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Casio EX-FH25
10.1MP | 26-520mm (20X) ZOOM | $300/£300

The Casio EX-FH25 succeeds the EX-FH20 and is Casio's third high-speed superzoom camera with a CMOS sensor (the EX-F1 was the first camera of this kind and was launched in January 2008). The update is a fairly modest one. The megapixel count has been slightly increased (from 9.1 to 10.1 megapixels) but the camera design and lens specification remain virtually unchanged. By now several manufacturers have adopted high-speed CMOS technology (in this group test the Nikon P100 and Fujifilm HS10 come with this feature) but the EX-FH25 offer the fastest high resolution burst rates, an impressive 40 fps at 9MP for about one second.

  • 10.1 effective Megapixels back-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 26-520mm equiv lens with 20x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom
  • 3.0 inch LCD with 230,000 dots resolution
  • Electronic Viewfinder
  • 720p HD video recording
  • High-speed video capture up to 1000fps
  • Up to 40fps continuous shooting at 9 MP resolution
  • RAW-format (ISO 100 and 200 only)
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • ISO sensitivity up to 3200
  • Prerecord - Recording of action that occurs before you press the shutter button
  • Face Detection
  • Basic movie editing

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Overview

The Casio EX-FH25 is one of three cameras in this test that come with a back-illuminated CMOS sensor. However, while on the Nikon P100 and Fujifilm HS10 the high speed capture that becomes possible by using this technology almost feels like just another feature, the Casio appears to have been built around it. Considering Casio is one of the pioneers of this technology and the EX-FH25 offers the most extreme high speed modes (1000 fps movies and 40fps continuous shooting at full resolution) this all makes sense. As a consequence of this 'centralization' of the high-speed functionality, the user interface looks a little different to the other cameras in this group test, and doesn't feature any dials and only a minimum of external controls.

Due to the small number of buttons, most important settings, such as exposure compensation, ISO or white balance, can only be changed by entering the control panel (by pressing the SET button) which makes the camera most suitable for fully automatic operation. PASM modes are available but again have to be selected in the control panel, as the mode dial only offers direct access to the camera's high-speed movie and burst but not to manual modes.

Within our test group the Casio EX-FH25 is a mid-sized camera. Its weight, the rubberized grip and thumb rest and the textured plastic surfaces give it a solid feel. The grip is also pretty large for this type of body, ensuring comfortable handling, even with large hands. The screen and viewfinder are in line with most of the competitors in this group in terms of both size and resolution. There is a separate SD card compartment on the side of the camera which comes in handy if you want to change cards while the camera is mounted on a tripod.

Apart from the high speed movies the EX-H25 also offers standard 720p HD video recording at 30 frames per second.

Key Features

In terms of its overall dimensions the EX-FH25 is located in the mid-field of this group test and the fairly large, rubberized hand grip ensures comfortable handling. At full zoom the lens does not extend quite as much as some of the rivals in this test.
The controls on the camera's top are simple. Here you'll find the power button, the shutter/zoom rocker combination and a mode dial. The latter offers direct access to high speed movie and burst modes but no PASM. The play button and a button to return to shooting mode (half-pressing the shutter has the same effect) are located to the right of the viewfinder.
The story is similar on the rear of the camera. The Casio offers, for a superzoom, relatively few external controls. The four-way controller is accompanied by three buttons including a BS button which lets you choose a scene mode in the 'Best Shot' menu.
The EX-FH25 offers a focal length range that starts at around 26mm equiv. and extends out to the equivalent of 520mm. While only a couple of years ago this would have been considered an enormous zoom range, within this latest generation of superzooms 20x is in the bottom third.
The lens retracts into the body when the camera is off, keeping the package quite small. It then extends when powered-up - here it's shown at its wide-angle position.
The control panel is accessed by pressing the SET button and offers often used settings such as ISO, exposure compensation and white balance. Options in the control panel depend on the shooting mode you are in at the time.
A press of the BS button brings up the 'Best Shot' menu where you can choose from a range of pre-defined scene modes. All the options come with brief descriptions.

Image quality and performance

In terms of continuous shooting speed and movie capture the Casio EX-H25 is one of the fastest cameras in our group test. Shot-to-shot times (in single-shot drive mode) are very fast as well, at 2.0 sec (2.4 with flash). There's no reason to complain about image magnification and browsing in review mode either, but at 2.8 sec the EX-H25 is quite slow at getting ready after power-on and the zoom action is not too swift either, taking 2.3 seconds from wide angle to tele-setting. On the plus side it's possible to zoom quite precisely and the 35mm equivalent focal length is displayed on the LCD.

