The Casio Exilim Pro EX-P700 follows in the midrange enthusiast footsteps of the company's well-received P600, sporting a new black chassis and a seventh megapixel. Otherwise, and to the P700's credit, the two cameras are largely similar; they have the same extensive feature set, they capture equally pleasing images, and both feature the surprisingly pocketable design that made the P600 a joy to take with you.
However, though its performance is quite comparable to that of other 7-megapixel models in its class, the P700 doesn't quite match the sprightly response of its predecessor. In addition, Casio still hasn't addressed the P600's subpar video capabilities.
Aside from the cool, black colour scheme, the P700's external design is identical to that of the P600. You're getting the same metallic body, accessible control layout, and 4x zoom lens that you'd find on its forebear. Though larger than some of Casio's ultracompact Exilim cameras, the 224g P700 is still small enough to fit in a trouser pocket, though you won't be able to fit much else in with it.
As with the P600, the P700's Exilim menu system is a delight to use. Pressing the Set button while adjusting any manual feature brings up a helpful explanatory interface that illustrates the results of shunting, say, lens aperture up or down. One minor but notable change is that the P700's live histogram is no longer buried within the love-it-or-hate-it EX Finder mode as it was on the P600. The EX Finder mode is still available and, indeed, comes in handy when you want to tweak certain settings on-screen, but if you only want the histogram, you can now enable it without the clutter.
Featurewise, the P700 matches the P600 blow for blow, and that's a very good thing. Simply put, short of the advanced metering options offered by higher-end cameras, there isn't much that the P700 can't do. Shutter, aperture and fully manual priority modes are readily accessible, and the P700 also boasts an extensive array of bracketing options for exposure, focus and white balance.
The P700's flash is far enough away from its lens to avoid red-eye in most situations. A preset flash white-balance setting helps avoid the washed-out colours that sometimes result from indoor shooting. If that isn't enough, it also supports the connection of an external flash unit. The included optical viewfinder is serviceable in the sense that it's reasonably large and you don't have to squint in order to look through it, but it covers only about 85 percent of the frame; the 51mm (2-inch) LCD covers about 100 percent.
As with the P600, video capabilities remain a shortcoming of this camera; it's capable of capturing only 320x200 movies at a paltry 15fps, far short of the 30fps VGA (640x480) movies that we're seeing on newer models.
Performance is one area where the P700 slips a bit from the perch of its predecessor. Though the P700's wake-up time of 3.3 seconds still rates highly among midrange and semipro cameras, it lags behind the P600's time of 2.7 seconds. Furthermore, where the P600 managed a respectable shot-to-shot time of 1.8 seconds, the P700's typical shot-to-shot time was a less-impressive 2.9 seconds. With the flash enabled, this score slipped to 4.1 seconds.
To its credit, the P700 captures TIFF files more quickly than its 6-megapixel cousin, though in truth, waiting 40 seconds between photos can hardly be considered quick. In terms of shutter lag, the P700's 0.5 seconds under bright conditions and 0.6 seconds in dim light both trail the P600's scores by a few key tenths of a second. The P700 sports both a high-speed and normal-speed burst mode; at full resolution, we captured a respectable 5 frames in just over 2 seconds (2.3fps) using the former, and 14 frames in 26 seconds (0.5fps) using the latter.