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Casio QV-3000EXCasio steps into the 3-megapixel era with great picture quality and 340 megabytes of storage!
Review First Posted: 2/14/2000
||True 3 million pixel sensor, 2048x1536 resolution|
||High-quality 3x f/2.0 zoom lens made by Canon|
||Manual focus, manual exposure options|
||Slick user interface!|
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.
Although it has very similar features to the previous QV-2000UX, the QV-3000EX bears only a minor resemblance to its predecessor. The QV-3000EX boasts a tough, all-plastic body that's lightweight and very portable, at 5.3 x 3.2 x 2.3 inches (134.5 x 80.5 x 57.5 mm), and weighing only 11.2 ounces (320g) without batteries.
The front of the camera features the lens, built-in flash (Casio replaced the previous somewhat fragile pop-up flash that remained up whether you wanted it there or not), sensors and the front of the optical viewfinder. The protrusions on this model are very slight, with the exception of the lens which extends out beyond the camera when powered on. There is a lens cap on this model, but it can be neatly tethered to the body so you don't have to worry about losing it. One thing we noticed here is that if the lens cap is on the lens when you power up the camera, the lens extends and then retracts and the camera shuts off. We found that if you took the lens cap off before powering it up, everything worked fine. Because our evaluation model is one of the first released, we're not sure if this is a flaw with the camera or just this particular model. We are pleased to note the removal of the sliding lens cover, which was sometimes catchy in its operation and prevented removal of the CompactFlash card from its slot.
The back panel of the QV-3000EX is where most of the action takes place with several controls and the LCD monitor and optical viewfinder. A nice feature is the inclusion of the dioptric adjustment dial for eyeglass wearers. While the camera is relatively light weight and compact, the arrangement of the controls make one-handed operation a little difficult.
The remaining controls (flash, power, etc.) live on top of the camera, along with a small status display panel. We're glad Casio kept this panel, as it helps you conserve battery power by using the camera without the LCD panel. The power switch encircles the shutter button and rotates from Record to Off to Play.
The right side of the camera features a nice hand grip and the CompactFlash slot. We found the plastic CompactFlash slot door a little tough to open and close, but we're pleased that it's a little more accessible than on the previous model.
The I/O jacks (Digital, AC, USB and Video) live on the opposite side of the camera, beneath a plastic cover that slide locks into place. iMac and recent PowerMac users will be very happy that the camera supports USB in addition to the standard serial cable.
Finally, the bottom of the QV-3000EX is nice and smooth, featuring a plastic tripod mount and a battery compartment which locks with a small, sliding switch. We're glad to see that the battery compartment and tripod mount are far enough away from each other to allow battery changes while mounted to the tripod (this is extremely beneficial in the studio). This is a small but important detail that we always pay attention to. A downside to the off-center tripod socket though, is that the camera is noticeably less stable when mounted on a tripod.
The QV-3000EX's real-image optical viewfinder features center autofocus crosshairs to help you line up shots and the neighboring dioptric adjustment dial is a welcome feature for eyeglass wearers. Additionally, orange and green LEDs beside the viewfinder report the current status of the camera (still focusing, flash charging, etc.).
The color LCD monitor features a gridline option which displays a grid of light gray lines that can be very helpful when composing images. An information display on the LCD monitor reminds you how many exposures are available, the image size and image quality of each shot, in addition to flash and setting information. This information display can be canceled and recalled by hitting the Display button (as can the LCD monitor). We also liked the fact that the when shooting in Program exposure mode, the LCD monitor reports the current aperture and shutter speed settings when the shutter button is halfway pressed. In Playback mode, the LCD monitor features an index display mode as well as playback zoom for reviewing captured images.
The QV-3000EX sports a 7 to 21mm, 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to a 33 to 100 mm lens on a 35mm camera). By combining the optical zoom with the optional 2x digital telephoto feature, you get magnification up to 6x (although image quality always suffers from digital zoom with excess noise and a loss of sharpness). We liked the fact that you turn the digital telephoto on and off so that you don't accidentally slip into that mode. Aperture on the QV-3000EX ranges from F/2 to F/8 and can be either automatically or manually controlled. The aperture can be adjusted in one f-stop units across most of its range, with available settings of 2.0, 2.3, 2.8, 4, 5.6, and 8. While we like to see continuously variable aperture settings on digicams, the 6 settings of the QV-3000 are more than are available on many models.
The contrast-detect autofocus ranges from 1 foot (0.3m) to infinity when shooting in normal mode and from 2.4 to 12 inches (6 to 30 cm) in macro mode. A manual focus option is available as well, giving you a focus range from 2.4 inches (6 cm) to infinity. In all focusing modes, the minimum working distance of 2.4 inches is achieved only with the lens at its widest-angle setting. Sharp macro focus occurs at roughly the same subject size though, regardless of lens focal length. (That is, as you move to longer focal lengths, the minimum focusing distance increases in rough proportion, keeping the coverage area about constant.) Minimum area coverage in macro mode is only 2.23 x 1.67 inches (56.66 x 42.49 mm), average or slightly better for digicams these days.
We did note that you have to be pretty quick in manual focus mode as there's just a short window of time to alter the focus before the flashing "MF" goes away. You can easily get that window back by hitting the Manual Focus button a second time, however. Additionally, a time saving Infinity focus feature sets the camera focus at infinity for far away subjects.
The Canon-manufactured lens appears to be of good quality, producing sharp, clear images, with moderate geometric distortion, and very low chromatic aberration. The lens shows a 0.54 percent barrel distortion at the wide angle end and a 0.26 percent pincushion distortion on the telephoto end. Chromatic aberration is present but quite low, we characterized it as less than one pixel of coloration on each side of the black res target lines. (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). We did see 2-3 pixels of "coma" at the wide angle setting. (A lightening of the dark target elements, extending radially from the center of the frame, at the extreme edges of the resolution target image.)
The QV-3000EX gives you a nice variety of options when it comes to exposure. First of all, there are eight modes to choose from: Program, Movie, Panorama, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Landscape, Portrait and Night Scene. Program mode is the traditional, let-the-camera-do-everything mode. Movie mode lets you record movies up to 30 seconds long without sound in a 320 x 240 pixel AVI format with options for Past or Normal. (Past records events occurring before the shutter button was pressed, meaning that the camera is actually recording to a buffer memory once you enter the mode. Normal mode just means that the camera records normally, beginning when the shutter button is pressed). Movie recording stops automatically 30 seconds after you first pressed the shutter button in normal mode, or can be stopped early by pressing the shutter button a second time.
Panorama mode lets you record a series of images to be put together into a panoramic shot on the computer and features a nice guideline for lining up images. Landscape and Portrait modes are pretty self-explanatory as the camera adjusts the focus and aperture so that the entire image is in focus on Landscape and so that the background is slightly blurred in Portrait mode. (In more technical photographic parlance, the "Portrait" mode biases the exposure system toward wider apertures and hence shallower depth of field. Conversely, "Landscape" mode is biased toward small apertures and greater depth of field.) Night Scene mode sets up the camera for recording twilight or night subjects with slow shutter speeds and you can use the flash for a slow synchro recording effect.
Shutter Speed and Aperture Priority modes let you control either the aperture or shutter speed while the camera controls adjusts the other exposure value accordingly. Shutter speeds range from two to 1/1000 seconds and apertures from F/2 to F/8. An interesting feature here is the hidden full manual control option: If you hit the Set button and the left arrow button simultaneously while in Shutter Priority mode, you are put into a full manual mode that lets you control both aperture (the left and right arrow buttons) and shutter speed (the up and down arrows). There's also a hidden mode to give you very long timed exposures and a "bulb" exposure capability. (This last means the shutter opens when you first press the shutter button, and doesn't close until you press the shutter button again, or after 60 seconds, whichever comes first.) You can access the long-exposure feature from shutter-priority mode by going to the longest standard exposure (2 seconds), and then pressing the Set and down-arrow buttons simultaneously. The camera will remain in this mode until a different exposure mode is selected, or the power is cycled. (Interestingly, it will retain a long exposure setting even through a power on/off cycle, but will exit the long-exposure mode as soon as you increase the shutter speed above 2 seconds.) We literally stumbled across the manual-exposure and long-exposure functions on the QV-2000UX and are glad to see them repeated with this camera. (Although a Casio rep cautioned against taking multiple very long time-exposures in rapid sequence, as it can overheat the CCD itself, producing unusual amounts of image noise, and possibly damaging the chip. (!) - We'd say that you should definitely exercise caution when taking exposures longer than several seconds!)
