Casio QV-2300UX PlusA 2 megapixel swivel-lens design with lots of creative options and a 340-megabyte Microdrive included (US only)
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Page 2:Executive OverviewReview First Posted: 1/29/2001
Don't let its compact size fool you, the Casio QV-2300UX Plus is packed with features far more than most digicams of comparable size and cost. Measuring only 4.6 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (118 x 67 x 54mm), the QV-2300UX Plus should fit easily into a purse or large coat pocket. It weighs only 8.6 ounces (245 grams) and comes with a soft case and wrist strap to make toting it around a cinch. Like many previous Casio digicams, the QV-2300UX Plus features a swiveling lens housing that rotates approximately 270 degrees up and down, allowing you to direct the camera lens forward, up, and back, as well as any angle in between. The lens is protected by a plastic lens cap, complete with an attachable cord, so you don't have to worry about leaving it behind. The main body of the camera has only a modest collection of control buttons, all of which are pretty easy to reach with the right thumb and forefinger.
The 3x, 6.2-18.6mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 41-123mm zoom on a 35mm camera) is built into a rotating lens housing, which turns on a smoothly-operating swivel mechanism. The inner lip of the lens has filter threads for attaching filters, adapters, and lens conversion kits, via an (optional) adapter ring. Focus is controlled automatically or manually, with two fixed-focus modes for Macro and Infinity. In addition to the 3x Optical Zoom, the QV-2300UX Plus has a 4x Digital Zoom function, which effectively increases the camera's zoom range to 12x. The Digital Zoom menu has two enlargement factors, 2x and 4x, which are engaged by zooming past the maximum Optical Zoom setting or by accessing the Digital Zoom menu in the Record > Function mode, as described below. (Imaging Resource warns readers that digital zoom is a software function, that enlarges the central portion of the CCD only. As a result, it reduces overall image resolution, decreases quality, and raises noise levels. Digital zoom is not a substitute for optical zoom.)
Due to its small size and rotating lens housing, the QV-2300UX Plus has no room for an optical viewfinder. Thus, the 1.8-inch LCD monitor remains active at all times, displaying a variety of camera specifications on-screen, including battery power, remaining image count, and exposure information. Additional information is displayed as different functions are activated.
The QV-2300UX Plus offers nine Recording modes: Normal, Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Scene (Preset), Movie (Normal), Movie (Past), Panorama, and Interval. Portrait and Landscape modes adjust the aperture setting to achieve the best depth of field for each subject, while Night Scene uses slower shutter speeds to record darker surroundings. The Scene mode offers 31 presets (three of which are user-defined) for capturing specific subjects, such as fireworks, streams, still lifes, night scenes, and fast action. The two Movie modes allow you to record up to 16 seconds of moving images without sound. The Normal Movie mode begins recording images as soon as you press the shutter button; the Past Movie mode records the action to a memory buffer when initially activated, but records only the last 16 seconds of the movie as a permanent file when you press the shutter button. Panorama mode lets you take up to 10 sequential (side-by-side) images that can be stitched together as a full panorama on the computer, and Interval mode captures a series of images at set time intervals, much like time-lapse photography.
You can access the Recording mode menu by pressing the Menu button on top of the camera while in Record mode. This brings up a series of 10 icons, spread out over two screens. By pressing the Plus and Minus (+/-) buttons on top of the camera, you can scroll through the mode selections until you highlight the one you want. Press the shutter button (which doubles as an "OK" button) to engage the mode, and the camera automatically engages the appropriate camera settings for that particular shooting situation. Some selections, like the Scene mode, will bring up additional menus or options that must be considered before they return you to a shooting mode.
