Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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Introduction

The Casio EX-H30 is a new travel-zoom camera offering a 12.5x wide-angle zoom lens with a focal length of 24-300mm and CCD-shift image stabilization. The 16 megapixel H30 additionally offers a large 3.0-inch LCD monitor with a resolution of 460,000 dots, 720p HD movies, remarkable 1,000-shot battery life, shutter speed priority and aperture priority modes for experienced photographers, and a fully automatic Premium Auto function for beginners. Available in four colors, including sliver, black, red, and gold, the Casio EX-H30 retails at £229 in the UK and $249.99 in the USA.

Ease of Use

Available in four body colours including the classic black we had in for review, the Casio Exilim EX-H30 joins a swelling number of one-lens-fits-all ‘travel zooms’ this year, each vying for your purse strings and patronage. And it arrives in timely fashion too, what with the summer holiday/travel season approaching.

Not to be confused with the Exilim EX-H30G model, which adds GPS, this camera features a 12.5x optical zoom and 16.1 effective megapixel maximum resolution, a headline spec which exactly matches the competing if marginally cheaper Olympus SZ-20. However, from the outside the Casio’s a closer match in looks and styling for another zoom rival in the Coolpix S9100, whilst featuring a greater deal of hands on manual control than that 12 megapixel, 18x zoom Nikon offering.

Other most recent travel zoom contenders clashing with this Casio include the feature-packed Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20, Canon PowerShot SX220HS and SX230HS, Fuji FinePix F550EXR, plus Samsung WB600 and Samsung WB650.

Like the Olympus SZ-20, pictures and video are composed and reviewed courtesy of a 3-inch, 460k dot resolution LCD screen on the backplate in the predictable absence of an optical viewfinder. Aspect ratio is once again standard 4:3 rather than widescreen 16:9.

Because it is a travel zoom model and shoehorns in a folded lens mechanism, the EX-H30 is not the slenderest Exilim ever at just under an inch thick, but it’ll still fit snugly in a trouser pocket with a body only weight of 161g. Of course, the need to nevertheless deliver compact proportions has resulted in the lack of a decent handgrip; there is a raised side edge but it’s more of a concession than solution. But more positively once you’ve tried a 10x+ zoom you’ll find it frustrating to go back to anything that falls short in terms of focal range, here the 35mm equivalent of an ultra wide 24mm to 300mm. The camera is fast to move through its available range, powering from extreme wide angle to maximum telephoto in all of two seconds when in stills shooting mode. While the manufacturer’s original suggested retail price was a fairly average £299, we were able to find street prices just over £200 at the time of writing, for which we may suggest you can’t really go wrong.

Casio EX-H30 Casio EX-H30
Front Rear

Supported by sensor shift image stabilization, the focal range on offer on the Casio here is as adept as pulling the faraway close to enable candid portraits as it is squeezing expansive landscapes into the available frame – swapping between differing set ups in a matter of seconds without the photographer having to actually step forward or back.

Whilst that much is true of any travel zoom, helping the EX-H30 stand out from the crowd is the Casio special feature of a 1,000 shot battery life – according to CIPA testing and in that respect more than three/four times the lifespan offered by most rivals.

Users even get a top plate button to place the camera in power saving ‘eco’ mode. Furthermore, mirroring the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20’s Extra Optical Zoom facility, the EX-H30’s zoom can be further extended by a factor of 1.5x, to an equivalent 18.8x.

The EX-H30 looks both austere and sophisticated from the front, at least in its black incarnation, lens dominating proceedings and a narrow lozenge of a built-in flash featuring top left of it. Unusually there’s no AF assist or self-timer lamp provided.

On the top plate operational buttons are set into a narrow yet attractively mirrored control strip. Set flush with this are the aforementioned eco button plus the on/off button.

A press of the top plate on/off button and the Casio Exilim EX-H30 powers up in just over a second. A mechanical whirr acts as a sound track to the lens as it extends from flush to the body to maximum wideangle setting.

Casio EX-H30 Casio EX-H30
Top Front

Press the shutter release button down halfway and the camera responds more or less instantly, central AF point highlighted in green with a beep of affirmation that the user is free to go ahead and take the shot. Do so and a full resolution JPEG is committed to memory in less than two seconds – which is swift for this class of camera.

