The Casio Exilim EX-S500 is an ultra compact digital camera. This is the type that will fit easily into a pocket. It has five megapixels and a three times optical zoom lens. The Exilim EX-S500 is easy to use and is a straight forward point and shoot camera. It is likely to appeal anyone who is looking for a camera they can carry anywhere with them and they can start using without spending hours studying the user manual.
Outdoor scenic type shots when the light is bright and sunny proved to be the strong point of the Exilim EX-S500. On the whole these shots are fine and they compare well against other similar cameras, but the lens is not one of the sharpest around. Bright and dark areas of each picture are handled well and the colours are deep.
In the colour test the colours come out well. They have a good balance with no one colour being overly dominant. The colours also posses a natural feel to them.
The outdoor portrait also stands up well in comparison to other cameras. In this case I have used the flash unit to beef up the lighting a little. The shot was taken in November and by this time of the year shots like this one can appear a bit dull otherwise.
Indoors in lowlight I could not get the camera to focus sharply no matter what settings I used. Both the indoor portrait and the shot of beer bottles taken in almost complete darkness are blurred. If I was to identify one typical weakness with digital cameras it would be taking shots indoors in lowlight. Nevertheless I had hoped for better and I am still disappointed by the overall quality of these shots.
The macro shot produces a very good photo. There is nothing wrong with the photo at all. Levels of detail are good and the image is sharply focused.
This section of the review has been updated in December 2005. I would like to thank Paul-Henri Cahier for his help in resolving a number of focusing issues I had previously had with the is camera.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
I managed to take a single shot in 0.11 seconds. This is very fast time. It took 11.69 seconds to take five consecutive shots. This works out at a rate of one photo every 2.34 seconds. This is an average time. The camera has no problems with shutter lag and is one of the fastest models I have tested.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The three times optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 38 to 114mm in 35mm format. There is also a four times digital zoom feature. For macro and close up photography the camera can focus from 17cms.
As ever Casio offer the widest range of scene modes that I'm aware of. These are pre programmed settings that help the camera to take the best possible shot in a wide variety of different photographic situations. The available scenes are: portrait, scenery, portrait with scenery, 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, collection, backlight, anti shake, high sensitivity, monochrome, retro, twilight, business cards and documents and whiteboard. If this is not enough you can quite easily create your own custom scenes as well. There are also preset movie modes: silent movie, short movie and past movie.
For composing images there is a 2.2 inch LCD screen. This is made up of approximately 85,000 pixels. There is no viewfinder.
The built in flash unit has a range of 2.5m. This falls to around 1.5m when the zoom lens is in use. The flash modes you can use are Auto, Flash On, Flash Off and Red Eye Reduction.
For focusing you can select between auto focus, pan focus, manual focus and infinity focus. Under auto focus you can select been spot and multi point focusing.
For when you would like to appear in the shot there is a self timer. This can be set to a two or ten second delay. There is also a setting that takes three shots after a ten second delay. The camera can also be used as a voice recorder.
To add something different to a photo you can adjust the contrast, sharpness and saturation levels. One of five colour filters can be used as well. These are for black and white, sepia, red, green and blue.
Movies can be recorded at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. The top recording speed is thirty frames per second. The duration of each movie is only limited by the capacity of the memory card. You can zoom in and out while shooting a movie.
Among the more advanced features are three types of metering (Multi-pattern, centre weighted, spot), exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV (in 1/3EV steps)), ISO sensitivity (50, 100, 200, 400) and shutter speeds ranging from 1/8 seconds to 1/2000 seconds.
Casio supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the Exilim EX-S500 to a PictBridge compatible printer, a computer and a television set.
Ease of Use
The EXILIM EX-S500 scores highly for ease of use. Buttons on the back are kept to a minimum. This makes it easy to get to grips with the controls that are there, but I would have preferred to see macro and self timer buttons rather than having to set these through the menu. The menu system is very easy to use though and you will soon find your way around.
You can pick up a Casio EXILIM EX-S500 for around £215. This compares to around £225 for a Canon IXUS 55, £200 for a Fuji Finepix Z1 and £175 for a Pentax Optio S5z.
Slim and stylish this camera will easily fit into a small bag or pocket. It has a grey finish and a few slopes and curves to make it look a little different to the standard ultra compact models. It has dimensions of 90 x 59 x 16.1mm and weighs 115g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
A rechargeable lithium ion battery is used to provide power to the camera. Both a battery and a charger are supplied with the camera. Casio estimate you should be able to take around 200 photos before the battery needs recharging.
8.3mb of storage is built into the camera. This means that no memory card is supplied with the camera. I was able to take just four photos before the memory was full. This was using the default settings. This is very poor and means you will have to buy a high capacity memory card when you buy this camera. The camera is compatible with SD cards. Click here to save money on SD cards..
Points I like:
Minimal shutter lag
Ease of use
Where it is not so hot:
Indoor focusing problems
Very small internal memory
Small flash range
The Casio Exilim EX-S500 is a good all round ultra compact digital camera. It is easy to use and takes good outdoors shots. I have reservations about the quality of the camera indoors though.
Casio EXILIM EX-S500 Front View
Casio EXILIM EX-S500 Back View
Casio EXILIM EX-S500 Top View
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