Not surprisingly, the EX-S500 saves photos as JPEGs only, but it offers six resolution settings, including a high-res 3:2 aspect-ratio option and a small email mode. Three compression settings are also available.
Borrowing from its Exilim EX-P505, Casio has equipped the EX-S500 with MPEG-4 movie options. You can shoot a high-quality, 640x480 video with sound at 30 frames per second until the SD card is full. Short Movie and Past Movie (which continually records video and saves the last five seconds when you press the record button) can be accessed from the Best Shot mode. You can also take a still image while recording video, which is an interesting -- and often useful -- feature that may very well become common on more cameras.
The Casio Exilim EX-S500 delivered a mixed performance. It started up and took a first shot in a respectable 2 seconds, but we had to wait more than 3 seconds between shots -- with and without flash.
In continuous-shooting mode, moving along rapidly at low resolution, we were able to snap off more than 49 shots at about 1.6fps. At high resolution, however, the time was sluggish at about 0.33fps. But the EX-S500's minimal shutter lag -- even in low light, thanks to its AF illuminator -- was good at 0.4 seconds. Battery life was quite solid as well, especially considering the camera's tiny battery.
The 3x optical zoom lens moved quickly through its six steps, so we were able to manoeuvre from wide angle to telephoto with ease. The flash is unsurprisingly rather anaemic, so don't plan on shooting more than 2.5m away from your subject at wide angle.
The Casio Exilim EX-S500's photo quality was a mixed bag. Our test shots were generally well exposed, and the camera recorded colours accurately, although they were slightly muted at the default setting.
On the other hand, our images looked a little soft. Increasing the level of sharpening helped slightly, but not enough for a big improvement in sharpness and detail. And highlights in our shots were often clipped so that patches of white with no detail appeared. While visual noise was barely evident at low ISO settings, by ISO 400, it was quite heavy.
Purple and green fringing showed up consistently in our images. Though widespread, the fringes were so narrow that they shouldn't become apparent unless you make large prints.
The 640x480 MPEG-4 video clips we shot were quite good for this camera's class, with smooth 30fps capture. The EX-S500 doesn't record stereo sound like Casio's higher-end EX-P505, but the sound in our video clips was audible and relatively clean.
Edited by Aimee Baldridge
Additional editing by Nick Hide