Casio Exilim EX-H20G digital camera

Casio Exilim EX-H20G review: The vacation-friendly EX-H20G has a 10x optical zoom lens, outstanding GPS features, and in-camera mapping.

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Casio Exilim EX-H20G

Pros

  • Snaps good photos, good zoom, GPS

Cons

  • Lacks manual controls, only digital when recording video

Bottom Line

The Casio Exilim EX-H20G digital camera has a long zoom, long-lasting battery, array of scene modes, very good image quality, in-camera photo-editing functions, and excellent GPS integration

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While using manual focus, we found it hard to get a crisp shot of close-up subjects, and we could really hear its inner gears churning while we were manually focusing the camera.

ISO settings range up to 3200, but you start seeing a lot of noise around ISO 800. The camera has a dedicated low-light scene mode called Candlelight Portrait, but its low-light images aren't nearly as sharp as those we've seen from a lot of current cameras in the same price range.

The Exilim EX-H20G shoots 720p video at 30 frames per second (as well as standard-definition 640-by-480-pixel video at 30 fps), and an HDMI-out port is available on the side of the camera for viewing clips on an HDTV. Unfortunately, you can't use the camera's optical zoom while filming; the zoom is digital-only in video mode, and you see a definite downgrade in video quality if you use that zoom while filming.

Performance, Image Quality, and Video Quality

As long as you're shooting in daylight or other well-lit situations, the camera's Auto mode does an admirable job of capturing crisp, colorful images and video.

The Exilim EX-H20G performed well across the board in PCWorld Labs subjective tests for image and video quality, earning an overall performance score that rivaled those of high-end point-and-shoot cameras such as the Canon PowerShot S95 and the Nikon Coolpix P7000.

The EX-H20G earned scores of Very Good for each of our imaging categories (exposure quality, color accuracy, sharpness, and lack of distortion), and the camera received a score of Good for video quality and audio quality.

Battery life is outstanding (and that's an understatement). The Exilim EX-H20G's rechargeable lithium ion battery has a rating of 600 shots per charge with the camera's GPS functionality turned off, and 480 shots with GPS turned on. Most cameras in its class are rated for 300 to 400 shots per charge, so the EX-H20G's level of energy efficiency is truly rare.

You can view the sample clips that the PCWorld Labs used in subjective tests for bright-light video and low-light video. Select 720p from the drop-down menu in the lower-right corner of each player for the highest-resolution video clips.

GPS and Mapping Features

The EX-H20G also has some of the best in-camera GPS features we've ever seen, thanks to its intuitive map interface, points-of-interest database, real-world location names (not just raw latitude and longitude data), and easy integration with the mapping services in Flickr, Google Earth, and Picasa.

Establishing a GPS connection for the first time requires being outside with a clear view of the sky, and linking up to the satellites takes about 2 to 3 minutes for the initial connection. After that, it's smooth sailing, and the camera's internal autonomic positioning system can log your travels from there, even while you're indoors.

Pressing the globe-icon button on the top of the camera brings up the map interface, while pressing the person-icon button centers the map on your current location; the latter feature performed quickly and accurately during my hands-on tests, with a margin of error of about one city block.

As long as you have the camera's GPS functionality turned on, the in-camera map interface shows where you've been wandering with a trail of red dots. It also displays blue dots that you hover over with the camera's directional-pad controls to view photos taken at each location.

When you're taking a photo with the GPS feature powered on, the LCD shows the names of nearby points of interest on the map. If you turn on 'Place Stamp' in the camera menu, you also see a drop-down menu at the bottom of the display that lets you overlay the name of each location in the bottom-right corner of each photo. Around the PCWorld offices in San Francisco's South of Market district, the camera listed many appropriate points of interest (South Park, AT&T Park, China Basin, Hills Plaza).

Once you offload your images to a computer, the geotagging integrates perfectly with Flickr, Google Earth, and Picasa. The longitude and latitude data isn't explicitly visible in each image's EXIF data, but the shots show up in precisely the right spot of each program's map interface.

Unfortunately, my supervisors didn't respond to my repeated requests to go on an all-expenses-paid around-the-world vacation to test the camera's GPS skills across the globe, but the accurate location-based data and mapping of shots I took in San Francisco are good indicators of how well the camera's GPS functionality performs in a big city.

Buying Advice

If you're looking for a camera that's all about fun, battery longevity, and travel-friendly features, the Casio Exilim EX-H20G is in a league of its own. Its long-zoom lens, long-lasting battery, array of scene modes, very good image quality, in-camera photo-editing functions, and excellent GPS integration are standout features for casual snapshooters and young photographers. Advanced photographers will miss the manual controls and low-light shooting capabilities, however, and anyone looking to shoot a lot of video with their camera may be disappointed by the digital-only zoom when recording.

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Read more on these topics: Casio, Casio Exilim, digital cameras, photography

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