You also have control over the type of metering that the camera is using. Three metering options (Multi, Center and Spot) are available through the record menu. Multi takes readings from across the entire image and provides a balanced exposure setting. Center takes readings from a large center area of the image and Spot takes a reading from a very limited spot at the center of the image. In all exposure modes, you can set the white balance to Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent or Manual control. (In manual mode, you set the white balance by pointing the camera at a white piece of paper and telling it to set the white balance accordingly. A little-known trick using this feature is to deliberately bias the camera's white balance by using an off-white object as the reference. - Try it, you'll be surprised by the control it gives you!) You also have exposure compensation (with the exception of Panorama mode) from -2.0 to +2.0 EV in 1/3 EV increments simply by pressing the right and left arrows of the rocker toggle button. Other creative controls include adjustments for image sharpening (soft, normal, hard), color saturation (low, normal, high), and contrast (low, normal, high).
A Continuous recording mode (under the Drive option in the record menu) allows you to record up to 3 images at a frame rate of approximately 2.5 frames per second while holding down the shutter button. There's also a self-timer that can be set to two or 10 seconds just by pressing the Self-Timer button, which cycles between both settings and off. An interesting feature that Casio carried over from the previous model is the ability to program certain settings that the camera recalls when powered on. For example, if you don't want the flash to revert to Auto each time the camera is turned off, you can program it otherwise through the record menu. This is a bonus if there's a particular setting you'd like to keep the flash, white balance, etc. set to. Finally, another plus that adds to the camera's creative abilities is the Color setting under the Record menu. This allows you to set the camera to record images in full color, black and white or sepia tones.
The QV-3000EX incorporates a more extensive variable-ISO (light sensitivity) capability than did the earlier QV-2000. The QV-2000 only had two ISO settings, with not much difference between them (80 ad 100). The QV-3000 though, has settings corresponding to ISO values of 100, 180, 300, and 500. At the higher settings, the image gets pretty noisy, but they could be a real help in getting good stop-action shots of fast action.
As we mentioned earlier, we were pleased to note the redesign of the built-in flash on the QV-3000EX. The previous QV-2000UX flash popped up automatically when the lens cover was slid open and remained open until the lens cover was closed. This was somewhat awkward because the flash stuck out all the time, and was more prone to breakage in this position. The QV-3000's flash is built into the camera body. The QV-3000EX's built-in flash has four modes to choose from, all available by pressing the flash button on the back of the camera: Auto, On, Off and Red-Eye Reduction. Auto fires the flash in response to existing light levels. The On setting means that the flash always fires and Off means that the flash never fires. Red-Eye Reduction mode emits a small pre-flash before the camera fires the full flash, reducing the occurrence of the Red-Eye Effect. The flash range is stated as being from 1.6 to 13.1 feet (0.5 to 4.0 m), which agreed well with our own tests. Depending on lighting conditions, the camera shake warning will appear on the LCD when the zoom is all the way at the telephoto end or if a slow shutter speed is being used, regardless of the flash setting. You can set the flash intensity to either Strong, Normal or Weak through the record menu. This gives you a little extra flexibility, especially when combined with all the other manually controlled options. (Variable flash intensity is an option we'd really like to see on more digicams.)
Shutter Lag / Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it using an electronic test setup, accurate to 0.01 seconds.
The QV-3000 was average to slightly faster than average in its shutter delay, with a lag time of 0.83 seconds in full autofocus mode, 0.71 seconds in manual focus mode, and only 0.18 seconds when the focus and exposure are preset by half-pressing the shutter button prior to the exposure itself. Cycle time was surprisingly fast for a 3 megapixel camera, apparently thanks to an internal RAM buffer: The camera could capture successive shots at intervals of 3 seconds for the first three shots, after which it would take 15-18 seconds to capture the next one. Strangely, the cycle time for low-resolution images was actually longer, at 6 seconds between frames. (Our guess is that the camera is capturing a full-resolution image and then downsampling it, rather than the more common approach of clocking out only half of the data from the CCD in the first place. While the QV-3000's approach takes longer, the result is very highly detailed and artifact-free low-resolution files.
