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Vibe Digital Video Camera Review
Camera Test Images
Vibe Digital Camera Review
By Steve Robson
Today’s digital camera market offers a wide range of products in a wide price range. Cameras that cost 1000 dollar a decade ago have dropped a lot in today’s market place. Simple cameras that cost very little have come into the market place in the past few years. The older film market used to have basic 35mm point and shoot and 110 cameras in this segment. Unlike these older styles of cameras, these newer digital have some more flexible abilities then the film could dream of.
I bought the Vibe digital cam camcorder at a discount retail store as a door crasher special. It only cost $19.99 plus tax. The camera is designed to look like a mini handi-cam camera. The view finder flips out to uncover the camera controls. It is largely constructed of plastic. It used the standard SD card to record the images on to. It takes up to an 8 gig memory card. The design has an F 3.1, f 6.5mm fixed lens. It works out to look like lens in the 75mm range on a 35mm camera. The zoom is digital only and it is a 4X zoom range. It is powered by 3 AAA batteries. The flip out screen holds two zoom buttons (plus and minus) and the 1.4 inch square view screen. You lose about 40 to 50 percent of the viewing area. The camera can take either video or still images. There is a lever to allow macro and infinity focus point. The images in video mode can be set at either 640 by 480 or 320 by 240. Still images can be set at either 640 by 480 or 320 240 pixels. The camera is rated at only .3 pixels.
The camera comes with a USB cable, a USB/ Audio Video cable to allow the video recorder to be pulled directly into a newer style TV and a printed camera manual.
I tested out the camera just after buying it at the store to see if it worked. I had to take a memory card out of another camera try out this new model. It worked so it saved me a trip back to the store in case it did not work. He first sample pictures where then taken. My first impression of it was a very simple design to use. Unlike the older cheap film cameras, these newer can take pictures in a wider range of lighting conditions. I have tested this camera along with other models costing more to see how they compare.
It features different light metering patterns. They include spot, multi, and center metering. There is an exposure override to lighten or darken difficult lighting conditions. It ranges 2 stops under and overexposure. Older cheap film cameras did not allow is function.
Getting started testing this camera involved getting into its various functions. The base default set-up had the camera producing a beeping sound. I soon turned this off. The low res pictures taken are a throwback to the early digital cameras. For people interested cameras with larger picture files, this camera models may not for you. There are people interested in the soft image quality is camera could fill the bill. Unlike a keychain camera, no special software needed down load the pictures. The SD card stores the images. For the price, the quality is fair but not great. For art photographers, this image soft picture nice change from more expensive camera optics.
The camera is about the same size as an old film based 110 cameras so it makes it easy to carry in a pocket. The image quality is close to the old 110 pictures. The range that the camera be used is far greater though as the test images will showcase.
As a video camera, it is very easy to use. The video mode is the cameras default start-up mode. As can be expected the best setting is in the 640 by 480 setting. The use of the digital zoom takes away of the overall picture quality. Depending on the size of SD card used, up to 2 hours of video can be recorded. The largest size card that can be used is 8 gigs. There is no camera setting to use items like image stabilization so one has to use care when holding the camera when recording. For very basic on the spot video clips, this camera works well. Recording on the lower settings creates grainy video images. I was disappointed by the software that came with the camera. There was no editing software to put the various clips together. I ended up using some software from another camera I bought to edit the clip featured on this site.
The still camera mode is just as easy to use. By using the cameras menu, I set it up into the various modes for the test picture shown. In the high res setting, the images are grainy but pleasant to look at. The quality of the lens is cheap so the soft looking pictures come naturally. I like the fact that no computer software is needed create the look in the final images. The digital zoom degrades the image but this can be used to create images on an artist level. I have used pictures used in digital zoom mode to help create graphic images. By cropping sections out, the pixels come out much stronger and when enlarged, turn into coloured squares. These can in turn be used as things like web site back grounds. I have included sample pictures using two or more cameras at the same time at the same spot. It is interesting to see the same scene is seen with different cameras. Rather than say what camera is better than the other, I like to see them used like paint brushes. They can be used to create a feeling in the scene depending on what camera model is used. Unlike cameras that cost more, this model lacks any way of setting ISO beyond its set default. . The camera itself does not use an autofocus system so the times needed to take shots are very fast. The camera records no data like time and date stamps. Unlike higher end cameras, there is no model stamp to tell the brand name of the model used to create the image.
As stated, the camera can be set into two modes, distance and macro modes. There is a slider on the top of the camera body by the lens. You slide it into whatever mode the camera is needed to be in. In macro mode, you can get very close to your subject. I was about 2 inches away to take the posted macro pictures. You can still use the digital zoom to get in closer if needed.
The camera lacks a photo flash. You must rely in the built-in movie light to light up darker scenes. It lacks the power to be of much use other then in close-up picture taking. When the camera is in macro mode, the light comes into its own for lighting tight spots.
I found using the cameras menu confusing at first. It took a bit to figure out how to change the settings. Once this was done, I found the camera easy to set-up to my liking. The menu is on the small side so it can be hard to see for some. It is also very basic so there is not too much to go through.
I have seen this design placed under different brand names. I have seen named under the name the Jazz DV140. It is one of these designs that other companies buy from a base manufacturer and rebrands it in their name. Many of these low cost camera models do the same thing.
Battery life was on the good side. I took over 200 pictures before the camera showed signs of low battery life. The 3 AAA type batteries I bought are the disposable type and I want to see if it will take rechargeable type batteries as well. This would help out in reducing the costs of operating this camera.
My overall impression is that it makes for a good starter camera. It has the basics to get one started in photography. I do not think it is worth the $40.00 to $50.00 asking price but if you get one for around $20.00 range, it is worth the cost. Factor in the cost of the batteries and memory card on of of the base cost of the camera. For those looking at getting into low res picture taking, cameras like is a good way to get started. It is far more flexible then one would imagine for the price paided for it. Too bad most people will never try it out to it full ability.
Overall design- 4 out of 5
View Finder- 2.5 out of 5
Menu Set-up- 3 out of 5
Battery Life- 4 out of 5
Quality of the Lens- 2.5 out of 5
Image Quality- 3 out of 5