Conclusion - Pros
- Slim all-metal body
- Very very compact for a camera with a 7x zoom lens (world's slimmest)
- Subtle processing, good color
- Superb build and finish
- Easy to use
- Well designed control and menu system
- Very fast startup, focus, shutter lag - feels very responsive
- Lots of scene modes and in-camera effects / editing
- Superb screen; very bright
- Accurate white balance
- More manual overrides than normal in a camera of this type
- Lots of on-screen information including exposure info and live histogram
- Excellent MPEG4 (H.264) movie mode; good quality and small file sizes
- Zooming during movie clips
Conclusion - Cons
- Most images look soft, lack biting detail
- CCD-shift image stabilization almost totally ineffective
- ISO 1600 very noisy - next to useless
- Heavy noise reduction at ISO 100-800
- Underpowered flash
- Cannot charge the battery or connect to PC without using the cradle
- Resolution at anything other than widest aperture well below average
- Corner softness, vignetting and strong distortion
- Some fringing and highlight clipping
- We'd prefer the lens started wider than 38mm equiv.
- Maximum shutter speed of 1/800 sec
The Casio EX-V7 is one of the those cameras that works better on paper than it does 'in the flesh'. The combination of ultra-compact design, 7x zoom, mechanical stabilization and rich feature set is an alluring one, and one that makes the EX-V7 one of the most powerful 'pocket cameras' we've seen to date - a real case of 'having your cake a eating it'.
Like I said: on paper.
The reality is that the EX-V7 is a disappointing camera, and one that fails to deliver on its promise, even allowing for the compromises inevitably involved in squeezing this much stuff into such a small body. Of course we expect there to be such compromises, but there has to be a limit to what is acceptable; being able to fit a camera in a shirt pocket surely should not come 'at any cost'.
It's not all bad news: the camera itself is a real pleasure to use; it's fast, feature-packed and easy to use, has very reliable exposure and an excellent movie mode. Like all recent Casios it has a real wealth of shooting modes, effects and parameters to tweak, and the excellent user interface does a great job of putting a friendly face on the extensive feature set. It produces decent (though not great) results at the wide end of the zoom, but is much less impressive as you move up the focal range; at the longest focal lengths the output is soft and - thanks to the almost pointless image stabilization - usually blurred too.
So, if you're looking for a 'carry anywhere' camera with more lens reach than normal, and you put the physical size of the camera as number one priority, the EX-V7 could be a winner - for the lack of competitors, if nothing else. And if you tend to shoot at the wider end of the lens most of the time, but like the idea of a decent telephoto should the need arise, then you'll get perfectly decent results - as long as you don't expect miracles and aren't looking to produce large prints.
But to be honest I'd find it hard to imagine who I would recommend the EX-V7 to. If you want the zoom range get a Panasonic TZ3 (which has a proper wideangle, better lens and is remarkably small) or the Canon A710 IS (which knocks spots off the EX-V7 image quality and offers better manual control). Both these cameras have image stabilization that actually works, meaning the long end of the zoom is actually usable, even if the light isn't perfect.
And if you really do want a slim camera that won't ruin the line of your suit then there are numerous better cameras out there - including several from Casio itself - that are slimmer, smaller and offer far better image quality, for less money, if you can live without the extra zoom.
If the image stabilization worked we could probably forgive the long list of image quality niggles. Many of these issues are fairly minor, and many won't really bother the typical user, but they do start to add up, and taken as a whole the output simply isn't good enough to earn the EX-V7 our recommendation. The big zoom / tiny camera proposition, that seemed like such a good idea on paper, simply serves to prove that you can only push the 'have your cake and eat it' thing so far.
Casio has come a long way since kick-starting the compact digital camera market a decade ago, and has shown, with models such as the EX-Z750, that it has what it takes to compete with the more established names in the photographic market. The EX-V7, however, shows that it's still a company that sometimes forgets that a cool gadget isn't anywhere near as cool if it isn't really up to the job it was designed for.
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||6.5|
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|Casio EX-V7 Samples Gallery - Posted 6th May 2007|
Casio Exilim EX-V7SR 7.2MP Digital Camera
with 7x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom