Hands-on: Casio's EXILIM TR70 is likely the best selfie camera you can buy today

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

If you're serious about having the best selfies or Outfit of the Day (#OOTD) photos, you would know about the wedge-shaped Casio EXILIM EX-TR lifestyle selfie camera series, which adopted its current look in 2013. The latest EXILIM EX-TR70 is an update to the mid-2015 version, the EXILIM EX-TR60.

Like its predecessors, the EX-TR70 has a unique form factor that makes selfies much easier. The camera is built to open up like a flip-phone from the 90s, allowing you to point the camera at your face without your fingers obscuring the 21mm (35mm equivalent) wide angle lens.

The 11.1-megapixel camera (total pixel count at 12.76-megapixels) has an f/2.8 aperture with five lenses in five groups, and a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor. It uses a digital zoom, with the default setting going up to 4.0x, and 7.8x if you set it to HD zoom and 3-megapixel size image quality. The camera has a minimum focal range of 8cm in Auto or Macro mode, so getting a good shot would require the user to hold it around an arm's length.

The camera rests above a 3-inch TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen (921,600 dots) that can be rotated 180-degrees, making it useful for selfie shooters to frame their shot, or for taking photos of other subjects like a traditional camera. The touch screen is responsible for most of the adjustments, such as its signature face-beautification features and menu. You can find the camera shutter on the side of the frame, which helps in leaving out an accidental finger in your photos.

Key upgrades include a redesigned Skin Brightening function in its make-up mode. Not only does it enhance skin tone, it layers a rosy tinge on the subject's complexion, giving it a touch of radiance and glow. The new EXILIM EX-TR70 also implements beautification features into their video mode too, so you could convince people that you're really that beautiful even in footage. We feel that people should use this power responsibly. Note that the Video Make-up Mode uses its own unique set of filters, and is different from the Make-up mode for still photos.

Instant Movie function lets you record snippets of yourself while it automatically stitches the sum of its parts together. Recording is simple - hold down the shutter button during recording, and release when the snippet is done. To lengthen the movie, simply hold down the shutter once again, and the EX-TR70 will put it all together once you finish your Instant Movie. The end result is quite similar to watching a Snapchat story where all the interesting highlights are placed back-to-back without much editing done by the user, which in turn would allow for an easier time when uploading said video to a blog or social media platform.

The touchscreen itself got an upgrade too, at nearly 50 per cent brighter than its predecessor. The high-contrast nature of the screen gives vivid blacks and better colour reproduction, allowing you to check your photos without worrying about the viewing angle.

The Casio EX-TR70 also features six different ways to take a photo. You can use the conventional shutter button, which has been moved from the frame to the top of the display, or by activating the Selfie Pad sensor on the left rim of the main body to take a shot. There's also a Timer mode that's adjustable on the left part of the display (up to 10 seconds delay), and the Motion Shutter that triggers from a hand wave. The touchscreen also works as a shutter trigger if you enable Touch Screen Shutter, and the EXILIM Connect app for smartphones can be used as a remote shutter for your EX-TR70.

Sharing images from the camera to the smartphone is just as easy as its predecessor. The built-in Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi functionalities let you transfer images to a smart device via the EXILIM Auto Transfer option in the camera. You can even have it set to Auto Send, so every snap is forwarded to your smartphone without having to interact with the camera itself. You could also use the EXILIM Connect smartphone app to use your phone as a remote shutter, which is handy for group photos or interesting angles.

The specifications for the camera are similar if not identical to the previous version. EX-TR70 has a battery life that's long enough to take approximately 220 shots and approximately 50 to 70 minutes of movie recording. Maximum footage length per file is 29 minutes, and the timings provided by Casio are pegged to Full HD quality. Images taken at 12-megapixels will result in images with 4,000 x 3,000 pixels resolution. If you insert a 16GB microSD card, the EX-TR70 can store approximately 2,286 shots, or 2h14m of footage.

With the lithium-ion battery and microSD card inserted, the camera weighs a mere 149g, and its size is approximately two-thirds of a typical palm (128.5 x 60.9 x 16.3mm). The camera's battery can be recharged using a USB cable. Detailed specifications can be found on the Casio website.

The Casio EXILIM EX-TR70 will retail at S$1,399 in three colors (Gold, White and Pink), starting on 21 January 2016, 6 p.m. at authorised Casio retailers. They come in very limited quantities and they sell out quite fast (considering historical uptake for this series).

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