We test color accuracy by photographing an industry standard GretagMacbeth Colorchecker test chart under bright, even studio lighting, and compare the colors the camera reproduces with the known colors of the chart. The ColorChecker consists of 24 different color tiles that represent common colors from around the color spectrum. The image below shows how the camera performs. The outer squares show the color the camera reproduces, the inner squares show the ideal color of the ColorChecker corrected for luminance, and the inner rectangle shows the ideal color of the chart under an even exposure.
As the image shows, a number of the color tiles are quite different from their ideal colors. All the blues are shifted very purple, which means your blue skies will look purple, as well. The bright greens, yellows, and reds are also significantly shifted. The graph below shows the color accuracy in a more quantitative way. The locations of the ideal chart colors are located on the color spectrum as squares, and the colors the V8 reproduced are shown as circles. The lines between the circles and squares show the magnitude of the color error for each color tile
Imatest measured an average color error of 10.8, which is less than stellar. You can see how many of the colors drift significantly from their ideal values. Your picture of the fruit stand will not look completely accurate, nor will your blue skies, green foliage, or skin tones. On the good side, the saturation level of 102.2 percent is quite good, and means the V8’s colors will not look excessively dull or vibrant.
*We test resolution by photographing an industry standard resolution test chart under even studio lighting. We vary the focal length, aperture, and exposure compensation, and then run the images through Imatest to find the settings that produce the sharpest image. Imatest measures resolution in units of line widths per picture height (lw/ph), which represent the number of equally spaced alternating black and white lines that can fit across the entire image frame before becoming blurred.
The 8-megapixel Casio V8 proved to be sharpest at ISO 50, f/5.7, with a focal length of 17mm. The camera recorded 1492 lw/ph horizontally with 0.6 percent oversharpening, and 1244 lw/ph vertically with 14.4 percent undersharpening. The excessive vertical undersharpening, which happens at almost every setting, is a problem and means horizontal high contrast lines will look quite blurry. Don’t expect to print really large photos or blow up small crops with the V8. These resolution scores are below average for 2007 cameras, and are lower than similar point-and-shoots, such as the Panasonic Lumix TZ3 and Sony CyberShot T100.
Noise – Manual ISO ***(6.08)*
**If you’ve ever taken a photo with a digital camera in low light, you probably noticed graininess or scattered dots on your picture, almost like TV static. This graininess is called noise, and in digital camera photos it can appear in the form of scattered dots, splotches, or even colored splotches. It almost never looks as nice as film grain, and is to be avoided whenever possible. Higher ISO settings intrinsically yield higher noise levels.
We test a camera’s noise levels by photographing our test chart under bright, even studio lighting at all the camera’s ISO settings. The Casio V8 keeps noise levels quite low up to ISO 200, but at ISO 400 and 800 images are very noisy. The V8’s noise comes in the form of colored splotches, mostly yellow and bluish, and looks quite ugly. This is a camera you’ll want to keep at low ISO whenever possible.
**Noise – Auto ISO ***(1.4) *
We also test noise levels with the ISO set to Auto. The V8 chose ISO 400 under our bright studio lights, which is unfortunate because at ISO 400 the noise is quite visible. You may need to set the ISO manually with this camera in order to reduce noise in photos.
**White Balance ***(7.43)
*Since all light sources have slightly different color tints, it is important your camera can recognize this and adjust colors accordingly. This is called white balancing, and problems with it can lead to odd color casts in your photos. We test white balance by photographing our ColorChecker color test chart under four different light sources: flash, fluorescent, outdoor shade, and tungsten. We test the Auto white balance setting as well as the appropriate presets located in the White Balance menu.
*Auto WB (9.69)
*The V8’s accuracy is very inconsistent when using Auto white balance. Under flash and fluorescent light, the white balance is very accurate, yet under outdoor shade and tungsten light it is tremendously inaccurate. Though the corresponding presets aren’t terrific either, the Auto white balance under shade and tungsten is so bad that you should really avoid using the Auto setting under these light sources whenever possible.
*Preset WB (5.18) *
The Outdoor Shade and Tungsten presets are more accurate than the Auto setting, though not by much. You still may see a slight color cast on your photos taken under these light sources. The Fluorescent N and Fluorescent D settings are actually less accurate under fluorescent light than the Auto setting.
**Still Life Sequences
***Click to view the high-resolution image.*
Low Light* (5.37) *
In addition to the Color and Noise tests described above, we looked at the V8’s performance in low light. We photographed the ColorChecker at light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux, which correspond roughly to the light level of a room lit softly with two lamps (60 lux), and darker. We always shoot this test at the highest ISO sensitivity offered by the camera, which in the case of the V8 is ISO 800.
In low light, color accuracy suffers significantly and noise levels are high. At 5 lux, 3 percent of the image is lost to noise. The good news, however, is that the V8 has no problem exposing in low light. In other words, you can take pictures in very low light with the V8, they just won’t look great.
