Review: Casio Exilim EX-TR15

Review: Casio Exilim EX-TR15

Casio's Exilim EX-TR15 looks like a smartphone, is priced like a high-end smartphone (think Samsung Galaxy S4), but is, after all, a camera.

The EX-TR15 has a fixed 21mm f/2.8 lens with a 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor, while the Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel camera with a fixed 31mm f/2.2 lens. And you can use the S4 to make calls.

At 170g, this Casio is 40g heavier than the S4 and nearly twice as thick, but still slim enough to slide into your jeans pocket.

The body, which feels like plastic, has an innovative mechanism that most smartphones lack: a frame, which can be rotated 360 degrees, with a 3-inch touchscreen display that can be rotated 270 degrees.

It can be contorted to any angle you want. The rotatable frame can be used as a handle to help you compose a picture. The shutter release sits on the swivel point of the camera frame to let you take self-portraits easily.

A second shutter release next to the display and a Power button are the only other physical buttons on the camera.

You can change settings easily using the touchscreen, via a menu interface that is easy to navigate. It lets you add hearts, stars, other artwork and even handwritten text to your photos.

Forget about Manual, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. Instead, take your pick from the plethora of auto and preset shooting modes, such as Auto, Premium Auto Pro, Art Shot and Make-up.

Premium Auto Pro mode decides if you are shooting a flower or a portrait and changes settings accordingly. Art Shot, like specialist filters, gives you effects such as soft focus, sepia or sparkles.

Make-up mode is my favourite as it makes the skin of the subject smoother and softens facial shadows.

You can also choose the intensity of the make-up. Until I used this mode, I never knew what a marvellous complexion I could have in a photo.

The camera powers up in a rather slow 4.4 seconds but shuts down in 1.3sec.

Autofocusing (AF) in bright light takes about 0.2sec. In dimmer light, it might take up to 3sec. Sometimes, it just gives up.

Picture quality is generally good with nice colours but it suffers from slightly overzealous automatic post-processing, such as oversharpening.

ISO performance is not very good, as noise is already evident at ISO 400 with loss of details and sharpness. ISO 800 is probably the maximum you should use.

When recording videos in full high-definition, the results are slightly grainy but ambient noise and wind audio are better managed than in many compact cameras.

The Casio manages around 250 shots on a fully charged battery, which is not bad for a compact camera of this range.

With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can immediately send a picture to your smartphone via the Exilim Remote app - available for iOS and Android devices. You can also use the app to remotely capture photos and videos.

If you are willing to pay a huge premium for beauty and ease of shooting self-portraits, the Casio Exilim EX-TR15 is probably for you.

If not, look elsewhere and stop complaining that your camera only exaggerates your facial flaws.

trevtan@sph.com.sg

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