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Reviewed - Casio EX-H20G Camera with HybridGPS
Posté le 27 décembre 2010 à 18:52:26 par gpspassion.


Two GPS enabled cameras : Casio EX-H20G and Sony HX5V


Introduction
Cameras with built-in GPS have seen some steady improvement, from the first models that could barely get a fix to this year's models like the Sony HX5V with AGPS that I use as my main compact camera, but now comes the Casio EX-H20G with Hybrid-GPS, that merges standard GPS with sensor derived positioning.

Casio first unveiled this concept nearly a year ago at CES 2010 with the EX-H10G prototype and launched the consumer EX-H20G version at Photokina in September. The Hybrid positioning is not the only GPS related breakthrough as the large 3" screen shows a map with 10,000 picturesque sites and with the new v1.01 update it has become a GPS data logger. Below is a review of the EX-H20G running the 1.01 software. If you questions of comments you can use the Casio EX-H20G Hybrid GPS Camera - Reviews topic of the forums.

A. "General" comments:
1. Pretty tall but thin, should make it easy to carry along
2. Feels "plasticky" compared to the Sony HX5V or Panasonic TZ-7, makes it lighter too...
3. Massive 1950mAh battery, compared to the 900mAh batteries of the HX5V or TZ-7 that can't last a day of day of "intensive" shooting. There shouldn't be any problem here and with the extra battery (OEM for $10) you can likely use it for several days.
4. Powers up quickly, faster than the Sony. Someone had mentioned 10 seconds on Amazon which got me worried but it's more like 2 seconds !
5. The LCD is marvelous, very bright and shows lifelike vibrant colors, much better than the Sony.
6. The battery has a huge capacity at 1950mAh, twice as much as the Sony HX5V and OEM replacements are cheap. Keep in mind that if the GPS is activated the position will be updated every 10 minutes and that will deplete the battery when the camera is stored for a few days.

B. Photo/Video comments :
1. The commands are easily accessible thanks to the "BS" (Best scene) button, there is Auto, Premium Auto (nothing to pay, just more processing time!) and many other modes
2. The "Slide Panorama" to make a continuous panorama on the fly works well. Unlike the same mode on the Sony it does a full 360 and you can stop when you want without having black bars. There is a shutter noise (the Sony is like a movie) that could make it conspicuous in a quiet environment. The manual seems to say you can use it in vertical mode but I haven't found the setting for that yet. Unlike the Sony it doesn't "correct" for moving objects.
3. The Sony has a handy HDR mode (takes and mixes two pictures for very contrasted scenes), I haven't found that mode, and the Premium Auto does not seem to use it.
4. There is an SR mode (Super Resolution) that bumps up the zoom to 15x (360mm equivalent) and seems to do a good job. It will help get that extra reach without post-processing with a computer
5. There are two video modes, HD (1280x720) and VGA (640x480) with only one setting for HD and it's high-bandwidth (the Sony and Panasonic have two settings, high and low, I find low is good enough and saves a lot of space)
6. The video output can be toggled between NSTC (North America/Japan) and PAL (Europe)
7. As a side note, the demo pictures for the "Best Mode" scenes look identical to those on the Casio QV-4000 camera I had in...2001 !

C. GPS specific comments :
1. The first lock took a few minutes indoors (wood frame house)
2. Subsequent locks are very fast, under 30 seconds in my house, maybe 15 seconds outside, the background position update every 10 minutes certainly helps with that.
3. Tracking is excellent on foot in a favorable GPS environment, not sure if they are correcting the raw GPS position with sensor data on the fly, but the brief walk I took in the park was spot on (see below), will do some more testing in a more challenging environment with an MTK logger.



4. The results are not so good in difficult GPS environments as seen in this side by side testing on foot in downtown San Jose with the Visiontac V900 datalogger. I can't say I'm impressed with the resulting log of the Casio EX-H20G. The EX-H20G is in yellow and the Visiontac in red. I have a separate screenshot of the Visiontac to make the patch I followed more visible.

GPS Logs analyzed :
- The Casio has some random "jumps" that make the log hard to understand. I haven't tried cleaning it up, but that shouldn't be expected of the user.
- I purposefully walked through the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel (top center/right where there is a pool, blue line on v900 capture) to see how it tracked indoors with its sensors...well it doesn't seem to track at all.
- The Visiontac's track was close to the followed path overall, except inside the hotel of course and also when I exited it, likely because I was between tall buldings with a lot of multipath problems and stationary (merry go-rounds). At that spot, the sensors of the EX-H20G do seem to have helped stabilize the position
- the other good news is that the geo-tagging of the pictures was usable for the most part, both the position and the angle of view, even when no log was recorded, see the picture below (viewed with Geosetter). So maybe there's something wrong with the logging feature...








5. You can't see the latitude/longitude without taking a picture.
6. The GPS position is displayed in the DDMMSS.ss format, DD.ddddd would be more convenient.
7. There is no overzoom in map mode, even if there aren't any detailed maps available for the area it would still help to see the pictures on the map, with a 1 mile resolution here, the map view is fairly useless.

D. A few problems :
1. The optics don't seem to be on par with those of the Sony and Panasonic, the purple fringing is well managed but the resolution appears to be low in my test pictures. I'm the first one to be "doubtful" when I see Leica (Panasonic) or Zeiss (Sony, although I checked my HX5V and can't see the Zeiss name this time) on the lense, but they must be doing something right because the resolution of the Casio across the zoom range is poor on detailed scenes (foliage for instance) and very poor at full 10x zoom, especially in low light. The pictures have a "fuzzy" look reminiscent of still pictures taken with a video camera.

I did some side by side comparisons and as seen below it turns out the picture is ok at wide-angle, the colors are better than on the HX5V too (picture 4), the problem is really at full zoom, not sure at which point it gets bad, will have to investigate :

Full Zoom 100%


Full Zoom Resized


Wide Angle 100%


Wide Angle Resized


2. The macro (or supermacro) modes do not allow to zoom in very well on an object compared to the Panasonic TZ-7/10.

3. can't zoom out in map mode, this must be a bug as the zoom command works fine.

Conclusion : while the Casio EX-H20G is a pleasant camera to use overall it falls short in two crucial areas for a GPS enabled camera : picture quality when using the zoom and GPS tracking. The HybridGPS technology only appears to help stabilize the position in environments prone to multipath, not to track indoors, and the GPS logs are hard to use in challenging GPS environments. Casio might be able to improve picture quality and GPS performance with firmware upgrades but until that happens it's hard to recommend the EX-H20G. The Sony XX5V does not have a built-in GPS logger but it offers much better picture quality and the GPS position tagged in the pictures is generally accurate enough to enhance picture sharing on sites like Picasa.

If you questions of comments you can use the Casio EX-H20G Hybrid GPS Camera - Reviews topic of the forums.

 
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