First look: Casio Exilim EX-FR10

First look: Casio Exilim EX-FR10

$699, available in three colours (orange, white or green) at the end of this month

Design

According to Casio, the Exilim EX-FR10 is the world's first wireless detachable digital camera. It sports a unique two-part modular design consisting of a camera module and a wireless controller with a touchscreen LCD.

This allows you to use it in three ways:

  • As a conventional camera by docking and folding the camera module 180 degrees on its hinge;
  • As a selfie camera with the camera module upright and the LCD screen facing the user; and
  • In split mode or "freestyle" mode whereby you detach the camera module and shoot remotely via Bluetooth connection using the controller's LCD.

Camera module

The camera module houses a wide-angle 21mm f/2.8 lens with a 14-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS image sensor. It is able to shoot full high-definition videos.

The unit I tried is green in colour. It looks like a camera that will fit perfectly on the armour of console game Halo character Master Chief.

The FR10's camera module is almost circular in shape except for the bottom part, where the metallic hinge resides. The hinge allows you to flip the camera 180 degrees.

On top of the camera module, you will find a power button, a shutter release button, a video recording button and a free switch that lets you change the lens' orientation. There is a microSD card compartment on the right side (when the Exilim logo is facing you) of the module while another compartment on the other side hides a micro-USB port for charging.

The camera module is equipped with Bluetooth to connect to the wireless controller. It also has Wi-Fi to connect to Android and iOS devices via an app (to be released soon).

Build and feel

While both the camera module and the wireless controller are made of plastic, it does not give you the plasticky feel. Both parts have textured matte surfaces that elicit a rugged and durable feel.

Both parts are dustproof, shockproof from a height of 2m and splashproof with IPX6/7 standards. In other words, both can stay underwater at a depth of 1m for 30min. Attached together, the FR-10 weighs a mere 175g and is 3.4cm thick.

During the launch event in Tokyo last week, Casio was quick to emphasise that the FR10 is not an action camera, but a "freestyle" camera meant more for the layman and family instead of extreme sports buffs. With such a modest water resistance, it certainly does not qualify as an action camera.

During the hands-on session, it drizzled while members of the media deliberately dropped the review units. But all the cameras survived.

Wireless controller

The rectangular-shaped wireless controller comes with a 2-inch touchscreen display that you can use to "see" what the camera sees and compose your photos.

On its right side (when the Casio logo is facing you), there is a video recording button, shutter release button and a power button. On the other side, you will find a release button and a compartment that hides the micro-USB port for charging.

On top, there is a slot to insert the hinge of the camera module into. To do so, insert the camera module with the lens facing you. A click sound means it is securely attached. To remove, press the release button and pull out the camera module.

Accessories

With a price tag of $699, the first impression might be that the FR10 is more expensive than many action cameras. However, the FR10 comes with many accessories out of the box.

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.

You would have to fork out a sizeable amount of money, at least more than $200, to get all these accessories for other action cameras. Just an optional touch display for GoPro Hero3+ action camera will cost $134.

All the accessories work with both the camera module and the wireless controller. For example, you can connect the camera module to the lanyard to hang it around your neck and strap the wireless controller on your wrist with the wrist strap.

Ease of use

Once you switch on both the camera module and wireless controller, which takes around 3sec, they are paired almost immediately.

For a stable and good connection, Casio said the distance between the camera module and wireless controller should be no more than 5m. But I had no problems with a distance of up to 7m.

Controls are simple and straightforward. The touchscreen display of the wireless controller is quite responsive to tap and swipes. You can tap to take a photo instead of using the physical button.

The menu interface is easy to browse with big icons for tapping. Although the FR10 has only a programme-auto mode, it does have other picture modes, such as toy, sepia and monochrome.

It also has an Interval Shooting function, which allows you to take photos and videos at selected regular intervals. This is great for documenting a family outing or picnic.

This article was published on Sept 3 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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