Once you've finished playing with the scene modes, you'll want to explore this camera's motion-picture capabilities. It can shoot MPEG-4 clips for as long as your memory card lasts -- the 640x480-pixel, 30 frames per second HQ mode will fill a 256MB card in about 8 minutes. Drop down to Normal movie recording at the same resolution and frame rate, and you can fit more than an hour of clips on a 1GB SD card. There's also a space-saving 320x240-pixel, 15fps option.
Several different movie-shooting modes are available. In addition to normal moviemaking (press the button and shoot until you stop), Casio offers an action-friendly 5-second capture mode, in which the EX-S600 records to the memory buffer until you stop recording. It then saves only the last 5 seconds. This mode is useful for grabbing action shots, such as your football team taking a corner, when you're not sure exactly when the peak moment will occur. There's a similar Short Movie option, which saves the 4 seconds preceding and following the depression of the record button.
You can take a still snapshot while shooting a movie or extract specific frames from your movie clip using a Motion Print option. Your movie clips can be fast-forwarded, rewound and edited right in the camera, too.
Most of the camera's other features are fairly mundane. The 38mm-to-114mm zoom lens focuses down to just 150mm, but you can opt for manual focus, centre-spot focus or multiple focus zones. The camera displays the nine zones as a cluster of boxes on the LCD, with the in-focus zones highlighted in green. A Pan Focus option sets the lens to its hyperfocal distance, rendering everything beyond a metre or so sharp, plus an Infinity Focus for landscapes and similar shots. A Quick Shutter feature virtually eliminates shutter lag by allowing you to shoot even if the subject is not in focus.
Your choice of matrix or centre-spot metering selects an exposure from 1/8 to 1/2,000 second. The camera can set up to 4 seconds in Night Scene mode and a fixed 2 seconds in Fireworks mode as well. Special effects include multiple filters (black-and-white, blue, green, pink, purple, red, sepia and yellow), plus tweaks for sharpness, colour saturation and contrast.
The EX-S600 offers a few just-for-fun features, including Image Roulette, which rapidly displays a selection of your images on the LCD before stopping at one random photo. A Calendar mode lets you sort your pictures by date, with a calendar display that highlights the first picture taken on a given day. Either feature is especially effective with the camera mounted in its recharger/cradle, which is also required to connect to your camera to a computer via a USB cable.
The Casio Exilim EX-S600 performed moderately well on most counts. Shutter lag lasted about 0.7 seconds under high-contrast lighting and 0.9 seconds under low-contrast illumination with the focus-assist lamp helping. The EX-S600 took 2.3 seconds to wake up and was a little slow in snapping off pictures thereafter -- typically about 2.6 seconds between shots and a poky 3.6 seconds when the flash was used.
The flash itself is a little on the puny side, effective out to about 2.5m in wide-angle mode and no more than 1.5m at the telezoom position with the ISO set to auto. The camera does have a flash-assist option that provides some exposure compensation.
The LCD proved less than satisfactory under extreme lighting. While you can set the LCD to automatically adjust its brightness, you can also set it to a bright mode, which is still insufficient under direct sunlight or a power-saving normal mode. The LCD didn't gain up sufficiently under dim illumination, and there was plenty of ghosting when the camera or subject moved.