Casio Exilim EX-FC100 review

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Casio's Exilim EX-FC100 is a unique camera. While most of its functions can be found on many other point-and-shoot models, the EX-FC100 can shoot short bursts of images for capturing fast-moving objects and people.

As a point-and-shoot camera, the EX-FC100 is fairly typical: It has a 9-megapixel sensor (which allows you to extract large prints from your images), a 5X optical zoom for extra telephoto reach, a stabilized sensor for sharper handheld shooting, and all of the expected point-and-shoot features, such as scene modes, face detection, good metering, and autofocus.

What sets the EX-FC100 apart is its ability to shoot bursts of up to 30 full-resolution images per second, and video at up to 1000 frames per second. While those features may not seem immediately useful to the average snapperr, the way Casio has implemented them will make them incredibly valuable to anyone who frequently photographs moving subjects -- such as sporting events, wildlife, and artful "moment of impact" scenes.

Casio's Exilim cameras are renowned for their incredible thinness, and while the EX-FC100 is a very small camera, it's larger than most Exilim models. That said, the EX-FC100 is beautifully designed and has an extremely low profile. It lacks any kind of moldings or handgrips, but it's still easy to handle and comfortable to shoot with.

The 2.7-inch LCD is bright and clear with nice color and good detail, but its images appear a little soft. At first that might make you think the camera's autofocus isn't working, but you'll soon get used to it and learn to recognize what good focus looks like on the EX-FC100's screen.

Unlike most cameras, the EX-FC100 lacks manual shooting modes. Though the camera is always in auto mode, it allows for manual control of ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, and flash mode, and changing any of those parameters is easy. However, the lack of true manual controls will frustrate experienced users.

In place of manual modes, the EX-FC100 provides a huge assortment of scene modes, or what Casio refers to as Best Shot modes. The modes tailor the camera's settings to specific situations. While Casio has provided a Best Shot mode for seemingly every possible contingency, trying to figure out exactly when to use a mode labeled 'Autumn Leaves', for example, can be tricky. One impressive Best Shot option is the Multi-Motion image mode, which quickly shoots a series of images and then composites them together. For instance, if you use it to shoot someone throwing a Frisbee, the result will be one image with multiple Frisbees in the air, creating a stuttered trail. It's a gimmick, but a lot of fun.

The camera's stabilization feature works well, and while the EX-FC100 lacks an optical viewfinder, the LCD screen is bright enough for use in direct sunlight. Autofocus and metering are both very good, and the camera provides several different focusing and metering modes. Fortunately, Casio has eschewed some more-gimmicky features (such as smile detection) and stuck with technologies that actually work.

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