We also test long exposure performance, but only at ISO 400 so we can standardize the test from camera to camera. The V8 has a Shutter Priority mode in which the camera can take shutter speeds as long as 60 seconds, but at these long exposures the ISO cannot be set. The camera will not take exposures longer than 1 second at ISO 400, so we couldn’t test its long exposure performance. That said, the long shutter speed option is a nice addition to the V8, and could be some fun to play with, even if the photos don’t turn out amazingly well.
Dynamic Range ***(5.09)**
***Dynamic range refers to the tonal sensitivity of a camera. In other words, the better a camera’s dynamic range, the more information it can discern in both bright and dark areas of a photo. This is especially useful for photos with contrasting bright and dark sections, such as a bride and groom (white dress and black tux), or a landscape in bright sunlight (bright highlights and dark shadows). We test dynamic range by photographing a backlit Stouffer test chart. The Stouffer chart is made up of a long row of rectangles that vary slightly in tone from brightest white to darkest black. The more rectangles the camera can distinguish, the better the dynamic range.
The V8 has very good dynamic range at ISO 50 and 100, probably due to its low noise at these ISOs, but significantly worse dynamic range at higher ISO sensitivities. Just as we mentioned in the Noise section, keep this camera to as low an ISO setting as possible, especially in situations with high contrast. Overall, the V8’s dynamic range score is slightly worse than the 2007 average, and significantly worse than another long-zoom point-and-shoot, the Panasonic Lumix TZ3, or the similarly-shaped Sony Cyber-shot T100.
Speed/Timing* – All speed tests are conducted using a Kingston Ultimate 120X 2GB SD Card, with the camera set to highest resolution and best quality.*
*Startup to First Shot (8.8) *
The V8 takes only 1.2 seconds to start up and fire a shot.
*The V8 has three different continuous shooting modes: Normal, High, and Flash. In Normal mode, the camera takes full resolution photos every 1.5 seconds continuously until the card is filled. In High mode the camera can only shoot at very low resolution (2-megapixels), and takes shots every 0.3 seconds. Flash mode allows shooters to take a quick burst of flash-illuminated shots. The camera fires three shots, each 0.3 seconds apart.
*The V8 has no measurable lag when either prefocused or not prefocused. This is excellent.
*The camera processes a 4.5 MB full-resolution, top-quality photo in 1.2 seconds when taken at ISO 100.
**Video Performance ***(5.42) *
Bright Indoor Light – 3000 lux
We test the Movie mode performance of cameras similarly to the way we test their still photos. To evaluate video color accuracy we record footage of the ColorChecker under bright studio lights at 3000 lux. As you can see in the graph below, the color error is tremendous, but this is almost always the case for cameras shooting in tungsten light and set to Auto white balance. The V8 has very low noise in bright light, however.
*Low Light – 30 lux *
We also dim the lights in the lab to record video footage in less than ideal shooting conditions. At 30 lux, the V8 still has significant problems with color accuracy, but again keeps noise extremely low (only 1 percent of the image). Jumpy noise in videos can be very distracting, and the V8 really minimizes this.
*We shoot footage of our resolution chart to see how sharp the camera’s video is. The Casio V8 resolves 316 lw/ph horizontally with 6.8 percent undersharpening, and 456 lw/ph vertically with 22.3 percent oversharpening. This is much more oversharpening than necessary, and introduces the artifacts (note the colored lines) you can see in the crops below.
*Finally, we take cameras outside to capture footage of moving cars and pedestrians. The V8’s motion is a bit stuttery, especially when subjects move off the frame. The focus isn’t always dead-on, making the video appear a little soft sometimes, and there is some motion moiré. However, the color looks very good, as does the exposure. Overall, the V8’s Movie mode looks better than average for a digital camera.
Casio is known for making point-and-shoots that utilize large LCDs instead of optical viewfinders. The Casio Exilim V8 is no different. The camera lacks an optical viewfinder, which seems to be an endangered feature on contemporary point-and-shoots. For most beginners, the viewfinder won’t be missed since users can frame their photos via the LCD screen. The only drawback is that a viewfinder can help squeeze out of a few last shots when the battery is running low and offers visibility in direct sunlight.
**LCD Screen ***(7.5)*
The ample-sized TFT monitor measures 2.5 inches diagonally. Casio added more pixels to the resolution with 230,400 pixels, up from 230,000 pixels on the earlier V7. Even with the increased monitor resolution, the LCD surprisingly displays only mediocre-looking pictures with some pixilation. The spotty images may leave some picture-takers squinting to find details in photos. While an above-230,000 pixel resolution is admirable, Sony point-and-shoots are opting for a revolutionary 920,000-plus resolution, which may be a consideration for shooters who want to use their cameras as portable photo albums.
The LCD does fine displaying images when parallel to the shooter’s line of vision. At extreme vertical angles, though, the monitor solarizes, making it difficult to see the live preview from low angles or over-the-head and makes it difficult to shoot at low angles or over-the-head with the live preview.
The monitor takes about 2 seconds to display the image on the screen once the shutter button has been pressed.
Overall, the LCD’s mediocre size and resolution isn’t all that dazzling, batting about average compared to other point-and-shoots in the $300 category.
The V8’s flash is safely hidden under the tracked sliding door that also protects the lens.
