Casio EXILIM Card EX-S10
Promoted as the world’s smallest and thinnest 10 megapixel digital camera, the Casio S10 has a 3x optical zoom lens with a 36 to 108mm equivalent focal length coupled to a 1/2.3 inch CCD. The S10’s stylish body, measuring just 94.2mm wide, 54.6mm high and 15.0mm thin (13.8mm at the thinnest part) is the product of Casio’s relentless pursuit of thinness.
The S10 incorporates Casio’s newly developed 2.7-inch Super Clear LCD. This displays extremely sharp and vivid images, thanks to its high contrast ratio and its 230,160 dot high resolution. According to the company, the S10’s display can be viewed easily from above, below, left or right thanks to its wide viewing angle, and it is extremely bright, making it easy to see even in daylight.
The Casio EX-S10’s Auto Shutter function automatically records the moment of a smile or the instant when hand shake ceases, using motion blur detection technology. The camera also offers iTunes-compatible H.264 video which utilizes the AAC audio codec widely enjoyed in Apple’s iPod, etc., and it’s possible to record movies in an appealing wide format. The S10 also features a Movie Button which makes movie recording easy. Images are stored on SD, SDHC, or MMC cards, plus 11.8MB of built-in memory, and the S10 derives its power from a custom lithium-ion battery pack.
The Casio EXILIM Card EX-S10 digital camera lists at U.S.$249.99, ships February 2008, and comes in four colors — red, blue, silver, and black.
Casio EX-S10 User Report
by Mike Pasini
Intro. A thin camera is like a credit card. There’s no reason to leave it stashed in a drawer. There’s always room to bring it along and before you know it, you’ll be glad you did.
Open. The lens extrudes.
The Casio S10 is indeed thin (but not flimsy), if not remarkably thinner than its competition. And I did indeed take it along with me whenever I left the bunker, capturing a wide range of shots whenever I felt like it. Which was a lot.
But just as a credit card does, the S10 extracts a price. It’s missing some features I’ve really come to expect in a digicam. Things like image stabilization and a zoom range beyond 3x. And then there’s that interest charge. In the case of the S10 it was image quality. But we’ll get to that.
I came to think of the S10 more as a notetaker or a sketchpad than a travel companion. Fun, that is, but not particularly smart. If you’re experienced behind the camera, you’ll be happier with something else. If you’re new to the game, the S10 has some appeal. It does have one unusual feature, though, that might make it a must-have for students or others faced with taking lots of notes.
Look and Feel. Most thin digicams rely on folded optics to stay trim. But relying on that periscope design with a compact-lens size optic in the corner of the camera introduces all kinds of optical aberrations. The S10 uses a lens that extrudes from the thin shell in three barrels, a common approach for thicker digicams with real glass. It should be an advantage.
While Casio makes a lot of the S10’s thin profile, other digicams aren’t exactly Hummers. Thin really boils down to a convenience. Fujifilm, Nikon and Sony make some pretty thin cameras, too. And I wouldn’t turn up my nose at a Canon ELPH because it wasn’t card-like. Personally, if it fits in my pocket without bulging too much, I’m satisfied.
More importantly, despite its thinness, the S10 is not light. It isn’t heavy either. But it has a nice heft that keeps it stable when you press the Shutter button. I found it a very well-balanced box, in fact. So no complaints here about the form factor. I don’t think Casio compromised on anything (except perhaps the buttons) to make such a thin camera.
While the buttons are located conveniently enough that the camera can be operated with just one hand, they are not only small but very shiny. That looks nice, sure, but to my mind, Casio made a big mistake with them. It’s impossible to read the icons on the shiny little buttons. They’re legible, sure, but unreadable.
So write this down: Playback and Record are above the Navigator and Menu and Best Shot are below. And if you actually buy an S10, take some nail polish or acrylic paint and fill in the icons. Paint to fill, wipe to see.
The Navigator itself doesn’t use the arrow keys for anything but moving around. That’s because Casio uses its wide screen LCD in a novel way. Casio uses it to display the Shooting menu all the time, even when you’re shooting in 16:9 mode.
The 2.7 inch LCD with 230,160 pixels and usable in bright sunlight makes it easy to read the integrated screen menu. Just hit the center button on the navigator to activate the Menu. The Up and Down positions on the navigator, consequently, select a different option, while Left and Right change the current option’s setting.
It may not be standard, but it’s a simple and effective arrangement, easy to learn and hard to forget.
What is a bit too simple and not at all effective is the user manual. It’s a thick little booklet but only 24 pages are given to the topic and even then each item is shared with three other languages, making a very frustrating reading experience. The other pages? More languages.
But don’t bother reading it. There’s almost no useful information in the thing, just a gloss of the usual nonsense you don’t need to be told. It’s hands down the worst manual I’ve ever seen accompanying a digicam — and I’ve been reading them since 1998.
To understand any of the Casio S10’s multitude of interesting features, you need to dig out a PDF file from the software CD and open it up on your computer. This “electronic manual” is more complete, but still leaves something to be desired from a readability standpoint. My biggest objection to electronic-only manuals though, is that you’re left with nothing to drop in your camera bag so you’ll be able to refer to it while shooting. That, of course, is when you’dmost need a manual.
A 3x zoom may not sound impressive (and, frankly, the restriction is something I find just too confining these days), but considering it’s packed into this thin a camera without resorting to a folding design, it bears some consideration. We should see better optical performance than a folding design or a longer zoom, but we found a variety of issues with the Casio S10’s optics.
There is no optical image stabilization on the S10 lens, which sets it apart from its competitors, too. It isn’t a long zoom at 3x, but image stabilization comes in handy for natural light shots at slow shutter speeds that otherwise would be subject to camera blur. So I missed it. Especially considering that the S10’s flash is one of the weaker examples of the species. (An unfortunate consequence of subcompact camera designs, there just isn’t room for a very big flash capacitor.)
Interface & Modes. It took me a while to grasp how to actually use the S10. There’s no Mode dial. Most cameras have a Mode dial that offers an obvious Auto mode, maybe a Programmed Auto mode of some kind, a Movie mode and finally all those Scene modes no one ever uses.
But Casio apparently figures that every mode is a Scene mode (with one possible exception for Movies, which has its own button). And that actually makes a lot of sense.
The Scene modes, which are extensive, include: Auto, Portrait, Scenery, Portrait with Scenery, Self-Portrait (one person), Self-Portrait (two people), Children, Sports, Candlelight Portrait, Party, Pet, Flower, Natural Green, Autumn Leaves, Soft Flowing Water, Splashing Water, Sundown, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Fireworks, Food, Text, Collections, For eBay, Backlight, Antishake, High Sensitivity, Underwater, Monochrome, Retro, Business cards & documents, Whiteboard (etc.), Silent, Prerecord Movie, For YouTube, Voice Recording, Recall User Scene, and Register User Scene.