The Casio EX-S12 - at just 15mm wide - is an ultra-slim compact. But does Casio successfully cram as many features into this tiny body to make it as successful a compact? The What Digital Camera Casio EXILIM Card EX-S12 review...
Casio EXILIM Card EX-S12 review
Calling the EX-S12 an ultra-compact is something of an understatement. It’s a 12.1-megapixel, 3x zoom camera weighing just 130g including battery, with a strong all-metal body that’s only 17mm at its thickest point. Yet despite its size it has a decent list of features including a 2.7in 230k monitor screen, advanced face recognition, automatic brightness correction, adjustable portrait enhancement, continuous flash shooting, and even HD video recording.
While the size is great for portability it makes the S12 a bit fiddly to operate, and the shiny finish of the body is a bit slippery even with dry fingers. However, if you can cope with the size the EX-S12 is a very enjoyable camera to use. The controls are responsive, and the sidebar menu makes adjusting the many features quick and easy.
One new option is the Lighting feature, an automatic contrast function that helps to improve shadow detail in high-contrast shots. Other advanced features include Auto-Shutter, face detection and some nice Best Shot modes including Silent Movie, Multi-motion Image and a YouTube capture mode.
The stand-out feature for this camera is the HD video recording mode. The EX-S12 can shoot at 1280 x 720 resolution at 24 frames per second, with mono audio and clip length limited to 10 minutes. The optical zoom cannot be used while recording. The video quality is pretty good, and the audio is at least acceptable, if not really up to the standard of more expensive rivals.
The S12 starts up fairly quickly in about two and half seconds, but the shot-to-shot time is a little over three seconds, which is pretty slow by recent standards, and slower still if the ‘Make up’ or extra lighting features are used. The camera has several high-speed low-res continuous shooting options, as well a standard full-res long-period continuous shooting mode, although this is very slow at about two seconds per shot.
The EX-S12 has a very fast and accurate autofocus system, and it works well in low light too thanks to a good AF assist lamp. The flash is also surprisingly powerful for its size, with a range of at least four metres and excellent frame coverage.
Image quality, and particularly image noise, has traditionally been a weak point for Casio compacts, but the EX-S12 shows encouraging improvements in this direction. Images are largely noise-free at 400 ISO, and have good detail and colour rendition. Even at 800 ISO image quality is far from unusable, although the effects of the noise reduction system are clearly visible.
The only real weak point is the lens, which isn’t particularly sharp even in the centre of the frame, and suffers from blurring and chromatic aberration at the edges of the frame. It also suffers from very obvious barrel distortion at wide angle. Casio used to fit Canon lenses to its better cameras. Maybe it would be wise to do so again.
The Casio Exilim EX-S12 is as small as a camera can get without being too fiddly to use, but packs in a good list of features and is easy to use. Performance is a little slow, but with quick autofocus and good low-light capability, it’s ideal for social and holiday snaps.