Review: Digital Blue Bionicle Camera
Sunday, October 18th, 2009 at 3:05pm by Jason, BZPower Reporter
A while back, we heard the news that Digital Blue was going to make Bionicle themed digital cameras. And just the other day, we heard that the cameras would be prizes in a Glatorian Building Contest. But what kind of quality cameras are we talking about here?
First off, let me highlight my reasons for wanting to review this camera. I know a lot of people on BZPower know a thing or two about digital cameras, and obviously they don't want a cheap camera just because it has a picture of Tuma on the front. But the teenagers of BZPower aren't LEGO's intended audience; the age limit on the box is 5+. (I find it interesting that the minimum age is 5 for the camera, whereas the age range for the Glatorian is higher: 7-16. The kids can use the camera before LEGO expects them to play with the products!) I am looking at the camera from a five-year-old's perspective. (It wasn't that hard to do, since I haven't gotten rid of my inner kid.)
So here we have the packaging the camera came in. I ordered it off ToysRUs.com for $19.99 USD. The first thing that caught my attention was how small the camera was. I wasn't quite expecting it to be so tiny, although the ToysRUs page specifically has its dimensions: 7.2 inches by 5.8 inches by 1.8 inches. There's also quite a bit of useful information printed on the packaging. For example, the camera can hold up to 40 pictures at a time. Other useful information includes a listing of the contents (more on that) and the specifications for downloading photos on the computer.
Here are the contents. Note, this package is much harder to open than the traditional canister set. I had to use sharp scissors, and I realized I have to be careful where I cut, because I almost nicked the CD. For any parents reading, I would recommend they open this for their kids first.
The contents are few compared to most LEGO products. (Although, to be fair, this is mostly a Digital Blue product, so I should stop with the obvious comparisons.) You have the camera itself, an installation CD, a USB cable, a wrist strap, and a short pamphlet with instructions on how to use the camera and install the CD. There is one notable thing missing; the camera requires a AAA battery, which is not included.
The setup for the camera is quite easy. The wrist strapped can be looped around a small opening on the bottom of the camera, and is very convenient to have while using the camera. Installing the AAA battery is a little bit trickier; you have to use something narrow (like a paperclip) to touch a small tab on the bottom of the camera for it to slide open so you can place the battery inside.
Now that we've set up the camera, let's see how it works!
The picture taking process is, in one word, easy. The button on the top of the camera is what you press to take the picture. The button below it, on the back end of the camera, is the delete button. If you press it once, it deletes the last photo you just took; if you hold it down, it will delete all the pictures on the camera. To the left of that, you have a small viewfinder screen, which you look through to aim the camera. The small screen below that displays the number of pictures currently on the camera, and that number diminishes if you keep pressing the delete button.
Now, in comparison to other digital cameras I've used, this one seems to be lacking. You cannot go in and change the camera's settings at all, with the exception of deleting pictures. You also have to look through the viewfinder, instead of looking at a screen on the back, when aiming the camera. When I started taking pictures, a lot of them were off center, and this may be because the viewfinder is located on the top left of the camera, whereas the lens in closer to the center.
After you take the photos, it's time to upload them onto your computer. After installing the downloading program from the CD, all you do is plug in the camera to the computer using the USB cable and you can start uploading.
When you open up the program, called Bionicle Photo Downloader, you get a small window with three options: "Download", "Cancel", and "Change Folder". The "Download" button conveniently uploads all the images off the connected camera and puts them in a folder on your computer. The "Change Folder" button lets you select exactly where on your computer these pictures go. The "Cancel" button only closes the program; they could've used a better name, such as "Exit". After you've downloaded all the pictures, a fourth button appears, called "Delete" which will delete all the pictures remaining on your camera.
Now comes the moment of truth; how well do the digital pictures turn out?
My first thought for using a LEGO themed camera would be to take pictures of Bionicle sets on display. To start out with, I took pictures of Stronius using my higher quality Canon camera and the Digital Blue Tuma camera. To demonstrate quality, the pictures have only been resized and cropped, with no visual enhancements.
There is a stark difference in quality. The Tuma camera doesn't have flash, and it's slower than my Canon camera, so the image appears to be blurrier. The dimensions for the picture are 480 pixels by 640 pixels (or 640x480 for horizontal pictures), with a resolution of 72 dpi and a Bit depth of 24. Their sizes range from 35 KB to 65 KB of the ones I've taken.
After a few more practice shots, I can safely say that this is not an ideal indoor camera. Indoor lighting is just not enough. However, perhaps the typical five-year-old wants to take pictures of more exciting stuff than his LEGO sets. Thus, I set out on a quest to walk around my campus and take pictures on a nice, sunny, summer's day.
In my opinion, the outdoor pictures turned out much better. There are still problems with blurs and color washouts, but overall you can see what's going on in the pictures. If I were a five-year-old who just took these, I'd be mighty proud of myself.
- Easy to use features
- Point and click to take pictures
- Convenient wrist strap
- Software is easy to use
- Works decently out in the sun
- Very cool Tuma image on the front
- Packaging is hard to open
- A little tricky to insert battery
- No customizable options for camera settings
- Does not work well indoors
- General lack of quality in pictures
Would I recommend this to the average BZPower teenage member? No. No way. You people are probably smart enough to go and buy a better camera and take quality pictures, both indoors and out.
Would I recommend this to a five-year-old fan of LEGO? Yes, yes, yes! The camera is so easy to use even a Vorox could do it. (Coincidentally, the same camera also comes with a Vorox picture on the front). I remember using an expensive camera as a kid, and besides being bored with the many features, I remember accidentally causing some damage to the lens. If my parents had gotten me this Tuma camera at that age, I would've been delighted to take pictures and would've saved them plenty of grief. This camera is just right for the kid on the go, and if they do break it, it's only a $20 loss.
So if you get a Tuma camera you don't want, don't throw it away: give it to some little kid to have fun with.
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