While the flash provided sufficient overall coverage, there is one major design flaw that can inhibit good pictures – the blinding auto assist lamp. The assist light pre-fires for accurate flash output. This unique lamp provides extra illumination (that can be turned on or off) during Movie or Self-Timer mode. While most other point-and-shoots employ lamps a fraction of this size, the V8 uses an unusually large lamp that will literally cause subject to shield their eyes from the headlight-like glare. The V8 auto assist lamp, while effective, could leave subjects seeing spots.
In Normal flash mode, illumination has an effective range of 0.33 to 8.54 feet in wide angle shooting and 3.28 to 5.58 feet in telephoto shooting. In Rapid flash, the camera has an effective range of 1.31 to 7.22 feet at wide angles and 3.28 to 4.59 feet in close-up shooting. In all the flash modes, the camera provides sufficient illumination for those distances. For anything closer than a foot, however, users should turn off the flash.
Users can control flash output by turning the flash on or off or letting the camera decide in Auto Flash mode. Users can also select Soft for subtle light output or Red-Eye Reduction for portrait shots.
It takes less than 4 seconds for the camera flash to recharge, an average time for point-and-shoots.
Oddly enough, the flash control doubles as the trash button, but shooters shouldn’t be too concerned about accidentally erasing their photos. The trash button is only active in Playback mode, while the Flash is engaged during Record mode.
**Zoom Lens ***(8.0)*
A main reason consumers might look to the V8 is its 7x optical zoom lens. With a midrange 7x zoom, the Casio lens touts a zoom capability that exceeds the standard 3x optical zoom of most point-and-shoots. While customers can find non-SLR zooms up to 18x, the benefit of the V8 is that the longer zoom comes in a petite body because the lens is built into the flat design. The built-in lens is also a plus for travelers or beachgoers who want to avoid the sand or dust particles that can get stuck in a tiered barrel; vacationers should opt for an embedded lens like the V8. Adjustment to the zoom can be a little tricky. Casio opted for a vertical switch located closer to the LCD, instead of at the camera’s corner where most manufacturers have placed the zoom toggle. Read the Design / Layout section for more on button placement.
The placement of the lens itself is also an annoyance. Flushed to the left edge of the camera body, the lens position lends itself to occasional pictures of your left pinkie.
The camera has focal length of f/6.3 to 44.1mm, which is equivalent to 38 to 266 mm in 35mm film terms. The extended zoom allows users to comfortably shoot long shots, such as a picture of a basketball player from the sidelines. Users should note, though, that after passing the 7x optical zoom point, the camera operates at an additional 4x digital zoom, for a combined total 28x. Passing the optical zoom threshold leaves cameras more sensitive to camera shake and deteriorated image quality.
To compensate, the Exilim V8 lens comes with image stabilization that uses four mechanisms of Casio’s Anti-Blur Technologies: CCD Shift for camera shake, Anti-Shake DSP ISO for moving subjects, motion analysis, and electronic stabilization in Movie mode. The four-part stabilization system is effective in keeping blurry photos at bay.
In Auto Snapshot mode, the lens automatically sets aperture from f/3.5 to f/5.3. In Aperture Priority and Manual mode, users have a choice of three stops: f/3.4, f/4.6, and f/9.2. The expanded aperture range in these two modes gives some flexibility for more depth of field in pictures.
Aside from an overpowering auto assist lamp and poor zoom toggle placement, the zoom lens comes with an admirable optical zoom range to produce close up shots.
**Model Design / Appearance ***(7.5)*
The V8 embodies a retro-look, appearing like it just popped out of the 80s. Although it is somewhat dated, the camera isn’t half bad-looking. The V8 design is linear and symmetrical with balanced proportions and uniform controls. It possesses the innovative feature of a sliding lens door that powers the camera on. Electing to use a new design for the V-series, the V8 deviates from its contemporary-looking siblings in the Z- and S-series cameras. With a retro look more akin to old school walkmans than contemporary point-and-shoots, the V8 is still an attractive, neat camera.
As for build quality, the body is constructed of mostly hard plastic that won’t compete with the strength of all-metal bodies, but keeps the camera light.
**Size / Portability ***(7.5)*
Measuring 3.76 x 2.35 x 1-inch,, the Casio V8 shares the same dimensions as its predecessor, the V7, which Casio called "the "world’s slimmest digital camera with a 7x optical zoom" at the time of its release in January 2007. At its thinnest, the V8 is 0.82-inches thick, just like the V7. For a 7x optical zoom camera, the V8 is an effectively portable camera.
Like its predecessor, the V8 also weighs 5.26 ounces without battery or memory card. At more than half a pound, the V8 isn’t too light on its feet when compared other Casio cameras in the Z or S-series. But for a 7x zoom, users really can’t complain; the camera’s strengths lie in the fact that a point-and-shoot can carry a midrange zoom in a reasonably tiny, portable package.
