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Casio Exilim EX-N20 First Impressions Review
A compact point-and-shoot that has little—if anything—over a smartphone camera.
Design & Usability
The EX-N20 looks almost identical to the EX-N1. Here’s the difference: color, and a reflective rim around the lens. That’s it. It’s small and can easily fit in your pocket. It also has a fairly intuitive menu layout, but we don’t imagine the type of person who’d buy this camera would have much interest in adjusting ISO or changing any other exposure variables.
Overall, the device is pretty user-friendly. It’s not hard to get a grip on how it works; our complaint really just comes down to price: Why should I buy this camera? What value does it have that my smartphone doesn’t? If I want quality images, why wouldn’t I just spend an extra $50 or so for a Nikon Coolpix or Canon Powershot?
Casio seems to be selling this product with only portability and ease of use in mind, because its technical features are pretty limited. The 16.1-megapixel sensor is a solid contribution, but that far from guarantees a quality image. The 5x zoom is decidedly mediocre, and the lack of exposure control really limits the role of the individual in creating good pictures. Some might argue that this is a "party" camera—something to stick in your pocket and break out at the bar. That would be a good argument in 2003. Today, almost everyone who can afford a device like the EX-N20 has a camera on their phone, and it’s a heck of a lot easier—and cooler—to whip that out at your sister’s graduation party. And smartphone cameras are only going to get better.
But then again, maybe you just really like the red, brown, and navy blue colors available for the EX-N20. If that’s worth $139 Euro to you, then go for it. Otherwise, take that money, and buy yourself a smartphone.
Clearly, this is a "fashion" camera, meaning you’re supposed to look good when using it. The thing Casio seems to be missing, though, is that nobody buys cameras for the look, at least in this price range. Unlike parasols and cufflinks, cameras actually have a purpose: to take quality photos. If the EX-20N can't do better than the unit in your smartphone, why bother dropping the 139 Euro? That being said, the EX-N20 is not poorly designed; the color scheme is actually pretty attractive—cute, you might even say. Is cuteness more valuable to you than image quality? That's a question only you can answer.
The third in its most recent line-up of low-end, utterly boring point-and-shoots, Casio’s EX-N20 is indistinguishable from its sister camera, the EX-N1—other than the price, that is. Oh! And the color, too. For roughly 10 Euro extra, you get all the perks of the EX-N1—and nothing else!
So what is the actual difference between the two? Well, the EX-N1 comes in pink, white, and light blue, while the EX-N20 comes in red, brown, and dark blue. If you don’t believe that there’s no other difference, check out the specs for the EX-N1, then compare them to the EX-N20.
All comparisons aside, the EX-N20 is about as interesting as a dog whistle. The argument we made with the EX-N1 is that you’re better off using your smartphone's camera, especially if you’re planning to buy a new one. That assessment remains unchanged for the EX-N20.