September 19, 2020

State of the Art: A Camera That Honors the Flip

The Tryx ($250) is a very simple camera. It has only two buttons. It has no optical zoom. It doesn’t have an image stabilizer. You can’t remove the battery. You can’t set the aperture or shutter speed. Casio is calling it “the Flip of still cameras.”

That, of course, is a reference to the incredibly simple Flip pocket camcorder. People loved the Flip because it worked: the first time, every time. When something happened worth filming, you pressed the big red button on the back. You didn’t mess with tapes or disks or menus or mode dials or flipping out a screen.

That’s why the Flip became outrageously popular. Its maker sold two million Flips in the first six months. It became the No. 1 bestselling camcorder on Amazon.com, and remained there ever since. As of last month, its sales represented 37 percent of all camcorders, and kept climbing.

And then Cisco killed it.

That’s right. Two years ago, Cisco bought the Flip for $590 million. Then last month, it shut down the whole division and fired 550 people. The blogosphere reverberated with a rationale: “Smartphones killed it. Nobody needs a dedicated recording machine when the phone can record video.”

But if that were true, then Flip sales would not have still been climbing at the time of its demise. If that were true, we wouldn’t still be buying 35 million still cameras a year (phones have still cameras, too). If that were true, nobody would buy GPS units for their cars.

Phone photography, phone video and phone GPS have their places. But they’re different places. They’re additional places. They don’t replace single-purpose gear in their traditional roles. You’re not going to take iPhone pictures of your wedding. Normal people don’t suction-cup their phones to their windshields for navigation. And you won’t be able to fire up the video app on your phone in time to catch your toddler’s sudden adorable burst of singsong.

No, Cisco killed the Flip for its own business reasons — primarily to demonstrate to shareholders, after last year’s stock nose dive, that it’s serious about focusing on its core businesses.

All right, rant over. Now then: the Tryx. This gadget isn’t just dedicated to a single purpose. It’s also dedicated to a single audience: young, fun-loving adults.

It has a lot going for it. First is the wild design. At first glance, it looks exactly like an iPhone: a thin, black slab. And you can use it that way, holding it as you would an app phone.

But the outer edge is, in fact, a sturdy rectangular frame. The body of the camera connects to a hinge at one end of it. You can push it around the hinge in a complete circle, through the frame and back around again. It’s a little bit like those toy gyroscopes. The outer metal circles don’t move — you can grip that framework while the flywheel spins madly inside. (That’s the best analogy I could think of. Leave me alone.)

Once the camera body is rotated away from its starting position, you can also tip it up or down 270 degrees on a second pivot point, so that it points more toward the sky or the ground. Very trycky indeed.

This design makes possible a bunch of neat shooting options. The swiveling camera clicks at 90-degree stopping points, but there’s enough friction that you can stop it at any point. So you can use the frame as a tripod, propping the camera at any angle. You can use the frame as a hanger, so the camera dangles from a branch or wall nail or lamp knob, for superstable shooting. And because the lens is on the frame and not the body, self-portraits are a piece of cake, too.

In these configurations, you’ll usually want to be able to fire the shot without pressing the shutter button. There’s a self-timer, of course, but also a really cool motion-activated shutter. On the supersharp, three-inch touch screen, you drag a hand icon wherever you want — say, the upper-right corner. Then, once you’ve stepped into the frame, you move your hand to that spot in the composition, and wave. Two seconds later, the shot fires. You can wave again for another shot, and another. Absolutely brilliant.

E-mail:pogue@nytimes.com

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=feeb43881c843c08c8b761ce17e2af64

Speak Your Mind