**Handling Ability ***(5.0)*
The Casio EX-V8 suffers from the curse of the point-and-shoot that typifies other small pocket cameras. While portable, the V8’s flat design lends itself to uncomfortable handling if used for extended periods of shooting. There are virtually no hand grips on the plastic body, lacking textured materials to hold onto. Even the addition of a small rubber pad on the body’s front would aid users shooting with the V8.
If planning to shoot for long periods of time, like nine innings of a baseball game, consumers should think about a longer zoomed compact that comes with a rubber right-hand grip for comfort during long shoots.
**Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size ***(4.0)*
While aesthetically-pleasing, the button controls on the back aren’t intuitive. The disorganized array of buttons is awkwardly placed and inappropriately sized.
There are two equally sized circular dials on the back control dial; the mode dial and four-way controller. The mode dial is typically reserved for the top of point-and-shoots, but Casio places the mode dial on the right hand corner of the V8’s back. While this provides easier access to the manual, aperture, and shutter controls, the mode dial inappropriately takes the place of the more deserving zoom toggle, which is more frequently used. Every time a user wants to take a close up photo, users will have to slightly stretch their thumb toward the center zoom toggle, blocking sound from the audio ports.
The playback and menu buttons are also too small, making it irritating for a new user to press.
The four-way controller provides adequate access to the main functions. The multi-selector could stand to gain some icon labels, however, to mark the functions of each direction on the controller.
In general, the button design prioritizes form versus function.
The Casio V8’s menu system is relatively easy to use, following standard three-tabbed menus that cross manufacturer lines. If a user is accustomed to another point-and-shoot, it will be easy to navigate through Casio’s menus, which remain consistent in terms of organization with competitors. The main functions are divided into three tabs: Record, Quality, Set Up. Each tab then opens into submenus. The menus are thorough, with plenty of options to change image size, color enhancement, and sounds.
The Record menu has the standard choices to adjust focus and continuous shooting. Interestingly enough, Casio also included a unique Face Recognition menu so users can change the face-finding settings beyond simply enabling or disabling the function. Users can set the camera so it will recognize programmed family members to focus and expose just those recognized faces. Users can also optimize the face recognition system for either speed or a large group with multiple faces.
The Quality menu features allow users to change size options and compression adjustments. In addition, the ISO and metering were left to this menu instead of the Record menu. The minor readjustment in order won’t be too confusing once a new Casio user has accessed the menu once or twice.
The Quality menu also includes a mix of pre-capture adjustments so users can shoot, for instance, in black and white without having to apply the desaturation effect in post-capture editing.
The Set Up menu's ample supply of options allows users to personalize their camera. For example, most point-and-shoots have a timestamp. The Casio V8, however, takes the clock a step further by allowing a user to specify how they would like to view the date: Year/Month/Day; Day/Month/Year; or Month/Day/Year. Users can even set the camera to a hometown or world time.
Overall, the menu system is effective, with a load of options for more control. New users might shy away from the multitude of choices, but will probably find them useful once familiar with the camera.
**Ease of Use ***(7.0)*
The Casio Exilim EX-V8 targets the point-and-shoot crowd looking to upgrade from their first 3x zoom camera. The camera provides enough support for new users to venture into photo functions normally reserved for advanced shooters, such as ISO sensitivity and EV shift. The camera has live previews of those features, giving new shooters room to explore.
While the camera carries an intuitive sliding door, it also possesses less-than-stellar handling and a misguided back button design. Even with those vices, the V8 has enough virtues that make it respectably easy to use – a thorough menu system and commendable portability for this 7x zoom camera.
**Auto Mode ***(6.5)*
For newbies, the Automatic modes can be vital; they do most of the grunt work and save the user from having to think about options like shutter speed and sensitivity. The Casio V8 has two Auto modes; Snapshot, which gives the user some manual flexibility, and Easy mode, which limits the controls to just three presets.
Snapshot is located on the mode dial with an easy-to-spot red icon indicator; it will likely be the most frequently used function. In Snapshot mode, the camera settings default to Auto modes, including focus, AF area, white balance, ISO, and metering. Even though Snapshot is an Automatic mode, users can still manually change those settings using the Menu button. Users can adjust flash using the four-way controller.
Easy mode is represented by a black shamrock icon on the mode dial. Easy mode is the most automatic of the auto modes, limiting users to only three functions: flash, self-timer, and image size. While Easy mode is a good idea in theory, its paltry three options really limit the user. Users are better suited to using Casio’s Registered User mode, which allows users to save a combination of settings to the Best Shot menu.
**Movie Mode ***(7.25)*
Each era is defined by particular social phenomena, the artifacts of cultural marvels that will be remembered by future generations. For this generation, they are reality TV, iPods, and of course, YouTube. The Internet-obsessed community is loading at-home videos like never before, for everything from public diaries to citizen journalism. Naturally, Casio draws on this marketable population with the inclusion of the YouTube Capture mode.
This proprietary YouTube setting is essentially a shortcut to a 640 x 480 pixel resolution at Normal H.264 standard (MPEG-4) compression, optimized for uploading to the Web. Users shouldn’t be fooled by the fancy name; most point-and-shoots offer similar lower quality movie settings for the Web. Casio’s YouTube is simply a short and sweet, easy-to-remember method of getting there.
