Casio QV-3000EXCasio steps into the 3-megapixel era with great picture quality and 340 megabytes of storage!
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Page 2:Executive OverviewReview First Posted: 2/14/2000
As the months and years go by, Casio has been steadily improving their digicam lineup. In our eyes, they've really come up with a winner this time in the form of the QV-3000EX. Design-wise, they've changed some of the problems we had minor gripes with on the previous QV-2000UX, such as the catchy sliding lens cover and somewhat fragile pop-up flash. In fact, the entire camera body looks almost nothing like the QV-2000UX with a new duotone silver and black plastic body. The QV-3000EX does remain very light weight and portable, thanks in part to its tough, all-plastic body. We're confident this digicam will be snugly tucked into a coat pocket or purse on many outings. Control layout remains very similar to the previous Casio digicams and the same 3D menu system guides you through the camera's features. We liked the addition of the protruding hand grip on the right side and the addition of a Power/Mode Dial that flips between Record, Off and Playback modes. We were also glad to see that the placement of the tripod mount and battery compartment made it possible to change batteries while mounted to a tripod (although the location of the tripod mount directly beneath the lens was a little odd and made the camera slightly wobbly). Overall, we were quite pleased with the new design of the body.
The QV-3000EX offers both an optical viewfinder and LCD monitor for shot composition. The optical viewfinder features center target crosshairs that help you line up shots and a dioptric adjustment dial which is always welcome for eyeglass wearers. We did find the optical viewfinder to be a little less accurate than the LCD, a common scenario with digicams. The LCD monitor has a grid option that comes in handy as well as an information display that can be canceled and a playback zoom option for closer examination of captured images. We liked the fact that the shutter speed and F-stop appear on the monitor whenever the shutter button is halfway pressed (in all exposure modes), keeping you clued in to what the camera is doing.
We were really impressed with lens on this camera. The QV-3000EX sports an F/2.0 to F/2.5, 7 to 21mm, 3x Canon zoom lens delivering very nice images that are clear and sharp. The aperture ranges from F/2 to F/8 and can be manually adjusted. A manual and infinity focus option give you greater flexibility with difficult to focus subjects and the macro setting does a nice job as well. Like most of the operation on this camera, the zoom control is extremely quiet. At first we didn't think anything was happening until we saw the effect of the zoom in the display. There's also a 2x digital zoom option that can be turned on and off manually, a nice feature that keeps you from accidentally slipping into that mode accidentally.
Exposure-wise, the QV-3000EX offers most of the same options as the previous QV-2000UX model, with Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Landscape, Portrait, Movie, Night Scene and Panorama modes available. Portrait and Landscape modes fix focus and aperture to make the most of either subject. Likewise, Night Scene allows you to capture subjects with dark backgrounds and can be combined with the flash to get a slow-synchro effect. Panorama is particularly useful and painless, as the camera sets up an alignment pattern to help you line up each shot for one seamless image (up to nine images can be "stitched" together). We were glad to see a nice amount of control with the Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority modes and we found an interesting little trick that puts you into a full manual mode: You can get to full manual mode by pressing the Set button and the left arrow button simultaneously while in Shutter Priority. This allows you to change the both the aperture and shutter speed. A similar trick (discussed below) extends the maximum exposure time from two to 60 seconds. We're not sure why Casio keeps these features hidden, but we were very glad to have literally stumbled across them on the QV-2000UX and to see them retained on the QV-3000EX. Combine this full manual mode with the variable light sensitivity (ISO) settings and you have a lot of flexibility, especially under dim lighting.
The QV-3000EX's flash does a really good job of evenly illuminating dark subjects and we were happy to see the return of the variable intensity level setting (Low, Normal and High). Likewise, we were also pleased with the variety of metering options, from Multi to Center to Spot. Throw the option for manual white balance and the 30 second AVI movie capability into the mix and you have an extremely versatile camera that gives you a lot of control. You can also manually adjust image sharpness, contrast and saturation. Finally, for quick shooting situations, there's a continuous shutter option (under Drive in the record menu) that fires the shutter multiple times with a single press of the shutter button, achieving a frame rate of 2.5 frames per second for a 3-frame burst.
Casio included both a standard serial and a USB cable for connection to a computer as well as an NTSC video cable (PAL for European models) for playing back and composing images on a television screen. Image storage is on CompactFlash (Type I or II) and a 340 megabyte (!) IBM MicroDrive comes with the camera. Four AA alkaline, lithium or nickel-hydrogen rechargeable batteries power the camera and we found that they lasted a surprisingly long time in the studio (although we heartily recommend always keeping a freshly charged set of spares close by).
Overall, we were very impressed with the QV-3000EX. It's light, portable and takes nice pictures with plenty of manual control. The variety of exposure modes will definitely satisfy point-and-shoot users while the extensive manual control will keep the more advanced amateurs interested. The uncomplicated user interface also makes the QV-3000EX a viable option for the beginner wanting to learn more. We think this camera will do well, as it appeals to a wide consumer audience and produces very nice, high quality images.
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