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My first thought when I saw the Casio Tryx was that Casio took a smartphone and turned it into a single-function device. It has the dimensions of a smartphone, a 3-inch touch screen, and a fixed-focal-length lens similar to what's on a mobile phone, but with better specs. Where the design differs from a smartphone or the average point-and-shoot is that the display can pivot through its frame a full 360 degrees while the screen itself can rotate 270 degrees. With its built-in orientation sensor, you can hold the Tryx in your left or right hand and the picture will right itself.
This swiveling, rotating design allows for a lot of shooting flexibility at different heights and angles. The Tryx can be its own tripod and when you rotate the screen it becomes perfect for self-portraits. You can use the frame to hang it on the wall for easy group shots or for a better grip when shooting. Plus, since it shoots movies in full HD, it can do all of these things for photos and videos.
|Key specs||Casio Tryx|
|Dimensions (WHD)||4.8x2.3x0.6 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||5.5 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||3-inch touch-screen LCD, 460K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||Fixed, f2.8, 21mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/H.264 AVC (.MOV)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000 pixels/ 1,920x1,080 at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||Digital|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||Built-in li-ion rechargeable, 220 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||Yes|
|Storage media||SD/SDHC/SDXC, Eye-Fi SDHC card support|
|Bundled software||Casio Connect powered by Eye-Fi|
There are three separate pieces that make up the camera: the lens, the screen/body, and the frame. With the camera being only 0.6 inch thick there's really no room for an optical zoom. It has a fixed-focal-length lens similar to those on pocket video cameras or mobile phones; in this case it's an f2.8 ultrawide-angle 21mm-equivalent lens. That means the zoom is digital only, which for many will be a deal breaker. There's no optical or mechanical image stabilization either, so once the lights go dim you'll need to switch to a shooting mode that helps with low-light shooting and motion blur, and you'll probably stop holding the camera while it shoots. Next to the lens is a small, blindingly bright LED lamp, but no flash; you have to go into the main menu system to turn it on and off. (Note: Casio is planning a firmware update to make the LED function as a flash.)
The camera lens is shifted all the way to the left, making it very easy to get your fingers in your shot if you're not careful. On the upside, the flexible design means you don't have to hold the Tryx with the usual point-and-shoot pinch grip and, again, you can flip the camera over and work everything with your left or right hand. The only physical buttons are for power and the shutter release, with everything else handled via the touch screen. You can even skip using the button for taking photos if you want because the camera has a touch-activated shutter release that can be fired just by tapping on the screen.
The interface is easy to understand, but really unattractive. The screen is fairly responsive, but making selections will occasionally require extra taps. You can calibrate the screen to your touch, though, which helps some. Onscreen icons rotate with the display so they're easy to read whether you're holding it vertically or horizontally. However, this is inconsistent, switching back to vertical-only for some things, which makes the interface feel incomplete.
The body is sealed with no access to the battery. The Tryx is CIPA-rated for 220 shots. That rating is reached by basic use and doesn't take into account all of this camera's multishot shooting or full HD movie capture or a lot of touch-screen use. Still, my shot count while testing all the camera's features broke 200 before the battery was fully exhausted. That's not bad, but it's not great, either, and with the battery being built in, there's no option to carry a backup. Plus, repeated charging shortens battery life, so eventually you'll need the battery replaced. Also, the battery meter proved deceiving, never giving me an accurate feel for just how much time I had left.
Battery charging is done through a proprietary USB port located on the right side of the body and can be done either with a wall adapter or by computer. You can also connect to a computer to transfer photos and movies as well as to install the online-sharing software embedded in the Tryx.
Called Casio Connection, the software is powered by Eye-Fi and is essentially the application that's used for its wireless SDHC cards. Though you can use a regular SD/SDHC card with the Tryx (the card slot is in the top of the body) and its software, it has extra features for Eye-Fi card users that include shutting off the camera once wireless uploads are complete, an onscreen icon to let you know it's working, and the ability to enable or disable the Eye-Fi card's Wi-Fi via the camera menu. Also, a Direct Mode supported by Eye-Fi's X2 SDHC cards lets you send photos from the camera to iOS and Android devices.
Lastly, a Micro-HDMI port is built into the right side so you can easily connect to an HDTV to view your movies and photos straight from the device.
|General shooting options||Casio Tryx|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Shade, Daywhite Fluorescent, Daylight Fluorescent, Tungsten, Manual|
|Recording modes||Auto, Premium Auto, Slide Panorama, Motion Shutter, HDR-Art, Best Shot (HDR, Multi SR Zoom, High Speed Best Selection, High Speed Night Scene, High Speed Anti Shake)|
|Focus modes||Auto, Macro, Pan, Infinity|
|Macro||3.1 to 19.7 inches|
|Metering modes||Multi pattern|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||None|
While advanced camera users might find value in the Tryx's shooting options, the camera is for automatic snapshots with the camera doing the bulk of the decision making. The regular Auto mode has the most setting options such as ISO, white balance, and autofocus mode, but not much else. The Premium Auto is a scene-recognition auto mode; it worked pretty well, but I would not use it for portraits, as it goes overboard on skin softening.
On Casio's other cameras, its Best Shot scene mode selection is extensive, but that's not the case here. You only get five shooting options and they're all multishot types. What that means is the camera rapidly takes several photos and then combines them into one shot to improve some aspect. For the Tryx you get modes to improve dynamic range, digital zoom, night scenes, group portraits, and hand shake.
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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