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★★★☆☆

“The Casio GV 20 is a Water, Dust and Shock proof...”

Written on: 09/06/2004 by Roughboy (1 review written)

Good Points
+ Extremely tough and reliable, absolutely shock, dust, water and weatherproof.
+ Easy to use control buttons even with gloves on
+ Not really a suppersexy lightweight but considering its shock-water proof level, the camera is still lightweight and compact enough to fit in any descent size pocket
+ Good battery performance
+ Easy to use Menu system and folder File directory
+ You can use it as a weather proof webcam.

Bad Points
- Below average picture quality in Auto mode
- Camera operates too slow
- Poor flash performance
- LCD brightness & size (too small)

General Comments
The Casio GV 20 is a Water, Dust and Shock proof digital Camera.

I am working as a site supervisor at shipyards all over the world and am involved with inspection of steel structures, machinery, paint inspections etc, on ships under construction. For reporting purposes I use a digital camera to take pictures of defects found during inspections as well as overall pictures for periodical reports to the owner.

I take pictures every day, on average about 500 pictures a month and my camera is one of my most important tools (apart form my flashlight!).

I have 'consumed' 3 digital cameras within the last two years, and all broke down quite fast until I came across the Casio GV 20.

A shipyard and shipconstruction in general is a very harsh environment: crawling through steel constructions, bumping into all sorts of obstacles and hazards, welding gasses and fumes, steel cutting & welding, grid and sandblasting, paint spraying, oil and grease, salt sea water atmosphere, humidity and subzero or tropical temperatures. All this is part of the everyday working environment, and has caused all my previous camera's to give up their duties in less than half a year.

Looking frantically for a camera that would last me longer than six months I came across the Casio GV10 & GV20 in Japan around the end of 2003.

Advertising that it is based on Casio's G-shock technology, I wasted no time and bought the camera on the spot.



After 8 months (and about 5000 pictures) of intensive use I thought it was time to write a brief review on this workhorse.



Considering the specifications, the camera is quite bulky and not really a lightweight, yet it is compact enough to put it in a decent sized pocket of a jacket

There are no mechanical components apart from the control buttons, (No sliding lens covers, optical sliding zoom etc) thus keeping the mechanics of the camera compact and reliable. The buttons and controlls are sturdy and easy to use even with gloves on. Because of its rugged outer shell it is not necessary to store the camera in a pouch for protection unlike most other digital camera's. With the plastic lens cover in place you can safely store or carry it anywhere, even in your toolbox

As far as mechanical protection is concerned it can be said that this camera delivers its promise! My camera has been subject to the most gruesome torture (not intentialy though) I never thought it would survive. I don't even remember the number of times my camera dropped from ladders and scafholdings from height in excess of 3 meters, has been submerged under water, exposed to heavy rain, used in sandblasting workshops, (The most hazardous environment you can expose a camera to!) and it still works flawlessly!

After duty, I just wash the camera occasionaly in tapwater, and then dry it with a towel to keep it clean.

It uses standard 4 AA batteries and unlike many other power hungry monsters, this camera is very economical as far as battery consumption is concerned. I use 2 sets of rechargable batteries and these keep me running round the clock

There a whole lot of disadvantages though.

This camera is extremely slow, You will have to wait at least 5-8 sec before you can take a picture after you turn the camera on, 5 sec doesn't seem much, bet believe me, it is!

If you switch on to flash mode, it will take you another 3 sec or so before it is charged.

This is definitely the most annoying disadvantage of this camera.

Although it is easy to use and the menu system is quite straight forward: scrolling through the menus using + & - buttons and 'enter' using the shutter button.

The standard AUTO point & shoot mode however does not deliver compared to other camera's in the same price range. I would say the overal picture quality is below average. I always use it in Fine mode in order to have acceptable quality pictures, which of course decreases your storage capacity.

Most of the shots - even in clear daylight - have the tendency to be underexposed and most of the time I have to correct it manualy +0.3 or +0.7.

Usualy I use Adobe Photoshop to correct color balance, brightness etc, whenever required ,and I got used to it.

Flash performance is poor without doubt. Don't think of shooting an object in dim conditions further than 1.5 m away. Yet again, I always use the exposure compensation to improve as much I can. If you have a steady hand or you have a tripod handy (Usualy I don't!) you can use the night-mode to use longer exposure timings, that will improve your brightness, but likely you loose some sharpness as well.

I could not find any information in the manual about the ISO setting but I guess it is not more than 100. It would be definitely recommended to increase the sensitivity and have the option to choose between 100-200-400 ASA if CASIO is developing a successor for this model.

The LCD display is not the biggest and the brightest on the market and that's an understatement! Viewing a shot on the LCD display in broad daylight is simply impossible, and It's too small to make a proper judgement on the shot you've taken.

The camera can be used as a (weather proof!) webcam and that is an added bonus. Vido clips (without sound) are also possible, but only up to 10 sec per clip.

There is a macro setting with a handy switching lever and works fine.

As mentioned earlier, there is no optical zoom, but a build in 2x digital zoom, actuated by one simple button on top of the camera (zoom <> no zoom)

This limits somewhat the framing of your object but otherwise works fine.

The camera file folder system is easy to use and creates a new folder for every day you shoot, makes it easy to recollect and arrange your pictures on your PC.

The camera uses standard compact flash cards, they are cheap and widely available.

I always use a 128MB, and can take at least a few 100 pictures on that.



Verdict;

If you need an 'Adventure' camera with a big 'A', that can withstand the most severe environmental conditions including a nuclear war, this is the tool for you! To my knowledge there is no other camera on the market that comes even close to this level of indestructibility, (does this word exist?)

But there is a price to pay: Overall picture quality is just about average, but can be improved if you play around with the camera settings and compensate manually.

If your are a bit of a photographer and you like to explore your camera's posibilities, you will be able to make descent pictures with it,

However, If picture quality is more important than water and shock resistance, there are better camera's on the market.



A good alternative might be the Minolta Konica DG-3Z , It has far better specifications but is nearly twice as expensive!



I hope this review can be of use to anybody interested in this camera.