The Casio Exilim EX-FC100 has everything you need in a camera, and then some. It's light enough that you might forget about it until it is time to leap into action. And, oh, what nice results.
The camera is armed with 9.1 megapixel photos, a 5x optical zoom, and the option to take rapid bursts of shots -- up to 30 in one second (but not 30 per second continuous; it needs time to reset after a 30-shot burst). The combination of that and being able to select camera settings from "Best Shot" mode mean that you'll take some great pictures without too much fuss.
Indeed anyone with passing familiarity with digital cameras should be able to do some neat things out of the box. Of course, studying the manual will teach users how to dig down into the feature set, but there's nothing overly complicated here.
The dedicated button for taking video was a good idea, versus most cameras, which make you switch camera modes. And while our highly anticipated encounter with a backyard hummingbird never happened, we were at the ready with the 30-shot burst mode, which the camera slips into at the touch of a button. In fact, the Exilim EX-FC100 snaps to attention pretty darned quickly -- about 3 seconds to power on.
Oh, and did we mention the pre-record function? This is a simple-yet-innovative idea that we hadn't encountered before. When the camera is in rapid-shot mode or video mode, it's constantly shooting to an internal buffer. In other words, you'll get pictures when using either of these modes from before you pressed the button. Who needs a quick trigger finger?
Indeed, the EX-FC100 has all the features and more, but its performance may lag in a few areas. For instance, many users have complained about noise reduction and overall image quality. Others advise making sure the light conditions are always optimal. Now, as a relative amateur consumer of digital photography, we were happy with the pictures under all conditions we tested, but if you're a picky, "prosumer"-level shutterbug, you may need to run some tests of your own. The only out-and-out negative is the price. If you're already inclined to spend about $350 on a pocket camera, the Casio Exilim EX-FC100 might just be the device you are looking for. But if that's too steep for your budget, there are definitely lower-priced options with fewer bells and whistles that can perform the core functionality (taking nice stills) just as well.
In fact, Casio's other Exilim models are also great options for someone who likes the slick operation and interface, but can pass on the "wow" factor of the high-speed bursts and pre-recording.
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