Mirror, mirror on the cam: Am I ‘kawaii’? Yes, I am!
posted Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 9:55 PM EDT
We've seen some curious cameras over the years, but the latest offering from Casio -- whose cameras are no longer officially sold in the US market -- really takes the cake. The Casio EX-MR1, sold under the tagline "Kawaii Selfie by Mirror Cam", is a camera designed solely for selfie fans, with a bizarre design that places its lens behind a partially-mirrored front surface. (Wondering what "kawaii" means? It's a transliteration of the Japanese word for "cute".)
The result is a selfie camera that's slightly more intuitive to use than most. Ordinarily, whether your camera has a small mirror, a secondary LCD, or some form of articulated LCD on which to see yourself, you have to first frame your shot and then look at the lens right before you trip the shutter. Shoot the image while looking at yourself on the LCD or mirror, and you'll give the appearance of looking directly over your viewer's shoulder in the final shot.
By placing its lens behind the mirror, the Casio MR1 solves this problem. If you're looking at your face in the mirror, you're looking directly at the lens too. Unfortunately, there's a big downside -- all that light being reflected back at you by the mirror isn't making it to the sensor, and that means a higher sensitivity is needed than an otherwise-identical camera without the selfie mirror would have used.
Given the relatively high 14-megapixel resolution and that dim 21mm-equivalent f/5 optic, we wouldn't expect great image quality from the EX-MR1, but that's not really the point. The idea is for the camera itself to shoot selfies more easily than your smartphone -- and typically, the selfie-friendly front-facing camera on most phones has pretty mediocre image quality, so there's not a high bar for the Casio MR1 to beat.
Although it's just now coming to the attention of the western press, the Casio EX-MR1 actually launched in Asia last month, and pricing is set at around US$350. Other selfie-friendly features include Wi-Fi connectivity for getting your images on your phone, a make-up mode that smooths skin tones and makes portraits more attractive, and a variety of filters and photo frames to accentuate your selfies.