Review: Casio Exilim EX-S770

This ultra-slim point-and-shoot was designed with the novice in mind, yet it includes enough manual controls to keep enthusiasts happy.

Review-Casio-Exilim-EX-S770
Review-Casio-Exilim-EX-S770
Casio Exilim Ex-S770

Review: Casio Exilim EX-S77079767622343CasioEX-S770Picture yourself riding along the narrow, ancient streets of Florence, Italy on your red Aprilia scooter. You pass Florence's most famous landmark, The Duomo Cathedral, and realize that it's not supposed to be in your route to the Galleria dell' Accademia. So, being the savvy traveler that you are, you pull out your 7.2MP Casio Exilim EX-S770 (street $250) to look at the street maps. You can do this because the EX-S770 allows you to place data files and web pages into the camera, which converts them to JPEG files for viewing -- in essence, creating a "poor man's G.P.S." Sure this may be a novelty in the point-and-shoot camera world overrun with novelty features, but like many of the other features in this camera, it's actually quite useful. The Exilim has a glossy, liquid finish with chrome intertwined. When you press the power button, the 38-114mm f/2.7- 5.2 3X optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent) telescopes outward, showing a mix of brushed and polished chrome with beveled edges. The camera's rounded corners add to the elegance and the 2.8-inch LCD screen (230,400 pixels) finishes off the state-of-the-art appearance of this camera. The controls, although on the small side, feel precise when pressed, adding to the overall solid feel the camera has in your hands. Like the other cameras in Casio's "Slim" line, the EX-S770 falls into the "Ultra Compact" size range and is only 0.7" thick by 3.7" wide by 2.4" tall.

Picture yourself riding along the narrow, ancient streets of Florence, Italy on your red Aprilia scooter. You pass Florence's most famous landmark, The Duomo Cathedral, and realize that it's not supposed to be in your route to the Galleria dell' Accademia. So, being the savvy traveler that you are, you pull out your 7.2MP Casio Exilim EX-S770 (street $250) to look at the street maps. You can do this because the EX-S770 allows you to place data files and web pages into the camera, which converts them to JPEG files for viewing -- in essence, creating a "poor man's G.P.S." Sure this may be a novelty in the point-and-shoot camera world overrun with novelty features, but like many of the other features in this camera, it's actually quite useful.

The Exilim has a glossy, liquid finish with chrome intertwined. When you press the power button, the 38-114mm f/2.7- 5.2 3X optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent) telescopes outward, showing a mix of brushed and polished chrome with beveled edges. The camera's rounded corners add to the elegance and the 2.8-inch LCD screen (230,400 pixels) finishes off the state-of-the-art appearance of this camera. The controls, although on the small side, feel precise when pressed, adding to the overall solid feel the camera has in your hands. Like the other cameras in Casio's "Slim" line, the EX-S770 falls into the "Ultra Compact" size range and is only 0.7" thick by 3.7" wide by 2.4" tall.

The EX-S770 is crammed with 35 "Best Shot" scene modes that cover just about any shooting situation. Casio has made picking a scene easy for the novice shooter by showing images of similar scenes, so it's simply a matter of picking the image that best matches your current shooting situation and letting the camera do the rest. Add to this the DSP in-camera digital stabilization and it should help even the most inexperienced photographers make a good image. The simplicity that design engineers have thought into this camera doesn't stop there though -- the EX-S770 allows you to set the menu features along the right side of the LCD screen, giving you access to all menu options in a quick, easy to navigate format. The letters and symbols used in the menu are also bright, easy to read and understandable. Anyone should be able to pick this camera up and navigate through the menu immediately -- it's that simple.

* Image Quality GalleryWhat's Hot: * Well thought out features * Data storage * Solid build and pleasing design * Soft Flash mode * Easy menu navigation * 2.8 inch LCD * 16:9 Video Mode What's Not: * Inferior image quality * Manual focus * Smear and noise on LCD in viewfinder mode * Small control buttons

As is typical for most ultra-compacts, the camera's LCD screen works as the viewfinder (since there is no optical viewfinder option) when shooting and a full LCD screen when reviewing images. At a generous 2.8 inches diagonally, the EX-S770 screen has a 14:9 ratio and to the unaided eye, has the appearance of a high-end 16:9 HD television set. The underlying purpose of this is that the EX-S770's engineers have built in the ability to shoot 16:9 ratio videos that match the format many of the popular HD television sets now have. Additionally, the EX-S770 can be set for standard 640X480 NTSC and web oriented 320X240 pixel videos that can be shot in either AVI or MPEG-4 formats.

