The Casio EX-G1 is Casio’s first ruggedised compact. Freezeproof, waterproof, dustproof and shock resistant, but what are the pictures like? The What Digital Camera Casio EXILIM EX-G1 review finds out…
Casio EXILIM G1 review – Features
The Casio EXILIM EX-G1 is a rugged compact, this being its main selling point.
Freezeproof to -10C, waterproof to 10ft, dustproof and shock resistant to a fall of 7ft, the onus here is on grabbing snaps whatever the conditions, wherever you happen to be. And, to polish it all off, this is the world’s slimmest rugged compact, measuring just 20mm at its slimmest.
The 12megapixel Casio EX-G1 has a 2.5in LCD on the rear for live capture of stills and video (not HD though, only 848X480 maximum) and a tucked-away lens with 3x optical zoom, equating to 38-114mm in 35mm equivalent terms.
ISO ranges from 64-3200, and anti-shake electronic stabilisation can be activated to keep images sharp (though this works by upping the ISO to allow for faster shutter speeds, therefore less motion blur, but means lower image quality results).
An array of easy point-and-shoot modes also feature, with Casio’s Best Shot providing the Casio EXILIM EX-G1 with the capability to auto-recognise the scene at hand and auto-adjust settings accordingly.
Casio EXILIM G1 review – Design
The Casio G1 is certainly a slim and small compact. In fact, many users may find it too thin and uncomfortable to hold.
On the other hand, as it’s so small and light, it does make the ideal thin and near-flat surface that can easily fit in a pocket without digging into skin – ideal for extreme sports, adventurers and the like with limited space to hold important items such as a camera.
Saying that, the design isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes as it’s ‘edgy’ appearance, while providing it with ample attitude of character, makes the layout feel a little odd at times. The styled d-pad on the rear is very close to the strap-tie, which can prove a nuisance when clicking right.
However, with the zoom in/out buttons featuring on the rear rather than the camera’s top, one-handed use is fairly easy by resting the base of the camera across the little finger, pressing the shutter with an index finger, controlling the zoom with a thumb and having the other fingers available for front-side grip – though this only works due to the right hand side of the camera being taller than that of the left.
The microSD card door release features to the right in the form of a large silver nudge wheel. It needs to be turned relatively forcefully, though does seem predominantly large given its function. At least it’s sturdy and won’t break, but more space allotted to the G1’s controls would have been better spent, plus there’s that slight worry of accidental opening in a tight-fitting pocket (though this didn’t happen during testing, despite lack of spandex pants to really give it the full workout).
The menu system layout is simple and, although not clearly marked, the centre button of the d-pad acts as a quick menu that can be scrolled through to change the major settings. No manual mode features however, instead Best Shot (BS) provides auto or selected scene modes, and is readily accessible from the quick-access BS button atop the camera.
Casio EXILIM G1 review – Performance
The Casio EXILIM EX-G1 is ultimately designed for rough and rugged use, perhaps to the detriment of its performance capabilities when compared to a non-rugged compact camera.
The screen is relatively small by today’s standards at 2.5in, but its more the LCD’s playback quality that’s of limited quality.
The 3x zoom lens too, starting at a not-so-wide 38mm, doesn’t lend itself to wide scenes at all well – a potential issue when biking, climbing or any other such sport that this very camera is aimed at, given the likelihood of enclosed or limited space. Macro mode works from 10-50cms from the lens though, so reasonably close-up shots are obtainable.
There are some nice touches however, including a constant recording light that can be activated in the menu options to illuminate near-by objects – great for composing in dark conditions or when shooting video, though it’s not strong enough to illuminate significant distances.
Selecting ‘Best Shot’ mode is also made easy as there is a quick access ‘BS’ button on top of the EX-G1 for easy movement from one scene mode to another. However only limited manual controls apply, with the main mode providing control over exposure metering, ISO sensitivity and face detection.
Casio EXILIM G1 review – Image Quality
Images taken with the Casio EX-G1 above ISO 400 are incrementally soft due to noise reduction, plus the amount of image noise is considerable. Even below this ISO setting, images aren’t overly sharp due to the limited optics. Though this camera is predominantly aimed at those looking to use it in all sorts of compromising situations.
Casio EXILIM G1 review – Value For Money
The ruggedised compact market is relatively new, and until recently had been essentially operated by Olympus alone with its ‘mju TOUGH’ range. Wanting a piece of the action, very recently other manufacturers have got in on the game too – Fujifilm’s XP10, Sony’s TX5, Panasonic’s FT2 and the Pentax Optio W90 each looking to claim some ground. With more choice there’s more competitiveness surrounding price and, as exampled by the G1 being the world’s slimmest rugged compact, more choice too.
At around £235 the Casio undercuts the majority of the competition by a fair wedge of cash, making it a greater attraction on top of its already well-featured spec.
The Casio EX-G1 does what it says on the tin - it's rugged, freezeproof, waterproof, dustproof, shock resistant and ever-so-slim. But while it excels in the rough-handed department, it's let down by a relatively low-spec, not a wide enough angle lens and, ultimately, so-so image quality. If you need a camera that is hard as nails then the Casio EXILIM G1 is as good as they come, but if you're in the market for a camera to produce finer quality pictures then the same money could buy an entirely different approach of a camera. That's not to undermine the value as the G1 is the most affordable ruggedised compact available and it's a pretty fine one as far as they come too.