In an industry where it is routine for model upgrades to be churned out every year, you have to give credit to Casio for coming out with something new and refreshing.
Casio says its Exilim EX-FR10 is the world's first wireless detachable digital camera.
It consists of a camera module and a wireless controller, which are connected via Bluetooth.
The wireless controller has a 2-inch touchscreen display which works as a viewfinder. So, you can position the camera module in one spot and take photos using the wireless controller from another.
I can see why Casio called the FR10 the "freestyle" camera. It is a good match for selfie/wefie lovers and collectors of gimmicky cameras.
The review unit was green, but the FR10 is also available in red and white. Both modules are made of plastic, but their matte textured surfaces feel rugged and durable.
The FR10 is dust-proof and should withstand being dropped from a height of 2m. However, it is only splash-proof, that is, it is built to withstand being underwater to a depth of 1m for 30min. With such limited water-resistance, this is definitely not your GoPro-kind of action camera.
Both the camera module and the wireless controller have their own power, shutter release and video-recording buttons, as well as micro-USB port for charging. However, only the camera module has the microSD card slot for storing pictures and videos.
The FR10's camera module is almost circular in shape, except for the bottom part, which is hinged. The hinge, which allows you to flip the camera 180 degrees, fits into a slot on top of the wireless controller.
A click tells you the camera module is securely attached. When connected, the FR10 is about the height of an Apple iPhone 6 Plus.
To separate the two modules, press the hinge release button and pull out the camera module.
Regardless of whether they are connected or detached, the modules still need a Bluetooth connection to work. I would have thought it more logical to omit the need for such a connection when the two parts are physically connected. This would save on battery power.
Casio says the two modules need to be within 5m of each other for the Bluetooth connection to work. However, I had no problems shooting from distances up to 8m.
For a camera which comes in two parts, it operates quite fast. Once both are switched on (it takes about 3sec), they pair almost instantly. Shutdown takes about 2sec.
The touchscreen display of the wireless controller is quite responsive. The menu interface is easy to browse, with big icons for tapping. You can tap to take a photo instead of using the physical buttons.
The FR10 has only a programme-auto mode, but you can choose picture effects, such as toy, sepia and monochrome. While you can change white balance and exposure compensation, you cannot change the ISO settings.
In auto-interval mode, the camera shoots pictures or 5sec videos at regular intervals of 5sec, 15sec or 2min. This works great with the highlight photo collage feature, which automatically chooses several pictures and videos and turns them into a slideshow. The downside? You can never figure out whether it is doing any autofocusing. Just hit the shutter release and hope for the best. There is a 1sec lag before a picture is taken.
For the value-conscious, the FR10 comes with many accessories. These include a 360-degree rotating clamp, a carabiner, an adjustable elastic wrist strap, a lanyard, a lens hood, a multi-purpose nut and a tripod adaptor.
All the accessories work with both the camera module and the wireless controller. I liked using the wrist strap to carry the wireless controller.
The quality of the images and full-high-definition videos taken by the FR10 left much to be desired. The stills lacked sharpness and contrast. There were too many noise artefacts in sensitivity levels as low as ISO 125. The videos were quite jerky and not crisp enough.
Battery life was average - at 255 still images on a full charge - for a compact camera. The bigger irritant is that you need to charge the camera module and wireless controller separately.
The Casio Exilim EX-FR10 is a fun and convenient lifestyle camera which you can use for creative shots. However, its image quality needs to be improved if it is going to give its competitors a run for their money.
Image sensor: 14-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS
Display: Detachable 2-inch touchscreen with 230,400 dots
Lens: 21mm f/2.8
Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi
Weight: 175g (body only, with battery and memory card)
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 3/5
This article was first published on Feb 04, 2015.
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