Casio’s latest EX-H20G adds Hybrid GPS to the compact camera fold. Does this latest feature warrant the price tag? The What Digital Camera Casio EXILIM EX-H20G review…
Casio EXILIM EX-H20G review – Performance
The H20G’s GPS mode works relatively well, though the ‘Current Location’ button was occasionally convinced of Japanese locations when this was not the case – it takes a little while to update sometimes (usually after a flight, for example) which can be a frustration. Once it has kicked in and found the exact location it’s possible to bring up a map of your surroundings and even check out some images of ‘best locations’ from around the world that are pre-loaded into the camera. The mapping system isn’t the most advanced – it’s not Googlemaps on a camera – but it’s a nice touch that has the grounding for plenty of future development in follow-up releases. The ‘Hybrid’ element to the GPS is a motion sensor that can detect movement to continue tracking in otherwise impossible locations – such as going through a tunnel for example. The main use for GPS is its ability to automatically tag latitude and longitude of your shots for placement on a map – something that’s useful for archiving, sharing or using web programs to automatically match your shots up with specific locations. As the technology gets more advanced there will likely be even more potential for such tagging.
The EX-H20G also has an impressive zoom lens. Its ability to zoom through from the wideangle to middle zoom is swift and accurate, though this does slow in terms of pace for more accurate zooming at the very top end. A digital zoom (that crops into the frame) up to 15x (equiv.) is also available should you choose to use it, though this is at the detriment of image quality above the optical 10x zoom.
Autofocus-wise and the H20G is actually pretty nippy at attaining focus, but there’s one slight blip when shooting at the fullest 10x zoom: the camera almost freezes up, there’s a momentary lag of nothing happening on screen then focus is suddenly attained. This is no particular issue for still subjects, but if you’re attempting to track a subject then it makes it very difficult indeed.
Outside of the standard Auto mode the Casio EX-H20G also offers a Premium Auto mode. This mode is designed to automatically recognise typical scene scenarios and adjust the settings accordingly. Although this sounds good on paper, the added processing time for every shot means there’s a couple of seconds to wait before the camera is ready to use again – something not present in the standard Auto mode.
Other Scene modes in the Best Shot menu will adjust the camera settings accordingly, and these shouldn’t be overlooked as a variety of them are very useful (Fireworks for low-light longer exposures for example). The new Panorama mode which, like many other manufacturers are now starting to offer, allows for a panoramic image to be taken by rotating the camera in real time. The H20G’s results are reasonable, but the small height and size of the file limits its use, the image quality isn’t overly exceptional and the biggest bugbear comes where certain surfaces are notably mis-joined in the auto-stitching process. It feels a little premature in its current state, especially compared to other offerings out there on the market.
Elsewhere and the EXILIM H-20G provides a seriously good battery life: its means you can, as the spec sheet states, take many hundreds of shots without fear of the camera cutting out. Certainly a very useful feature that can be easily overlooked when purchasing a camera, but here the H20G won’t disappoint (though the GPS feature means the battery life is ever so slightly less than other Hi-Zoom Casio compacts).
Instead of lens-based image stabilisation the H20G opts for CCD-shift stabilisation instead, which assists in keeping your images sharper and counters camera shake. It’s not the most ground-breaking but certainly goes some way to adding extra support in lower lighting conditions.