Casio Exilim EX-H20G digital camera

Casio Exilim EX-H20G review: The vacation-friendly EX-H20G has a 10x optical zoom lens, outstanding GPS features, and in-camera mapping.

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Casio Exilim EX-H20G
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Snaps good photos, good zoom, GPS

Cons

  • Lacks manual controls, only digital when recording video

Bottom Line

The Casio Exilim EX-H20G digital camera has a long zoom, long-lasting battery, array of scene modes, very good image quality, in-camera photo-editing functions, and excellent GPS integration

Would you buy this?

The 14-megapixel, 10X-optical-zoom Casio Exilim EX-H20G is a great little travel companion, thanks to well-implemented in-camera mapping and GPS features that make it a near-perfect pocket megazoom camera for your holiday.

Although it performs well overall, a few key features are missing: It lacks manual controls, it omits a burst-shooting mode, and it doesn't shoot the sharpest photos in low light. All in all, however, the EX-H20G offers a lot more to like than to complain about, and its battery life and its in-camera GPS features are among the best we've seen to date.

Hardware and Design

At 1.13 inches deep, 4.0 inches wide, and 2.7 inches high, the Exilim EX-H20G is a bit bigger than your average pocket camera. It's still small enough for roomier coat pockets or cargo pants, though.

The camera has a 14-megapixel CCD sensor (sized at 1/2.3 inches) behind its 10X-optical-zoom lens, which reaches from a very wide-angle 24mm to a telephoto end of 240mm. An additional 5X digital zoom is available beyond the telephoto end of the zoom range, but image quality gets downright rough once you dip into the digital zoom.

Maximum aperture settings range from F3.2 at the wide-angle end to F5.7 at the telephoto end, but the lack of manual controls and an aperture-priority mode means that you don't have direct control over its width. Shutter speeds are variable only through use of the camera's extensive array of scene modes; scene options such as "Soft Flowing Water" and "Fireworks," for instance, use slower shutter speeds, while modes such as "Pets" and "Sports" use faster ones.

Like most point-and-shoot cameras these days, the EX-H20G has no optical viewfinder. A 3-inch LCD on the back of the camera serves as your only viewfinder, but it generally does a good job of staying visible in most lighting conditions.

Due to the absence of manual options, the camera's controls are simple and straightforward. On the back of the camera is a dedicated video record button, a dedicated Auto mode button, a playback button, a Menu button, and a 'BS' button that takes you to the camera's Best Shot menu of scene-mode offerings. A round directional control pad surrounds a selector button for navigating in-camera menus.

On the top of the camera are the on/off button, the shutter release surrounded by a zoom control, and the camera's slightly protruding GPS antenna. Two more buttons on the top provide quick access to the camera's mapping and GPS features: One button, which has a graphic of a Fisher-Price-like person, centers the camera's map on your current location. The other button, which has a globe-like icon, displays the shots you've taken on a map interface (as well as the route you've traveled with your camera in hand).

Shooting Modes and Features

Although you can't set the aperture and shutter speeds directly, the Exilim EX-H20G goes a long way toward making up for that with 28 different scene modes (which Casio dubs Best Shot selections in the camera's menus).

In addition to the usual cast of characters, such as Sunset, Night Portrait, and Fireworks modes, a few unique modes join the mix. You get a Slide Panorama mode, which lets you take a 360-degree panoramic shot simply by pressing the shutter and panning the camera horizontally; Soft Flowing Water, which uses a slow shutter speed to soften up images of moving water; an Autumn Leaves mode, which boosts red hues and enhances contrast; and self-portrait modes for one or two people. The camera also provides details about what each scene option does to the in-camera settings, which is a nice touch. In addition, you get a handy selection of color filters that you can overlay on your shots as you take them, a lot like working with flash gels.

The craziest feature by far is the camera's Dynamic Photo setting, which lets you overlay animated animals, text, or other cartoony graphics over your images. You can overlay animations and preview them right in the camera, and Casio offers a Dynamic Photo Manager as a free (but separate) download that lets you create animated GIFs or movies from your creations on your computer.

The Casio Exilim EX-H20G is definitely geared more toward fun and futuristic features than it is toward traditional meat-and-potatoes performance. In some respects this is a bad thing: The camera's startup-to-first-shot time is slow, as it takes around 2 seconds to power on and get ready to shoot, and it has no burst mode at all, which is especially surprising given Casio's range of High-Speed Exilim cameras.

A few focusing options are in the mix, but notable performance issues affect some of them. The EX-H20G's autofocus generally performs well, and a motion-tracking autofocus mode is available to help keep fast-moving objects in sharp view. However, the camera's macro capabilities are mediocre at best--you can get only about 4 inches from a subject without producing a blurry shot--and its manual focus needs a bit of work, as well.

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