A few months ago a we got a chance to see the Casio Exilim EX-S12 in action at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Casio was there to engage both children and parents on how their new Dynamic Photo function works. Kids lined up with their parents down the block to get their picture taken and then placed onto a favorite book or picture of theirs. It was an ingenious idea that not only showed off the Dynamic photo function but also the simplicity of photo-editing on the fly without a computer – something that perfect for busy parents looking to entertain their kids.
The Casio EX-S12 has many more features than just the Dynamic Photo one – it also has Tracking AF, Makeup Function, HD Movie Function (1280×720 pixels), 2.7-inch wide TFT color LCD, 3X Optical Zoom, and a newly-developed Exilim Engine 4.0. The body of the camera is super slim and light at only 3.9 Oz. It’s the perfect camera to grab and go and will slip into any pocket or purse very easily. It is also available in many colors: black, green, pink, and silver. So not only is it small and compact, it is stylish too.
So of course the first thing we had to do when we got the camera was to try out the Dynamic Photo function for ourselves. It looked so easy to do at the event, so how difficult could it be. Well…unfortunately looks can be deceiving and it wasn’t all that easy to do at home. I used my co-editor as a model and placed her in front of a white wall and stumbled through the camera to figure out what to do next. The directions for the Dynamic Photo are not included in the manual but instead on a PDF manual included with the software. Once I located it – it was a bit easier to do.
The user presses the ‘Best Shot’ button and then scrolls over to the Dynamic Photo option. Then you take a picture of the subject you intend on putting on a different background. Then you take the picture again, this time of only the background with the subject removed. Easy enough one would think…but everytime the camera tried to process the image I kept getting the same problem over and over “Recognition Failed- Secure the Camera when Shooting” I just could not get this feature to work for the life of me. Error after error.
So I gave that function a break and moved on to the ‘Best Shot’ feature which lets you choose the type image you plan on taking and lets the camera take the picture with the best settings for it. A much simpler and easier function that worked very easy and actually did do a good job. The glare was less and softer using this feature in comparison to just taking a typical image with everything on Auto. The Best Shots feature controls the ISO and white balance for you, so you have nothing to worry about or program.
There are range of ‘Best Shots” that can be taken – Animals, portraits, night shots, etc…all aiming to utilize the best aspects of the camera and making a great picture for you. I finally gave the Dynamic feature another shot – and finally it worked! I didn’t do anything too difficult and took a picture of my baby kermit doll sitting on my rabbits cage, then took another picture of the white wall without him. Then the camera did its magic and combined both images together. From what I gathered from this experience – you need a tripod, lots of bright light and a lot of patience to make this work. This was by far the most frustrating feature I have ever had to use on a camera.
The rest of the camera has its nice features and takes surprisingly good images. I was very impressed with the detail and color of the photos. I dare say that the images came close to my Nikon D/SLR in quality. There was very little or no noise in the images and the colors popped. This is with images taken inside, which is always a trying environment when it comes to taking digital photos. The image above is an example of a Best Shots image taken in Pet mode.
Even with the improved Exilim engine, there is a definite lag in between taking shots and the camera makes a lot of noise as it tries to process the images, especially in Best Shot and Dynamic Photo mode, it takes an especially long and noisy time before the LCD reappears again, ready to take another image. While the Best Shot feature certainly helps make the Casio Exilim EX-S12 a worth while purchase along with excellent image quality, the Dynamic Photo feature should have made the camera stand above all the rest and it sadly doesn’t. Hopefully the next Exilim that is released with this feature has all the kinks worked out. The Casio Exilim EX-S12 retails for $249.00.
The Good: Sleek, stylish camera that doesn’t require to much knowledge to take a good picture. Best Shots is nice feature that actually takes the hassle out of making your own settings for decent pic. Very good picture quality.
The Bad: What should have been a great feature – Dynamic Photo feature takes too many tries for it to actually work and when it finally does – you don’t care anymore.