The Casio TRYX TR100 shows innovation with its rotating outer frame. But are there any more TRYX up its sleeve? The What Digital Camera Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 review takes a look...
Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 review – Features
The Casio EXILIM TRYX TR100 is unlike any other camera on the market. But it also has a number of restrictions more likely to break it than make it for the more general market.
First of all the 21mm wideangle lens doesn’t offer any optical zoom, instead a 4x digital zoom will crop into the image and therefore deteriorate quality. Furthermore 21mm is very wideangle – good for fitting lots into the frame but barrel distortion is a given so more zoomed-in shots aren’t going to be this camera’s forte.
The 12.1MP backlit sensor is the same sensor found in the likes of the EXILIM ZR100, a compact that we thought produced good final quality. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100-3200 at full resolution.
The ability to capture 1080i HD video and the addition of an LED light means the TRYX almost doubles up as a (recently discontinued) Flip video recorder. The LED may be great for constant lighting, but the lack of any flash means still shots in dark conditions are outside of the TRYX’s reach.
A 3in, 460k-dot touchscreen LCD is the mainstay of the TRYX’s design as this is where all modes and menus are accessed. A variety of usual Casio shooting modes range from Auto, to Premium Auto, Best Shot, HDR Art, Slide Panorama and even Motion Shutter.
In short: The Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 has a fixed wideangle 21mm lens with no optical zoom, no flash for stills photography and a touchscreen-only operation that may alienate those looking for a well-rounded zoom compact.
Design & Performance
Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 review – Design
While the TRYX’s frame concept makes for a design spectacle, it fails to succeed in delivering well-rounded design finesse. Try to hold the TRYX TR100 like a normal camera, for example, and protruding fingers are very likely to get in the way of the aligned-to-the-side lens. The lens itself is small and flat against the body, so there’s no barrier to stop make your hands aware of exactly where it is. It’s far more successful using the camera like a Smartphone in a vertical-hold position.
The TRYX’s rotational frame has also led to the shutter release being positioned next to the LCD touchscreen, where it’s positioned towards the edge buy centrally aligned which can make for awkward use.
Other than the shutter and on/off buttons everything else is controlled through the touchscreen interface. As Smartphones have succeeded in delivering sensitive interfaces for a few years now this seems like a sensible idea, but the TRYX’s lack of sensitivity, small (virtual) menu buttons and sliders don’t make for ease of use. Given that all options are buried within the menus there’s a lack of immediacy in use too.
While we’d award plenty of points for forward-thinking, there’s just a lack of coherency here that makes the TRYX TR100 fall far short of the mark for conventional camera users. It’s almost exclusively designed for those unusual shots and applications, without giving a second thought to more common and casual use.
Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 review – Performance
Whichever way you twist it, the TRYX’s screen is good at recognising which way ‘is up’ and will relay options and previews back in the correct orientation.
For point-and-shoot work the TRYX TR100 is fine, but adjusting options using the camera’s touchscreen can be painfully slow. The menu layout often requires scrolling which can take multiple attempts before it’s responsive due to the sub-standard touchscreen. Digging to find the likes of ‘Macro’ focus or other options can take far longer than you may have to set up a shot.
The autofocus system has a central point and is fast to find focus, though the lack of a more complex array of focus areas is limiting. There’s no manual focus, though an ‘infinity focus’ option is available.
Movie mode is quickly accessible via a single-press button and the final quality is good. However, utilise the digital zoom during capture and the jump between crops is very visible in playback (it’s cropping the frame rather than zooming via optics) and the quality diminishes. For extra fill-in light, there’s an LED lamp that can illuminate subjects: a great feature to have for movie shooting, but hardly a replacement for a built-in flash.
Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 review – Image Quality
The TRYX’s back-illuminated 12.1MP sensor has moved the wiring to the back of the sensor which allows for a cleaner signal and improved image quality over a conventional setup. Images are sharp and, despite some processing issues visible at all ISO settings, shots look punchy and detailed. As the ISO increases so the final quality diminishes, and shots beyond the ISO 400 mark and above are softer.
Exposures are accurate in neutral light, but the TRYX’s lens suffers from flare and light bleed should brighter areas also be in the shot. We also spotted some oddities in the processing – obscure sharpened edges adding vertical-run black lines in highlight areas being the most noticeable. Another problem with images is that the lens is so wideangle it causes notable barrel distortion towards the edges when shooting closer-up subjects. Cropping into the frame with the digital zoom will help to ‘hide’ this somewhat.
Beyond the normal picture quality Casio also includes the company’s HDR Art mode. This one’s going to be an ‘acquired’ taste as its mixture of pronounced high dynamic range and posterised colour effects is far removed from what we’d consider photography to be. There’s no live preview to imagine what the HDR Art shots would look like, and as no additional (original) JPEG is taken when pressing the shutter the image you capture is the one you’re left with – whether you like it or not. There are no degrees of control to tone the effect down, which is a shame as a more subtle HDR option with vivid colours might make for more pleasing results.
All in all the Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100’s images can be decent at lower ISO settings, but when brighter conditions infiltrate a shot there are inexplicable problems.
Value & Verdict
Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 review – Value
The Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 is unlike anything else out there, so it’s difficult to weigh it up against similar-priced compacts. However, for £249 the TRYX may not offer the versatility of many other compact cameras. For that money you’ll need to have a very specific desire for exactly what this camera does: you’re paying for the quirky, rotational frame design above and beyond anything else.
Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 review – Verdict
The Casio EXILIM TRYX EX-TR100 is certainly a one of a kind camera. As much as we give it kudos for its originality, brush away all that hype and the TRYX TR100 is full of design holes, lacks in features and isn’t targeted at the more casual user.
Image quality also suffers from some processing issues and isn’t particularly good at balancing exposures in brighter conditions. The 21mm wideangle lens can fit plenty in to a single frame, but the lack of any optical zoom will limit what can be achieved.
The rotating frame has its uses, but the TRYX otherwise feels more like a stripped-down Smartphone meets Flip camcorder. We really wanted to like it, but it’s far short of the mark for everyday use.