Casio EX-P505 Review Leading a Double Life

Recent digital camera trends are starting to look a lot like Hollywood these days; they're getting slimmer and slimmer every week, so it was a pleasant change to review a camera with some meat on its bones. Casio's EX-P505 delivers good photo quality and a variety of options for both novice and advanced photographers, but still leaves some room for improvement.

Simply put, the P505's styling is stunning. Some may be put off by its mini-SLR body style, but the lens is large and extremely efficient at letting in lots of light. Also, it feels sturdy; unlike some of the thin, streamlined cameras we're seeing a lot of currently on the market it doesn't give the impression that it will break at the drop of a hat. It's still small enough to fit comfortably into a purse or briefcase, and never feels bulky. I do wish the lens cap was a bit sturdier though, as it came off easily while in a bag. Also, the camera doesn't come with a case, so be forewarned that you may be checking on your Casio every 3 minutes to make sure the lens cap hasn't come off and your car keys aren't scratching your precious P505.

Casio offers a stylish, yet sturdy camera for photographers of all kinds. It's a lot smaller than it looks, folks.

The rest of the body is quite nice, as the LCD screen is large enough to get a good idea of what you're shooting, and the camera's ergonomic body style fits comfortably into your hand. Old-fashioned camera aficionados might be a little miffed at the lack of a viewfinder, but I found that after using the P505 for a day or two, I forgot all about using a viewfinder.

The P505's viewfinder swivels all the way around, allowing for self-portraits as well as an easy glance at your subjects.

The viewfinder has one glaring issue, though. Taking photos in dark places proves to be nearly impossible, as you can't see your subjects at all on the LCD screen when you're trying to snap a photo. You'll have to become really good at guesstimating where your subjects are if you're shooting in low-light areas with the P505, and that's no small flaw. The camera doesn't offer a Scene setting for low-light photography (though I surely wish it did), and the flash often has a slow refresh rate. Other scene settings work brilliantly, showing off what an exquisite camera the P505 has the potential to be. The night, retro, and landscape options are among my personal favorites, and users will definitely find a shooting style they really like when using the P505. There's also a 100% manual setting for those well-versed in the realm of digital photography.

Manhattan's skyline looks incredible with the use of the P505's Landscape option...this was taken from Newark International Airport!

The photo quality of the Casio's pictures is excellent, and the MPEG recordings were sharp, easy to use (and import onto my computer), and of very high quality (though you'll definitely need to get a larger memory card). There were a couple of times when the colors in my pictures were a little dull, but for the most part the photo quality really shone. New users will find this camera to have a slightly steeper learning curve than your average point-and-shoot, but will most likely get extremely rewarding pictures once they've gotten the hang of the camera.

As you can see, this little camera picks up some huge details...look at the kitty's fur!

Another shot of downtown New York City from Newark Airport, and another prime example of the P505's crystal photo quality.

Casio's P505 gets high marks for ambition' but tends to fall short on the execution of those ambitions. Priced at $399.99, it may be a bit steep considering its flaws, but again, I've gotten some truly gorgeous shots out of this 5-megapixel beauty. It really comes down to personal preferences' if you're looking for a decent combo camera/camcorder, the EX-P505's a great choice.

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