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Mercury Cyberpix S-330, Mecury Slim Cam II Joint Review

Introduction: Both cameras are extremely compact, have a 2mp CMOS sensor, a 1.5" Colour TFT screen, a flash, record videos with sound, and include 16mb built in. Most importantly both of these cameras are extremely affordable, the S-330 around £60 inc vat, and the Slim Cam II around £40 inc vat! (both from Microland Technology)

Both cameras easily fit into your pocket, feature a "macro"/close-up mode, and take 2 'AAA' batteries. I initially expected these cameras to be very similar, and although they are very similar in specifications, they are not very similar in performance.

The Mecury Cyberpix S-330 is almost identical to the: Aiptek Pocket Cam X, / Aiptek Pocket Slim 3200, the Model Shotz MS-2600, and the Trust 735S Powercam Zoom. The Mercury Slim Cam II / Slim 3000 is identical to the Aiptek Pocketcam Slim 3000F. (except for the name)

CyberPix S-330 - The Camera Slim Cam II / Slim 3000 - The Camera

Front - Sliding cover reveals the lens and flash.

Front - macro mode is controlled by turning the lens ring

Back / Top - Zoom control and menu button are on the back. On the top you have the mode button, (Play/Photo/Video), the shutter release button and the On/Off switch, as well as a small light.

Back / Top - On the back you have the zoom control, mode button, and the display button - on the Slim Cam II, you can switch off the display to save battery power. On the top you have the On/Off switch and the shutter release. The microphone hole is also on the back.

Battery compartments - S330 has an SD/MMC memory slot, the Slimcam does not.

Side - on the S330, there is the macro/normal mode switch, and the USB socket. On the slim cam, there is the pop-up viewfinder and the USB socket.

Bottom - tripod mount.

Size comparison next to the Pentax PC-550.

Specifications:
  • 1600x1200 2mp CMOS sensor
  • Fixed focus F=3.0/8.5mm lens (with macro mode)
  • 16mb built in memory (can be upgraded with SD/MMC)
  • 1.5" TFT Colour LCD
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • Flash/Microphone (no speaker)
  • 2048x1536 3.1MP interpolation mode
  • 1600x1200 2mp
  • 1280x960 1.3mp normal resolution
  • Video mode: 320x240 up to 20fps
  • PC Camera mode: 640x480 / 10fps, 320x240 / 20fps
  • Auto exposure / Auto white balance
  • 10 second self timer, Power saving auto off (3min)
  • 2 x AAA batteries
  • USB port
  • 88x40x32mm
  • Image effect: 4 modes for still pictures (normal, black and white, classic (sepia), and solarize), 2 for videos (normal, black and white
  • 1600x1200 2mp CMOS sensor
  • Fixed focus F=3.0/7.5mm lens (with macro mode)
  • 16mb built in memory (can not be upgraded)
  • 1.5" TFT Colour LCD
  • 4x Digital Zoom
  • Flash/Microphone (no speaker)
  • 2048x1536 3.1MP interpolation mode (high)
  • 1600x1200 2mp (fine)
  • 1024x768 resolution (normal)
  • Video mode: 320x240 up to 25fps
  • PC Camera mode: 640x480 / 15fps, 320x240 / 15fps
  • Auto exposure / Auto white balance
  • 10 second self timer, Power saving auto off (60sec)
  • 2 x AAA batteries
  • USB port
  • 83x40x26.5mm
  • Optical viewfinder (pop-up)

Box / Contents:
Included with the S330: Case, 44 page english manual, CD-Rom, Mini fold-up tripod, USB cable, White wrist strap, 2 AAA batteries, camera. Included with the Slim Cam II: Single sided A3 quick start guide, CD-Rom, Mini fold-up tripod, USB cable, Black wrist strap, 2 AAA batteris, camera.


Features:
Both cameras can interpolate (enlarge) their images from the 2MP sensor, to produce 3MP (2048x1536) images. This is another "marketing" feature in my opinion. It does not give the same quality that you would get from a digital camera with a 3MP sensor. The only real reason to use the 3MP setting is if you intend to print your photos large - and even then you're likely to get better results using your own photo package, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Memory (how much will fit on provided memory) The S-330 provides 16mb of built in memory which can be upgraded with an SD/MMC memory card. On the built in memory you'll fit around 40 2MP photos, with an average file size of 360kb - although on some of the photos, eg "cars and trees" the S-330's picture was 600+ kb, whereas the Slim Cam IIs was 360kb. Alternatively you can fit about 24 3MP photos, with an average file size of 616kb. On the lowest setting (1280x960), you'll fit around 82 photos, with an average size of 170kb.

