Compact camera design hasn’t really evolved that much for many years; most changes are typically cosmetic ones, usually involving buttons being moved around the camera body. Not playing it safe this time, Casio has gone the creative (and bold) route with the design of the EX-TR100. With a frame that allows a flexible approach to capturing images, the TR100 at times resembles a clamshell phone.
The EX-TR100 is a visually attractive camera, with its slim frame and unique design. The frame allows you to rotate and swivel the camera (360 degrees vertically and 270 degrees horizontally around the frame), as well as to prop the camera up for taking shots. We've got say, bizarre as it may looks, it's pretty effective for taking low-angle video clips and self portraits. We would like to add that the build quality is good; overall, the camera feels well put together in our hands. The camera possesses only two physical buttons: the power button and the shutter button. Beyond that, almost all of the camera’s controls are operated via the 3.0-inch touchscreen.
The lens is located on the outer part of the camera, right at the edge; this proved to be a hassle as our fingers would get in the way most of the time when we were preparing to take a shot. And for those looking to take shots in the evenings, be warned though, the camera does not have a popup flash. Instead, it uses an LED light.
The TR100 sports a 21mm equivalent lens; we found this wide-angle lens to be great for landscape and party shots, where we needed to squeeze as many subjects into the frame. However, the lens is a fixed focal length one; the camera can only zoom in and out digitally. So if you're the type of photographer who refuses to use digital zoom, this may be a potential issue for you. However, we're guessing the target audience for the EX-TR100 would be those who just want a simple point-and-shoot camera.
As we mentioned earlier, almost all of the camera’s controls are operated using the touchscreen, This means that even the zoom is operated by sliding your finger on the screen. If you're chasing your subject, it can be difficult to precisely gauge how far in you're zooming.
Those who prefer to have more manual control over their cameras may be disappointed. There’s no way to set your ISO, white balance or exposure settings. You do get some specialty shooting modes, such as HDR (high dynamic range), HDR Art, Motion Shutter, and the pretty cool Slide Panorama. For the most part, we suggest leaving the camera in Premium Auto mode and let the camera takes care of the rest.
Thankfully, Casio didn’t try to cram as many megapixels as possible into this camera, which seems to be the trend lately. The back-illuminated 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor takes clear photos, though we also noticed that the camera has this tendency to overexpose the images slightly. The EX-TR100 is capable of full HD 1080 video recording; just press the red record button in the lower right corner of the LCD to begin recording.
The Exilim EX-TR100 gets points for being unafraid to push the boundaries of compact camera design, though we did feel that it is still a product at an early stage of development due to its limited shooting modes and sluggish menu. The camera's target audience seems to be the point-and-shoot crowd; for this group of users, the lack of manual controls shouldn't be a deal breaker. The 21mm equivalent wide-angle lens is a nice touch, but we feel that the lack of optical zoom may put off even the most entry-level users. The lack of a flash also poses some problem, especially during low-light shots.