There’s a huge market out there for digital cameras–plenty of brands to choose from and lots of options. Casio’s latest offering, the Exilim EX-S600, is a mid-range 6.0 megapixel camera for those who want some serious photography power without stepping up to an SLR. Some highlights of the EX-S600 include an anti-shake feature, gorgeous movie recording in MPEG4, and extended battery life that lets you get great shots without the hassle of having to recharge the battery. With a $350 price tag, this camera isn’t in everyone’s budget, but it won’t make you take out a second mortgage either. The EX-S600 has a few problems and issues that some may find unappealing, but you can make that decision for yourself as we review this slim and sleek offering from Casio.
Features and Design
Design has played a key role in the creation of Casio’s Exilim EX-S600. The camera is extremely thin and fits easily into crevices inside a purse or backpack. For taking pictures, you can use a MMC or SD card to store photos. It is available in 4 vibrant colors: Luminous Gold, Mistral Blue, Fiesta Orange, and Sparkle Silver (we got our hands on the Mistral Blue version and it truly looks spectacular). The camera features PictBridge, which gives you the ability to download pictures directly to a printer rather than going through a PC. For your viewing pleasure, pictures and previews are available on a crisp 2.2″ LCD screen that has just the right amount of space to take a picture correctly. Unfortunately, no regular viewfinder exists, so if you accidentally drop this camera and damage the screen, you’re out of luck.
Unlike many other digital cameras on the market, the buttons on the EX-S600 are very easy to use and navigate with. There is a dedicated power button next to the shutter button on the top of the camera, a record button for movies, zoom functionality via separate buttons for panning in and out, and picture mode and playback mode buttons. Next to the huge LCD display you’ll find a menu button and a button labeled “BS.” This isn’t what you think it is…it actually stands for “Best Shot,” an option Casio has created that sets up your camera to capture the best shot available. Options for Best Shot include portrait, scenery, party, and a slew of others. Lastly, you’ll find a 4-way directional pad for navigating through pictures, menus, etc., which is very easy to use.
The camera comes in a nice-looking box and includes some accessories, such as a lanyard, video out cable, battery, charger, and dock. The dock is nice, but also poses a problem. Casio expects you to only use this camera in your home. The only way to get pictures off the camera is to either use the included dock or take out the memory card and use a reader. This can be a huge pain; the ability to use a mini-USB cable here would have been a nice touch. Instead, you’ll have to drag the dock around wherever you go in order to charge the camera or to get pictures off of it.
Image Courtesy of Casio
Setup and Use
Unpacking the camera is easy and painless. Just hook up the dock to your computer via USB, plug the battery into the camera, and let it charge. Once charged, you should have lots of time to shoot some photos with this camera. Casio is pushing its “Super Life” battery, which is supposed to let you take up to 300 snapshots on a single charge. Not bad compared to other digicams, which normally quit after being on for more than 20 minutes.
This camera has some nice features that most people welcome. The anti-blur option significantly reduces motion blur when trying to capture a photo while moving. This feature also helps a lot when trying to take pictures of pets, automobiles, or when shooting in windy conditions. Don’t be afraid to take pictures if you have shaky hands or are nervous; Casio takes care of this problem with ease.
Another feature Casio is pushing is the high-quality movie-recording feature. With one touch of the record button, the camera shoots high-quality MPEG4 movies like a normal digital camcorder; obviously you won’t be replacing your traditional camcorder for anything over a few minutes long, though, as the Casio is held back by the size of your memory card. The movies it shoots are very clear and very nice for something coming out of a digital camera. You can even edit the movies inside the camera before transferring them onto your computer so that you don’t need to go through the hassle of in-depth video editing. This is a great feature that is normally flawed on other cameras, but it’s done right on the EX-S600.
After a day of shooting pictures in the park (or wherever you may be), you’ll want to come home and look at them. As I stated before, Casio’s only options are using their dock or using a third-party memory card reader. I consider this an inconvenience because I’d rather use the mini-USB cable that hooks up to many devices (such as my Blackberry, other digital cameras, and camcorder). Instead, I have to free up an additional USB port so the camera can transfer its photos over to my computer. Once it’s all hooked up, though, it works fine and puts them right into my program of choice (iPhoto) just fine. If you want to charge the camera, you’ll need to dock it as well, so I suggest you keep the dock plugged in and sacrifice another, lesser-used USB port.
So how does the camera actually work? Pictures look absolutely great, even at lower resolutions such as 1600×1200. The camera can auto-detect lighting conditions very well and only uses the flash when necessary. Because of this, those low-light, ambient shots you’re taking will come out just great. Plus, with the camera’s handsome LCD display you’ll know exactly what you’re shooting. With a decent-sized memory card, you can up the ante a little and shoot up to 2816×2112 resolution pictures that end up having stunning image quality. It’s overkill, though, when all you really need is the 2 megapixel setting to get great looking photos for 4×6 or 8×10 prints.
If you’re shooting at a concert, you’ll be pretty pleased with the results. The EX-S600 has 3x optical zoom with 4x digital zoom which can bring you up to 12x zooming capabilities when needed. Capturing photos of your favorite band in concert will be easy, no matter how far away from them you are. The lighting conditions are all automatically taken care of, but photographers with serious desires can dive deep into the extensive interface to get just the right settings.
Speaking of the interface, the layout is a bit lengthy, but not too much. Most digital cameras have the same layout as Casio, but it’s usually hard to navigate through the endless options available; however, because Casio provides a 4-way directional pad, you’ll easily be able to get to the options you need to make your desired changes. The EX-S600 also makes great use of its “Best Shot” function. When taking a picture of a person, selecting portrait mode brings up 9 squares on the display, emulating the “Rule of Thirds” that photographers use when taking detailed shots.
One very cool and welcome feature that comes with this offering from Casio is the ability to restore older pictures. Using the “Best Shot” function, you can take a picture of an older photo and have Casio automatically restore it to the best of its ability. It may sound a little weird, but seems to work pretty decently. However, although this is neat feature, chances are you probably won’t be using it too much.
Compared to other cameras in its class, the EX-S600 stands out above most, but only by a smidgen. The price is about right for a 6.0 megapixel camera of this caliber, but a Sony CyberShot or Canon Powershot in the same range will do just fine, especially if you can get a better deal on the price. The anti-shake feature and extended battery life make the Casio worth every penny though. Plus, being able to choose from 4 colors can be nice for some who might be giving this camera as a gift to someone. Personalization always counts. Below are some sample images:
The Casio Exilim EX-S600 is a very nice camera with a lot of great features. You’ll be sure to get great results and extremely good pictures from your photo excursions, but be careful when comparing it to other cameras around the same price. You may want a viewfinder in case the LCD should break, or a camera that connects via mini-USB so you don’t have to drag a dock around to show off your photos. Overall, though, this is a great camera that you’ll be sure to love and get lots of use out of.
- Above average picture quality
- Excellent movie recording capabilities
- Very long battery life
- Photo restoration abilities
- Dock is needed to charge camera and transfer pictures
- Nothing spectacular to make this camera stand out among others in its class
- No viewfinder