As noted earlier, the QV-3000 also has a "continuous" mode, in which it will capture 3 frames in rapid succession when the shutter button is held down. We clocked the continuous mode frame rate at 2.5 frames per second. (0.4 seconds between exposures)
The QV-3000 is a bit slower on startup, taking about 9 seconds from power-on to the first picture captured. On shutdown, it retracts the lens in only 3 seconds, letting you put the lens cap on and slip it in your pocket. The camera remains active (a blinking green LED next to the viewfinder) for about 25 seconds though, apparently to insure that all image data is properly written to the MicroDrive. The camera switches from Record to Play mode in about 4 seconds, although the instant review function mentioned above means this time delay won't matter in most picture-taking situations. Going from Play to Record though, takes the same 9 seconds as does initial power-up, perhaps because the lens has to telescope out again. (We'd like to see the camera leave the lens out until it's actually shut off, which could reduce this mode-change time.)
We were really impressed with the user interface on the QV-3000EX, especially with the very cool 3D menu system that seems to have become a trademark of Casio's digicams. Although the placement of the controls doesn't allow for one handed operation, the buttons are well laid out and marked in a logical manner.
Located on top of the camera, with a smooth silver finish. In all capture modes, sets focus and/or exposure when halfway pressed and fires the shutter when fully pressed.
Located on top of the camera and surrounding the shutter button (see the photo above), this dial puts the camera in Record, Off or Playback modes. One of our few complaints about the QV-3000's user interface was that the "off" position on this dial had a very light detent on it, making it easy to overshoot when turning the camera off, and end up putting it into either play or record mode, as the case may be.
Located on top of the camera, marked by the word 'mode' in light gray. In Record mode, pulls up the 3D exposure mode menu with the following options:
Self-Timer / Folder Button
Located on top of the camera, to the lower right of the Mode button, this button is marked with a gray self-timer symbol and a green folder icon. In all capture modes, this button cycles between the two and 10 second self-timers as well as turning the mode off. In Playback mode, it lets you select which memory folder you would like to play back from.
Manual Focus / Infinity / Macro Button
Located on top of the camera, to the left of the Self-Timer / Folder button, this button is marked with a gray MF and macro flower symbol. In all capture modes, it accesses the manual, infinity and macro focusing options.
Located on top of the camera, to the left of the Mode button, this button is marked with a gray flash symbol. In all capture modes except for Movie and Panorama, it cycles between Auto, On, Off and Red-Eye Reduction flash modes.
Dioptric Adjustment Dial
Small, black, notched dial located on the left side of the optical viewfinder which adjusts the viewfinder to accommodate eyeglass wearers.
T/W Zoom Lever
Located on the top right hand side of the QV-3000EX back panel, the lever is marked with a gray 'T' and 'W'. In all capture modes, this lever controls the optical zoom. Once the end of the telephoto range is reached (if the digital telephoto option is enabled), one more press of the 'T' end digitally zooms in 2x.
Located on the right side of the LCD monitor on the camera's back panel, this button is marked with the word 'Preview' and a green trash can symbol. In any capture mode, this button plays back a quick preview of the last image taken. In Playback mode, this allows you to delete on-screen images. (This "instant review" function in record mode is very handy, particularly as it is literally instantaneous on the QV-3000, making it very easy to check the last picture you shot.)
Located beneath the Preview button, this button is marked 'Disp' in black letters. In all capture modes, it turns the LCD monitor and information display on and off. In Playback mode, it turns the image information display on and off.
Located on the top left hand side of the camera's back panel, this button is marked with the word 'Menu' in black. In all capture modes and in Playback mode, this button calls up the settings menus. It also serves as the "back" button for backing out of menu selections.
Rocker Toggle Button
Located on the back panel of the camera, on the left side of the LCD monitor, this button features four raised arrows. In all capture modes and in Playback mode, it navigates through the settings menus. In all capture modes except for Panorama, the left and right arrow buttons control the exposure compensation (EV), while in Aperture or Shutter Speed Priority modes, the up and down arrows control those variables. While in Shutter Priority mode, the left arrow pressed with the Set button puts the camera in full manual mode. In Playback mode, the left and right arrows scroll through recorded images. When using the playback zoom feature, all four arrows allow you to scroll around in an image.
