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Casio Exilim EX-G1

Casio unveils world's slimmest waterproof, dustproof and shock-resistant camera
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Given that Casio has been selling tough and rugged G-SHOCK watches for over a quarter of a century, one might wonder what took the company so long to enter the increasingly lucrative water/shock/dust/crush-proof segment of the digital camera market currently dominated by the likes of Olympus, Pentax, Canon and Panasonic. Whatever Casio's reasons were, Casio now has a tough waterproof camera of its own, the new Exilim EX-G1, introduced November 18, 2009.

Finally -- a rugged Exilim!

It's pretty clear why Casio introduced the G1. Olympus and Pentax have been offering waterproof outdoor cameras for years, and Casio, Panasonic, Fuji and others have now joined those pioneers. Waterproof cameras were pretty much the stars at PMA 2009 (March 2009 in Las Vegas). They were everywhere. Much to Casio's credit, their first waterproof and toughened-up outdoor camera is a unique, interesting and attractive design that doesn't even forego the trademark elegance and slenderness of Casio cameras.

According to Casio, the G1 is just the first in the company's new Exilim G brand of digital cameras that are positioned as "endurance" cameras suitable for top athletes and adventurers (as well as, one might assume, regular folks who just love the outdoors). The new G1 was developed to embody this brand concept, using Casio's many years of experience creating technologies for shock resistance, waterproofing and slim-line designs. So let's take a look at just how tough the Casio G1 is.

The camera essentially carries an IP68 ingress protection rating, which means it is totally sealed against dust, and it is also waterproof to a depth of ten feet for up to an hour. The camera can survive multiple drops from seven feet in Casio's own testing that was fashioned after the MIL-STD-810F Method 516.5 US military testing procedures. The G1 is further freezeproof and remains operational down to a temperature of just 4 degrees Fahrenheit. While Olympus also stressed how "crushproof" its outdoor cameras are, Casio does not offer data in that category. What does all of this ruggedness data mean?

First, you can use Exilim G1 outdoors in just about any situation without constantly having to worry about the camera getting wet or falling down. Fact is, stuff does get wet outdoors and things do get dropped, so having a camera along that can handle all that means substantial peace of mind. Most drops are really only from three or four feet or so, so seven feet is icing on the cake. What'd be good to know is how scratch and dent-proof the G1's stainless steel housing is when it falls.

As far as its sealing goes, waterproof cameras currently come in two classes -- those that can go down to 33 feet (10 meters) and those that can handle 10 feet (3 meters). 33 feet means a camera can go along on shallow dives (see our review of the Canon D10) whereas ten feet means you can take it snorkeling, in the pool, kayaking and wherever else it gets wet or go underwater a bit. Personally, I hope Casio will eventually also offer a camera that can handle 33 feet.

As far as its freezeproof qualities go, being able to take pictures even in freezing temperatures to 14 degrees Fahrenheit means the Exilim G1 can be used while skiing, snowboarding or for other wintery activities.

Giving further proof that Casio has applied its considerable "G-Shock" expertise, the G1 includes such useful design details as multi-coating on the lens that makes it water-repellent and prevents light reflection from ruining pictures ( a BIG issue when you shoot pictures in and around water). The LCD panel has a resin mount to absorb shocks to the LCD panel area, and the acrylic layer that protects the LCD is 1.5 times thicker than that of a conventional camera. A special rotating lock secures the external memory slot cover, and high-performance damping material protects the lens unit from external shocks.

The camera itself

As far as camera specs go, the Exilim G1 can take 12.1-megapixel pictures (up to 4000 x 3000 pixel) and record full-speed (30fps) wide-format movies in resolutions up to 848 x 480 pixel. The 2.5-inch LCD is perhaps a bit small for today's standards, but it is very crisp and sharp (230,000 pixel). The 3X folding zoom is fully internal, as is usually the case with this type of camera. The lens range is 38-114mm (35mm film equivalent).

Despite its inherent toughness and sealing, the G1 measures just 4.1 x 2.5 inches and is just over three quarters of an inch thick. It also weighs very little for such a tough camera, just 5.4 ounces, and that is with its NP80 (3.7V, 700mAH) battery that's rated about 300 pictures. For storage, the G1 uses the tiny microSD/microSDHC format, and there is also 36MB of internal memory for those times when you forget the card or it's full.

