Casio Tryx review:

Casio Tryx

If you like to take panoramas, the Tryx lets you quickly take 360-degree horizontal or 180-degree vertical photos by pressing the shutter release and sliding the camera left, right, up, or down. Would you rather take pictures of yourself or you and your family and friends? The Motion Shutter mode requires nothing more than a wave at the camera to start a 3-second countdown to snap a shot. The camera also has a cool self-timer that shows up when you rotate the screen around. It's a tab that you simply drag across the screen; the farther you drag, the more time you get--up to 10 seconds.

For those who like to shoot close-ups, the Tryx can focus as close as 3.1 inches from a subject. If you can keep the ISO low, you can get decent detail shots. In general, though, I wouldn't pick this up for regularly shooting macro photos.

Of all the shooting options, Casio has hyped the HDR-Art mode the most. Similar to the regular HDR mode, the Tryx takes shots at different exposures and then combines them into one photo. However, instead of going for a balanced exposure, it amps up contrast and color saturation to give photos a more artistic touch. There are three intensity levels to choose from and how you'll feel about the results really comes down to personal taste. It's certainly fun to experiment with, but if you're not into playing with your photos its novelty will quickly wear off.

With all its High Speed-iness I expected the camera's shooting performance to be fast. It's instead pretty average--neither good nor bad. It starts up kind of slow; from off to first shot is 2.6 seconds. Its shot-to-shot time is excellent at just 1.2 seconds and shutter lag--how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed--in bright conditions is very good at 0.4 second. There's an increase in low light causing a lag of 0.9 second. There's no flash, so we couldn't lab-test how fast it recovers from shot-to-shot while using one, and there's no continuous burst shooting option, which is strange given Casio's use of it in other cameras. In addition, most of its shooting modes require in-camera post-processing, so while the Tryx might take a shot quickly, you're generally waiting a second or two for it to assemble the final photo.

As for photo quality, the regular, plain ol' automatic snapshots from the Casio Tryx are good to very good, but it's such an unusual camera that it's difficult to give it an overall pass/fail grade on photo quality. The Tryx does have several shooting modes that take advantage of its high-speed sensor and processing to improve things such as dynamic range and low-light performance, so what you get only using auto isn't the whole story. If you're a leave-it-in-auto type of user, I would probably skip this camera. Not that it's bad in auto, just that it's better when you take advantage of its other options. Pixel peepers, however, will likely not be happy with the photo quality regardless of shooting mode.

With plenty of light and using lower ISO settings you'll get pleasing color, good exposure, and nice details. Once you have to use ISO 400, though, you'll get subjects that are soft and smeary. Noise and noise reduction increase above that, too, making photos less usable for cropping and larger screen and print sizes. For Web use and small prints the high-ISO results are OK (though I'd stay clear of ISO 3200, as subjects are just too soft even at small sizes). This really isn't different than most ultracompact cameras, but I found the Tryx's photos less usable for cropping or enlarging than other cameras in its price range. Again, though, it's really difficult to compare this with a typical point-and-shoot.

With the exception of neutrals, colors are not terribly accurate from the Tryx. If you like vivid and bright colors, though, that's what you'll get up to ISO 400. Above that sensitivity (in other words, in low-light conditions) colors start to look duller and washed out. Exposure is generally good, though highlights will blow out (the HDR mode can help with that). The auto white balance is warm indoors, but good outside, plus there are a bunch of presets and a manual option if you want to fine-tune it.

With it having such a wide-angle lens, the Tryx does have barrel distortion. Center sharpness is good, but there is noticeable edge and corner softness that's especially visible at larger sizes. Fringing in high-contrast areas of photos, such as around tree branches in front of a bright sky, is pretty common and on occasion can be bad enough to ruin a photo. When it's bad, though, you can see it onscreen and adjust your positioning for it.

The full HD video quality is similar to what you'd get from an HD pocket video camera; nice for Web use, but watching at larger sizes on an HDTV will reveal more noise and artifacting. Panning the camera will cause noticeable judder. You may also see trailing behind fast-moving subjects. Both are typical of the video from most compact cameras. If slow motion is more your thing, there is a 240-frames-per-second setting that creates 432x320-pixel-resolution clips. They don't look great, but they're good enough for Web sharing.

The Casio Tryx targets casual snapshooters looking for something better than a smartphone or camera phone with photos and video suitable for online sharing. If you're after significantly better photos than your mobile device for large prints, the Tryx probably isn't what you want. That said, it's an interesting little point-and-shoot that does some fun stuff with satisfying photo and movie quality. For more experienced shooters with money to burn, the Tryx has value as an ultracompact to experiment and play with thanks to its design and shooting options. I'm hoping Casio will fine-tune the interface and functionality and push forward with at least one more generation. I also wouldn't mind if it developed a relationship with Google as it did with Eye-Fi and made the first Android-based customizable smart camera.

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