While the YouTube function is a bit gimmicky, Casio’s wealth of movie options surpasses many other point-and-shoots in its category. The YouTube function is one of 10 Best Shot Movie modes, accessed through the mode dial. The Best Shot modes are Portrait, Scenery, Night Scene, Fireworks, Backlight, High Sensitivity, Silent, Short Movie, Past Movie, Voice Recording, Registered User Scene, and YouTube. If those seem too complicated, there is a separate mode dial setting for Movie mode, the equivalent of Auto mode in still capture.
Users can engage zoom during Movie and Best Shot Movie, a plus since many cameras eliminate zoom during video recording. Zooming was seamless since the internal lens is built into the camera body. Autofocus, however, proved weak during Movie modes, often producing blurry video after zooming in. To compensate, Casio offers a manual movie focus that must be set before hitting the record shutter button.
Image stabilization can be turned on or off. Audio, recorded in monaural WAV format, is effective and doesn’t pick up the noise typically associated with a barreled lens.
The Movie mode records in both H.264 standard (also called AVC) and MOV (for QuickTime) format at the following resolutions:
Most cameras can record movies at the standard 640 x 480 pixel resolution, but the Casio V8 offers more with a wide 848 x 480 resolution recording. There are also impressive built-in editing functions; users can splice videos within the camera or prepare 9-frame or single-frame index prints.
With zoom abilities, audio, image stabilization, and built-in editing, the Casio V8 performs well with many options. Autofocusing can be a problem, but can be avoided by adding a little more work before capture. Overall, the wide resolution and strong YouTube brand name are worth trying.
**Drive / Burst Mode ***(4.75)*
To catch spontaneous moments, the V8 offers a few Burst modes. There are four drive options: Normal, High Speed, Flash Continuous, and Off. Although Casio reports the shot-to-shot time is 1.5 seconds, the Normal drive actually takes 4.5 seconds between shots. The Normal drive is far too slow for any shooter looking to capture fleeting smiles.
Users will have better luck with High Speed shooting, which responds faster but disables flash. To engage high speed shooting with flash, Flash Continuous setting that fires the flash multiple times. This mode not only produces overexposed images, but will cause subjects to shield their eyes from the overly-bright lights of the flash.
Users should stick with the default Normal mode in most cases, and only activate the High Speed for outdoor photography. The Flash Continuous shooting should be avoided.
**Playback Mode ***(7.5)*
For users who want to do some editing without touching their computer, the V8 suffices as a built-in photo editor with a standard feature set offered on similar point-and-shoots. Users can view their images as a slide show with changeable duration times and effects.
To check for focus, users can easily zoom in. Users can make other resizing and cropping with post-capture color changes, while adding audio dubs to each image.
The Color Correction and Keystone mode are worth mentioning, but not for good reasons. Both are inconsistent and ineffective. The Keystone mode is supposed to realign crooked images, while the Color Correction is supposed to fix color after capture. Users trying to apply these functions to images will often be greeted with a warning display, "Cannot correct image!" Thanks, Casio. Other times, the functions instead display a Trim box. I thought that’s what the Trimming function was for. The confusing Color Correction and Keystone tools are questionable and better left off an otherwise effective list of playback options.
**Custom Image Presets ***(9.25)*
True to Casio tradition, the Exilim EX-V8 has a generous 34 Scene modes: Portrait, Scenery, Portrait with Scenery, Children, Sports, Candlelight Portrait, Party, Pet, Flower, Natural Green, Autumn Leaves, Soft Flowing Water, Splashing Water, Sundown, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Fireworks, Food, Text, Collection, For eBay, Backlight, High Sensitivity, Underwater, Monochrome, Retro, Twilight, Layout (1), Layout (2), Auto Framing, ID Photo, Old Photo, Business Cards and Documents, White Board, etc., and Register User Scene.
Users can access these automatic presets through the "BS" icon on the mode dial. Yes, it really does say "BS," for Best Shot Scene modes. All crude acronyms aside, the Best Shot modes are numerous and effective for new users who don’t want to bother manually changing settings. For those who do fiddle with manual control, they can save frequently used settings using the Registered User Scene.
**Manual Control Options
**Unlike some point-and-shoots, the Casio V8 comes with a specific "M" option on the mode dial for manual shooting, which is usually reserved for compact or SLR cameras. Beginner photographers and more experienced point-and-shooters will appreciate the wide range of options for either completely auto functions or more manual Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority functions.
***Auto Focus (7.75)
*The Casio V8 has three types of focus modes and three AF areas. The Exilim camera can normally focus from 15.75 inches to infinity. For close up shots, the Casio camera reportedly focuses from 3.94 to 19.69 inches in Macro mode, but we found that zooming in, the camera had to be at least a 6 inches away from the subject to properly focus. The Infinity AF focus was more effective in producing focused images during zoom.
Users can also adjust which focus areas are used, switching between Spot, Multi-Area, or Tracking AF Area. Spot and Multi-Area focusing are average, but Tracking AF Area performed surprisingly well, with a green highlighted box following moving subjects to keep them in focus.
