The Ultimate Digital Photography Review, Cont.

Francis Vale



Additionally, there is a not often seen “coupling” mode on the EX-P600. Coupling Shot lets you combine different people using two shots of the same scene into a single image. E.g., first you shoot your friend and then they shoot you, but just make sure the background is aligned correctly. The LCD display has a grid mode that you can turn on to help you align everything properly. There is no couple break-up function for when the relationship goes sour, however.

Then there is the camera’s unusual Pre-shot mode that lets you add a subject to a previously recorded background image. First you compose the background you want and take the picture that causes a semi-transparent image of the background to remain on the LCD screen. Next, bother some passerby and ask them to record a shot of you against your original background, telling them to compose the image by using the semi-transparent monitor screen image as a guide. Pre-shot lets you create images that include you and someone else, even if you are the only two people around. If the stranger is good looking and they have willingly put up with you while doing all this, ask them to come home with you. Making amateur web porn has never been easier.

To juice up your D-life, the EX-P600 uses a proprietary NP-40 lithium-ion rechargeable battery that according to Casio will let you romp around in record mode for some 130 minutes (260 photos) including using the flash 50% of the time. In playback mode you get about five hours use. This is good, but not great, as the EX-P600’s battery stores only 4.5 Wh of energy. Some other cameras in this class store more than twice as much energy as the EX-P600’s lithium battery. The plug-it-into-a-wall-socket battery charger is small, simple, convenient, and takes about 2 hours for the battery to fully restore itself. A replacement battery for the EX-P600 will set you back about $45

Things can get very complicated on the back panel display if you choose. If you go into the EX-P600’s EX Finder mode you are confronted with a sci-fi like display that a Terminator would love as an eye implant. An amber aiming reticle split into quadrants is superimposed on the LCD-displayed image and also displays focal distance. EX Finder additionally displays a white balance indicator (nine different available settings, including a manual adjustment and bracketing mode); flash mode indicator; focus mode indicator; ISO sensitivity (ISO equivalents are offered from 50 to 400); manual focus indicator, color change indicator; aperture value; shutter speed; EV shift (exposure compensation value); and even a histogram. The only information missing is Sarah Jessica Parker’s correct street address for Arnold.

Getting the hang of all this superimposed information may take more brain processing power than most will want to expend and many will probably opt for the standard no frills display mode.  On the other hand, I found that after using EX Finder for a while it became second nature.  It was fairly easy to sort out all the information. Then again, I am also a licensed pilot so I am used to seeing and processing lots of visual information.  In any event, the EX-P600 in its normal autopilot mode will land you a great looking photo almost every time.

One downside is that EX-P600 supports only 320x240-pixel, 15-frame-per-second movies, which are simply not the right stuff in 2004. Overall noise levels were also commendably low, at least until you get up to ISO 200 or so, when noise levels begin to rise.

On the whole, picture quality was very good and easily equals or excels its numerous competitors in this price class. You would typically have to spend hundreds more to get the kind of semi-pro features found on the EX-P600. The camera also has many more user friendly and convenience features than those discussed here. The EX-P600’s unobtrusive training wheels can be easily shed as you gain more experience and the camera lets you smoothly slip deeper into the digital photography waters. In sum, this is a terrific camera for the user who wants as much quality and features as possible without having to bust open the kilo-dollar piggy bank.

Highly recommended.

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