There's a one-press record button for movies, a vertical zoom rocker, a play button, a four-way directional pad with a 'set' button in the centre, and a menu button. All of the buttons look cramped, but, for the most part, they're easily pressed. The exception is the bottom of the zoom rocker (the wide position) and the play button, which are the same height and too close together. More often than not, when we went to retract the zoom, we'd enter playback mode. Putting on thick gloves didn't help matters.
Another issue is that the EX-G1's body is fairly slick. This, combined with its slim size, keeps you from getting a secure one-handed grip on it.
Straightforward shooting options
All of the camera's settings are accessed through the menu button. For faster access to shooting options, however, a programmable panel of settings can be opened on the screen's right side, with a press of the set button. The system is easy to navigate and straightforward.
As always, Casio throws in some extra little options. For example, with the EX-G1, the autofocus assist lamp is an ultra-bright LED that can be turned on for use as a recording light for video, or as an impromptu flashlight. Another option worth mentioning is Casio's 'auto shutter', which will take a photo when the camera and the subject are still. Without optical or mechanical image stabilisation, it's a big help when trying to reduce blur.
The EX-G1's shooting features are tame. With only a couple of exceptions, the camera has similar shooting options to Casio's budget compact, the Exilim EX-Z33. With a press of the best-shot button, you can pick one of more than 20 scene types, including standard options like 'portrait', 'landscape' and 'night scene'. There are 'underwater' and 'snow' modes, too.
The actual 'auto' mode is more of a 'program AE' mode, letting you adjust all of the EX-G1's settings, except shutter speed and aperture. There's also a 'best shot auto' mode, which is Casio's automatic scene-recognition shooting option.
The camera's 'movie' mode shoots VGA-quality video, but the recordings looked good in our tests and are suitable for online sharing. Also, the optical zoom works while recording. You can take a still while recording movies but the camera will take a chunk out of the movie while it's storing the shot.
So what are the exceptions to the features found on the EX-Z33? The company's 'dynamic photo' mode puts in an appearance. It lets you cut a subject out of one photo and stick it in another -- all done in-camera in just a few steps. There's also an 'interval snapshot' mode. The shooting interval can be set at 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute or 3 minutes. There's also the 'multi-motion image' mode, which captures several images of something in motion, such as someone jumping into a pool, and puts them into one photo. The interval-capture options are really the EX-G1's only unique feature. This feature will be useful for some, but it hardly seems like a reason to buy this camera.
The EX-G1's shooting performance is mixed, leaning towards slow. It takes about 2 seconds for the camera to start up and shoot a photo. That's okay, but the shot-to-shot times are long as well. Without using the flash, the wait between shots is nearly 5 seconds. Turning on the flash extends the wait to 5.4 seconds. The camera has a lowly full-resolution continuous-shooting speed of 0.3 frames per second. The good news is the shutter lag is minimal in bright and dim lighting conditions, at 0.4 and 0.5 seconds, respectively. Depending on your shooting style and subject, the shot-to-shot times might not bother you. Then again, waiting for more than 4 seconds to take another picture can lead to plenty of missed opportunities.
The EX-G1's photos are good for snapshots at small sizes, but poster-size prints and heavy cropping are probably out of the question. As with most point-and-shoot cameras, the image quality drops off at ISO 200 and higher. A bigger problem is that subjects have a decidedly digital appearance. Add to this the increased noise and noise reduction at ISO 400 and higher, and your chances of getting a sharp and detailed photo are almost non-existent.