*Manual Focus (2.0)
*Since autofocus can sometimes be less-than-precise, manual focus is an accurate, although more time-consuming, substitute. The Exilim EX-V8 focuses at a range of 3.94 to 19.69 inches. Users can control the manual focus via the four-way controller. The implementation is a bit clumsy, but it's a nice inclusion nonetheless.
This V8 camera adds Priority modes, offering more options for exposure than many other point-and-shoots. During Snapshot and Best Shot modes, the camera has the standard exposure compensation set (+/- 2.0 in 1/3 EV stops) with live preview, so users can view the adjusted image before hitting the shutter button. Users can also adjust exposure in Aperture, Shutter, and Manual modes.
EV Shift allows users to compensate for inaccurate light metering that sometimes occurs with back-lit situations. For a more precise representation, the V8 has live histograms, displayed using the "Disp" function on the multi-selector.
Users can access the three metering modes, Multi-Pattern, Center-Weighted, and Spot, slightly buried in the second page of the Quality menu. The metering functions are better suited to the first Record menu, but users can still find it easily once they’ve used the menu system once or twice.
Users can switch between these modes depending on high-contrast scenes. While advanced shooters will welcome the Manual metering function, most beginners are more apt to select the Backlight Best Shot mode, which does the same thing.
**White Balance ***(7.75)*
Like the Exposure and Metering modes, the Casio V8 offers white balance adjustments. In addition to Auto, the Exilim camera offers Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Fluorescent N, and Fluorescent D preset modes. The white balance settings aren’t labeled and are simply represented by graphic icons. It may be a little difficult for a new user to decipher that a light bulb icon means Incandescent white balance. In addition to the six presets, Casio V8 offers a Manual white balance setting so users can get accurate reading from a white card.
Within recent years, point-and-shoot manufacturers have been pumping up ISO settings to compensate for low light shooting, up to 1600 or 3200, in some cases. Casio’s V8, however, maintains a moderate sensitivity range of 50 to 800 ISO. This sensitivity range suffices for indoors but provides limited coverage for extremely low light situations.
In low light conditions, the camera can reach 1600 ISO when shooting in High Sensitivity mode. But like Barry Bonds’ home run record, the High Sensitivity mode comes with some asterisked fine print. The High Sensitivity mode boosts sensitivity, but at a lower 5-megapixel resolution. Pictures taken in High Sensitivity mode came with some noticeable image noise, so this mode should generally be avoided.
**Shutter Speed ***(5.0)*
The Exilim EX-V8 has a variety of modes to control shutter speed. The most expansive shutter speed ranges offered on the camera can be found in the Shutter Priority or Manual settings, accessed through the mode dial. In these priority settings, users can adjust shutter speed from 60 seconds down to 1/800 of a second. While shutter control is admirable on a point-and-shoot, other cameras usually offer a more expansive range, often as fast as 1/2000 of a second. The limited 60-1/800 of a second allows users to comfortably shoot nighttime scenes, but not high-speed action.
The Program AE has a shutter speed range from 1/2 second to 1/800 second. The Aperture Priority mode allows for shutter changes from 1 second to 1/800 second, while the Night Scene Best Shot has an expanded range from 4 to 1/800 second, which is set automatically.
In Automatic mode, the lens shoots at a maximum aperture from f/3.5 to f/5.3, which is limited, even for an Automatic mode.
Users can change the aperture range through Aperture Priority mode and Manual mode with a choice of three stops: f/3.4, f/4.6, and f/9.2. That expanded range in Aperture Priority will give some flexibility to users, although the three settings are still restrictive. Users have a much wider range to choose from with shutter speed, but the Aperture Priority and Manual modes limit users to three f-stops, which might prove irritating for users who desire more manual control.
**Picture Quality / Size Options ***(7.0)*
One of the upgrades with the V8 is the increased resolution from the 7.2-megapixel V7. The Exilim V8 now has an 8.1 megapixel CCD that produces 3264 x 2448 at its highest resolution.
In addition to the wide setting, the Casio EX-V8 can capture still images at the standard 3:2 aspect ratio proportion of the same resolution. Other sizes include 2816 x 2112, 2304 x 1728, 1600 x 1200, and the smallest resolution,640 x 480, suited for the Web. Users can also adjust the quality settings between Normal, Fine, and Economy. Most users should stick to Normal or the highest Fine compression, and save the Economy resolution if posting to the Web or trying to save memory space.
**Picture Effects Mode ***(8.0)*
Users can control picture effects before or after capture. A number of options are available before users even hit the shutter. These pre-capture choices allow users to shoot with live preview, including dynamic range (+2, +1) and color filters (Black-and-White, Sepia, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink, and Purple).
In post-capture Playback mode, the picture effects modes allow users to change dynamic range, brightness, image rotation, trimming, and audio dubbing after the picture has been taken. The camera offers rather ineffective Keystone and Color Correction options, two post-capture functions that often display "Cannot Correct Image" warnings.
Users can correct sharpness, saturation, and contrast after photos have been captured. These functions include a live preview so users can see how images will be altered before applying the effect. The V8 also includes a Portrait refiner that reduces noise grain in two-stop increments.
