REVIEW: Casio Selfie-Cam (Me, Myself & I)

REVIEW: Casio Selfie-Cam (Me, Myself & I)

The Casio EX-TR35 is a peculiar beast...
Were you to look at the specs, you’d see a 12 megapixel 1/23 inch backlit CMOS sensor mated to a 3.8mm (Full frame equivalent of 21mm) lens in a small, but not particularly impressive, plastic body.

Nothing to write home about. And definitely nothing to explain why Casio is selling them hand over fist in China and Southeast Asia, from between ¥70,000 and ¥120,000 ($700 - $1,200) each, depending on where you get it.

Casio’s marketing copy gives us some insight:

“Created as a tool for self-expression, the TR35 embodies the spirit of the EXILIM TR series and its continuing pursuit to capture a woman's inherent beauty.

The TR35 is based on our “Various Beauty” concept which presupposes that there is no single trait or characteristic that defines a woman's beauty.

Its design and functions have evolved in order to draw out the hidden appeal that few may be aware of.

Putting it simply, the TR35 will introduce you to the essence of your own true beauty.”

Basically, it isn’t just a camera, it is a tool that will help women unlock their own beauty, or so the marketing mad men would have you believe. It’s an overly fancy way of saying they want girls to take vanity pictures of themselves. Thats right. Casio made a selfie-cam, and they can’t seem to produce enough of them.

[Editor's Note: Adding to the intrigue, Casio told us that they do not retail this camera anywhere outside of China. Not even here in Japan.]

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Plastic fantastic?
The model Casio passed us was white with a pearlescent sheen, but it also comes in shocking pink, a rich blue, salmon, and a pastel pink. No Black. There is a silver frame around the whole screen/lens contraption, and at first glance it appears that the quality control at the factory was asleep because the gap between the frame and the camera is very apparent. Further inspection, however, reveals that the device can rotate in the frame, which doubles as a stand for when you wanna take shots of yourself beyond an arm’s length away. The display also flips around in case you want to take a photo of your crew’s duckfaces, instead of your own, for a change.

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In the eye of the beholder.
Image quality is surprisingly good. A bit better than even the iPhone 5s’s still camera. It does take strain in low light, but even then it’s a big step up for shooting into the mirror at the club. The HS3 engine does a good job crunching the pixels and quickly finding its focus. It also makes all button presses snappy; you’ll miss far fewer YOLO moments than you would with other devices.

The camera has a few filters, including a makeup filter, to give your face a Photoshop smoothing and make you even prettier than you already are. Accessing those and other options is extremely easy. The touchscreen is responsive and the OS layout is well thought out with bright colours and easily recognizable icons.

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It also does good old 1080p video, which is of a decent quality for YouTube shenanigans. More importantly, however, is the ease with which you can take video. Three very quick taps and you’re rolling.

As with the Casio EX-100 review, I gave the TR35 a spin on my weekly VLOG, and I was not unimpressed when the lighting was decent. I particularly liked the ergonomics - it was better to hold than anything I’ve used for VLOGging thus far

Only Skin Deep?
It’s hard to find fault with the TR35 selfie-cam, because it does what it does better than anything else. How one values selfie-taking capability, however, is a different matter. It struggles with communication. It can be tethered over wifi to shoot remotely, but the process is not really smooth, and, at least in testing, the application only allowed the last shot taken to be transferred over to the phone. It couldn’t browse the entire SD card and let shooters transfer any/all their photos to their phone like apps from other manufacturers do. This is probably the biggest problem with the camera: selfies are fleeting moments in time that one needs to share as close to immediately as possible. Wait too long and it’s just another happy snap of the ancient past.

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Supply and Demand
Then there is the price… The TR35 is terrible photographic value. One could get Casio’s own flagship EX-100 (read our review) or any other high end compact, take plenty of selfies and still have the capability to do actual photography from time to time.

Even the fashionistas who are buying the camera are giving up an entire outfit just so they can have better than cellphone-quality pics of themselves in other outfits. It defies logic.

But clearly, logic has to give way. And, despite its average specs, the TR35 does exactly what it’s supposed to do - really well. For people who place their vanity above all else, there is currently nothing that can capture it as well without weighing down the handbag.

For us though, more than the camera itself, more than the fact that there is this somewhat worrying market out there, the fact that Casio saw the market, created an innovative product to address it, and has refined and updated the product, is brilliant. It’s so rare these days for Japanese tech giants to leave the safety of the established, market-safe zones, that we can forgive the price.

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All Photos & Videos by Senior Contributor Nayalan Moodley, AKA DarcNoodles - Darc.jpThanks to Ms. Nishizawa and Mr. Lau at Casio for providing a review unit. Get official specs and information on the Casio EX-TR35 here

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