The Function mode is the tenth icon in the Recording menu. It provides access to an extensive selection of exposure adjustments, special effects, and basic camera settings, such as the Exposure mode (see below). You can scroll through these options, just like you did the first set of icons, using the +/- buttons on top of the camera. Once you highlight the function you want to change, press the Shutter button again, and it will bring up the menu for that function. In Exposure mode, those options include Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, and Manual. Each option provides various levels of user control over shutter speed and aperture. For example, Program AE places the camera in charge of both shutter speed and aperture, while the Aperture Priority and Shutter Speed Priority modes allow the user to choose either the aperture or shutter speed (respectively), and the camera determines the appropriate corresponding settings. Manual exposure places the user in complete control of both shutter speed and aperture settings. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 60 seconds (Bulb mode), and aperture settings are f/2.8 and f/5.6.
Though it's a long process, the Casio's extensive on-screen Function menu seems to be the simplest answer to accessing the many features this camera has to offer. In some cases, you can bypass the Function menu and make some simple mode changes using the buttons on the camera. For example, Exposure modes, Metering, and White Balance can all be accessed using the Shortcut keys below the LCD monitor: Hold down the Shift/Info button on the far left and scroll through settings with the next three buttons. Their icons will appear at the bottom of the LCD to help you determine what function each button controls. You scroll through their menu options by continuing to press the button until you reach the options you want. Exposure mode options are the same as those listed above for the Function menu. Metering modes include Multi, Center, and Spot. White Balance options include Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, and Manual settings. (The Manual setting allows the user to determine the white balance value by taking a reading from a white card held in front of the lens.)
The same three buttons have dedicated functions if you don't hold down the Shift/Info button. The second from the left is the Flash button. It has four operating modes: Automatic, Off (forced), On (suppressed), and Red-Eye Reduction. (Flash intensity can be adjusted through the Function menu, with options of High, Normal, or Weak flash intensities.) The Focus button has three options: Macro, Infinity, and Manual. The last button, the Self-Timer, can be set to a two- or 10-second countdown. It's activated by fully depressing the Shutter button. Exposure compensation is another function controlled externally. Settings are adjusted with the +/- buttons on top of the camera. Options range from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third EV increments.
Among the Function menu items, there are several special effects that can be used to enhance your images. The Filter option works similar to conventional lens filters, allowing you to add Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, or Purple tones to your images, or you can change them to B&W (black-and-white) or Sepia. Specific colors can be emphasized through the Enhance feature, which boosts the saturation of Reds, Greens, Blues, or Flesh Tones. In addition, overall Color Saturation can be set to High, Normal, or Low, as can image Contrast and Sharpness.
The camera features serial and USB output jacks for connecting to a computer, and a USB cable is provided. The software CD includes a USB driver, software manuals, Photo Loader, Panorama Editor, Internet Explorer, QuickTime, PhotoGenetics (trial version), Acrobat Reader, ActiveShare, MediaCenter, and Zing. (Only Photo Loader, Internet Explorer, QuickTime, and PhotoGenetics are compatible with both Windows and Macintosh formats, the remaining applications are Windows-only). The included software provides downloading utilities, as well as minor image correction and editing tools, a panorama "stitching" solution, and web utilities for ordering prints and creating online photo albums.
An NTSC video cable is provided for connection to television sets in the U.S. and Japan, while European models ship with a PAL video cable. The video out setting is adjustable through the camera's Set Up menu. Once the camera is connected to a television, images can be composed and reviewed through the larger television screen -- the perfect venue for a spur-of-the-moment family slide show. For power, the QV-2300UX Plus uses four AA alkaline, lithium, or NiMH batteries, with a set of alkaline batteries accompanying the camera. An AC adapter and a battery charger are available as optional accessories, which we highly recommend purchasing.
The QV-2300UX Plus provides an excellent level of exposure control, with full manual exposure and extensive color adjustments. We also enjoyed the rotating lens and bountiful Recording mode options. This camera has enough manual controls to interest more advanced users, with automatic settings and a wide range of preset Scene modes that should set most novices at ease. It's lightweight and portable, and the inclusion of an IBM Microdrive can't be beat.
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