Product: CASIO TRYX
Digital point and shoots are a dime a dozen these days. But as the name hints, the CASIO TRYX has a few of its namesake under its sleeve, the contortion artist of digital cameras. Thanks to a unique handle-tripod design which lends itself to some innovate placement and positioning, this camera carves its own niche amongst the me-too designs out there (for better and for worse). If you've ever wanted a pocketable camera with a built-in tripod for on-the-go photo duty, this is it…
CASIO starts off on a good foot, with tasteful packaging providing the veneer of quality for a $249.00 camera. Sliding out the cover and a flip top box opens to reveal the 4.8"x 2.3" white (also available in black) TRYX waiting to be charged. There's no memory card included, but there's 34.8MB built-in flash memory already inside, a nice addition to speed up the time from unpacking to getting out there and snapping photos. After you've charged up the battery and properly outfitted with a memory card (advisable for video capture), it's time to relearn how to take a photo specific to this unusual design.
Just over a half inch in thickness and weighing only 5.5 oz, the TRYX is truly a pocket-friendly shooter. And with just a nudge, the camera's selling point design feature reveals itself, with the 460k pixel 3" LCD screen swiveling out and leaving the rest of the form factor to operate as both stand/tripod and also as a handle. The handle lends itself to a variety of configurations. Self portraits are no longer limited to arm's distance, overhead portraits; set the timer, hang the TRYX from a door knob or on a tree branch and you've got more natural posed and angled portraits. But more about that in a bit.
Specs wise, the camera is neither category defining nor lacking, with a 12.1 megapixels CMOS sensor, 720p/1080p video capture, HDMI out, SDXC, SDHC and SD memory cards compatible. The designers at CASIO seem to subscribe to the philosophy of "less is more", with only two physical buttons gracing the back, one for power, the other to activate the shutter. Menus and other user options are accessed via a touchscreen; like all too many touchscreen systems, the tradeoff is speed and responsiveness. Unlike an Android or iPhone touchscreen, the UI lags just enough to feel sluggish, and in a few instances, required carefully placed additional taps to register our wishes to delve into the menu screens where all the fun photographic style options are listed.
Within the menu option screens, users are able to choose from a myriad of image effects if a regular photo won't do. High Dynamic Range Art mode results in those artificially contrasty-liquid photos that are now spilling from the photography set to mainstream. More useful is the slide panorama mode, taking advantage of the wide 35mm view; panning across while holding down the shutter button in this mode creates up to 360 degree images.
Image quality in daylight, inside and out, was pleasing. Colors felt natural, with only a smidgen of red, easily removed if you're Photoshop savvy. Macro performance was slightly above average; compared to our Canon S90, we might actually prefer the TRYX closeup capabilities, except for the lack of real optical zoom. In this sense, it's like shooting with a prime lens and you find yourself moving back and forth to frame and focus.
One issue which continually marred our experience was the propensity for the TRYX's lens to get hazy from smudges. Due to the form factor, it can be easy to accidentally place a finger on the lens. For the first few minutes, we thought CASIO had included a 1980's Penthouse Pictorial mode, with Vaseline smudge results. A careful wipe with an optical cloth and we were back in business, the F2.8 lens doing admirably in all natural light conditions except for darker rooms where photos exhibited a consistent amount of noise. But this is to be expected of a $250 point and shoot.
Sample gallery; photos unprocessed, only resized:
The TRYX, just hanging around, doing it's best impersonation of a DO NOT DISTURB sign.
Flip the 3" screen this way, that way, almost any way...the screen automatically flips the image accordingly. Note, if shooting in vertical mode, the camera will save it vertically.
1080p video sample:
Although the TRYX is first and foremost marketed as a digital camera, it also serves double duty as a capable 1080p video camera. In many ways, the TRYX operates as an evolutionary improvement of the defunct FLIP; vertical handheld use can sometimes feel more comfortable than holding it like a camera. Swiveling out the handle and using it similar to a steadycam rig is also comfortable, and somewhat makes up for the lack of image stabilization. And thanks to the wide lens, panning in close and wide can result in some interesting, if not distorted, effects.
Final Thoughts: CASIO deserves credit in trying to rethink the point and shoot category here with the TRYX. It can sometimes fall short due to the unusual shape, but it's also a camera that made us rethink where we could shoot, what angles we could capture and what type of results it could produce. Shooting video felt closer to a dedicated video camera than the sometimes awkward video modes gracing other cameras. For those reasons, the TRYX is the perfect weekend travel camera: a quirky, artistic relative of the more dependable and predictable point and shoot, for times when capturing "perfect" images isn't a necessity and the opportunity for playful and unique are desired. It wasn't always an easy camera to use, but the TRYX was always fun to use.
Pros: Unique form factor allows for creative use/placement, slim form factor, 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor performs well in daylight/interior situations, a multitude of stylized shooting modes, great HD video performance.
Cons: Can feel awkward for regular photo use, camera lens easy to smudge, touchscreen UI is sometimes unresponsive, no optical zoom.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.