After searching for a decently priced replacement digital camera I could afford for over five years, I finally took the plunge and bought the Casio EXILIM camera after reading a Consumer Report about it being the best and cheapest camera they tried.
I was skeptical and looking for faults right out the box.
I did not like the battery compartment, the fact you could not charge the battery in the camera or pop in replacement store batteries if it failed or the heaviness of the camera with an imbalance toward the front where the telephoto lens was, not to mention that the lens, when opened, sounded like it was growling at me.
Once I figured out which way the battery went in and that you had to hold back the little tab, to get the battery to fit, it was not so bad.
The battery door did not automatically lock when you shut it and you had to push the little lever to lock it back in place.
Upon first turn on, the camera made a grinding noise, but after a few uses this stopped.
This camera came with an instruction booklet and a longer, more detailed DVD with over 100 pages in your choice of English, Portuguese, French and Spanish.
The camera is easy enough to use on automatic without reading the book, but it is easy to set it on something odd and end up with strange pictures, so it pays to read the manual first.
It allows you to change the auto focus to manual, center or mulit spot and once changed, will hold onto your settings even when the camera is turned off.
It allows you to take poster size pictures, though less of them per card storage (normal pictures blown up to poster size and still clear) and wide angle or landscape style pictures, so you need to be careful what setting you have it on or you could find your pirnts will not fit the standard photo print out format.
It has all sorts of cool features that I haven't even begun to experiment with like a mist setting that lets you take less foggy pictures when a mist is out.
It also has a makeup setting that smooths out wrinkles and blemishes and can be set high or low. It actually adds a lip stick effect to smooth out lips as well and is great when taking portraits of people who do not like the way they look on film.
The camera has a manual mode that gives you more control over your photo as well as various light settings.
It takes excellent sports pictures, even when set on automatic and stopped a juggler's batons in mid air with no blur.
It took good pictures at night, even through the 10 x telephoto lens, though you still had to have a steady hand to take pictures further away than 20 feet in low light.
The flash is super powerful when needed and will have people blinking and feeling around after you snap their photo in a dark setting. At a Relay for Life event in pale moonlight, I got excellent close up pictures with no blur and was even able to capture a good photo of a man on stage over 150 feet away.
The things I like best about the camera - it is slim and easy to put in a pocket, though not as thin as some cameras.
The battery life is good, even when taking flash, but purchase a back up battery just in case as when it starts to go, it goes fast.
The telephoto is excellent, getting clear photos with good lighting from up to 200 feet away.
Takes good indoor and up close pictures.
It has a lot of trick photography features that you can't do with other cameras, like overlaping two pictures in one and taking multiple pictures in one frame, though it takes a lot of practice and manual reading to master these tricks - one reason why it is a great pro cameras as well as simple for beginners that just want to point and shoot.
It has great white balance and you can turn off features you don't like.
The videos are pretty decent, though played back better on the camera than on the computer, but that could have been an issue with the computer, not the camera.
I would not recommend it as a great video camera, but it takes such great shots and has such a good telephoto and does well in low light and bright light, so is really a great overall camera that anyone can use as long as they don't press buttons and get it off the easy settings!
The things I did not like about the camera were minor:
The view screen reflects your face back at you, so can be a little distracting. it is like looking in a mirror and trying to focus on something further out.
In really bright light, taking a picture of dark skinned people or animals, it is hard to see facial expressions clearly through the view screen.
The battery is a little hard to insert and remove, though not that difficult, you wouldn't be able to load new batteries with gloves on though for sure. It really takes two hands to put the battery in, one to hold the catch back and one to insert the battery.
The video is pretty decent, but it is hard to tell when the video has turned off as the screen stays on and you still see the pictures moving. The red button to turn it on and off will read: Busy, please wait when you turn it off and many times I have thought I turned it off but have gotten pictures of the ground and sidewalk... this too might be user error on my part. You have to train yourself to look for the red recording button on screen not at the picture on the screen iself.
The only other thing I do not like is that the telephoto lens tends to make it feel front heavy in your hands or off balance and it feels like it would easily drop forward or tip over, so having the wrist strap attached and on your wrist is a must if you want to protect the camera.
Opening the slot to use the usb converter cord is also a pain and has to be pulled out like a plug on a leash and when you turn the camera on to transfer the pix, the lens rubs on the table or surface it sits on, so it almost pays to use the SD card to transfer them instead.
I used this camera in a light rain and it worked great, though it is not water resisitent.
It has a wide view screen and is light weight, easy to use, has many features that more expensive cameras charge a fortune for and honestly takes just as good pictures as the huge 35 mm look-a-likes.
You can find the camera itself selling for under $99, so as a back up camera or main camera, it really can't be beaten for features and value. We'll see how it holds up over time!
Screen Size:2.7 in.
HD Recording Format:720p (HDTV)
Standard Point and Shoot
Image QualityImage Resolutions:640 x 480
Camera Resolution:12.4 Megapixel
Video Resolutions:320 x 240
Type:Autofocus & Manual Focus
Focal Length:4.3 - 43 mm
Optical Zoom:10xExposure Control
Shutter Speed:1/2 - 1/2000 sec
White Balance:AutoFlashISO Speeds:AutoStorageCompression Type:JPEGBuilt-in Memory Size:24.5 MBMemory Type:Built-inIncluded FeaturesSelf Timer:2 Sec.
Interface Type:USB 2.0Power SupplyBattery Type:Lithium-ion Battery
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Amount Paid (US$): 115.00
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Flexible Enough for Enthusiasts