Compact My Exilim Adventure: trying out a 10-year-old premium compact

melanie.ylang

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Location
Australia
(Seeing that I wrote a similar title this time last year, about a 10 year old bridge camera which I quickly abandoned using, I'm not sure how big this adventure will be. Only time will tell!)

At heart, I am a compact camera shooter: I like absolute comfort, convenience, and portability. When I first joined this forum, it was still called Serious Compacts, and to me that meant the premium "large sensor" compacts of the early 2010s...you know the ones: they had a 1/1.7 inch sensor only marginally bigger than a smartphone sensor. Sure, a couple of manufacturers had APSC sensor compacts, but with one exception they had short, fixed lenses, and I wanted to ZOOM!

My first was an Olympus XZ-1, which I still have. Next was its successor, XZ-2, and then the long zoom version Stylus 1. I fell for Fuji's looks and got an X10 then an X30, bought and sold, then repeat. (I still have an X30, it's the most satisfying small camera I've had.) I veered into micro four thirds, where I find myself content...mostly. I tinkered with a couple of compact Panasonics, a Canon 1", tried a couple of lens-style cameras, and bridge cameras.

There are cameras I've still not seen with my own eyes, and Casio's Exilim EX series was among them. I knew what they were - basically the same as Olympus' parallel offerings with a Casio twist, where EX-10 = Oly XZ-2 and EX-100 = Oly Stylus 1.

When I was idly browsing used cameras for sale online, a barely-used EX-100 appeared, and in no time I was down the rabbit hole into wwwonderland. It was a short trip, as not a lot has been written in English about this model, beyond initial reviews, and a few comments on forums.

Tossing caution to the wind, I negotiated a sale, and BOOM! I had a new camera to start the 12 Days of Christmas with.

Here it is, with original Exilim-branded, leather, never-ready case.
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Anticipating that this thread will help keep me exploring the camera's clever features, I plan to post a series, going beyond New Year with any luck!
 
@tilman, @agentlossing, @MountainMan79 - thank you for your comments, it's encouraging that anyone is interested in this old camera!

I took it to work with me and on my way inside heard magpies singing above, so I swung it up and shot in Premium Auto. It takes longer to process a photo taken in that mode, but they do seem to come out nicely.

Photo 1 is my edit in Snapseed app from JPEG, next is the SOOC JPEG.

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Unlike every other digital camera I've had, I can't find any way to the vary the JPEG photo style, only to adjust the sharpness, contrast and saturation. There are also some art styles, similar to Olympus.
 
A comparison with my most-used cameras: Fujifilm X30 (12MP 2/3 inch sensor, 28-112mm f2-2.8), and Panasonic G85 (16MP micro four thirds sensor, shown with Panasonic 100-300mm mkII lens to gain equal reach to the Casio EX-100).

The Casio is very similar in size and weight to the Fujifilm (my little love), but the lens retracts closer to the body when off, and of course has 300mm reach. It is not as comfortable to hold, as the Fuji's grips are rubber. The Casio's giant, bright LCD screen goes some way to making up for the lack of EVF.

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Compared with the G85 (my big love), with 100-300mm mkII lens, the Casio weighs about a third; even with a light zoom or prime, it weighs half or less. The Casio's screen is still much bigger, but tilts only. The image quality is, of course, not a patch on the micro four thirds, which is really my "happy place" compromise in IQ.

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I wouldn't take the Casio birding, but I'd be happy to have its reach if I was walking around and spotted something in the distance and wanted to ID it later, or show proof.
 
What a cool camera, Melanie!
Believe it or not, I actually briefly owned and used one of these around a dozen odd years ago...great little camera.
I'm looking forwards to seeing more of what you do with it :)
Hey Miguel, it's great to hear that real people actually owned these - I've been surprised how little information I can find about real world use, compared with all the common cameras of their type.
 
At 300mm, the image detail is far from great, but probably no worse than small sensor Panasonic I've used (TZ80 and FZ300). One frustration I have is that there's no way to turn down noise reduction.

Here are a few zoomed in:

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Mostly zoomed, and then fully zoomed on the butterfly:
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The super macro function is different from other compacts I've had, in that it's set at 42mm instead of the widest angle (28mm) like they tend to be. This may help with the relatively unimpressive minimum focal length of 5 mm for very micro subjects. Here are a couple of rather uninteresting things shot on super macro setting:

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All images SOOC JPEG, Premium Auto mode, auto WB. I've turned down sharpening in camera, but I don't think this affects the auto modes.
 
I love hares, even though they're an introduced species in Australia. This one hopped through my fence, so I carefully grabbed my camera to try to get a photo at full 300mm reach. As you can see, focus was a bit hit and miss, but the point is that I got a photo that my phone would not have. These are heavily cropped, and edited in Snapseed.

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Every Christmas season I drive past this decorated pig mailbox, waiting for the right light to take a photo. This year it was joined by a seated Santa (waiting to intercept the mail?), and as the sunset light was good, I stopped for a Casio shot. SOOC. Nothing fancy.

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Although I don't choose to shoot black and white JPEG very often these days, I really do like the output of the Art Shot #7 Monochrome level 2 (it has grain+contrast levels 1-3, not user adjustable, where 1 is fairly flat and 3 is like the equivalent Olympus Art Mode). These are SOOC.

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As a walkabout snapshot camera it's quite handy, but the tiny sensor is never going give me results I'm truly happy with. Fortunately the JPEGs can be improved with some editing (these are SOOC, taken in overcast dusk conditions).

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I was very interested in this camera at the time, but they were impossible to find in the brick and mortar stores in my region. Thanks for taking us along with your adventure with this rarity!

That screen looks wonderful, wish more cameras had a large tilting rear screen. The eternal 3" - 3.2" size works okay but it's hardly immersive.
 
I was very interested in this camera at the time, but they were impossible to find in the brick and mortar stores in my region. Thanks for taking us along with your adventure with this rarity!

That screen looks wonderful, wish more cameras had a large tilting rear screen. The eternal 3" - 3.2" size works okay but it's hardly immersive.
In use, the screen doesn't really feel much bigger than my others, and it does have a lot of reflection. I've taken it off Eco mode to help see - it's good in low light, but less so in Australian summer daylight.

I like the grain structure of the B&W shots.
Me too, and in most cases they're almost perfectly to my taste SOOC. I'm thinking about shooting it that way all the time.
 
Like many of us, I dream of being a bird photographer anytime I see birds or great bird photos, but haven't the patience for fieldcraft, nor interest in carrying heavy, bulky gear. The 300mm long end of this camera is tempting, but it really only makes you want to cry. These weren't awful, but nor were they anything to be proud of.

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