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Product Review: Casio EX-FH20 – High Speed at a Budget

– Derek M. Hansen – November 20, 2008 –

Just when you think Casio was going to leave the high-speed video market alone for a while with their EX-F1 offering, they introduce a lower-priced, similarly-featured Casio EX-FH20.

The Casio EX-FH20 can capture 40 high resolution, 7 megapixel images in one second providing many more images to choose from than a DSLR. The camera also provides a 20x optical zoom starting at 26mm wide-angle. It’s predecessor, the EX-F1 only provided a 12x optical zoom, stating at 36mm. A push of a button enables you to shoot high definition 720p video and switch to high speed slow motion video. The EX-F1 allowed you to shoot standard definition video,switching to 300 fps video with the push of a button. The high speed function allows for more flexibility than the EX-F1, with capture at 30-210fps, 420fps, and 1,000fps. To read my initial review on the Casio EX-F1, click here.

 

Advantages of the EX-FH20

Right of the bat, you can see that the EX-FH20 is smaller in size than the bulky EX-F1. The EX-FH20 weighs in at 17 ounces, while the EX-F1 is a much heavier 23.7 ounces. The EX-FH20 takes a smaller carry case with the dimensions as follows:

– EX-FH20 – 4.83” (W) x 3.20” (H) x 3.33” (D)
– EX-F1 – 5.03” (W) x 3.13” (H) x 5.12” (D)

So, carrying around the EX-FH20 will be a lot easier, but it still won’t fit in your pocket.

ex-fh20_large.jpg

As a digital still camera, the EX-FH20 shoots at 9.1 mega-pixels, a step up from the 6.1 mega-pixels of the EX-F1. Although the high speed burst mode shoots at 40 frames per second (20 less than the EX-F1), the shots are at a higher resolution (8 mega-pixel) than the EX-F1.

The EX-FH20 also has a much longer optical zoom at 20x (26mm to 520mm) as opposed to the EX-F1 at 12x (36 to 432mm). Whether or not 90mm makes a difference to consumers depends on the type of shooting you are doing. For parents wanting to shoot video and photos of their kids playing soccer, it may be the best combination of video, high speed video and digital still camera.

 

Why People May Stick with the EX-F1 for the Time Being

The video modes for these cameras are different with the EX-FH20 providing HD mode in 720p, while the EX-F1 provides up to 1080p HD. The resolution for the EX-F1 high speed modes are also slightly better resolution (likely because the lens is larger):

– EX-FH20: 480 × 360 (210 fps, 30-210 fps), 224 × 168 (420 fps), 224 × 56 (1000 fps)
– EX-F1: 512 × 384 (300 fps, 30-300 fps), 432 × 192 (600 fps), 336 × 96 (1200 fps)


I find that for indoor shooting with EX-F1, use of the high speed modes results in darker and grainier results than if I were outside in regular daylight. I could see the EX-FH20 providing less favorable results, particularly when zooming in on subjects. The EX-FH20 does appear to have a high speed “Night Scene” mode and other image stabilization features, but I can’t properly comment on those until I get my hands on one of these suckers.

The EX-F1 records video with stereo audio, while the newer EX-FH20 records in monoaural. However, the video recording formats do differ as follows:

– EX-FH20: AVI format, Motion JPEG, IMA-ADPCM (monaural)
– EX-F1: MOV format, H.264/AVC, IMA-ADPCM (stereo)

However, if you don’t mind not having stereo recording, then you may benefit from the fact the file formats for the EX-FH20 are AVI and likely more compatible with a broader spectrum of video editing packages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Remarks

I was hoping that Casio’s next iteration after the EX-F1 would have the same high speed abilities as the EX-F1, but with higher quality video (I’ve seen professional research cameras with 1000 fps at HD quality – albeit at a very high price). It doesn’t appear that this is available with the EX-FH20, but it has been bundled with some other features not found on the EX-F1. Will I go out and buy an EX-FH20 to replace my EX-F1? Not likely. I like my EX-F1 and I’m accustomed to it’s feel and features. However, for the high speed video enthusiast that doesn’t want to shell out close to $1,000, the EX-FH20 is more than a suitable substitute, retailing at under $600US.

I am very glad that Casio has continued on with trying to improve (and bring the price down) on this technology. I love watching the high speed video of simply activities like running, jumping and throwing. Just the other week, I was using the camera to determine ground contact times for plyometric jumps. Great fun! I’ll be glad to see what they come up with next with this line of cameras. If they can produce a camera that shoots 100, 500 and 1000fps at standard definition or (dare I say) high definition, I’ll be the first in line.


Find the new Casio EX-FH20 at BH Photo and Video below: