The latest in Casio's superslim line of card cameras, the 5-megapixel Exilim EX-S500 offers a 3x optical zoom and a number of features missing in its predecessor, the S100. They include a burst mode, MPEG-4 video capture, and the ever-important AF illuminator, rounding out this pocket camera's generous feature set. Its photo quality doesn't distinguish it, but if you're not too picky about that, it's definitely worth a look.
Available in white, vermillion (pictured) and deep grey glossy finishes, the Casio Exilim EX-S500 is slim enough to slip into a pocket, measuring 89 by 58 by 15mm and weighing just 128g with its tiny rechargeable lithium-ion battery and SD or MMC media installed. As is typical of Casio's Exilim cameras, the EX-S500 is easy to use, thanks to a wide selection of Best Shot scene modes, a built-in help system and easy-to-navigate tabbed menus.
Considering that the 56mm (2.2-inch) LCD gobbles up most of the camera's rear real estate, Casio has done a good job with the control layout. Menu and Best Shot buttons are arranged to the lower right of the screen, with the Best Shot option providing access to copious automated scene modes. Next to those keys are a square four-way controller and a Set button. In addition to scrolling through the menus, the Exilim EX-S500's four-way arrow pad can be used to change flash settings and display options, which include a grid, a live colour histogram and current camera-setting information. You can also programme the left and right arrow keys for quick access to one of a number of functions, such as light sensitivity, exposure compensation, focus mode and the self-timer.
All the controls are small and do not protrude far from the camera body, which may make it difficult for those with larger hands to comfortably operate the Casio. And keep in mind that there's no optical viewfinder. The shutter release and the power button sit atop the camera. Fortunately, you can power on the camera by pressing one of the mode buttons since the power control on top of the camera is small and sits flush with the surface, making it very difficult to find and press without looking.