MINI-REVIEW: CASIO EX-FR100 Outdoor Recorder
Taking a Closer Look at the EX-FR100 “Outdoor Recorder,” CASIO’s Flagship Action Camera
One of the unique features of CASIO’s Android Wear-powered WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch is its ability to connect to and control the EX-FR100 Outdoor Recorder action camera (we covered the camera's launch last year). In order to test this feature, CASIO gave us a bright yellow sample to play with, and since we also have its predecessor, 2014's EX-FR10, and have put it through a fairly thorough usage in the Mountains of Toyama and subsequently reviewed it, we decided to give the new EX-FR100 Outdoor Recorder a closer look.
This piece is going to focus more on basic changes than detailed specs, as many of those that held true for the EX-FR10 remain with the new EX-FR100
For more on the new model's Intelligent Interval Mode, Auto-Highlighting feature, and the deep specs, please see our previous coverage.
The Next Evolution
At first fondling, everything about the EX-FR100 feels a little better than the EX-FR10. It’s heftier, the plastics feel a bit nicer, and the screen is both bigger and brighter. The touch panel is more responsive, and from the on-screen info to the menu systems, it feels incrementally better. It’s also faster, snappier, button pushes register more easily and the engine generally feels like it’s been overhauled. The previous model’s accessories fit the new camera, and CASIO has also expanded the selection for the EX-FR100.
The camera module itself has changed little on the outside, but the removable sun hood has been permanently affixed. The camera sensor has been reduced from 14 megapixels to 10.2, which does result in images that are just a smidgen less sharp, but it has substantially improved colour accuracy and is little better in lower-light settings (view full stills gallery here).
Paired with the new f2.8 16mm equivalent wide-angle lens, the images that the EX-FR100 produces feel significantly better. While most who buy this camera would likely use it with Adobe Lightroom, when tweaked to bring down highlights and bring up shadows, the results were quite impressive, especially when scaled down to social media sizes. The new 16mm equivalent focal length is perfect for what this camera was made for and is a refreshing change from the more ‘normal’ focal lengths that smartphones and compact cameras tend to give us.
On the other hand, video feels like it’s taken a hefty blow in the quality department. The electronic image stabilization system either doesn’t work well enough or works too well and introduces artifacts into the image. In low-light/indoors, when strapped to a backpack (as one would often do with this camera), the resulting footage is almost unusable even for quick social uploads. Things improve in daylight, but for the video to look good, one has to find a way to hold it like a video camera, not set and forget, which defeats the purpose of its unique form factor. While the EX-FR10 was never brilliant at capturing video, it still feels better than the EX-FR100.
Should you get one?
If you were in the market for the ultimate action stills/selfiecam, the EX-FR100 definately worth the premium over the older EX-FR10. The 16mm lens generally performs better in more/most scenarios, but it’s not such drastic improvement that people who already own the older one need to go out and get the newer one...unless you really want a camera that’s controllable from your CASIO Smart Outdoor Watch.
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