Raised slightly on the top plate are the shutter release button encircled by a lever for controlling the zoom, forward protruding lip providing a point of purchase for the forefinger. Set back from these controls and indeed sloping towards the backplate for more convenient control betwixt thumb and forefinger is a model dial, not over burdened with just eight settings and what looks like room to spare. It is however one of the physically smallest dials we’ve seen, being the approximate size of a dime or halfpenny. Still, as a time saver it avoids the need to drill down into screen menus, which here are needlessly busy and occasionally puzzling – compounded by the fact that they are overlaid on the LCD image.

On said dial we get not one but two auto modes: Premium Auto that automatically ‘enhances’ shots in camera to save recourse to Photoshop alongside regular auto, along with plentiful ‘Best Shot’ scene modes, a silent mode for surreptitious snappers, plus, more unusually at this level, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual shooting options.

Also worth pointing out is the EX-H30’s easy to use Slide Panorama mode selected via the top plate dial. Press down on the shutter release button and pan in the direction indicated through a maximum arc of 260° to the sound of the shutter rapidly firing. Within seconds the seamless elongated result appears. Casio claims the camera can recognize moving subjects and omit them from overlapping images. While the resultant image appears low res, it’s a fun feature that travellers may well find a use for.

Not included here is a video option, as movie recording gets its own dedicated camcorder-style instant record button on the backplate. Not quite up there with the best of them, video resolution is a ‘mere’ High Def 1280×720 pixels at 24fps with mono sound, and Casio also curiously omits HDMI output, just including the standard AV and USB outputs.

Casio EX-H30 Casio EX-H30
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Also on the backplate the EX-H30’s attendant controls are simply what one would expect to find on a pocket model, with separate buttons for capture or review modes (capture being the default setting, unless that is you’ve activated the camera from its dormant state by pressing the review button), plus control pad for tabbing through menu options plus central ‘set’ button for effecting them, along with a dedicated menu button.

In capture mode a range of function options are automatically presented in a loose toolbar running down the right hand side of the Casio’s screen. From the top moving down we get the ability to adjust image resolution and aspect ratio (a choice of default 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9), alter flash settings (auto flash forced off, forced on or red eye reduction mode), or switch from auto focus through macro focus and infinity and – surprisingly – onto a manual focus option, controlled by tabbing left or right on the control pad with a measurement slider presented at the bottom of the screen. Next stop down on the toolbar is a selective AF option, with the choice of switching between ‘intelligent AF’ that automatically detects an optimum focus point, spot AF, multi area AF, and finally, activating AF tracking. The following options provide control over light sensitivity, with incremental ISO options ranging from ISO80 up to a maximum ISO3200, plus we also get the ability to switch on the self timer, face detection technology, adjust exposure compensation (between +/- 2EV), and even change the display time if warranted.

Alternatively, if the shooting mode dial has been twisted to arrive at Best Shot (scenes) mode, then this is displayed as the bottom option. Press the central ‘set’ button in the midst of the control pad and the options are presented as we’d normally expect to find them on a Casio – as a series of photo-led icons. Here the ‘BS’ modes number 36 in total – a pretty comprehensive selection by any standards, and encompass everything from day-lit portraits to twilight shots. While there’s the option to point and shoot on regular or premium auto if you want to, the pre-optimised options are more comprehensive than you’d normally expect to find on a point and shoot.

As noted earlier, a press of the camera’s menu button and options are overlaid on the screen’s background. Here we get three folders – record, quality and set up, which is pretty self-explanatory.

At one side of the camera we can a lug for attaching a wrist strap plus a covered port for AV out and USB out (no HDMI here as noted), whilst the other flank is devoid of any features whatsoever. The base of the camera features a roughly centrally placed screw thread for the attachment of a tripod, and a sliding cover protecting the joint SD card and rechargeable battery slot.

The Casio is as quick to respond to each button press and dial twist as we’d want, the feature set is commendably comprehensive for a point and shoot, and the build quality feels solid for the price. Whilst it doesn’t particularly excel in any one area, overall it’s a solid buy. But, as our final test, does the EX-H30 impress as much when it comes to image quality? Read on to discover more…

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The mark of a pocket sized travel zoom is how well it performs when shooting handheld at longer focal lengths – as well as at extreme wide-angle. In that respect the Casio’s EX-H30’s still images are colour rich and detailed for the most part, bettering those achievable with the Olympus SZ-20 at longer focal ranges. They require little if any adjustment straight out of the camera, which is exactly what anyone wants from a point and shoot camera. And if occasionally we got a soft shot at maximum zoom due to hand wobble/camera shake, this was the exception rather than the rule. Though, to be picky our white wall test shots do however reveal some visible corner shading at the edges of frame at maximum wide-angle setting.

