Kodak Mini 200 review
Small-sensor camera review -- Kodak Easyshare Mini 200
It's one of Kodak's last cameras, and a delightful end to their tradition of absolutely simple, easy-to-use cameras. Inexpensive -- less than US $80. Smaller (by 2mm all around) than a credit card, and about 1/2" thick, the Mini 200 is best used as Kodak designed... starting up in Smart Capture mode, where the camera sets everything automatically, just like an old box Brownie. Point and shoot personified; its software program guarantees good pictures, with the fastest shutter speed and lowest ISO possible for each scene.
But although the Mini 200 always starts up in Smart Capture, you can push the topside Mode button to change to Program, Macro, SCN, or Video modes. Program mode has a reasonable set of options for user control of color balance, color intensity, ISO, etc. And, as on other cameras, SCN offers a bewildering selection of settings... all the usual suspects, like Night Landscape, Portrait, Sport, etc. Video mode takes .AVI 640 x 480 (480p) at 30 fps.
Taking pictures -- you'll want to keep the Mini 200 on its default 29mm wide-angle startup lens setting. Because without image stabilization, even the modest 3x 87mm equiv. telephoto produces slightly blurry handheld images. And while you can use Program mode for special settings, why bother? There's no spot focus... and you can easily modify the images in post-processing. No -- the Mini 200 'sweet spot' is to just turn it on, let it take your pictures at the wide-angle default, and concentrate on form and composition.
Comparison -- how does the Mini 200 stack up against a much-better pocket camera, the Olympus XZ-1? The pictures below, taken with the Mini 200 in cloudy-dull light (Program mode, Sharpen, Vivid), have insets showing crops of a small sign as taken by both cameras from the same position at the same time. For
Unique feature -- a small convex mirror on the front of the camera, next to the lens, makes self-portraits easy. Hold the camera at arm's length, see yourself in the mirror, click. This is one advantage of the very small sensor -- an amazing depth-of-field at the startup wide-angle setting.
Limitations -- low-light photography, like most small-sensor cameras. You'll get through dusk, as the Mini 200 copes by bumping up the ISO. But soon enough, the f/3.3 lens and teeny 1/3.6" sensor hit their limits. You can go to Program mode, fix it at ISO 100, put the Mini on a tripod and use the self-timer to take a sharp image... as long as the subject doesn't move during the longish exposure. But why bother? The Mini 200 is best-used for quick handheld pictures under normal lighting. keep it simple, and enjoy!
(Sample pictures below, under Specifications section)
Kodak Mini 200
Recycle time: 2.8 secs
Boot time: 3.2 secs
Sensor size --
10 mp, 3640 x 2736
Pixel size: 1.7 µm²
LCD: 2.5" 320×240
Resolution: 230k dots
35 mm equivalent: 29–87 mm
Macro focus: 5cm
Lines Per Picture Height: 1664
Shutter Lag: 0.5
640x480 at 30fps
.AVI (CODEC Motion JPEG; audio: -Law)
Sample images -- all in default Smart Capture mode, no modification, no clipping. The first car yellow) pic, at wide angle. The second (blue), at full tele... not as sharp. But would be easy to add sharpness in post-processing, along with brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance, etc.
Here's another pic at the startup wide-angle setting:
Conclusion -- excellent value for money... when used in daylight or early dusk at default wide-angle startup setting. More-than-acceptable image quality for web use, or for small prints to 8x10. A backup camera you can carry in a front pants pocket, like a cellphone... but with a better lens and far more features than any phone camera. I'd put it at 60 on DP Review's ratings scale, everything considered. Recommendation: a good little camera, and a mildly-collectible Kodak souvenir.
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