When Panasonic, Fujifilm, and Canon announced rugged cameras this year, it was odd that Casio didn't pop one out, too, given its predilection for shock-resistant products. Well, I guess November isn't too late to join the market, as Wednesday the company added the Exilim EX-G1 to its digital camera lineup.
The $299 0.8-inch thick, ultracompact 12-megapixel camera can withstand a 7-foot drop because of a two-layer construction with a stainless steel outer casing, a resin ring protecting the lens, and a polycarbonate cover on the body side near the shutter. The wrist-strap holder is made of die-cast zinc and that little dial thingy sticking out the side seals and secures the external memory slot door.
Also included are two types of detachable shock-absorbing protectors. There's more, but let's just say the thing is built to take drops and significant abuse as well as dives down to 10 feet for up to an hour and is freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit--all without impacting photo quality or shooting performance.
That said, the camera's regular features are less impressive, especially the internal 3x f3.9-5.4 38-114mm lens. There are plenty of Best Shot scene modes including Casio's chroma key Dynamic Photo mode. However, none of the high-speed shooting modes are available since it uses a CCD sensor and not the high-speed CMOS; the features are a logical fit for a rugged camera, though. For active shooters it does have Casio's Multi Motion option allowing you to take a series of shots and put them in one photo and interval shooting. Movies record at a wide-screen standard-def resolution of 848x480 at 30fps or 640x480 if you prefer a 4:3 aspect ratio, so no HD movies, either.
Of course, most of the camera's cost goes to its build quality, which allows you to take photos and video where you haven't been able to before or were simply afraid to use a regular camera. The G1 is pretty cool looking and incredibly small, too, and I'm confident it'll live up to--and probably beyond--Casio's durability claims. And, well, it's nice to have one more rugged camera option particularly from a company that knows how to do shockproof/waterproof devices.