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Casio EXILIM EX-FH20
In a market littered with superzooms, it's really tough for one to stand out of the crowd without being too eccentric and dysfunctional. The Casio EXILIM EX-FH20 manages to do so with its high speed still photography, slow-motion video capture, and plethora of features.
To begin with, the EX-FH20 boasts of a solid body that's made of smooth, hard plastic with ample rubber around the handgrip, and an overhanging thumb grip on the facing side of the camera. The camera's of average size (123 x 81 x 85 mm) and weighs 513-grams with batteries inside, making it slightly heavy. It uses 4 AA batteries, which is a great thing for those of you who're too lazy to keep charging your camera.
The button placement's spot on. The top-front side of the handgrip is elevated and slightly angled so that your index finger rests on the shutter button perfectly. The zoom toggle's placed around it. The power button and mode dial are placed behind it. The mode dial's doesn't have your standard modes, instead, to show you that they've made the EX-FH20 more than just a still camera, they've included only one still camera setting on the mode dial. The other settings include Burst mode with flash, 40 FPS burst mode, High Speed video and standard video. All sub-modes can be accessed from the interface menu.
Besides the mode dial, near the viewfinder, there are two buttons to switch between live and preview mode. The right hand side of the 3-inch LCD hosts a minimalistic set of buttons compared to most cameras. You just have a display, menu and BS (best shot) button, along with a navigation pad that has a 'set' button in the middle. Since the buttons/interface is unique, it might take you a while to get used to. It's in no way badly designed though, and works great to give you access to the camera's key-features. However, the navigation pad doesn't double up as a 4-way shortcut key, so those used to that might miss it here. The camera's even got a Macro mode button placed on the left side of the lens, making it convenient to switch in and out of it easily.
With a unique set of buttons and a solid frame, the EX-FH20 boasts of far more individuality than most superzooms, and at the same time continues to be extremely functional, ergonomic and feels good in your hands.
The camera boasts of a CMOS sensor that takes shots of up to 9 megapixels in all still shot modes, other than the camera's scene or "Best Shot" mode. As I mentioned earlier on, since the camera has a set of unique features such as high speed (1000 FPS) video recording and high speed burst mode (40 FPS), its modes are set to allow easy access to these features. The first is the flash with burst shot mode that's pretty much self explanatory, which is followed by a 1-40 FPS for truly powerful high-speed burst. The results of the high speed burst mode's impressive, and the camera captured 40 shots of 7 MP each and saved them within seconds. You can credit this to the camera's buffer that stores all those images temporarily, so even if you have a slightly low speed SD-Card, storing multiple images in this way won't take any time at all.
The next mode is your standard still shot mode. You have a host of manual modes within this mode, including full Manual, Shutter priority and Aperture priority. Apart from this you have the Auto and Best Shot modes. Best shot mode includes all the basic scene modes you'd want, along with an extremely useful "High-speed Low Light" mode, which allows you to take multiple low light shots consecutively, and helps you yield blur-free low light shots without a tripod!
In addition to this, there's the camera's HD video (1280x720) recording modes, including high speed and standard video. The high speed video recording lets you take slow motion video of up to 1000 FPS. This does reduce the quality of the video tremendously though, making it more of a fad than anything else. At slightly lower FPS though, the camera's video recorder yielded really good results.
Image quality was decent, but not the best; color reproduction was good and auto-white balance was spot-on. The camera's ISO sensitivity was also average for a superzoom, with shots above ISO 200 losing detail a bit, and getting high on artifacts.
The camera's night mode (and I don't mean the High-speed Low Light mode, which is awesome) was just about ok, and reproduced pictures that were average on details but high on artifacts. There was a little color bleed in some areas too, so those who really wish for great night shots might want to dabble with the camera's manual features more and use that to get the best results (or use the high-speed low light mode, alternately).
The camera features 20x optical zoom, which is big number, but you cannot take great shots at full zoom without a tripod, since the EX-FH20's image stabilization isn't the best. On the other hand, the camera's macro performance was pretty impressive and its lens could focus on objects as close as 1.5-inches.
The Casio EXILIM EX-FH20 boasts of a unique set of features such as high-speed still and video capture, opening up many creative possibilities, such as shooting stock-motion animation sequences and slow-motion video. Most of the basic features of the camera performed averagely though, but one could call it a fair trade-off considering you get a plethora of features in exchange. If you don't mind settling for average quality in exchange for a really unique set of features, this one's certainly a good buy. The only issue is, that the camera costs a bomb — Rs. 39,995 to be precise — which is more than it's worth!