CASIO Launches EX-FR100 'Outdoor Recorder' Action Cam (GALLERY)
Adventure Camming for the Rest of Us
As Senior Contributor Nayalan Moodley put it last year in his review of this camera’s predecessor, the EX-FR10, CASIO has set about making action cams not for wingsuiters, back-flipping BMXers, and the Laird Hamilton gargantuan wave riders of the world, but for the rest of us; those who’d like to easily and creatively capture, summarize, and share the mundane-to-most but precious-to-us moments of life.
Last year’s EX-FR10 was CASIO’s first dip into this market, and by most accounts they created a very competent, innovative product. With its newly released big brother, the EX-FR100 Outdoor Recorder, CASIO has taken a proven formula, added some valuable updates, and with a new “GO ADVENTURE!” slogan, refocused their marketing toward a wider swath of outdoor enthusiasts.
Launching the CASIO Exilim EX-FR100 Outdoor Recorder: an Adventure in and of Itself
First, understand that when it comes to launching their outdoor-focused products, CASIO is not known for stilted press conferences or half-hearted demos - they go all out. Cases in point, the EX-FR100’s above mentioned predecessor was introduced to tech journalists in fall 2014 over the course of a 36-hour, all expenses paid media junket into the mountains of northern Honshu, and getting to know the new PRO TREK 3500 watch involved an overnight fishing trip to Fukushima Prefecture last September. For the EX-FR100, once again, CASIO did not disappoint:
The EX-FR100 was unveiled at the Moripark Outdoor Village’s main event hall, located in Akishima City, near the western edge of Tokyo. In-step with the venue’s overall outdoorsy vibe, executives and engineers replaced suits and ties with khakis and parkas for the proper product introduction and obligatory spec rundown.
CASIO set up an array of demo stations, gave journalists a memory card, and set them free to both shoot the new camera and shoot with the new camera. Additionally - and we love this about CASIO - journalists were invited to take the new device for an on-site rock climbing adventure!
What are the EX-FR-Series Action Cams and Who are They For?
To really get deep into where CASIO’s going with action cams, definitely check out our exhaustive review of the line’s inaugural device, the EX-FR10. The short of it all is this: as previously mentioned, this is the action cam for everyone, and it comes with a handful of rather clever features that appeal to the casual shooter - the kind of person who doesn’t want to arrive home from a hike and be forced to spend hours in Photoshop combing through and editing the shots from the day. This is not necessarily a pro-level device, but that is not a pejorative - the EX-FR100 is high-end action camera for an underserved market: civilians.
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Wholly Unique Yet Solid, Immediately Usable Form Factor
What sets it apart from the field? The Bluetooth 2.1 EDR connection between the LCD touch screen monitor/controller and the camera unit allows for separate operation over normal Bluetooth range, and that connection, along with Wi-Fi, can also be extended to smart devices for app-based control (EXILIM Auto-Transfer will also send photos from the FR100 directly to a smartphone).
The above is great, but the modular form factor is really the killer feature, and it puts it all on your imagination: with a full line of attachments and accessories, one can place the camera almost anywhere, set the shots, then monitor and control from a distance. As one of our editors observed: “You really could use this device to film a documentary about yourself, using only a crew of you.”
Both the monitor and camera are powered by dedicated lithium-ion batteries. When connected as one, the EX-FR100 can also be used a regular camera for normal wide-angle photography/snapshotting (or the selfie angle), which is not an area in which competitors shine...unless distorty fisheye shots are your thing. Naturally, the camera is also water and dust proof, and impact and cold resistant without the need for additional accessories to make it so.
In addition to the unique ways in which this camera can be used physically, it’s also got some clever things going on inside: Intelligent Interval shooting, image stabilization, and an very cool automatic highlighting feature for both photos and videos, wherein the camera can automatically pick out and compile the best shots and/or clips into shareable slideshows or short videos.
Okay, So What’s New with the EX-FR100?
It just hit stores last Friday - here’s where the EX-FR100 Outdoor Recorder outshines its predecessor:
Larger Touchscreen Viewer/Controller
Until rather recently, most action cams didn’t even have a monitor or viewscreen, let alone a touch screen monitor/remote controller, so CASIO had already set themselves apart with the first version of this camera. With the new FR100, the form factor remains largely unchanged, but screen size has been bumped to 3 inches, useful when it's both a viewfinder and a control interface.
What really stands out physically are the differences in lens design and monitor size between the new FR100 (above) and last year’s FR10 (below).
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Larger/Wider Lens; Stabilization Improvements
The FR10’s 21mm lens did its job well enough, but the FR100’s super-wide-angle 16mm (35mm equivalent) should do that much better. CASIO’s also given their stabilization software a considerable update - it’s not going to beat a dedicated gimbal, but it’s impressive nonetheless and will more than suffice for most users.
Improved Intelligent Interval Shooting
Including auto-interval settings in last year’s model was a clever little innovation, and CASIO’s expanded and improved upon that feature. When shooting interval shots of active scenes, the camera can automatically discard blurry images and keep only the best shots from a given session. Intelligent Interval also includes a scene selector function for whatever is being shot, be it hiking, watersports, etc.
Improved Auto-Highlighting Feature
Another unique feature launched with last year’s FR10 was automatic highlighting of both photos and videos. Rather amazingly, the camera is capable of analyzing a set of photos and videos, picking out the best, and then automatically stitching them together into an easily shareable video - complete with theme music and smooth transitions between both photos and video clips. With the FR100, CASIO’s added a bit more intelligence to the feature, and it can now discern quality, focus, and variety of a given set of shots (user-selected by date) before auto-compiling into highly shareable clips of 15, 30, or 60 seconds (or a photo collage).
Release & Price:
The EX-FR100 is available now in Japan in white, yellow, or black, coming in at around ¥60,000 (~$490). CASIO’s retail camera sales are currently limited to Asia, but intrepid shoppers can find a way to import. We should also note that the FR100 is meant to be a higher-end model in CASIO’s action cam line; the FR10 will remain in production at a price point of ¥39,000 (~$320).
2015 EXILIM EX-FR100 Vital Specs:
- Sensor: 10.2 MP
- Resolution: Stills: 4000 x 3000 or 2560 x 1920; Video: Full HD (1920 x 1080 at 30 fps); Standard (640x480 at 30 fps); High-Speed: 512 x 384 240 fps)
- Lens: F value: F2.8; Focal Length: f = 2.87mm; 35mm film equivalent: 16mm
- Zoom: 4x Digital
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, MicroUSB, App-enabled
- Still Image Options: Auto, Premium Auto PRO, high speed continuous shooting 30fps, high-speed continuous shooting PAST, Art shot, interval shooting (including intelligent), make-up, touch shooting (AF + shooting, AF only), face detection
- Video Options: Full HD, STD, HS, video stabilization, wind noise reduction, white balance (auto/sunny/cloudy/shade/fluorescent light adjust)
- Storage/Memory: MicroUSB with limited internal memory
- Size: Camera: 60.9mm × 33.3mm; Controller: 59.2mm × 86.7mm × 19.4mm
- Weight: 214g (both modules combined)
Inline Gallery Glam Shots:
Additional photos by AkihabaraNews Senior Contributor Nayalan Moodley.
To see what CASIO has in mind for potential consumers, have a watch:
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