The Casio EX-FC100 is one of Casio’s newest entries in their line of highly regarded, extreme tech point and shoot cameras. Like the others in the line, the FC100 has a very small form factor and weight, 9 megapixel JPG resolution, and a large, easy to read LCD.
Although there are some nice options like the ‘best shot’ presets and a really fabulous anti-shake system, if all you’re looking for is a good, easy to carry point and shoot, you might think the $399 list price is somewhat overpriced; and you’d be right. Where the FC100 really shines and achieves it’s value is in the breadth and depth of their high speed still and video options.
Just looking at the back of the camera you’ll notice some buttons that should grab your attention. The first is one called ‘slow.’ Using this button caused a universal jaw-drop to everyone I demonstrated it for … it seems to slow down whatever you are looking at until you are ready to take your picture(s)! At least within the confines of the LCD screen, when you click the ‘slow’ button, you start viewing 1, 2, or 3 seconds worth of full-resolution images at 30, 15, or 10 frames per second that allows you to cherry pick just the pictures you want to take – no more missed smiles, splashes, or slam dunks!
There’s also a one-click ‘30’ button that takes a burst of 30 pictures during one second – so if you know you’re going to see something cool, you can bracket it with this and come up with some pretty neat flip card type pictures and effects as well as making sure you don’t miss that critical shot. It would have been nice if the FC100 let you adjust the burst mode, speed, or number of pictures, but in most cases between that and the slow motion button I did not miss it. Of course, 30 fps is going to fill up your storage pretty quickly, but the FC100 has a nicely intuitive interface to let you choose just the frames you want – another great way to zero in on just the right picture.
Typical for this level of p&s these days there is a video camera mode as well. What is atypical is the ability to switch on a ‘high-speed’ function that allows you to take from 30 to 1000 frames per second video (thus producing a slow-motion video experience). I had a great time with this as my friends went golfing and we were able to minutely dissect each other’s golf swings. I didn’t find pushing it to the max 1000 fps setting very useful though, as even the 240 fps image quality was at the limits of usability for this purpose I felt … much experimentation would be needed to ensure that you are using the appropriate setting for HS video and not losing important detail of what you are trying to capture.
One thing to be careful about: The switch for going between normal and HS video is easy to flip – particularly if you haven’t used the camera much before, and the HS video does not record sound. My wife was disappointed at losing some video and audio of our 3 year-old daughter singing a song because it was accidentally left in HS mode. I should also mention that there is a video out on the camera that not only allows you to view the videos and pictures on your HDTV, but also creates an impromptu slide-show type of thing. You won’t want to do that too often though, except maybe to quickly look through what you’ve accomplished during the day as the background music choices range from the merely insipid to downright irritating! 🙂
Back to basics on this camera, I have to say I was particularly impressed by the quick on-to-picture time … the boot process was clean and quick every time. The LCD screen was big and bright, though it seemed to alter it’s refractive capabilities oddly when taking pictures sideways in sunlight. I kept trying to figure out if this was just my viewpoint or sunglasses or something, and it wasn’t a big deal but I thought was strange and you might want to play with it a bit and see if it bothers you before purchasing.
My bottom line is that while at first it seems a touch pricey at retail of $400, if you can find it cheaper (I’ve seen it for close to and under $300 lately) and will make use of the high-speed functionality this is a top-notch, cutting edge camera that is a lot of fun to play with! If you’ve got kids in sports or pets that you love to get action photos of – that would make the Casio EX-FC100 nearly a must-have in my book.
Check out our recorded interview with Casio to hear even more detail about this very cool, 4 chips out of 5 product!
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