCD displays in each mode. In Record mode, pressing the button once displays the image with a full information display, while a second press calls up the EX Finder View, and a third press adds a histogram to the regular full information display. A fourth press displays the image area only.

In Playback mode, the first press displays limited image information, while a second press increases the information displayed and includes a histogram. A third press disables the information overlay and the histogram.

 

Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode: In Record mode, the camera can capture still images or movie files. Exposure can be controlled automatically or manually depending on the operating mode, and the Best Shot mode offers a comprehensive 22 preset shooting modes for more difficult situations. Pressing the Menu button displays the following three submenus and options:

  • Record Menu
    • Self-Timer: Activates the Self-Timer shooting mode, with shutter delays of two or 10 seconds. An "X3" setting records three self-timer images in rapid succession, after a 10-second shutter delay. (Great for avoiding problems with eye-blinks, etc.)
    • Size: Sets the image resolution to 2,560 x 1,920; 2,560 x 1,712 (3:2 aspect ratio); 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1,280 x 960; or 640 x 480 pixels. (A handy feature for novices: If you leave an image size selected in the menu for a few seconds, the menu item will blink, showing you the maximum usable print size for that resolution setting.)
    • Quality: Sets the JPEG compression level to Fine, Normal, or Economy.
    • Movie Quality: Sets the Movie mode to either HQ (640 x 480), Normal (640 x 480), or LP (320 x 240).
    • EV Shift: Increases or decreases overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments.
    • White Balance: Adjusts the overall color balance of the scene. Options include Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Incandescent, Flash, and Manual.

 

    • ISO: Adjusts the camera's light sensitivity, options are Auto, or 50, 100, 200, or 400 ISO equivalents.
    • AF Area: Sets the AF area to Spot, Multi, or Free. Spot mode fixes the AF point at the center of the frame, while the Multi setting automatically sets the focus to one of seven points arrayed in the center of the frame. Free mode places a crosshair on the LCD display which you can move with the Multi-Controller, allowing you to freely place a single autofocus point almost anywhere in the image (the very edges of the image at the top and bottom being unavailable). The location of the AF point in Free mode is fixed by pressing the Set button.
    • Metering: Allows you to select the area of the image from which metering information should be detected. Options are Multi, Center-Weighted, and Spot.
    • Audio Snap: Enables or disables the camera's Audio Snap function, which allows you to automatically record up to 30 seconds of audio after each image is captured.
    • Filter: Enables one of eight different color filters which are applied to images on capture, or disables the filter mode. Choices are B/W (Black and White), Sepia, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, Purple, and Off.
    • Sharpness: Adjusts the in-camera sharpening in five steps.

 

    • Saturation: Controls the vibrancy of color in five steps.
    • Contrast: Adjusts the level of contrast in five steps.
    • Flash Intensity: Controls the brightness of the camera's flash, in arbitrary units from -2 to +2.
    • Flash Assist: Sets the Flash Assist option to Auto or Off. If enabled, this function automatically brightens flash exposures that were dark because the subject was out of the flash range.
    • Grid: Enables a framing grid that divides the image area into thirds, horizontally and vertically.
    • Digital Zoom: Turns the 8x digital zoom on and off.

 

    • Review: Turns the instant image review function off. If on, the image is displayed post-capture on the LCD screen for a few seconds.
    • Icon Help: Turns a help function on or off. If on, the camera displays short explanations of selected exposure functions on the LCD monitor.
    • L/R Key: Sets the left and right arrow keys to control either Exposure Compensation ("EV Shift"), White Balance, ISO, Metering, or the Self-Timer. An Off setting renders the keys without function.

 

 

  • Memory Menu: This menu lets you specify a handful of camera settings to be remembered whenever the camera is powered off. Options are Flash, Focus, White Balance, ISO, AF Area, Metering, Self-Timer, Flash Intensity, Digital Zoom, MF Position, and Zoom Position.


 

  • Set-Up Menu
    • Sounds: Controls the camera's operating sounds, including startup, half shutter, shutter, and operation, with five options being available for each (plus the ability to disable a specific sound). You can also adjust the operation and playback volume independently in seven steps, or mute operation and/or playback sounds altogether.
    • File Numbering: Designates whether the camera continues numbering files from card to card, or resets file numbering with each new memory card.
    • World Time: Allows you to set the time for another city, so that you can display the time in London, for example, on the LCD monitor. A full list of cities is in the manual.
    • Date Style: Cycles through available date formats. Options are YY/MM/DD, DD/MM/YY, or MM/DD/YY.
    • Adjust: Sets the camera's internal date and time.
    • Language: Changes the menu language to one of 10 options.

 

    • Sleep: Turns the Sleep function off, or sets the camera to go to sleep after 30 seconds, or one or two minutes.
    • Auto Power Off: Sets the camera to shut off after two or five minutes of inactivity. It is not possible to disable the Auto Power Off function altogether.
    • USB: Sets the USB mode to Mass Storage (USB Direct Print) or PTP (PictBridge).
    • Video Out: Sets the camera's video-out signal to NTSC or PAL timing.
    • Format: Formats the SD or MMC card, erasing all files (even protected ones). Also can format the camera's internal memory.
    • Reset: Resets all camera settings to their defaults.