Overall, the Casio Exilim camera gives users a good number of options to bypass computer editing for effective in-camera fixes.
*The Casio V8 comes with two CD-ROMs with five programs, including the heavily-marketed YouTube Uploader for Casio software. When the V8 was announced, Casio claimed the companion software would enable users to upload their movies to the popular video site in just two easy steps. Well, it took more than two steps to set up the so-called automatic system.
The camera lacks a USB port and must be connected to a computer via a dock. After realizing this and reviewing the manual guide, users will realize they can’t literally upload directly from the camera since it doesn’t have Wi-Fi like competing cameras. Users must first use the cradle as the middle man between the camera and the computer. Users can’t directly connect the camera to the computer without the middle man, meaning users must carry the dock around if trying to upload on the go.
The user must select the movie in Playback mode, then hit a separate, non-discreet looking "USB" button on the dock. The computer then draws up a bland, but simple to read Uploader prompt to enter your YouTube account settings, privacy settings, and fields for title and tags. Like an e-mail account, the Uploader allows users to save login information so you don’t have to repeatedly enter in your YouTube password.
Once the initial setup is complete, YouTube automatically launches, and users can proceed as normal on the YouTube site for editing, remixing, and almost immediate viewing.
The initial setup wasn’t grueling, but it wasn’t easy. Once set up, the YouTube Uploader may be useful and simplify the uploading processing, but only if the user has their camera dock and is by their computer. Because of those restrictions, users are more likely to avoid the Casio YouTube Uploader and simply upload directly to the site.
If users don’t like YouTube editing, the camera box also includes two video editing programs, Movie Wizard 3.2 SE VCD and VideoStudio 10 Plus for Casio (trial version).
For still image editing, the box includes Photo Loader with HOT ALBUM 3.1, which transfers photos from the camera to the computer with browser management options. Additionally, there is a Photo Transport 1.0 to transfer images from the computer to the camera so the camera can be used as a digital photo viewer.
While the Casio V8 comes with a healthy dose of programs, the software requires a setup time that short-attention-spanned YouTube members won’t appreciate. The software is effective but spread across multiple programs, when users usually prefer one simple interface to manage all photos and videos.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs (5.0)
*The Exilim EX-V8 only has one port for the included dock accessory, so users looking for a separate USB port will be disappointed to find there isn’t one. This is fine as long as users don’t lose the dock, which is required to upload all photos and videos to the computer. The dock has a DC-in port for power, USB port for computer and printer connection, and an AV-out port for viewing images on the television.
*Direct Print Options (6.0)
*The V8 is a PictBridge-compatible camera, and allows users to prepare images for print within the camera. Users can select the number of prints, from 1 to 99, after editing photos with the camera’s built-in effects. There isn’t a dedicated print button, but users can easily access the DPOF options using the menu system.
*The Casio V8 accepts a rechargeable lithium-ion (NP-50) battery that looks like a thick stick of gum. With a flat, lightweight design, the battery keeps the camera portable. While some point-and-shoots accept more convenient AA batteries, lithium-ion batteries tend to last longer before needing to be charged. The battery promises 240 photos per charge.
*The Casio Exilim V8 has 11.8 MB of internal memory that can save approximately two shots on Fine compression. Users will most certainly need to buy an external memory card. The V8 accepts SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMC plus media.
**Other Features ***(5.25)*
Face Recognition – Casio expanded its facial recognition technology with this model. Most face detection systems on point-and-shoots auto focus and auto expose faces. Casio’s face recognition updates that concept by allowing users to program specific faces into the camera so the camera will prioritizes those faces for focus and exposure. It’s a good idea, but the updated Casio face recognition system is limited. The camera has trouble recognizing a programmed face (called Family First) if the facial expression and position isn’t like the pictured face at the time of programming. Aside from the iffy Family First function, overall face detection for auto exposure and auto focus was otherwise effective.
eBay Mode – Before there was the kitchy YouTube mode, there was Casio eBay mode. Both functions do essentially the same thing – record at reduced resolution optimized for the Web. The eBay mode takes photos at a lower 2-megapixel resolution. It’s a gimmick, but effective for eBay junkies.
The 7x optical zoom market isn’t too competitive, with the main competition between Casio, Pentax, and Samsung. For the hefty price of $329.99, the Casio V8 is one of the most expensive of the 7x optical zoom bunch. Most of that money goes to the Casio’s advanced functions for video, mechanical, and optical image stabilization, which makes it a strong competitor, but consumers might want to avoid having to fork over their wallets while less expensive 7x zoom cameras sit on the same shelf.
**Who’s this Camera For?
***Point and Shooters –* The V8 is most definitely marketed toward point-and-shooters. With its compact design and automatic functions, the Exilim camera is tailored for this demographic.
Budget Consumers – At $329.99, the Casio Exilim V8 isn’t the least expensive camera around, but it is still affordable compared to mid-range zoom cameras.
