Vivitar's ViviCam 3615 uses a 2-megapixel image sensor and an autofocus lens to capture crisp, sharp images at an affordable price.
The camera is targeted at users who like to simply point and shoot. Focus, flash, and exposure are all set automatically. Hoping for more creative control? You have only a few options: the flash has four modes (including red-eye reduction), the white balance can be set to one of four values to compensate for unusual lighting, and the exposure compensation can be adjusted.
For power, the camera uses four AA batteries or an optional AC adapter. The big benefit to using standard AA batteries instead of a custom proprietary battery is that AA batteries are available virtually everywhere in the world, so missing a once-in-a-lifetime shot due to dead batteries won't be an issue. The downside is that a digital camera will kill a set of alkaline batteries extremely quickly, especially if you're using the camera's LCD display. If you're an occasional photographer, you can get by with high-power disposables, but if you plan to take more than a handful of photos a month, a set of rechargeable batteries (scroll up to the Accessories section) is a virtual necessity.
To compose your image, either look through the traditional viewfinder or use the 1.6-inch color LCD display on the back of the camera. Pictures are stored in the camera's internal 8 MB memory, which holds approximately 12 images at the camera's default setting. The memory can be erased and reused repeatedly, but if you're hoping to take more photos before returning to your computer to transfer the images, the camera also accepts CompactFlash memory cards.
A video-out feature makes it easy to show your pictures in big-screen glory. Just connect your camera to your TV with the included cable to give a virtual slide show to friends or family. If you think your photos look impressive as a print or on a computer monitor, just wait until you see them on a 27-inch TV screen.
There is no optical zoom lens on the camera, but the ViviCam does include a 2x digital zoom. This feature crops the edges off your picture and blows up the remaining image, enlarging your picture at the expense of image quality. Most photo-editing software will let you do the same thing to your picture once you've transferred it to your home computer, so it's a camera feature that's not often used. The reason for including a digital zoom is purely financial; it costs almost nothing to add this feature, and a digital-zoom camera will cost you $50 to $100 less than a comparable camera with optical zoom.
The ViviCam 3615 shows just how much digital cameras have improved in the past few years. Even a year ago, a digital camera at this price would have had an inferior fixed-focus lens and substantially lower resolution. Though the 3615 doesn't have many fancy features, its lens and sensor prove that an affordable digital camera can produce quality results.
- 2-megapixel sensor captures 1,600 x 1,200 images for prints at sizes up to 8 x 10 inches
- autofocus lens with 2x digital (no optical) zoom
- Internal 8 MB memory stores approximately 12 images at default resolution; accepts CompactFlash cards for additional storage
- Connects with Macs and PCs via USB port
- Uses 4 AA batteries