Monday, April 21, 2008

State of the Nation: Casio EX-F1 (Big Monday)

The Big Monday feature makes its debut with this long-winded round-up post on the current state of the Casio EX-F1, the speed-demon from Casio that has led quite an interesting "life" as a product.


Humble Beginnings
The Casio EX-F1 first made its mark in the digital camera world with a Development notice by Casio in August 2007. Not a whole lot of details were given, but there were enough details to generate subterranean buzz on this camera. The fact that it was using a new 6mp 1/1.8" sensor from Sony added credibility to this endeavor, and hope for bigger less noisy "pixels".


The Reveal
In early January 2008, at CES 2008 time, Casio officially revealed the EX-F1 to the world. The official specs were made public, and apart from the obvious excitement of the 60fps at full-res, there was also RAW excitement. And Casio opted for the Adobe DNG "standard" instead of taking a proprietary route.

And here is an EX-F1 overview, from the Casio Exilim website.


Milestones
The first sample pictures from one of the major review sites came from Let's Go. More followed. And the camera started getting in the hands of consumers in late March in Japan. And it wasn't long before it was made available as an eBay import.


The Strange Decision
After so many years of internet commerce we have gotten accustomed to being able to buy just about anything online, from a 99c widget to a $50,000 car. But Casio had to throw cold water on the EX-F1 fire, as they decided not to sell the camera online. Not sure what the reasons behind that decision were, but somewhere in the woods, a bird is looking for its brains ;-)

This means that in order to buy the EX-F1 you either have to call your favorite retailer and convince them that you are capable and worthy of buying the EX-F1, or do the same at your local camera store. Assuming of course they have the camera in-stock . Good luck convincing SLR traditionalists to carry a $1000 Casio non-SLR digital camera!

The good news for potential buyers is that both B&H Photo and Adorama are carrying the camera and it can be purchased via a telephone order. Please note that both stores are closed until April 28, 2008 for the Passover holidays.

As an alternative for those who only buy things online, you can purchase the camera on eBay. Most of the listings are direct imports from Japan, but nothing stops individuals from selling their own USA-market Casio EX-F1 on eBay. eBay is like a box of chocolates, and be sure to investigate the chocolates thoroughly before eating :)


The Reviews and First Impressions
The first media review of the EX-F1 came from New York Times columnist and Colbert-in-training David Pogue. Here is the review. Free registration may be required to read the review. Apparently newspapers are still unable to "get" the internet :)

Pbase user Teake van Popta has posted a first impressions look of the EX-F1, complete with sample pictures and videos, including 60fps samples.

A dpreview forum discussion talks about the Japanese IT media review of the EX-F1. Sample pictures included obviously.

Engadget showcases the EX-F1 in superslomo, while Gizmodo hurts a few tomatoes in this EX-F1 demo. Ouch! EX-F1 coverage on Gizmodo right here.

Meanwhile Ellis Benton of CNet UK has posted a CNet-style review of the F1. This is a two-page review, with conclusions on page two. But we won't reveal the conclusions :)


Let the pictures speak for themselves
EX-F1 pictures, both samples and real world, are finding their way online. Here are 120+ photos on Flickr tagged with exf1. And a search for EX F1 on Flickr yields a number of pictures.

Here is a comparison shot between the EX-F1 and Panasonic FZ50, in the Casio dpreview forum. Same place, video of a helicopter, a remote controlled one that is.


Forum Reactions
A number of forum users are posting sample pictures and opinions after getting their EX-F1, here are some: thread #1, thread #2, thread #3, thread #4, thread #5.

This dpreview forum user concludes after one week: it sucks.

This forum user has done an excellent job in summarizing the EX-F1 retail situation.

This thread encourages fans of the EX-F1 to support Casio by getting it.

Lag times are the topic of this discussion.

And some high-def video in this thread, at 1080 and 720.

For a lot more discussions and sample pictures, be sure to visit and bookmark the dpreview Casio Talk forum.

And more samples, this time in the dpnow forums.


State of the Nation
These are just the introductory chapters in the Casio EX-F1 book, there's plenty more to written about it in the next few weeks and months. Stay tuned for future updates :)

This was our first "Big Monday" experimental feature. Please let us know if you liked it or not. We are already working on the next "Big Monday" feature to be posted on April 28, 2008. It will be on a different topic, but we won't reveal it just yet :)


Extra, Extra! Read all about it!
The Casio EX-F1 was just reviewed at Luminous Landscape. See what they thought. Keep in mind Luminous reviews are more experiential, do not expect a 30+ page review like dpreview!

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