The creative minds of the Casio boffins have been hard at work again, delivering a camera that looks like a phone but with the flexibility of being able to rotate the 3in LCD screen through 360 degrees horizontally and 270 degrees vertically. Physically, it’s virtually the same dimensions as an iPhone 4 so it’s thin enough to slip into a pocket yet packs a 12MP CMOS sensor.
The clear design statement of the TR100 is that it's aimed at those who like their cameras to look like phones. It has the advantage of higher resolution, more processing power and an articulating LCD screen that a phone could only dream about. The screen can be set to autorotate with the orientation or left as it is.
Backing it up is the newly designed high speed engine from Casio which means that all kinds of technical wizardry is possible. This includes HDR modes, super-fast video capture and even enhanced zooming, which is a good job since there’s no optical zoom as such. Also missing is any kind of flash but this has been replaced by an LED light, making it even more like an iPhone 4. The good news for those grabbing crowd shots is that a 21mm equivalent view will capture quite a lot while the ISO rating up to 3200 makes dimly lit conditions manageable.
Recording modes include standard Auto; Premium Auto which is where the camera auto detects the scene and sets the appropriate mode; Best Shot which are five scene modes that use the high speed engine to capture HDR, anti-shake and night scenes; HDR Art which gets a recording mode all of its own; Slide Panorama and Motion Shutter.
Casio Exilim Tryx TR100: Key Features
iPhone style design
Super-wide 21mm equiv lens
3.0 inch rotating LCD screen
EXILIM ENGINE HS
12Mp CMOS sensor
1920 x 1080 HD video recording High speed video – 240fps
With such a slimline design it’s easy to get your fingers in front of the lens, until you actually pop the lens unit out from the chassis and rotate it. Then you get a huge ring grip and can hold it comfortably in any direction and orientation. There are only two buttons on the ZR100, one for turning the camera on and off and the other is the fire button.
Everything else is controlled by touch screen menus with a discrete icon on the top left. You can also configure the camera to take photos just by tapping the screen but in practice, considering how much of the camera the screen takes up, this results in lots of inadvertent captures so it’s better to use the fire button. The menus are fairly simple, those that are nested are easy to access, but most usually just require scrolling down the screen. The build quality is very good with a really solid feel, despite it being so thin.
Startup time is fairly standard at around four seconds and the auto focus is fast for a compact, though not, as it transpires, particularly rigorous. This is very much a shoot and go camera rather than anything you’ll be composing landscape photography with. As such there are no manual or semi-manual modes as such, it’s all taken care of with either the high speed-orientated scenes modes or the Premium Auto mode. There are no traditional scene modes as such either. However, in regular Auto mode, the focus, ISO and white balance can all be changed. Macro is a modest 8cm for close ups though the ability to twist the camera into endless directions does make it easier to get those type of shots than most. If you have the camera in Premium Auto and focus close to the lens it will switch to Macro focus anyway, so there’s no real need to use the menus to get it.
Backing up the simplicity first aspect there’s no control over the metering, which operates on a centre-weighted basis, but if scenes look too dark or light then there is +/- 2EV exposure compensation on the menu system. It’s easier to just recompose, get focus and exposure lock on something else, then move and shoot though there’s a slight tendency to overexpose. There’s no burst mode or continuous shooting either, it’s just one shot at a time unless you want some of those in a short movie clip. The high speed engine that offers continuous capture on other Casios in the range is used for the HDR, night scene, anti-shake, zooming and best selection. The battery rating is for around 220 shots but in practice, you’re more looking at 100 shots and a couple of videos, with reasonable amounts of playback and menu fiddling.
Clearly, with a 21mm wide angle lens, you’re going to get plenty of distortion but for the target audience I doubt this is an issue. The lack of an optical zoom is more so, and given that the standard view is so wide, this isn’t a camera to get you closer to the action, you are expected to be there already. It has to be said that the fixed lens doesn’t resolve a lot of detail, especially around the edges, but with a 12Mp resolution you won’t see that unless you start printing at A4.
SR Zoom 2, ISO100, 1/4000, f/2.8, 4mm (35mm equiv: 21mm)
There’s flare when shooting into the sun, plus colour fringing but nothing beyond what you would expect for a compact. Skin tones and colour reproduction are good and white balance in mixed interior lighting conditions works well though outside it’s a bit more variable. For shooting portraits there’s face detection as an option.
Shooting into the sun, ISO100, 1/2500, f/2.8, 4mm (35mm equiv: 21mm)
The HDR works best when there is deep shadow and a lot of contrast as on regular sunlit scenes it tends to flatten the contrast. The Best Selection mode takes a clutch of images at once and gives you the best one while the anti-shake does the same but generates a sharpish image out of the ones taken. This is very effective in dim conditions. While there’s no flash, there’s LED lighting – like on the iPhone 4 – so that you can get a bit of light into close up scenes in the dark.
There’s no noise as such at ISO100 or 200 and while there isn’t any visible at ISO400 that’s because the suppression routines have kicked in. Fine detail becomes noticeably softer and background and darker elements are more vague. This increases at ISO800 so that details tend to merge into each other, with the results that the overall image is now a lot softer.
At ISO1600 foreground details show some ISO effects but for a compact, this is still pretty good. The background and shadow areas are more shapes than fine objects now. Finally, at ISO3200, there’s no fine detail at all, artefacts are visible in the foreground and the overall image is soft, but there are no colour shifts, no swathes of coloured pixels and probably, one of the best cases of ISO noise suppression seen on a compact camera.
There is very little difference between the AWB and Tungsten preset under tungsten light. AWB under fluorescent lighting produces the best results, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta cast.
AWB, Tungsten light
Tungsten preset, Tungsten light
AWB, Fluorescent light
Fluorescent preset, Fluorescent light
Casio EXILIM Tryx TR100: Video
The TR100 shoots full HD 1920x1080 videos @ 30fps, 1280x720 @ 30fps and 432x320 at 240fps. Additional videos can be found on youtube, including a high speed video.
Casio Exilim Tryx TR100: Value For Money
The TR100 is one of those cameras that isn’t really comparable with much else. There’s no optical zoom but it does have full HD video. It’s clearly better than the pocket camcorder style devices but for just under £250 you either love the twisty design, the pocket-friendly shape, the hi-res and wide angle and you’ll pay for it, or you won’t. There are numerous cameras with articulating LCDs that help get tricky angle shots, but the TR100 is even more flexible. It’s clearly aimed at people who want to shoot and go, but you can get a 12 megapixel Canon Digital IXUS 115, which also offers full HD video and small format for £100 less.
The Casio TR100, or Tryx as Casio likes to call it, is a bagful alright. It features good build quality, a super-flexible frame, pick-up-and-go simplicity and touchscreen menus. The slender, iPhone style format means it can go anywhere and the super-wide angle lens means it’ll get everything into view. The lack of a proper flash is a shortcoming, possibly more so than an optical zoom given the target area for the camera. Thankfully the ISO noise suppression is really very good, though the overall image quality is only average.
Casio Exilim Tryx TR100: Pros
21mm wide angle
3 inch articulating LCD
Full HD video
Casio Exilim Tryx TR100: Cons
Focussing not that accurate
No flash or optical zoom