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Visioneer MX-200 Digital Camera Review

Introduction: The Visioneer MX-200 digital camera is a 2MP, auto focus, digital camera, with a 3x digital zoom, 8mb internal memory, a 1.5" Colour TFT, Flash etc. The main advantage of this camera is that it only costs £39.99 from Toys'R'Us! (Initially the camera was £29.99, but Toys'R'Us must have released they could easily charge more!) The camera is capable of taking macro photos as close as 15cm, as well as being used as a webcam with the PC. The camera has all the usual features such as self timer, but also has several preset modes which should make using the camera easier. The camera can produce 3MP images through software interpolation. Nb. This camera was also sold as the Digital Dream Eclipse 2.0. Eclipse 2.0 drivers can be found on the Digital Dream website.

"Visioneer's new 2 megapixels digital camera with 3x optical zoom makes it easier than ever to capture your special moments as high-resolution digital pictures or up to 60 second video clips."

The Camera: It's not tiny, but it's not overly large either.

Front - Flash, light sensor, optical viewfinder, red light (for self times), auto-focus lens.


Back, top left: Optical viewfinder, next to that is the on/off switch, then the zoom control. The grey circle lets you choose the mode. Display turns the display on/off and changes the amount of information displayed when on.


Bottom, flap open, with 2 AA batteries, SD/MMC memory card slot and under the lens is the tripod mount.


Underneath the plastic / rubber cover on the side you'll find: Power socket, TV out, and the USB socket. The rubber cover is decently attached - it doesn't feel like it's going to fall off, and when closed it doesn't stick out of the camera.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic

Unlike the Pentax, there is no lens cover for the Visioneer.


On the top of the Visioneer is the two way shutter release button.

Specifications:

  • 2.0 Megapixel Digital Camera (interpolates to 3MP - 2048x1536) - none of the specifications I have seen specify whether the sensor is a CCD or CMOS sensor.
  • 3x Digital Zoom
  • Record 60 second Video Clips (320x240/15fps without sound)
  • 8MB Internal Memory
  • Memory Slot for SmartMedia
  • Review Photo Instantly on 1.5" colour LCD Display - 280 x 220, 61K
  • Auto Focus fixed lens f=6mm (46.3mm equiv) 1:2.8 F2.8/F8
  • Normal Focus Range: 60cm - Infinity, Macro: 20cm-60cm (will focus down to 10/15cm in practise)
  • ISO 100, Shutter speed: Mechanical 1 - 1/500 - Electrical: 1/30 - 1/4000
  • Flash: Auto / Always-On / Red-eye reduction / Off

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • USB cable / Video cable
  • Camera Case / Strap
  • Software on CD
  • Users Manual (a fairly decent 60 page manual)
  • 2 x AA Batteries
  • Quick Install Guide

Features:

Can be used as a webcam (set the camera dial to "PC Mode"), and records videos at 15fps (without sound), it also has a video out so you can view your pictures on your TV with the provided cable. The camera takes 2 AA batteries, and includes a tripod mount thread.

Includes preset modes such as: Macro, Self Timer, Sun/Lanscape, Portrait, Night Scene or you can use the standard "Photo" mode.
Settings: Auto White Balance, Sun, Cloudy, Indoor lighting, Flouresent. +/- EV up to +2.0 and down to -2.0

The camera takes the following size pictures / and the following number of images will fit in the 8mb built in memory: (an extra memory card is recommended if you intend to go on holiday or are going to be away from a computer for more than a day!)

Setting: Number of pictures stored in memory:
3mp 2048x1536 Super (interpolated) 8 (av. size: 800kb)
2mp 1600x1200 Fine 7 (av. size: 900kb)
2mp 1600x1200 Normal 16 (av. size: 380kb)
800x600 Fine 27 (av. size: 210kb)
800x600 Normal 60 (av. size: 100kb)

Speed, ease of use: Easy enough to operate, you simply switch it on and make sure the dial on the back is set to take photos. Pressing the shutter half way down will get the camera to focus, pressing it all the way down will take the photo - you can tell when the camera has successfully focused because the square in the middle will change from white (shown below) to red. Focusing is fairly quick - and taking the picture is also fairly quick - I found that the camera was more likely to focus correctly when pressed half way down, then when you can see the red box, press again to take the picture - on some occassions simply pressing the shutter release all the way down resulted in the camera taking a picture that was out of focus. It takes about a second to focus (slightly slower than the Canon A300 I have), and then another second to take the photo (about the same speed as the Canon A300) - whilst taking the photo, the display goes black - using the flash slows the camera down some more, and the screen goes black whilst the flash is charging.

