Casio Exfcioo

THE 9.1-MEGAPIXEL FCIOO IS CASIO'S LATEST HIGH-SPEED MARVEL

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tested by cliff smith

JIJI With last year's revolutionary Exilim

EX-F1 getting good reviews but selling poorly - thanks mainly to its prohibitive £650 price tag - Casio has put the same high-speed CMOS technology into a new compact camera, the Exilim EX-FC100.

It features a 5xzoom lens, 1/2.3in 9.1 MP CMOS sensor and mechanical image stabilisation, and it's capable of 1280 x 720 HD video recording, 30fps continuous shooting and lOOOfps high-speed video recording.

Casio gadgets are usually strong on style, and the FC100 is a good looking camera. It has a compact all-metal body, measuring just 99.8 x 58.5 x 22.6mm, and weighs approximately 180g including its battery and a memory card. The external controls are sensibly laid out, and despite the 2.7in monitor the body doesn't look cluttered.

That £350 tag puts the FC100 into the top price bracket for compact cameras, so the question is whether or not people will pay a premium price for the FOOO's rather unusual abilities. It has several unique functions that revolve around its ability to pre-record still images at very high speed. It can shoot up to 30 frames a second, storing up to 30 prerecorded frames before the shutter-press, so you'll always capture the moment.

As well as high-speed stills the FC100 has a high-speed video mode which can shoot up to 1,000 frames per second, producing dramatic slow motion effects up to 30x slower than real time. The resolution is restricted in these modes, ranging from 480 x 360 to 224 x 64 pixels, which is a little disappointing.

The HD video mode can record in 720p resolution at 30fps, although only with mono audio and without optical zoom, although digital zoom can still be used.

As well as all this, the FC 100 has sensor-shift image stabilisation providing around 2.5 stops of extra stability, and the 5x zoom lens has a focal range equivalent to 37-185mm. Menu options include multiple focus modes, manually selectable AF point and tracking AF, adjustable sharpness, saturation and contrast, and a range of colour filters.

With its high-speed performance it's no surprise that the FC100 starts up in a little over two seconds. In single-shot mode it can shoot at approximately one frame per second, and it also has a full-resolution continuous shutter mode which can shoot at 1fps until the memory card is full. It can focus almost instantly in a wide range of lighting conditions, and has a good bright AF lamp that allows it to focus in total darkness at a range of around three metres. The face detection system is also better than average.

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