capsule review

Casio Exilim EX-S600 digital camera

At just over half an inch thick, Casio’s Exilim EX-S600 is one of the thinnest cameras I’ve recently tested—it’s small enough to slip into a shirt or pants pocket without causing unsightly bulges. It’s also rather festive looking—available in three colors to coordinate with your outfit: Sparkle silver, Fiesta orange, and Mistral blue. The 2.2-inch LCD screen is clear and seems significantly brighter than those on previous Exilim models.

This slinky 6-megapixel camera’s image quality is also quite appealing. In our tests, its image quality was above average, with strong, bright, but true-to-life colors. However, our jury found the sharpness a bit lacking, and fine details were often lost in a haze.

The camera’s images were also prone to noise, especially with the ISO setting at its maximum of 400. Areas of flat color had an almost bumpy appearance because of the noise. The EX-S600 includes an antishake mode, but instead of optical stabilization, it works by boosting the sensitivity of the camera to light. This comes at a cost, as pictures taken in this mode are prone to the same noise problems as the ones taken at high ISO settings.

A huge selection of other shooting modes is available—34 in all—including an interesting one designed to boost the colors of old photos. Rather than color-correcting a scanned photo, you take a picture of the old photo, and the camera performs the task.

In general, the camera is small, light, and fairly easy to handle. But shooters with big hands might find its thin profile a bit uncomfortable. With the zoom control situated on the back, gripping the camera can be a little difficult, as it’s hard to hold the camera and adjust the zoom. All of the other controls are accessible through buttons on the back, too.

Having all the controls on the back can be a bit of a pain, especially because changing shooting modes is a two-handed job (and scrolling through the 34 different modes takes some time if you don’t remember where to find the one you want). Since there’s no control dial, you end up pushing a lot of buttons to reach some features and settings. Except for the shutter, there are no controls on the top of the camera.

Like most cameras, the EX-S600 can also double as a camcorder, shooting movies at up to 640 by 480 resolution at 30 frames per second in MPEG-4 format. The EX-S600 is unusual in that it allows you to use the Shake Reduction mode while recording movies. There is also a Past Movie mode in which the camera is constantly recording video, so you can effectively start shooting a movie five seconds before you press the Record button. This feature is a nice touch, but you have to remember to set the Past Movie mode before you can use it.

Battery life is often a compromise with smaller cameras, but the EX-S600 doesn’t have this problem. We measured the battery life at 415 shots, pretty impressive considering the small size of its rechargeable lithium ion (LiIon) battery; many larger cameras don’t last half as long.

performance

Image Quality Good
Battery Life Excellent

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

How we tested: The image-quality rating of the camera is based on a panel of judges’ opinions in five categories: exposure, color, sharpness, distortion, and overall. Battery life testers follow a precise script, including shots with and without flash, until the battery dies.—Tested in conjunction with the PC World Test Center

Specifications

Resolution 6 megapixels
Zoom/Focal Length (35mm equivalent) 3x optical (38-114mm)
Battery Type Rechargeable lithium ion
Media Slots SD Card (1)
Size (wxhxd) 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.6 inches
Weight 4.6 oz.

Macworld’s buying advice

With its fairly good image quality and compact design, the Casio Exilim EX-S600 is a fine choice for people on the go.

[ Richard Baguley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in PC World, Wired, and JIWire.com. He also maintains a Camcorder blog.]

Casio Exilim EX-S600
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