Another surprising feature that the EX-S770 sports is manual focus -- well, kind of. In the camera's menu options, there are five focusing options: Auto, Macro, Pan Focus, Infinity and Manual Focus. In manual focus mode, a yellow square is superimposed on the LCD when you're framing your image. Depressing a combination of the function ring and the zoom controls will call up a detailed image of the area within the yellow border and allow you to focus. Unfortunately, the focus moves in 5cm "chunks" and isn't as fluid as manual or auto focusing would be on a film or digital SLR. When using this feature, we found that these adjustments are primitive and that moving the camera either closer or farther away from the subject would allow "fine tuning" the focus. Simply put, the manual focus is less than user friendly. Stick to the Auto and Macro focusing features and your in-focus shot count will go up considerably.

Another interesting feature that we discovered in the menu was in the flash settings. Like the focus, it also has five different options: Auto Flash, No Flash, Flash, Soft Flash and Red Eye Reduction. In shooting, the Auto Flash and Flash gave identical results. The Soft Flash however gave exactly that -- a softer lighting that was quite pleasant in comparison to the harsher lighting in the conventional flash modes. Judging strictly from visual appearances, it's obvious that this setting should be called a fill-flash setting because it incorporates more of the available light into the scene and thus reduces the harsher shadows that point and shoot strobes typically show in their images. For a camera designed for novice shooters, this is really an exceptional feature and will make any flash image look better. The one downside to this setting is that the flash is less effective in longer-distance shooting situations. This though is a reasonable trade off for the improved image quality you get with the Soft Flash feature.

In using this camera, I kept going back to how well thought out many of the features are. It's obvious that Casio designed this for the novice photographer, but surprisingly, it gives you enough options that you can set up many of the camera's functions manually. ISO, Exposure compensation, focus and other features can all be manually adjusted. The exposure however is strictly automatic, but with 35 different scene modes, you have your choices available here as well. Even with all of these options, however, the overall image quality feels a little disappointing. Many of the images lack that snap and sharpness available from other cameras, and even at a slow maximum ISO of only 400, noise was still clearly apparent on the monitor. Still, those who are inexperienced in digital imaging may be satisfied with the quality that the EX-S770 offers. The design, outside of this, is really exceptional and very user friendly.

Over all, the EX-S770 is an amazing slice of technology and again, it's obvious that much thought was put into the controls and general works of the camera. It feels great in your hands and has many features that are designed to improve the image making experience for the occasional photographer. At $350 though, it is pricey, especially when you consider the overall quality of the images. After all, isn't that the whole reason for having a camera?

In the Box:
Casio EX-S770 Camera
USB Cradle and cable
AC Adaptor
Strap
AV Cable
Casio NP-20 Li-Ion battery
Software CD-ROM

Specs:
2.8" TFT LCD (14:9 Aspect Ratio
3.7" X 2.4" X 0.7"
127 g (4.5 Oz) without battery and memory card
6MB internal memory
SD / SD-HC / MMC compatible

Poinsettias-in-Macro-Mode.-The-Macro-and-Auto-Focu
Poinsettias-in-Macro-Mode.-The-Macro-and-Auto-Focu
Poinsettias in Macro Mode. The Macro and Auto Focus modes have a higher success rate in comparison to the manual focus mode in the EX-S770.Photo By Mark Lent
In-portrait-mode-we-were-surprised-to-see-that-th
In-portrait-mode-we-were-surprised-to-see-that-th
In portrait mode, we were surprised to see that the camera uses the auto flash mode rather than the soft flash mode, which would be more pleasing for a close-up shot such as this.Photo By Mark Lent
The-Casio-has-many-thoughtful-features-and-some-th
The-Casio-has-many-thoughtful-features-and-some-th
The Casio has many thoughtful features and some that are innovative. Image quality was a little disappointing though and for the money, may make this camera a slightly less than excellent option for image making.Photo By Mark Lent
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