Buying a camera used to be a simple task: there were specific models for professionals who liked lots of manual controls, simple point-‘n’-shooters for amateurs who didn’t want any micro-management and camcorders to take care of all those home or holiday movies. Nowadays, ‘multifunction’ and ‘hybrid’ are the buzzwords and virtually any digital camera you pick up combines a host of different features across the genres.
The Casio EXILIM EX-FH100 is at the pinnacle of this development. Outwardly it looks very similar to scores of other compact cameras with its chic black case, 3-inch colour LCD and SD/SDHC slot alongside the battery in the base. However, a more detailed look at the exterior reveals a number of significant variations.
First of all, it’s bulkier than most at 105 x 63 x 30mm and that’s because it packs in a high-power, ultra-wide, 24mm, 10x optical zoom lens (the previous model only managed 5x) which makes its overall weight 227g. The EX-FH100 has a sturdy build and this is matched with a firm grip at the front right rather than the usual smooth front.
The other thing you notice is the economy of controls and settings and that’s because this camera is specifically designed for those who want to take photos and videos of fast-moving objects. There’s a separate High Speed button below the zoom control on the top that will allow you to take an astonishing 40 frames per second (although you can only take a maximum of 30 frames in one burst) at full resolution.
But the main attraction here is in the movie modes. You can shoot full HD 1280 x 720p videos at 30fps and then play them back on your HD TV using the HDMI port on the side. Alternatively you can switch to High Speed mode and record videos at speeds up to 1,000fps for playback in slow-mo. Admittedly at this speed you end up with a paltry letterbox 224 x 64 resolution, but there are five other settings including a very crisp 640 x 480 at 120fps. Whether you’re recording a sports event or wanting to improve your golf swing, this a sure-fire crowd pleaser, especially as you can even shoot YouTube-specific clips.
When it comes to stills photography, the unfortunately named BS mode (i.e. Scene mode) has 30 options including Move Out and Move In continuous shooting to capture objects as they move in and out of the frame, plus a Pre-Record mode which starts shooting while the shutter release is only partially depressed. RAW photography is also possible (a big plus for serious snappers) and there are separate settings for Aperture and Shutter priority as well as a Manual mode.
This 10.1-megapixel camera also boasts a revamped back illuminated CMOS sensor, claimed to improve light sensitivity. The result is high quality results in both low light and strongly contrasting light conditions. When you add that to the exceptional focusing results even at full zoom, it’s hard to find a reason not to pack this camera next time you head off for an all-action day.
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