Sure, your smartphone has a camera. It takes awesome 8-megapixel photos that you can upload to Instagram or Facebook where they’re tagged, liked, and commented upon. But everybody’s phone does that stuff. To truly stand out and claim your own hill on the island of photo-nerd coolness, you need one of these miniature cameras.
Tools for self-styled spies, objects of collector lust, pocket candy for the retro-fetish set — no matter the motive, these tiny machines make picture-taking fun and different.
The Full Package
Kodak’s Easy Share Mini M200 manages to house just about all the features of a larger point-and-shoot, but in a super-compact package that fits in the palm of your hand.
It lacks the visual panache of the other mini cams on our list. But since you can pick one up for between $70 and $90, it would make a great first digital camera, especially for a kid with small hands or an adult who doesn’t own a smartphone (it’s 3.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall, about the size of a business card). There are plenty of customizable options, but the basic controls still remain intuitive to use.
It takes photos up to 10 megapixels, and it has a good flash. In other respects, however, it’s not really that much better than a smartphone camera. If size isn’t one of the major reasons you’re considering this pint-sized camera, you’d be better served digging up $50 to $100 more for something like a low-end PowerShot for slightly higher-quality images. But compared to the other tiny cams on our list, the M200 captures the best-quality images.
The top of the camera has buttons for power, the shutter, and image settings, and next to the 2.5-inch LCD on back, there are another half dozen clearly marked controls. The M200 starts out on Smart Capture mode to automatically adjust settings for general photo scenarios, but you can switch to one of 17 different scenes if you have a specific photographic need — sunsets, action shots, panoramas. The high ISO setting for low-light shots performs admirably. You can also self-adjust the white balance, and there’s a 3X optical zoom for close-ups.
The Easy Share camera comes with Kodak’s Share Button desktop software. You enter your e-mail and social networking preferences, then, as you’re out shooting photos and videos, you can select the ones you want to share using the hardware “Share” button on the back of the camera. The next time you plug the camera into your computer, the photos you selected will automatically be delivered to the destination you chose, whether it be to a specific e-mail account or your Facebook page. It seems unnecessary, given how easy it is to drag and drop photos to share them in different places on your desktop.
get-gadget Slim, 3.5-ounce body is comfortable in a pocket. Fits in your palm, so it’s easy to hide. Has a better lens, better sensor and better flash than most smartphones, even if only by a small margin. Convex mirror on the front for self portraits.
TIRED Lack of image stabilization can make for blurry photos without a flash, and shaky video if your hands aren’t steady. Video resolution is VGA (640×480), no HD option.
Kodak Easy Share Mini M200, $90