Vivitar are selling the Vivitar Vivicam 8225 – the camera specification looks quite promising, especially as the camera is available from £40-£50, it features an 8 megapixel sensor, 2x optical zoom lens (apparently), 2.4″ screen, lithium ion battery, SD/SDHC support, and VGA video mode (without sound), but is it any good? Found out below. The camera is available for £49
The camera uses a CMOS sensor and promises an “optical zoom lens” – the image quality from the 2x “optical zoom” photos looked more like digital zoom to me, and you would expect to be able to see MORE detail in the optical zoom photos, but I could not – in fact the movement of the “zoom” lens looks suspicious – it was fully extended when on wide-angle, then would zoom in and out while zooming in in a somewhat meaningless way. Then when I noticed hot pixels from the CMOS sensor that MOVED when using the “optical” zoom I had to investigate further. I removed the front plastic element from the lens (this improved image quality as ghosting issues disappeared) then I removed the glass lens element from the moving “optical zoom”.* Yet AMAZINGLY the “Optical zoom” still worked!! How can that be? Oh yeah, it’s not real optical zoom, it’s simply digital zoom.
Press shots show “2x Optical Zoom” (and a completely different lens design) yet the box says simply “Optical Zoom” while the real product says: “Optical zoom” and “Auto Focus Zoom Lens” and “36-72mm f2.8” which appears to be blatant lying – apart from the Auto Focus part, which does appear to be true.
It’s been a LONG time since I last reviewed a Vivitar camera – a lot has happened since then – they’ve gone bankrupt, been bought, and recently relaunched with a whole new range of cameras – near the bottom of the range is the new Vivitar Vivicam V8225 or 8225 – priced from £40, it features something somewhat unique in this day and age, a 2x “optical” zoom lens. Most cameras tend to have either no optical zoom, or at least a 3x optical zoom lens. It’s price and features meant that I was interested enough to give it a try. It’s cheap, but is it cheerful?
Front on – the zoom lens is a rather strange setup twisting out when switched on – and the front lens element looks so reflective I immediately thought that there was something stuck on that should be taken off. Unfortunately not – the front element is always this reflective and therefore creates some interesting lens flare.
Top – power button, shutter release, and microphone? Unfortunately not – it’s just a speaker hole for the annoying beep that can’t be switched off.
Bottom – SD/SDHC memory card slot, tripod socket, and battery compartment – it uses the Nokia BL-5B Battery rated at 700mah, 3.7v, (a clone, not a genuine Nokia battery) – probably because Nokia use this battery in a number of phones, and they’ve no doubt sold millions of mobile phones, making this battery one of the cheapest available?
Back – 2.4″ screen, Mode button switches between Photo / Video and Playback modes.
Size – quite small – quite slim. Weighs 100g, and measures: 92.00mm x 58.0mm x 19.0 mm
Video – It has a VGA video mode, without sound.
Shown above – side by side – on the left a normal photo, on the right a photo taken with “2x optical zoom”, the photos have been adjusted (levels and saturation) so that you can see the hot pixels and noise more easily, I wasn’t expecting the clear round circle, but this just makes it all the more obvious that the camera is using digital zoom. I’ve uploaded full size images into the photo gallery if you want to view or compare them yourself. (Image 229, 230)
Conclusion: Considering a standard 8mp Vivitar with no optical zoom costs around £30-£35 (eg the Vivitar 8025) – this 8mp Vivitar with “pretend 2x optical zoom” aka no optical zoom costs £40-£50 – then this camera is not good value for money. In fact, I wonder whether they are breaking advertising standards by claiming to have “Optical zoom” when in fact it’s simply digital zoom? In my opinion this camera should be pulled from shelves, and all shops that sell it (Asda, Tesco, Amazon etc) should send it back, and offer any current customers a full refund!
Some of the online material (site screenshot shown above, spec sheet, and official manual!) say it has a 3x optical zoom lens – please – make up your mind! What else are they not telling us? Could it be using a 5 megapixels sensor and interpolating the images to 8 megapixels?
No optical zoom – only digital zoom!
Difficult to remove / put in memory card
Excessive barrel distortion on wide-angle
Says it’s in Focus when it’s not (and vice versa)
Beep can’t be switched off
Poor quality screen – difficult to see what the photos will look like
Over-exposes bright areas on default settings (-1, or -2 exposure compensation needed)
Very Weak flash – red-eye reduction pre-flash is brighter than the actual flash!
Auto-focus hit and miss.
Flash defaults to off.
* You can also find out by gently holding in the lens when switching the camera on, take a photo, now hold it in whilst using the zoom, notice how the image on the screen gets larger, yet the lens doesn’t even move! (I realise too that I could have done this without having to remove the lens pieces)
Photos of the camera taken with an Olympus E-600 DSLR.