Overall most cameras in this group test are, in terms of AF speed, pretty close. Nevertheless at 0.3 sec at wide-angle and 0.5 sec at the tele-setting of the zoom lens the Casio's AF is one of the fastest systems in good light and only slows down marginally in less favorable light conditions (0.5 / 0.6sec).

In terms of image quality the Casio EX-FH25 is located somewhere in the middle of the group. At a pixel level it is not quite as good as the best cameras in this group but not too far off. Output can be a little soft with signs of noise reduction but on the plus side it's also relatively clean. It's also worth mentioning that there is a little bit of variation in terms of sharpness along the focal range. We found super wide angle and mid-range shots generally the sharpest with very slightly softer results around the 50mm mark and at the long end. At the extreme tele end you'll also find a considerable amount of CA in your images. Apart from a hint of corner softness at the long end sharpness is very consistent across the frame.

Exposure, auto white balance and focus are generally reliable. At default settings colors can appear a little muted but natural. At higher sensitivities the Casio suffers from the same noise and noise reduction problems as all its peers in this group test. At a pixel level it is a little bit softer than the best cameras in this group but doesn't show as much noise and artifacts as the weakest performers in this category. In our flash test the Casio exposed the scene well and found a good balance of ambient light and flash but defaulted to ISO 400, resulting in some loss of fine detail.

The Casio's movie output is good, with few artifacts and smooth motion. As in stills mode color is comparatively muted at default settings and sound is recorded in mono. There's no discernible shutter delay in video mode.

There no specific issues to worry about when shooting with the Casio EX-H25. As we've mentioned above exposure, focus, white balance and color are usually reliable. At large magnifications you can see the usual mixture of noise and noise reduction, especially in shadow and low contrast areas of the image. At the long end of the lens images are a little softer and show some fringing (CA). Overall, from an image quality point of view, the Casio sits in the middle of the cameras in this group test.

Summary

Casio was the first manufacturer to implement a back-illuminated CMOS sensor in a consumer camera and the EX-FH25 follows in that tradition. It does most things you'd expect from a camera pretty well. Exposure is reliable, the focus is fast and usually precise and the pixel-level image quality is, while not quite as good as the best in class, good enough for most purposes other than producing very large prints.

However, the camera is really built around its high-speed video and continuous shooting features. These modes can be accessed directly though the mode dial while the PASM modes, that you'd usually expect on the dial, have been relegated to the quick menu. In general, the relatively 'button free' user interface is not designed with 'traditional' photography in mind. For example you'll have to enter the quick menu every time you want to apply exposure compensation. This is in stark contrast to the other cameras in this test which often, at least to some degree, try to emulate the more 'hands on' control ergonomics of a typical midrange DSLR.

Nevertheless, if you are specifically looking for a camera with high speed capture capabilities the Casio is a good choice. Out if the three CMOS cameras in this test (the Nikon P100 and Fujifilm HS10 are the other two) it offers the fastest continuous shooting at high res (40 fps at 9MP and reduced quality) and (together with the Fujifilm) the most extreme video mode (1000fps). The output size of the latter is so small though that it almost seems pointless. On top of these functions you get a device that is also capable of capturing pretty good 'normal' stills images. At a current price of around $300 that sounds like a decent deal.

  • We like: Reliable metering and focus, fast AF, fast continuous mode, high speed video, snappy operation, RAW mode, value for money

  • We don't like: No HDMI output, 'short' zoom range, small number of external controls, slightly non-intuitive user interface, relatively inefficient image stabilization
  • Casio Exilim EX-FH25
    Category: Premium Enthusiast Compact Camera
    Build quality
    Ergonomics & handling
    Features
    Exposure and focus accuracy
    Image quality (raw)
    Image quality (jpeg)
    Flash performance
    Low light / high ISO performance
    Optics
    Performance (speed)
    Movie / video mode
    Value
    PoorExcellent
    Good for
    High speed video and continuous shooting
    Not so good for
    Manual setting of parameters and low light shooting
    Overall score
    66%
    The Casio is a good choice if you are specifically looking for a camera with high speed capture capabilities. Its 'core' photographic performance is by no means horrible but the camera struggles more than some rivals in low light and the user interface is most suitable for snap shot type shooting.
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