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Casio EXILIM PRO EX-P600

6.0 megapixels, a Canon 4x zoom lens, and a host of features.

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 07/30/2004

Test Images and "Photo Gallery"

These days, I'm trying to provide more pictorial "Gallery" photos, in addition to my standardized test shot images, as a way of giving more of an idea of how the cameras I test perform with more "natural" looking subjects. Accordingly, you can find my standard test shots from the EX-P600 on the standard Pictures Page, or a collection of more pictorial subjects (this collection shot by assistants Chris Etchells and Luke Smith) on the EX-P600's Gallery page.

Test Results

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In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Exilim Pro EX-P600's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how EX-P600's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the EX-P600 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: Accurate color, but slightly low saturation. While its color was fairly hue-accurate, I felt that the EX-P600's color was a bit undersaturated in most of my shots. Skin tones were a little pale, and other colors were just a bit less intense than they were in real life. Strong reds and blues were brighter than other colors though, particularly in the Davebox. Overall, it wasn't too far off the mark though, and the fairly subtle saturation adjustment would let you boost the color a bit, without risk of overdoing it. The Auto white balance setting had a tendency to produce warm results in the studio, but all three relevant white balance settings did a good job with the very tough lighting of my Indoor Portrait test. (Although the manual white balance option was clearly the best, in my opinion.) A good performance, color-wise, I'd just like to see the default color a tad brighter.

  • Exposure: Generally accurate exposure, better than average flash exposure. A little difficulty with harsh lighting though. The EX-P600 showed more or less average exposure accuracy in my tests, requiring about the same amount of exposure compensation on shots that typically needed it as most other cameras I test. Exposure was slightly low in most of my test shots, though results were fairly good overall. The EX-P600 underexposed the very high-key outdoor portrait shot quite a bit at the default setting, but a small amount of positive exposure compensation did the trick and captured reasonably bright midtones. Indoors, the camera required an average amount of positive exposure compensation, and the flash exposure required no exposure boost at all. The camera's default tone curve is somewhat contrasty, causing it to lose highlight detail under harsh lighting. Its contrast adjustment helps somewhat, but noticeably affects color saturation as well, so cutting the contrast also means having to accept duller-looking colors. - Give it a "B+" overall in the exposure department.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: Very high resolution, 1,400 lines of "strong detail." Slightly soft images that respond very well to sharpening in the computer. The EX-P600 did very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,400 lines, however. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,700 lines. (Some reviewers will doubtless rate the P600's resolution as higher than the 1,400 lines that I've assigned it, but I tend to be pretty conservative in this regard, feeling that it really isn't proper to rate a camera as resolving to a level at which the aliasing and other artifacts swamp the actual subject detail.) I found the P600's images to be slightly soft-looking, but that appears to be the result of conservative use of in-camera sharpening, a good thing. - The images responded very well to unsharp masking after the fact in Photoshop(tm).

  • Image Noise: Surprisingly low image noise for a prosumer 6-megapixel camera. As pixel counts have climbed, image noise has unfortunately increased as well. The result is that most 5- and 6-megapixel cameras these days show quite a bit more image noise than did their 3-megapixel predecessors of a year or two ago. The P600 does have show some noise even at ISO 50, but overall did better in this respect than I would have expected. - And anti-noise processing at low ISO levels appears to be quite restrained as well, helping preserve subtle subject detail. Overall, a good showing for a 6-megapixel prosumer digicam.

  • Closeups: A small macro area with good detail. Very good results with the flash as well. The EX-P600 performed pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 2.20 x 1.65 inches (56 x 42 millimeters). Resolution was very high, with excellent detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details were soft in both the brooch and dollar bill, due to the limited depth of field this close (not the camera's fault), and the corners were soft as well. The image was slightly underexposed, and color balance was a bit warm, but results were still good. The EX-P600's flash throttled down pretty well for the macro area, though coverage was a little uneven.

  • Night Shots: Good low-light performance overall. Autofocus system works well down to the lowest levels, except at ISO 50. With a maximum exposure time of 60 seconds and maximum equivalent sensitivity setting of ISO 400, the EX-P600 has very good low-light shooting capabilities. The camera produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, at all four ISO settings. The color balance was slightly warm overall, with stronger warm casts at the lower exposures. Noise was low at the lower sensitivity settings, but crept up to a pretty high level at ISO 400, although "hot pixels" were virtually nonexistent at all exposure times and ISO levels. The camera's autofocus system worked well down to the lowest light levels, with the exception of the 1/16 foot-candle shot at ISO 50, which was blurry. (And, oddly, the 1/8 foot-candle shot at ISO 200 too, which really should have been OK. Even at that though, the P600's AF system did better at very low light levels than those of most cameras I test.)

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: An accurate LCD monitor, but tight optical viewfinder. The EX-P600's optical viewfinder was quite tight, showing only about 81 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 85 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate though, showing about 99+ percent accuracy at both zoom settings. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the EX-P600's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard, but I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder.

  • Optical Distortion: Average barrel distortion, higher than average pincushion though. Fairly low chromatic aberration. Optical distortion on the EX-P600 was about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared only slightly better numerically, as I measured approximately 0.5 percent pincushion distortion, but that's quite a bit higher than average for pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is pretty low, showing about five or six pixels of fairly faint coloration on either side of the target lines, although there's more chromatic aberration at wide angle focal lengths than at telephoto ones. (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.) The images show relatively little softness in the corners, a failing I'm almost come to expect in digicam lenses. Overall, the P600's Canon-built lens seems to be of fairly high quality.

  • Battery Life: Surprisingly good battery life for a compact, full-featured 6-megapixel camera. With a worst-case run time of 2.3 hours in capture mode with the LCD on, and over 3.3 hours with the LCD off, the P600 shows better than average battery life, particularly for such a compact, high-resolution model. I still recommend purchasing a second battery right along with the camera, to keep on hand as a spare, but the P600 did quite a bit better in this area than I expected it to.

 

Conclusion

In recent years, Casio has concentrated more on the "consumer" market than on the needs of "enthusiast" shooters. With the EX-P600, Casio has decided to again focus on the needs of more advanced users, while still maintaining excellent ease of use with their extensive "BestShot" modes. Based on my use and testing of the P600, it appears that they've been thoroughly successful in that goal. Besides having good image quality and pretty much every control and adjustment a serious photographer could desire, the EX-P600 is one of the fastest digicams on the market, with blazing shutter lag numbers and very good continuous-mode cycle times as well. The P600's viability as a true enthusiast camera is also aided by the excellent Canon-built 4x zoom lens, which shows excellent resolving power and low chromatic aberration. With its combination of compact size, rich feature set, good image quality, fast shooting, and attractive, rugged case design, the Exilim EX-P600 very much brings Casio back into the "enthusiast" market. If you're looking for an excellent high-resolution camera with all the bells and whistles, you definitely need to add the P600 to your "short list" of serious candidates. Highly recommended, and a strong contender as a "Dave's Pick."

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