Battery usage is fairly poor - slightly better than the Canon A300 - but rechargable high powered Ni-Mh batteries are HIGHLY recommended - this is pretty much the case with all digital cameras. Connecting the camera up to the computer shows the cameras memory as an additional disk drive. I find this a very easy way to copy and view the images on the camera.

LCD display in photo mode:

One of the neat things I like about this camera is that when you are taking a photo, and half press the shutter, in the bottom left it display the F setting (aperture) and shutter speed. The screen is decent enough, not as good as the screen on the Canon A300 but still gives a good idea of what the picture looks like and updates smoothly.

In playback mode you can zoom into the image to have a closer look (x4) and pan around the image to see the part you are interested in. Like the Minolta E223 (which uses an almost identical menu system), when scrolling through photos, the camera shows you a blurry version first, then shows you a sharper version about half a second later.

Image Quality: Larger versions of these images can be viewed in the gallery album called "Random "Visioneer MX-200" Photos", there are also some photos on the "Canon Vs..." page.

Inside:

No noticable red-eye on both of these photos, nor do there seem to be any problems with noise - the image on the right taken at 2MP Normal setting with "red-eye reduction flash" - there are no problems taking close up photos with flash, unlike some other cheap digital cameras, eg the Praktica DCZ 1.3S

Outside:

Really impressed with these images down at Albert Dock, very nice rich colours, clear images.

Zoom: The camera has a built in 3x Digital zoom - this basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software to blur the image so that it does not look pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using this, and simply crop the image later on your computer. I've included an example below simply to show what this feature does - and whilst it looks acceptable at the size shown, if you printed the images out or viewed the full size versions in the gallery you would easily notice the negative effect it has on image quality.

No zoom 2x Digital zoom 3x Digital zoom

Macro: Flash can be used in macro mode, the screen goes black whilst the camera "charges" the flash. The macro mode lets you focus as closely as 10/15cm.

Decent macro performance, easily accessible from the "Preset" setting.

Movie: The movie mode lets you record about 27 seconds on the built in memory at around 15fps without sound.

Click the image above to view the video clip - 814kb. (saved as Zip file)
Image quality is good even in fairly low light - the videos have an average frame rate as far as video modes on digital cameras go. It's a shame there's no sound.

Conclusion

The camera produces nice pictures, with good colour (if slightly yellowy), and produces good pictures even when using the flash close up. The preset modes are especially useful and make the camera easy to use. The camera has a decent size optical viewfinder which should please people who are new to digital cameras as they may prefer the more traditional way of composing their pictures. If you need or want sound with videos, this camera, unfortunately will not be suitable.

By spending more money you might be able to buy a better camera for around £60 or more, or perhaps one with a brand name, but at this price point, I doubt there is any camera currently that can produce pictures anywhere near the quality of this camera - most cameras around £40 are still 1.3MP, fixed focus, sometimes without a colour LCD etc. The closest alternative 2MP cameras are the: Fuji Q1 Digital from around £60, the Kodak CX6200 from around £60, the Trust PowerC@m 715 from £67 (which looks similar to the Visioneer MX200, but may have different specs etc), and the Umax XS1MP3 from around £60/70 to name but a few. To be honest though, I would save the £20 and spend that on a larger memory card, as you would need to buy a larger memory card for these other cameras as well.

Summary: Highly recommended for those on a budget! A bargain priced 2MP digital camera that produces decent images, and is easy to use with useful features. The camera has a good focal range, and macro mode. The only two negatives are the lack of memory included with the camera, and the lack of sound on videos. Read more digital camera reviews here.

What I like:

  • Great price!
  • Good colour and image quality, (especially at this price)
  • Easy to use - just pick it up and start using it - good preset modes
  • Auto-focus lens - many cameras at this price point are fixed focus (eg Fuji Q1 Digital)
  • Macro mode - many cameras at this price would have no macro or a very limited macro (eg Fuji Q1 Digital)
  • Comes with a case!
  • Decent size optical viewfinder.
  • Good information on screen (shutter speed, aperture etc)

What I don't like:

  • 8mb memory is not very generous, or useful, unless you want to take 800x600 size images.
  • Doesn't work on the Mac (OS 9) - so you will need to purchase some SD memory, and then an SD card reader...
  • No sound on movies.
  • Sort of ugly
  • Incomplete specification (even in the manual)

View Visioneer MX-200 Sample Photos.