Casio Exilim EX-S880 Compact Camera
At a Glance
Casio Exilim EX-S880
The EX-S880 costs $30 less than the EX-Z1080, but it has less resolution. Makes uploading video to YouTube nearly automatic.
The slim and attractive Casio Exilim EX-S880 adds a few twists to what you'd expect to find in a 3X-zoom, 8-megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera. The bright and sharp 2.8-inch LCD screen has an unusual 14:9 aspect ratio; when shooting at the default 4:3 ratio, you see the current settings in a column to the right of the live preview. For 16:9 stills or video, you see black bars above and below the preview, or you can switch to a layout that superimposes the settings over a larger preview, similar to how most cameras display them. The maximum video resolution is 848 by 480 pixels--short of HDTV quality, but a higher resolution than most cameras can manage.
Many models now offer face detection, which automatically sets the best focus and exposure for portraits. The live preview puts a box around up to ten faces detected by the camera. When you press the shutter release halfway, the box turns green for faces on which the camera can focus. You can also program the EX-S880 to recognize family members, or friends you photograph often, and assign them a priority order. When a shot contains several faces, the camera highlights family members with colored boxes according to their priority and optimizes the settings so that your favorites look the best. The user manual offers no advice on how to solve arguments about how you've prioritized your relatives.
The EX-S880 also offers a tracking mode for its autofocus system. Once you've locked onto a subject, it keeps it in focus despite any movement before you click the shutter completely. In conjunction with face detection, autotracking helps to keep portraits sharp and correctly exposed, even if your subjects won't stay still.
The Best Shot button gives a choice of about 40 different scene modes and settings, including one called "For YouTube" (it's also on the Exilim EX-Z1080). This shoots video compatible with the YouTube Web site and stores the files in a special YouTube folder. When you dock the camera in its cradle and press the USB button, the included software detects any video files in the special folder and helps you upload them to the YouTube site. You'll need to register as a YouTube user first, and enter information such as titles and categories as you upload each video, but the integration is quite slick.
In our lab tests, the EX-S880 produced some of the most accurately exposed flash photos we've ever seen. Unfortunately, results weren't so good for daylight shots. Distortion and sharpness were also below par. But we took an above-average 332 shots on a single charge in our battery tests. To recharge its lithium ion cell, you dock the camera into an included cradle.
The EX-S880 lacks optical image stabilization, instead raising the ISO sensitivity in its antishake mode to enable faster shutter speeds. Exposure compensation lets you adjust the brightness easily, but you'll find other manual controls. The solid metal body comes in a choice of black or red, but the anodized-aluminum finish scratches easily.
If you're forever shooting family portraits or are hooked on YouTube, the Casio Exilim EX-S880 could be a good choice. However, its inconsistent image quality is alone a good reason to shop around for a better deal.