As far as low light/ISO performance is concerned, the Casio delivers a clean, noise free performance up to and including ISO 400. Matters noticeably go downhill from ISO 800 onwards, with noise visible across the image and softened detail to boot. At ISO 3200 the image is really breaking up, formerly defined areas resembling a Pointillist painting rather than a photograph per se. Not the best low light performance we’ve seen then, but neither is it the worst. ‘Acceptable’ is our verdict in the case of the Casio Exilim EX-H30.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Casio EX-H30. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web – Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Casio EX-H30 kept chromatic aberrations largely under control during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Casio EX-H30 offers a Super Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Casio EX-H30 are Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Soft Flash, and Red Eye Reduction. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off – Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On – Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off – Telephoto (300mm)

Flash On – Telephoto (300mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. Neither the Auto setting or the Red Eye Reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)

Night

The Casio EX-H30’s maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds, which is fairly good news if you’re seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 800.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Casio EX-H30 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280 x 720 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 27 second movie is 62.4Mb in size.

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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Product Images

Casio EX-H30

Front of the Camera

 
Casio EX-H30

Front of the Camera

 
Casio EX-H30

Isometric View

 
Casio EX-H30

Isometric View

 
Casio EX-H30

Rear of the Camera

 
Casio EX-H30

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

 
Casio EX-H30

Top of the Camera

 
Casio EX-H30

Bottom of the Camera

 
Casio EX-H30

Side of the Camera

 

Casio EX-H30

Side of the Camera

 
Casio EX-H30
Memory Card Slot
 
Casio EX-H30
Battery Compartment

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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Specifications

Number of Effective Pixels Approximately 16.1 megapixels
Image Sensor 1/2.3-inch square pixel CCD
Total Pixels?16.57 megapixels(/million)
File Format
  • Still Images?JPEG (Exif Version 2.3, DCF 2.0 standard, DPOF compliant)
  • Movies?AVI format, Motion JPEG, IMA-ADPCM (monaural)
  • Audio (Voice Recording)?WAV format (monaural)
Built-in Flash Memory (Image Area) 34.9MB
Recording Media SD Memory Card*, SDHC Memory Card , SDXC Memory Card compatible
* Compatible with Eye-Fi Card, an SD memory card-type wireless LAN.
Number of Recorded Pixels
  • Still Images?16M (4608 x 3456), 3:2 (4608 x 3072), 16:9 (4608 x 2592), 10M (3648 x 2736), 5M (2560 x 1920), 3M (2048 x 1536), VGA (640 x 480)
  • Movies?HD: 1280 x 720 (24 fps) , STD: 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Recording Capacity Still Images?SD Memory Card 1GB*?It has not yet been fixed
Movies?Recording Time?It has not yet been fixed
SD Memory Card 1GB*?It has not yet been fixed
* When using Panasonic Pro High Speed 1GB SD Memory Card.
Operating Speed High-speed Continuous Shutter?Approx. 10 frames per second at 1280 x 960 pixels, Continuous Approx. 4 frames per second at 1600 x 1200 pixels
Flash Continuous Shutter?Approx. 3 frames per second at 1600 x 1200 pixels (Up to 3 shots)
Lens
  • Construction?9 lenses in 8 groups, including aspherical lens
  • F-number?F3.0 (W) to F5.9 (T)
  • Focal Length?f = 4.24 to 53.0mm
    35mm Film Equivalent?Approx. 24 to 300mm
Zoom Ratio
  • Optical zoom?12.5X
  • Single Frame SR Zoom?18.8X
  • digital zoom?4X
  • maximum digital zoom (in combination with HD Zoom, VGA size)?199.3X
Focusing
  • Focus Type?Contrast Detection Auto Focus
  • Focus Modes?Auto Focus, Macro Mode, Super Macro, Infinity Mode, Manual Focus
  • AF Area?Intelligent, Spot, Multi, Tracking
  • AF Assist Lamp?Yes
Focus Range (From Lens Surface)
  • Auto Focus?Approx. 5cm to infinity (W)
  • Macro?Approx. 1cm to 50cm (Fifth step from widest setting)
  • Super Macro?Approx. 1cm to 50cm
  • Infinity Mode?Infinity
  • Manual Focus?Approx. 5cm to infinity (W)

* Range is affected by optical zoom.