Located beneath the rocker toggle button and marked with the word 'Set' in black letters. In all capture and Playback mode settings menus, confirms selected menu options. In Shutter Priority mode, when pressed with the left arrow button, the Set button puts the camera into full manual mode.
Camera Modes and Menus
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the 'P' for Program mode. Program puts the camera in control over exposure settings like aperture and shutter speed. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the following menus:
Functions 1 Menu:
Functions 2 Menu:
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the movie symbol, this mode allows you to make up to 30 second, soundless movies depending on the amount of CompactFlash space available. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the record menu as in Program mode.
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the Panorama symbol, this mode allows you to take up to nine successive images which the camera puts together as one panoramic image. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the same menu as in Program mode.
Aperture Priority Mode
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the 'A', this mode puts you in control of aperture while the camera selects the shutter speed automatically. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the same menu as in Program mode.
Shutter Speed Priority Mode
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the 'S', this mode puts you in control of shutter speed while the camera selects the aperture automatically. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the same menu as in Program mode. Additionally, pressing the Set button in conjunction with the left arrow button increases the shutter speed options and lets you adjust the aperture.
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the landscape symbol, this mode records images that have both the foreground and background in focus in both wide angle and telephoto modes. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the same menu as in Program mode.
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the portrait symbol, this mode sets the aperture so that the subject is in focus and the background is blurred. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the same menu as in Program mode.
Night Scene Mode
Accessed by hitting the Mode button and scrolling around to the night symbol, this mode utilizes a slow shutter speed to record images in dark areas. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the same menu as in Program mode (with the exception of the Contrast option, which is not available in this mode).
Accessed by turning the Power/Mode dial to the Play position, this mode lets you view or delete recorded images as well as set them up for printing. Pressing the Menu button in this mode pulls up the following menus:
Image Storage and Interface
The QV-3000EX utilizes CompactFlash (Type I or II) as its image storage medium, which should never be removed from the camera while in use. An access light on the outside of the slot lets you know when it's ok to pull the card out (we found this light to be a little dim and hard to see, it's best to judge by the LEDs next to the optical viewfinder). As noted at the outset, Casio has created an incredible value in the QV-3000 bundle, by shipping every camera with a 340 megabyte(!) IBM MicroDrive! This provides an incredible amount of image storage, by anyone's definition! An interesting feature is that the QV-3000EX creates an HTML file with four card browser options available (compatible with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 or later and Netscape Communicator 4.5 or later). QuickTime 3 is required to play back movie images. The four different card browser formats let you choose how much information is recorded with each image (a very detailed chart in the manual explains the settings). The card browser feature is very slick for people (like us) who want to know what all the exposure settings were for each picture. Perfect for the detail-oriented techno-tweaks!
The QV-3000EX organizes images into storage folders, assigned numbers from 100 to 998. Within each folder, images are numbered from 0001 to 9900 and each folder contains up to 100 files. An extremely detailed directory tree in the manual shows exactly how information is encoded on the CompactFlash card.
You can protect individual images on the CompactFlash card through the Playback menu in Playback mode, preventing accidental deletion of images. If you want to erase images, the Delete menu in Playback mode gives you the option of deleting individual images, a folder or all images that aren't protected. You can also hit the trash can button on the back panel to delete individual images as they appear on the LCD monitor.
The QV-3000 does support an uncompressed TIFF file format, but it appears to be in the native CCD format, and so is of relatively limited use. (No use?) We weren't able to open the uncompressed files from the camera in any imaging application we tried. (But here's a link to a file, in case you want to experiment yourself. Be warned that it's a 6+ megabyte download though!) To access the uncompressed TIFF mode on the camera, press the Set and Flash buttons simultaneously in any capture mode. The only way we could find to turn off this feature was to cycle the camera's power.
Below are the number of still images that will fit on the 340 MB MicroDrive card and their approximate compression ratios. (Can you believe those image numbers?!):
Image download is remarkably fast, thanks to the USB host connection, and the speed of the MicroDrive: We clocked the QV-3000 at 20.4 seconds to transfer a 6,146K uncompressed-mode file, an incredible transfer rate of 301 KBytes/second!
US models of the QV-3000EX come packaged with an NTSC video cable for connecting to a television set (and we assume European models come with PAL compliant cables). As soon as the camera is connected to the television, the LCD monitor shuts off and the television set takes its place, displaying information for image recording and playback.