You can fit a 2 minutes and 25 second video clip in the built in memory, the only limit here being the memory. With a larger memory card, it is possible to continue recording till the memory card is full, for example, I recorded a 20 minute movie file with a 128mb memory card.

Modes (menu system / control) - The basic modes are: Play, Photo, Video.

Play lets you view your photos and delete them, you can not zoom into the photos.

In photo mode you can zoom in/out, using the digital zoom - you can also access the additional menu items by pressing the menu button - this brings up a graphical menu system. Menu items are: Size, Flash (on/off), Self-Timer, Exposure (Auto/back-light), White-Balance, Effect, Setting. The options in Setting are: Time, Beep, Display (detail on/off), Date Stamp, Flicker, Language, Default.

In Video mode the menu options are Effect, and Setting.

Ease of use / speed: - The S-330's screen seemed dull and was difficult to see in bright light. Using the camera is very easy, the play/photo/video selector on the top makes it very easy to choose the mode you want.

The camera is quick enough - although nothing spectacular, the only main delay seems to be when waiting for the flash to charge.

Battery use: This doesn't seem to be as good as the Slim Cam II, I've gone through 2 sets of 2 alkaline batteries since I got the camera about a week ago.


Memory (how much will fit on provided memory). The Slim Cam II provides 16mb of built in memory which can not be upgraded. On this you'll fit around 40 2MP photos, with an average file size of 340kb. Alternatively you can fit 29 3MP photos, with an average file size of 490kb. On the lowest setting (1024x768), you'll fit around 87 photos, with an average size of 160kb.

You can fit nearly four 30 second video clips in the memory as well, all around 4mb each - all videos I've taken with this have been around 19fps - which is not 25fps as claimed.

Modes (menu system / control) - The basic modes are: Photo, Play, Video, Self-Timer Photo, Setup. In setup the options are: Delete All, Format, Quality, Flicker, Language, Flash.

Ease of use / speed: The Slim Cam IIs screen was bright, and was still easy to see in bright sunshine - it also seems brighter when used indoors in low light. The small mode button on the back of the camera makes it a bit more difficult to use than the S-330. The lack of options however, makes this camera very much a point and shoot camera.

The camera is quick enough - although nothing spectacular, the only main delay seems to be when waiting for the flash to charge.

Battery use: I was quite impressed by the battery life of the Slim Cam II. I've been using the same 2 alkaline batteries since I got the camera about a week ago.


Image Quality: (view full size versions in the gallery)

Inside: (flash, redeye, closeups, group, noise?) /

The S-330 seems to produces better colour than the Slim Cam II, especially when using the flash. It also seemed to be able to produce better focus even if objects were close. The flash on the S330 looks exactly the same as the flash on the Slim Cam II, however the flash on the S330 is directly above the lens, red-eye was noticable on some photos taken with the S330.

Inside

The Slim Cam II seemed to struggle when using the flash, and skin colours were slightly off. This camera also seemed to struggle with lens flare when bright lights were on. Some photos taken with the Slim Cam II with flash did suffer from red-eye. When using the flash to take photos of a group of people more than about a meter away in a dark place, the photo was extremely dark / unusable. [both] Due to the small size of the flash on these cameras group indoor photos are not going to be very good, unless there is a lot of alternate lighting.

Outside:


Good detail and good colours throughout the picture.

The S-330 produces much more colourful images with more contrast than the Slim Cam II. Jaggies can be seen in the actual size crop above.

Same location / time / date:


Bluriness towards the left and right of the picture.

The Slim Cam II produced less colourful photos, and images don't seem to be sharp throughout the frame. Jaggies can be seen in the actual size crop above.


Zoom:
Both cameras have a 4x Digital zoom - this is no match for optical zoom, which produces far better pictures. Using software, such as Adobe Photoshop the same thing can be achieved, often with better results than using the cameras built in digital zoom. The S-330 can zoom in 0.1x steps up to 4x. I haven't shown 3x below, as you can see it in the gallery.


Wide


2x Digital


4x Digital


These photos were taken on the same cloudy day, at roughly the same time, the Slim Cam II can zoom in 0.2x steps up to 4x. I haven't shown 3x below, as you can see it in the gallery.