Exposure
  • Exposure Metering?Multi-pattern, center weighted, spot by imaging element
  • Exposure Control?Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Speed Priority AE, Manual Exposure
  • Exposure Compensation?-2EV to +2EV (in 1/3EV steps)
Shutter Type
  • CCD electronic shutter, mechanical shutter
  • Shutter Speed*?Auto?1/2 to 1/2000 second
    Priority AE? 1 to 1/2000 second
    Shutter Speed Priority AE?8 to 1/2000 second (not fixed)
  • Manual Exposure?8 to 1/2000 second (not fixed)
Aperture F3.0 (W) to F7.9 (W)*1
* Range is affected by optical zoom.
*1 F7.9 is the aperture when an ND filter is being used.
White Balance Auto WB, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Day White FL, Daylight FL, Tungsten, Manual WB
Sensitivity (SOS/REI)*?Still Images?Auto, ISO80, ISO100, ISO200, ISO400, ISO800, ISO1600, ISO3200
Movies? Auto
* SOS: Standard Output Sensitivity; REI: Recommended Exposure Index.
OtherRecording Functions
  • Image Stabilization Mechanism?CCD-shift image stabilization
  • Premium AUTO?Yes
  • Make-up Mode?Yes (12-level steps)
  • Landscape Mode?Yes (Vivid Landscape: 2-level steps / Mist Removal: 2-level steps)
  • Handheld Night Scene?Yes
  • Lighting Function?Yes
  • BEST SHOT?Yes: 36 scenes
    Dynamic Photo?Yes
    Multi-motion Image?Yes
    YouTube™ Capture Mode?Yes
    Voice Recording?Yes
  • Face Detection?Yes
  • Auto Shutter?Yes
Self-timer 10 seconds, 2 seconds, Triple Self-timer
Built-in Flash Flash Modes?Auto, Flash Off, Flash On, Red Eye Reduction
Flash Range*?Approx. *to *m (W), approx. * to * (T) It has not been fixes
* Range is affected by optical zoom.
Monitor Screen 3.0-inch TFT color LCD (Super Clear LCD), 460,800 dots (960 x 480)
Timekeeping Functions
  • Date and Time?Recorded with image data
  • On-image Time Stamp Function?YES
  • Auto Calendar?To 2049
  • World Time?162 cities in 32 time zones, City name, date, time, summer time
External connection terminals USB port(Hi?Speed USB compatible) / AV output terminal(NTSC/PAL)
Microphone Monaural
Speaker Monaural
Power Requirements Rechargeable lithium ion battery (NP-130)
Battery Life Number of Shots(CIPA Standards)?It has not yet been fixed
Dimensions (CIPA Standards)?104.8(W) x 59.1(H) x 28.6(D) mm (24.2mm thickness excluding protruding parts)
Weight (CIPA Standards)?Approx. 201g (including Battery and Memory Card*), approx. 161g (excluding Battery and Memory Card)
* When using Panasonic Pro High Speed 1GB SD Memory Card.
Bundled Accessories Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery (NP-130),Lithium Ion Battery Charger(BC-130L), AC power cord, USB cable, AV cable, strap, CD-ROM

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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Conclusion

The Casio EX-H30 looks the part for anyone wanting a user-friendly ‘travel zoom’ with a broader than average focal range; in fact in our opinion its sleek appearance is second only to the Nikon Coolpix S9100, of which this could be considered in some ways a budget version, even though it does pack in more real photographic features and manual control than its otherwise revered rival.

The other positives here are the best in class 1,000 shot battery life – ideal when away from home, or simply a plug socket – that easy to use Slide Panorama feature, quick power up and response times increasing the likelihood of the user getting the shot they saw in their mind’s eye, simple operation for the most part, plus it’s more affordable if taking into account its current street price around the £200 mark rather than the original £229 being asked by its manufacturer.

Ultimately the EX-H30 comes across as a ‘best of’ the current travel zoom crop – resembling the Nikon Coolpix S9100 for looks and layout, the Olympus SZ-20 for headline specifications and the Canon PowerShot SX220HS, Samsung WB650 and Panasonic TZ20 for manual photographic features. Whilst no one individual aspect individually stood out for us as being particularly praiseworthy or revolutionary, there’s no need to damn it for the crime of doing exactly what it says on the tin. The Casio is a competent tool for those who want consistency and reliability in return for their modest investment.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Casio EX-H30.

Canon PowerShot SX220 HS

Canon PowerShot SX220 HS Review thumbnail

The Canon PowerShot SX220 HS is the latest travel-zoom camera to hit the market, offering a 14x zoom lens and a sensible 12 megapixel back-illuminated image sensor. Other key features of the Canon SX220 include a 3 inch LCD screen, full 1080p HD movies with stereo sound, a range of hand-holding modes for beginners, and full manual controls for more experienced users. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX220 HS in-depth review to find out if this is the only camera that you need.

Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR

Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR Review thumbnail

The Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR is the latest travel-zoom camera, sporting a 15x lens with a versatile focal range of 24-360mm. The 16 megapixel F550EXR features a lightning quick auto-focus system, full 1080p movies, built-in GPS, and 8fps continuous shooting. Read our in-depth Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR review to find out if this is the ultimate compact camera…

Nikon Coolpix S9100

Nikon Coolpix S9100 Review thumbnail

The Nikon Coolpix S9100 is a new travel-zoom compact camera sporting a whopping 18x zoom lens with a focal range of 25-450mm. Also featuring a sensible 12 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, high-resolution 3-inch screen and 1080p Full HD movies, the Nikon S9100 certainly offers a lot on paper, but how does it shape up in reality? Read our in-depth Nikon Coolpix S9100 review to find out.

Olympus Mju 9010

Olympus Mju 9010 Review thumbnail

The Olympus mju 9010 (also known as the Stylus 9010) is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera. Offering a 10x, 28-280mm lens in a pocketable body, the mju 9010 also features a 14 megapixel sensor, 2.7 inch LCD screen, 1cm macro mode and 720p HD movie recording. Zoltan Arva-Toth takes a look at the range-topping Olympus mju 9010 in the World’s first online review.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ18

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ18 Review thumbnail

The Lumix DMC-TZ18 is Panasonic’s new affordable travel-zoom camera for 2011. The TZ18 (also known as the ZS8) packs a 14 megapixel CCD sensor, 16x wide-angle zoom lens, 3 inch LCD screen,720p HD movies and manual controls into its pocketable body. Available in silver or black for £269 / $299, read our Panasonic DMC-TZ18 / ZS10 review to find out if this is the compact camera for you.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 Review thumbnail

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 is a brand new premium travel-zoom camera. The TZ20 (also known as the ZS10) packs a 14 megapixel Live MOS sensor, 16x wide-angle zoom lens, GPS tracking, 3 inch touchscreen LCD, full 1080i HD movies with stereo sound, 3D photo mode and even manual controls into its pocketable body. Available in silver, black, red or blue for £349 / $399, read our Panasonic DMC-TZ20 / ZS10 review to find out if this is the best travel-zoom camera that money can buy.

Samsung WB650

Samsung WB650 Review thumbnail

The Samsung WB650 (also known as the Samsung HZ35W) is Samsung’s flagship travel-zoom camera for 2010, offering a better feature-set than the market-leader, the Panasonic DMC-TZ10, at a lower price. Built-in GPS, a 3 inch AMOLED screen, 15x zoom, 12 megapixels and full manual control are just some of the highlights of the WB650, which is available in grey for £299 / $349. Read our Samsung WB650 review to find out if this is the best travel compact of the year.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 Review thumbnail

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera that’s stuffed to the proverbial gills with all the latest must-have features. A 10x, 25-250mm Sony G lens? Check. Built-in GPS tracking complete with a compass? Check. Full 1080i high-definition video with stereo sound? Check. A 10 megapixel CMOS sensor, 3 inch screen, manual shooting mode, 10fps burst mode, even SD memory card support – all present and correct. Read our in-depth Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 review to find out if all of these features add up to a great camera.

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

Casio EX-H30 Review Image

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