Gadget Freaks – Techies will enjoy the 7x optical zoom, sliding power door, and YouTube software, but overall, the V8 doesn’t suit this population too well. Early adopters would be more likely to buy touch screen or Wi-Fi-enabled cameras.
Manual Control Freaks – Manual control freaks won’t be too interested in the controls of the V8. With mostly automatic settings, this demographic would likely opt for more hardcore manual controls for aperture and shutter speed.
Pros / Serious Amateurs – Professional photographers most likely have no desire to buy the V8, even as a backup vacation camera. Professional photographers tend to gravitate toward SLRs.
***Casio Exilim EX-V7 –* Frugal consumers may be tempted to purchase the older V7 since the camera is less expensive online for $220 (original price $399.99) than the newer V8 ($329.99). These sibling cameras look like twins, with the same body dimensions and design. Both have 7x optical zoom lenses, blur reduction technology including CCD shift, and auto tracking AF. The major upgrade is that the V8 boosts the resolution to 8.1 megapixels, up from the 7.2-megapixel CCD on the earlier camera. The V8 also sports the YouTube Capture function. Aside from the slightly higher 230,400-pixel monitor resolution, up from 230,000 pixels on the equally-sized 2.5-inch LCD, a higher megapixel count and the YouTube feature really aren’t worth paying an extra $100. Users will be just as satisfied with the V7.
Pentax Optio Z10 – Customers looking at the Casio V8 might also consider the Pentax Z10. At a $249.95 introductory price, the Pentax entered the market at the same time as its Casio competitor, for $80 less. The Pentax Z10 and Casio V8 have comparable LCD screens. The Pentax Z10 has a 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel monitor, while the Casio V8 has a 2.5-inch, 230,400 pixel screen. Both have 8-megapixel CCD sensors, face detection technology, and non-extending 7x optical zoom lenses. The difference between the two cameras is that the Casio V8 has CCD-shifting blur reduction, while the Z10 only has Digital Shake Reduction. With a zoom beyond the standard 3x zoom, mechanical or optical image stabilization, as found on the V8, is crucial.
Samsung L77 – Both the Samsung L77 and Casio V8 claim to be among the slimmest in their categories. No need to fight to see who is skinnier. The cameras run equal waist sizes at 0.82 inches at their thinnest parts. The 7.1-megapixel Samsung camera has a lower megapixel count, but both tout 7x optical zoom lenses. The Casio uses mechanical image stabilization, while the Samsung camera uses only electronic picture stabilization. The Casio touts expanded movie functions with its wide 848 x 480 resolution, surpassing the standard 640 x 480 Samsung movie resolution. Consumers should also note that Samsung L77 only accepts SD media, while the Casio V8 is compatible with SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMC Plus. The Samsung L77 can be found online for $250 (original price $399.99), about $80 less than the Casio V8.
Samsung NV7 OPS – It’s easy to be tempted by the Samsung NV7’s Smart Touch interface. Equipped with touch-sensitive buttons, Samsung’s nod to the iPod, the Samsung camera carries an impressive, innovative feature that Casio cameras haven’t yet explored. Both cameras have 7x optical zoom lenses; the Casio with CCD-shift, and the Samsung with Optical Picture Stabilization. The NV7 has an extended lens, while the Casio V8 has a lens built in. The Casio V8 boosts a higher 8.1-megapixel count compared to the 7.2-megapixel Samsung NV7. Both products have equally sized monitors at 2.5 inches. The Casio, however, has slightly higher screen resolution at 230,400 pixels versus the Samsung NV7’s 230,000 pixels. At $250 (original price $449.99), the Samsung NV7 stands as a viable, less expensive alternative to the Casio V8.
**Most every point-and-shoot is capable of recording movies. What Casio does is uniquely partner with an exciting, successful business – YouTube. The popular video-sharing website appeals to everyone from the Star Wars Kid to presidential candidates. For better or worse, Casio effectively matches its customers with an already recognizable brand name. Even more, the camera model name, itself, is already recognizable – who hasn’t heard of V8 drinks or V8 engines? The V8 is much easier to remember than the four-numbered product numbers that modify Casio’s earlier Z-series cameras (eg. the Casio Exilim EX-Z1080). It is genius on its part, making good on a strong coupling between the digital still camera world and the popularity of the website dedicated to personal video.
As many pros as there are with branding, there are as many cons with imaging performance. The Casio V8 gets props for matching a 7x zoom lens on portable body, but the camera produces weak focus during zoom. While having an extra assist light for movies is nice, the assist lamp is overpowering during stills. General image parameters prove weak, with average color and resolution, and too much noise.
As for its virtues, its mid-range zoom with image stabilization, face recognition system, 10 Movie modes, and 34 Scene modes make the V8 especially tempting for the 7x zoom market. Consumers should know, though, that most other current 7x optical zoom cameras are less expensive.
Kudos to Casio for getting to YouTube first, but the Exilim EX-V8's average image performance makes the $329.99 price tag a bit too high. For the money, there's a host of better performers out there.
**Sample Photos **
Click to view the high-resolution image.
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Karen M. Cheung
Karen M. Cheung is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.See all of Karen M. Cheung's reviews
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