 


Wide


2x Digital


4x Digital


Macro mode:
(Slim Cam II shown next to a black Fuji Q1 Digital)

The S-330 does a better job than the Slim Cam II, however, it's still not brilliant.


Macro mode:
(S-330 shown next to a black Fuji Q1 Digital)

The Slim Cam II struggles when objects are too close.


Movie mode:
320x240, around 19fps inside, black&white as well as colour modes. 8khz, 4bps sound - microphone on the front of the camera. Limited in length only by the size of your memory.


Click to watch (colour) - 8seconds 727kb (saved as Zip file)


Click to watch (black and white) - 9seconds 720kb (saved as Zip file)


Movie mode:
320x240, around 19fps inside. 8khz, 4bps mono sound - microphone on the back of the camera. Limited to 30 seconds long.


Click to watch - 15seconds 1.25mb (saved as Zip file)


Conclusion:

The S-330 produces nice pictures, with good colour and good sharpness. It's got a good unlimited movie mode, with sound. It's also got a decent menu system, and some interesting (useful?) options, such as black and white movies, solarise etc.

The S-330 produces much nicer images than the Slim Cam II. They are generally sharper, with better colours. The S-330 also has a better macro / close up mode. The S-330 copes better when using the flash as well, although the flash is not powerful enough for group photos indoors.

You also get a slightly better package with the S-330, namely a better manual, and a case for the camera. Although the S-330 is slightly longer than the Slim Cam II - the S-330 seems smaller, as it isn't as high, nor does it have a protruding lens.

Because the S-330 can be upgraded with more memory, this camera is much more useful than the Slim Cam II, for example you could go on holiday with the S-330, whereas you would have to make sure you have regular computer access with the Slim Cam II.

The S-330 is let down by lack of speaker (for movie playback), and a weak flash. It's a shame the silver circle on the front isn't reflective, as it could have been a useful "self-portrait" feature. It is not possible to zoom into photos in playback mode.

Would I recommend this camera? Probably / Yes - if you want a small cheap 2mp digital camera with unlimited movie mode with sound - this camera could be for you, especially if you've got £60, but if you've got another £20-£40, you could get a Pentax Optio 33LF, a 3mp digital camera with 3x optical zoom. (or other 2/3MP digital cameras of better quality than the S-330 can be had from around £80, but they wouldn't necessarily be as small as this)




The Slim Cam II produces okay pictures, with average colour and average sharpness. The movie mode is limited to 30 seconds, but fram rate is good at 20fps, and sound is included. Settings are very basic, eg Flash, size. You can't turn the beep off.

The Slim Cam II's close up mode is not brilliant, and the flash is very weak.

The package included with the Slim Cam II is okay, it's nice to see a mini-tripod, but a case and a decent manual would have been nice. The protruding lens is a shame.

Unfortunately the Slim Cam IIs usefulness is limited because the memory can not be upgraded. You will need to make sure you can get regular access to a computer if you are going to be going any great distance with this camera.

The camera is let down by lack of speaker, for movie playback and a weak flash. Like the S-330 it is not possible to zoom into photos in playback mode.

As a cheap small take anywhere camera, that you aren't too concerned about scratching / loosing etc, both of these cameras are great. Image quality isn't superb, but is acceptable. They are both great value for money, and easy to use.

Would I recommend this camera? I'm not 100% sure - for £40, it's not bad and there aren't many alternatives at this price, except perhaps ebay. If you've got another £10, you could get the Fuji Q1 Digital, which is now around £50. If you've got £60, I'd recommend the S-330 over the Slim Cam II.


What I like:

  • Good colours / good sharpness/detail
  • Better menu system, more options
  • Unlimited length videos (limited only by memory)

What I don't like:

  • Dull screen
  • Can't turn off the screen to conserve power.
  • No speaker (for video playback)
  • Weak flash


What I like:

  • Price!
  • Bright screen
  • Optical viewfinder (although fairly poor)

What I don't like:

  • Fuzzy photos / dull colours
  • Yellow / Pink tinge to photos, especially noticable on whites.
  • You can't turn the beep off.
  • Poor macro / close up mode.
  • No speaker (for video playback)
  • Weak flash
  • Videos limited to 30seconds
  • Limited to 16mb - ram can not be upgraded!