The Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Digital Camera is a very small and very cheap $10 drugstore digital camera. Despite being packaged like a serious camera, the Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Camera is really built like a toy. The little Vivitar is plastic and made in China. As a mini camera, it doesn’t even have a preview screen. The Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Camera may well be the cheapest, cheesiest, digital camera on the market. But, at $10, the Vivitar Mini Cam is so cheap that it might be just perfect for creative projects. This review will look at this cheap digital camera and then generate some ideas for using it.
But, first, we should cover the performance and specifications of the Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Camera. The camera measures 2 1/4 by 1 5/8 inches and is only a half inch thick. This mini camera comes with a key chain attachment and a small imitation leather case. The Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Digital Camera is genuinely small enough to fit in a pocket or small purse. The camera as 16 megabytes memory on board and can hold 20 high resolution pictures or 81 low resolution pictures. If the Vivitar Mini Digital Camera is put into compressed mode, it will hold up to 243 low resolution images at a lower image quality. Since it is technically a 3-in-1 camera, the Vivitar is also capable to taking short video clips or functioning as a web cam. The mini camera is powered by a single AAA battery.
The camera comes with ArcSoft Photo Impression 4 for editing photographs and rudimentary software (My Camera) for downloading photographs. While Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Camera owners are locked into using the proprietary, My Camera, software for dowloading, I generally choose to use other photo editing software. I wasn’t tremendously impressed by the ArcSoft Photo Impression 5 when it with my more capable Aries 3-in-1 Digital Camera. However, if you don’t have any other editing software, the ArcSoft software will work just fine. While connected to the PC, I could not capture moving video from this camera, but I could use the My Camera software to capture single images.
Ergonomically, this cheap toy camera is fairly easy to operate. A mode button and small wristwatch-type LCD allow the user to set the camera mode and delete one or all pictures. A slide on the side of the camera raises a small old-fashioned viewfinder up out of the camera body. The viewfinder is usable, but works best when the camera is held well away from the eye. I found it very difficult to keep images centered. I took lots of pictures that showed only the top of our dog’s head. However, once you get the hang of it, you can take pictures.
If you are old enough to remember old Kodak Instamatic and 110-film cameras with plastic lenses, you’ll recognize the performance of this Vivitar’s lens. This is definitely a snapshot camera. My pictures revealed lots of distortion around the edges. Due to the low resolution of this mini camera, the digital photographs also appear smaller on your computer screen. Small, funky, slightly distorted photographs remind me of something: the toy camera movement in film photography. If you approach the Vivitar as a toy camera and a challenge, you will have more fun with it.
While the Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Camera will never have the character of a Holga or Diana lomography camera, the light leaks of an old camera from Russia, or the artistic nuance of a pinhole camera, it may still provide an opportunity to have cheap fun with photography. Buyers should definitely know that the Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Camera is a very cheap camera with very limited capabilities. If you are looking for a more capable snapshot camera, you might try the slightly more expensive Ares 3-in-1 digital camera. The Ares 3-in-1 camera costs about $20, has a preview screen, and creates better pictures. However, for only $10, the Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Digital Camera might be suitable for kids or for creating experimental art projects where the funky characteristics of the camera will help create interesting images. Ultimately, the Vivitar 3-in-1 Mini Digital Camera is just a toy. Have fun!