Playback Mode: This mode allows you to review captured images on the memory card, erase them, protect them, set them up for printing, play them back in a slideshow, or set up photo albums. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Play Menu
    • Slideshow: Activates an automatic slideshow of images on the card. You can set the image interval time (1-30 seconds or 'MAX'), select images to appear in the slideshow, or designate how long the slideshow plays (1-60 minutes). When the interval is set to MAX, audio snapshots and movies are not played; instead only the first frame of movies is shown. When other intervals are set, audio snapshots and movies play in their entirety, even if this is longer than the set interval time.
    • MOTION PRINT: Allows you to capture frames from a movie file and save them as a still image. Two formats are available - either "1 frame", which allows a single frame of the movie to be saved as a 640 x 480 pixel still image, or "9 frames", which saves the frame you selected and four frames from before and after it as a single 1,600 x 1,200 pixel image. For the "9 frames" option, the frame you selected is highlighted at the center of the image, and the frames from before and after it are highlighted above and below, with a "film strip" border around them.
    • Movie Editing: Allows you to delete selected portions from the start, middle or end of a movie file.
    • DPOF: Selects images for printing, or removes the print mark designation.
    • Protect: Write-protects individual images or all images on the memory card, also removes protection.
    • Rotation: Rotates the currently displayed image clockwise in 90-degree increments.

 

    • Resize: Changes the size of captured images to 1,600 x 1,200, 1,280 x 960 or 640 x 480 pixels. (Handy for emailing.) The resized image is saved as a new file on the card, the original image is unchanged.
    • Trimming: Allows you to crop captured images and save the cropped version as a new copy.
    • Dubbing: Lets you record a short audio clip to accompany a captured image.
    • Copy: Copies files between the built-in memory and the SD/MMC card.


  • Set-Up Menu: Displays the same Set-Up menu as in Record mode.

 

In the Box

Packaged with the Casio Exilim EX-P505 are the following items:

  • NP-40 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Charger.
  • USB cable.
  • A/V cable.
  • Wrist strap.
  • Lens hood.
  • Lens cap and cap holder.
  • Software and user guide CDs.
  • Basic manual and registration information.

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity SD/MMC memory card. (These days, 128 - 256 MB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity.)
  • Additional NP-40 lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Small camera case.

Recommended Software: Rescue your images!
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. I 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 surprising number 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...

 

Specifications

See camera specifications here.

 

Picky Details

Cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc. can be found here.

 

Sample Pictures

See my sample pictures and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of our test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.

"Sunlit"
Indoor Flash
Indoor
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy

 

Test Results

In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For full details on each of the test images, see the Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505's "pictures" page.

For a look at some more pictorial photos from this camera, check out our Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505 Photo Gallery.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Casio Exilim Pro EX-P505 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!

  • Color: Fairly good overall color, minor color casts, some inaccuracy in the blues. The Casio EX-P505's color is actually more accurate than that of most consumer cameras, over most of the spectrum. That means though, that its color may look a little dull to most consumers, accustomed to seeing artificially pumped-up colors in their digital photos. An exception to this is the Casio P505's handling of blue shades, which it tends to oversaturate quite a bit, and shift cyan hues towards pure blues somewhat. - This will produce very nice-looking sky colors, but may leave blue shades in your photos a little bright-looking. Skin tones tended to be slightly reddish, but overall were pretty good.

  • Exposure: Good overall exposure, though contrast was sometimes high. The Casio EX-P505 handled my test lighting quite well, though it produced high contrast under the deliberately harsh lighting of the "Sunlit" Portrait and the outdoor house shot. The camera's adjustable contrast setting did help tone down the highlights without losing too much midtone detail, although I'd like to see the contrast adjustment extend a bit further in the low-contrast direction. Dynamic range was slightly limited in the outdoor house shot. Indoors, the camera required higher than average positive exposure compensation, though the standard flash exposure was very bright, and actually required a negative exposure adjustment, a very unusual result in my experience. The EX-P505 had no trouble with the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target of the Davebox, and overall exposure was generally pretty good.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: A bit lower than average resolution, with 1,100 lines of "strong detail." The Casio EX-P505 performed a little below average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart with its 5.0-megapixel CCD. It showed artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to only 1,100 lines, a hundred lines or so less than most competing 5-megapixel models manage. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,600 lines.

  • Image Noise: Higher than average noise, even in bright exposures. The Casio EX-P505's greatest shortcoming may be its image noise levels, which were moderately high even at ISO 100, and even under bright lighting. The noise pattern was bright and somewhat coarse, which detracted from fine detail definition quite a bit.

