In the world of Casio cameras, thin is always in, and the new Exilim Card EX-S10 is so slender it could give runway models a run for their money. Just 0.54 inches thick at its thinnest part, the EX-S10 is the best-designed camera we've tested for squeezing into the pocket of a tight pair of jeans. On paper, it has some good features, including a 10.1-megapixel image sensor, 3X optical zoom, and a 2.7-inch LCD. However, it makes too many compromises in the pursuit of thinness for us to recommend it for anything other than very basic snapshots.
We wish the EX-S10's picture-taking chops matched its designer body: You are bound to be dazzled by its smart style, something that Casio has been refining since its first wearable Card camera came out in 2002. Available in four colors (red, blue, silver, and black), the EX-S10 has a tough, polycarbonate exterior that feels slightly rubberized. It also has some nice stainless-steel accents around the lens, on a metal band across the top, and on the sides of the camera.
Big LCD, Small Buttons
The 2.7-inch (230,160-pixel) Super Clear LCD is just 0.2 inches larger than the Canon SD1100, but it felt much bigger. It was also extremely clear and bright with a wide viewing angle, which was helpful in previewing and reviewing shots in sunlight. Unfortunately, the camera's buttons are quite small, and they took some getting used to.
The camera powered on, extended its lens, and was ready to shoot in less than 2 seconds. Not bad. Unfortunately, many of our shots were not as sharp as we would have liked them to be. It's amazing that Casio was able to include an extending 3X lens in a camera this thin, but the company has clearly made some compromises in the optics. Most of our close-ups of flowers in Macro mode were slightly soft, and several were completely out of focus, suggesting the camera's lens was having trouble zeroing in on detail from close distances.
Portraits vs. Landscapes
Portraits were better thanks to the camera's Auto Shutter function, which automatically triggers the shutter when it detects a smile. It's kind of cheesy but a helpful feature if you have a stubborn subject. The EX-S10 produced decent but slightly oversaturated color.
In our landscape photos of the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey, the EX-S10 produced generally flat images with lots of softness in the corners. The camera fared equally poorly in our shots of a basketball game: Nearly all the images were blurry.
Casio has made some strides with its Movie mode, which it's branding as YouTube Capture Mode because it automatically optimizes the camera's video clips for the site. Bundled Casio software also lets you easily upload your movies to YouTube in a two-step process. Best of all, video is now delivered in H.264 video format, which is compatible with Macs and iPods.
Video quality, however, was only so-so. Though recording was very easy, thanks to the EX-S10's dedicated video button on the back of the camera, our 640 x 480 (30-fps) clips were slightly jittery, and the zoom had trouble focusing on distant subjects.
If slimness, style, and portability were the only important aspects of digital cameras, then the Casio Exilim Card EX-S10 would win hands down. Unfortunately, while it has some nice features--including an excellent LCD and fast overall performance--the EX-S10's lens wasn't able to keep our pictures sharp, and it lagged in terms of image quality.