The QV-3000EX runs on four AA alkaline, lithium or nickel-hydrogen rechargeable batteries. We found battery power to last a very long time while shooting in the studio, but still highly recommend keeping a freshly charged set of spares around. The measurements we took below confirm our studio experience: The QV-3000 has surprisingly low power consumption for a camera with such high resolution. An AC adapter is available separately and is useful for saving battery power when playing back images or downloading them to a computer.
|Capture Mode, w/LCD||
|Capture Mode, no LCD||
|Half-pressed shutter w/LCD||
|Half-pressed w/o LCD||
|Memory Write (transient)||
|Flash Recharge (transient)||
The QV-3000EX comes with a USB cable (yeah!) and standard RS-232C serial cable, allowing image transfer to systems running Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0 or Macintosh OS 8.1 and higher An accompanying CD features the Photo Loader 1.0 software, which downloads images from the camera to the computer. It also includes Panorama Editor, which creates and plays back panoramic images, and QuickTime 3 for viewing movies. Casio also throws in a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 for good measure. All the software included in the box is for Windows systems (95/98/NT), but the box says "Macintosh versions available," so the Mac software is presumably available as an option.
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings: For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the QV-3000's "pictures" page.
As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed: Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the QV-3000 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.
We felt the QV-3000EX turned in some of the best pictures we've seen from a Casio camera to date (February, 2000), to say nothing of the resolution produced by the 3 megapixel sensor and Canon-branded lens. Color was very good, albeit slightly muted. (Although we found it looked better on our PC's monitor than on our Mac's, perhaps due to "gamma" differences between the two platforms.) Color was quite accurate, and the camera did a good job with the difficult red/magenta separation, and the tricky blues of the model's pants and blue flowers in our outdoor portrait shot.
While we don't yet have any other 3 megapixel cameras to compare it to, the QV-3000 turned in resolution numbers that equalled or comfortably exceeded the top of the 2 megapixel offerings (depending on which camera you were comparing it to). We rated the horizontal resolution at 800 lines per picture height and the vertical resolution at 750-800 lines.
One of the QV-3000's strongest point is the unusual level of control it provides over exposure parameters, offering multiple aperture settings, full-program, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority metering, and even a "hidden" full-manual exposure mode. Other options include control over contrast, color saturation, flash intensity, and camera light sensitivity. This is one of the most exposure-control flexibility we've seen yet, and an exceptional value for a 3 megapixel camera, given Casio's inclusion of a 340MB MicroDrive as the standard storage medium!
We found the QV-3000EX's optical viewfinder to be a bit loose, showing about 88 percent of the final image area in wide angle and about 84 percent in telephoto. The percentages were about the same in the smaller 1024 x 768 image sizes. We also noticed that the framing in the optical viewfinder resulted in a slant downwards towards the left side. The LCD monitor was also a bit loose, showing about 90 percent of the final image area in wide angle and about 93 percent in telephoto. As with the optical viewfinder, the percentages were the same for the 1024 x 768 image size as the larger 2048 x 1536 size.
The QV-3000 performed quite well in Macro mode, with a minimum area coverage of only 2.23 x 1.67 inches (56.7 x 42.5 mm). While not reaching the microscopic level of some recent cameras, the QV-3000's macro coverage is clearly better than most.
For a bottom line to our tests, we feel that the QV-3000 provides very good image quality, excellent resolution, exceptional exposure control. - A good choice for someone interested in exercising more photographic control than most digicams allow, with a full 3 megapixel resolution.
Overall, we were very pleased with the QV-3000EX. It offers the best image quality we've seen yet from Casio, with a strong feature set at a very attractive price. (Particularly given the inclusion of the 340 megabyte IBM MicroDrive!) The versatility and flexibility offered by the full manual control and the variety of options (sharpness, contrast, saturation, flash intensity, sensitivity, etc.) make it a perfect camera for either the novice or the advanced photographer who wants the best of both worlds (full auto or full manual control). The camera is light and portable, has a good user interface, and it's images show the significant increase in resolution you'd expect to find when moving from two to three megapixels. (Helped along by the excellent Canon optics.) Bottom line, we expect this to be a very strong seller, popular across a wide range of digicam users.
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