  • Closeups: A very tiny macro area with pretty good detail, though strong blurring in the corners. Flash performs very well. The Casio EX-P505 captured very small macro area, measuring 0.85 x 0.64 inches (22 x 16 millimeters). Resolution was high and detail strong, but details were very soft in the corners of the frame. (Most digital cameras produce rather soft detail in the corners of their images in macro mode, but the P505 did a bit worse than most in this regard. - Although you do have to make an allowance for the extreme closeups that it's able to capture.) The camera's flash did a good job of throttling down for the macro area, especially considering the close shooting range.

  • Night Shots: Very good low-light performance, though slightly pink color balance and high noise. Still, bright exposures at the lowest light levels of this test. The Casio EX-P505 is a pretty capable low-light shooter, able to expose and focus at light levels only an eighth as bright as typical city street lighting at night. That said though, its low light images do tend to show a bit more noise than I'd prefer. Not a bad performance overall though.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: A very accurate LCD monitor. The Casio EX-P505's LCD monitor proved very accurate shooting just about 100 percent frame accuracy at wide angle and telephoto lens settings. The LCD monitor showed just a hair more than what made it into the final frame, but results are still very good.

  • Optical Distortion: High barrel distortion at wide angle, and high pincushion at telephoto. High chromatic aberration, some softness in the corners. I measured approximately 0.95 percent barrel distortion at wide angle, and about 0.62 percent pincushion at telephoto. Chromatic aberration was higher than average across the zoom range, and particularly so at telephoto focal lengths. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) I also noticed slight blurring in the corners of the frame at wide angle, with a much stronger effect at telephoto.

  • Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: Better than average shutter response, good startup and shutdown times, slower than average from shot to shot. The Casio EX-P505 is a bit of a mixed bag in the speed department, its full-autofocus shutter lag times of 0.60 - 0.72 second being noticeably faster than average, and its 0.012 (!) second shutter lag in prefocus mode being among the very fastest I've measured. (You can "prefocus" most digital cameras by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself. Doing so generally reduces the shutter delay, sometimes very dramatically.) From shot to shot though, the P505 is on the slow side of average, at 2.6 seconds between large/fine frames.

  • Battery Life: Better than average battery life. Despite its relatively small size, the Casio EX-P505 manages very respectable run time numbers, with a worst-case battery life of 151 minutes in capture mode. Playback mode is even better, at 209 minutes.

  • Print Quality: Good-looking images at 11x14 inch print size. ISO 400 shots rough at 8x10, fine at 5x7. Generally more accurate saturation levels produce less-bright prints. 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 iP5000 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.) In the case of the Casio EX-P505, we found that it had enough resolution to make good-looking 11x14 prints, easily suitable for viewing on a wall. Looking at its high-ISO shots, images captured at ISO 400 looked pretty rough when printed at 8x10 inches, fairly typical for high-ISO images from a 5-megapixel camera. (In general, both 4-megapixel and 7-megapixel cameras tend to do better than 5-megapixel ones in terms of image noise.) Color-wise, while the P505's color saturation levels are actually more accurate than those of most consumer cameras, this means that many consumers will find its images slightly dull-looking. (It's been fairly well established that consumers prefer photo prints with brighter color than that found in the real world. For those readers who prefer a less-saturated, more natural look, the P505's images should be very pleasing.

 

Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Big, swing-out swivel screen in a small package
  • Internal zoom mechanism for greater durability, faster startup times
  • Unusually compact for a 5x optical zoom
  • Faster than average shutter response
  • Detailed histogram shows separate RGB values plus luminance
  • Offers complete array of exposure options, from Manual to "Best Shot" modes, both still and movie
  • Excellent macro ability
  • Better than average at low light shooting, but noise levels are higher than average
  • Good battery life
  • Thoughtful feature set
  • Slower than average shot to shot speed
  • Higher than average image noise
  • Higher than average pincushion distortion at telephoto focal lengths
  • Higher than average chromatic aberration
  • Default settings make camera slower (Zoom and Focus Memory)
  • Slow zoom mechanism
  • Mode feels a little cheap
  • Difficult to press left nav button unless the LCD screen is deployed
  • Small internal memory, no card included

 

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With its tiny size, generous range of preset exposure modes, and 5.0-megapixel CCD, the Casio Exilim EX-P505 is a good option for people looking for a camera with a reasonably long-ratio zoom lens (5x) in a compact package. The plentiful preset shooting modes make it easy for novices to capture good-looking images in just about any situation, while the ability to capture high-resolution images and adjust attributes such as color saturation and contrast will likely attract more experienced photographers interested in a fun digital camera for snapshots. A great "take anywhere" camera, the Casio EX-P505 is small enough that you can just slip it in a pocket and go, a nice ability for a camera with a 5x zoom lens. I'd have been happier if some of the items on my "cons" list above weren't there, and some consumers will find the color resulting from the technically accurate saturation levels of the P505 a bit on the dull side. (On the other hand, people frustrated with the preponderance of too-bright color in consumer digital cameras may find welcome relief in the P505's color handling.) All in all, a surprisingly capable camera in a surprisingly small package.


 

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