As a camera fan, I enjoy looking forward to the latest and greatest in photographic equipment. That's why I read this review of the new Casio Exilim EX-F1 digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera by the New York Time's David Pogue, with interest.
But while reading the first few paragraphs, I stopped to check the date on the review, to make sure it wasn't dated April Fool's day. This camera does some things that sound like science fiction, and represent some relatively big break-throughs in consumer digital photography. Nope, the camera's for real.
Here's why I thought it might not be:
A typical shirt-pocket camera, if you’re lucky, can snap one photo a second in “burst mode.” A $1,000 semipro model will get you 3 shots a second. But this Casio can snap — are you ready for this? — 60 photos a second. These are not movies; these are full six-megapixel photographs, each with enough resolution for a poster-size print..."
"The F1’s second trick is that business about photographing a moment after the fact. In pre-record mode, you half-press the shutter button when you’re awaiting an event that’s unpredictable: a breaching whale, a geyser’s eruption or a 5-year-old batter connecting with the ball. The camera silently, repeatedly records 60 shots a second, immediately discarding the old to make room for the new.
When you finally press the shutter button fully, the camera simply preserves the most recent shots, thus effectively photographing an event that, technically speaking, you missed.
Then there’s the motion detector. In this mode, you put the camera down on something steady, press the shutter button and back away. It sits there, waiting for hours if necessary, until it detects movement in the scene — at which point it auto-fires 60 burst shots. That could come in handy when you’re trying to photograph a hummingbird approaching a flower, a bird arriving at its nest or an unauthorized household member raiding the cookie jar.
As a final time trick, the F1 can display, on its 2.8-inch screen, a slow-motion version of what the camera is “seeing.” Your preview falls further and further behind real time — but you now have the luxury of patience as you decide precisely when to snap the shot.
The F1’s movie mode is one of the most powerful ever. It has stereo microphones, and even a jack for an external mike. It has separate triggers for stills and videos, so you can snap stills right in the middle of filming a movie. It can zoom in midmovie, a rarity in still cameras. And it can film in either standard or high definition; there’s even a mini-HDMI jack for connecting the camera straight to an HDTV set.
Most stunning of all, this camera can film at outrageously high frame rates: 300, 600, or even 1,200 frames a second. The result is incredibly smooth, extremely slow motion, like something in an Imax nature movie. No still camera has ever offered anything like this feature."
Jaw on the floor yet? Mine certainly was...
David does go on to go through some of the negatives of the camera, which mostly have to do with the relatively small sensor, somewhat complicated controls, and a zoom that's not zippy as it could be. But as he then goes on to put the weaknesses in perspective:
"...it does seem ungrateful to criticize such an astonishing camera; it’s like complaining that your 7-year-old violin virtuoso is lousy at sports."
I agree. This is definitely a camera I'm checking out in more detail.