As can be seen from the pictures above, the Exilim G1 is an exceedingly attractive device that departs from the strictly rectangular boxy designs that have dominated digital camera styling for the last several years. In addition to giving the G1 a distinct and elegant look, the new design is said to maximize ergonomics and also making sure that the camera can be cofortably and reliably operated even with gloves on.

As far as features go, there's interval shooting that comes in handy to automatically take still photos or movies at fixed intervals while engaged in action sports. A "Best Shot" function lets users pick the desired subject scene. Those include settings suitable for various outdoor situations, such as "snow" and "beach" scene settings, as well as an "underwater" setting that keeps underwater pics from come out too blue. "Intelligent AF" automatically detects the subject (even if it is not a face) and determines the focus and exposure area accordingly. The G1 also includes an advanced version of Casio's original "Dynamic Photo" function that lets you create original Motion JPEG movies or composite images right on the camera.


With the Exilim G1, Casio has joined the ranks of digital camera manufacturers that offer cameras specially designed for outdoor use where ruggedess, shock-resistance, and sealing against water and dust matter. The 12.1-megapixel G1 can handle seven-foot drops, ten feet of water, and operation in freezing temperatures. It is also an exceedingly elegant design that belies its inherent ruggedness with small size, light weight and a thickness of just 0.78 inches. The G1's overall design is a mix of refreshing elegance and ergonomics geared towards outdoor operation that occasionally requires using the camera with gloves.

We like:

  • Crisp, logical design and layout
  • High-res, wide-format (848 x 480) movie recording
  • Superior ruggedness and sealing
  • Inherently rugged resign/stainless steel construction
  • Over 25 scene modes
  • Looks stunning both in black or red
  • microSDHC card for storage
Not so much:
  • 2.5-inch display a bit small
  • Would prefer a longer zoom that starts slightly wide
  • 10-foot depth limit means snorkeling only, no scuba

Specifications CASIO EX-G1
Status Added 11/2009
Camera Type Shock-resistant, waterproof, dustproof camera
Shock-resistance 7-foot drop (US MIL-STD-810F Method 516.5)
Waterproof Up to ten feet for an hour (IP68)
Freezeproof Down to 14 degrees F
Dustproof IEC/JIS Protection Class 6 (IP68)
Construction Stainless steel exterior, polycarbonate/fiberglass inner body
Size 4.1 x 2.52 x 0.78
Weight (oz.) 5.4 with battery and card
Effective Pixels 12.1 mp
CCD Type 1/2.3-inch
Max pixel size 4000 x 3000
File formats Stills: JPEG (Exif 2.2), DCF standard, DPOF compliant
Movies: AVI format, Motion JPEG, IMA-ADPCM (mono)
Audio: WAV (mono)
Compression fine, normal, economy
Movie recording (best) til full, with audio
Max movie pixels 848 x 480 (30fps)
Voice recording 30 seconds per image, voice recording til full
Lens 11 lenses, 9 groups, including aspherical lens
Focal length 6.66-20mm (38-114mm)
Zoom (optical/digital) 3X/4X
Aperture f/3.9 - f/8.9
Focus modes Auto Focus, Macro, Pan Focus, Infinity, Manual
Focus minimum/macro 4 inches, 4 inches
Shutter speed 1/1250 to 1/2 sec (up to 4 sec in night scene)
Sensitivity (ISO) auto/64/100/200/400/800/1600/3200
Autofocus system contrast detection: Intelligent, Spot, Multi-Tracking
Metering Multi-pattern, center weighted, spot by imaging element
White-balance modes Auto, fixed (daylight, overcast, shade, day white FL, daylight FL, tungsten), manual
Shooting modes auto, 25 scenes
Exposure compensation +/-2EV in 1/3 steps
Viewfinder Type none
LCD size 2.5" LCD (230k) (960x240)
LCD type outdoor viewable
LCD construction fixed
Flash type built-in
Flash range up to 8 feet
Flash modes 5 (Auto, Off, On, Soft Flash, Red Eye Reduction)
Camera internal memory 36MB
Storage Medium microSD/microSDHC
I/O Hi-speed USB
Battery type NP80 Li-Ion (3.7V, 700mAH)
CIPA Battery life (standard LCD setting) 300 images
List Price US$299.99
Contact www.casio.com

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