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keychain camera
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Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
keychain camera on 06/10/2010 12:19:16 MDT Print View

I'm doing the JMT solo in July, and had been planning on not taking a camera due to weight. (To me, a camera is more of a priority when I'm hiking with my daughter.) However, I came across this miniature camera, which, unlike most of the ones on amazon, gets good user reviews:

I went ahead and ordered one. I'm not under any illusion about the quality of the photos it will take, but it sure is small, and it will be fun to have at least some kind of photographic record of the trip.

Anyone have any experience with miniature cameras like these? In the reviews of keychain-sized cameras on amazon, it seems like the most common complaint is the inability to take good pictures indoors, but that won't be an issue here. Unlike most full-sized digital cameras, this one loses the pix if you take the battery out. I wonder what happens if you simply run the battery down too low? Framing shots might be difficult. When I ask people on the trail to snap a picture of me, I'm expecting that a lot of them will have my head out of frame, etc.

Edited by bcrowell on 06/10/2010 12:20:21 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: keychain camera on 06/10/2010 13:33:10 MDT Print View

I have not seen that one. Some seemed to like the aiptek pencams in the past. There is a tiny cam yahoo group if interested.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
review on 07/02/2010 11:22:46 MDT Print View

Here's a mini-review of the camera. I haven't used it on the trail yet, just at home.


0.7 oz
good reviews on amazon
The seller was responsive when I called with a problem.


The first one they sent me was defective, but they replaced it promptly.
It's hard to frame a shot.
If you hold the button down too long, it takes video rather than a still photo.
There are 4 buttons, 2 of them fake. None of the buttons are labeled. (It's sold as a spy camera that looks like a car-key fob.)
The documentation is in fractured English.
There is not much obvious feedback (like an audible click) to tell you when you've taken a photo.
It doesn't take good pictures in low light.

Although my list of negatives is fairly long, I'm actually reasonably happy with it. The alternative was going to be that I wouldn't take a camera on my trip at all. The weight savings compared to a normal point-and-shoot camera is about 4 oz, which is a lot to me -- that's how much my torso pad weighs.

Edited by bcrowell on 07/02/2010 11:23:35 MDT.

Daniel Fosse
(magillagorilla) - F

Locale: Southwest Ohio
Trail pictures on 07/06/2010 11:23:56 MDT Print View

A lot of those mini-cameras are just cell phone style cameras without the cell phone. If it works for you, great. I find that cell phones take lousy pictures. I have a few little cheepo cameras my kids play with that are the same. The problem is usually the cheap plastic pin-hole lense.

Cell phones keep raising the megapixel count on the cell phone cameras but as long as you have a pin-hole iris and a 3mm lense it does not matter if you have 1 or 100 megapixels, your image quality will be bad.

Pictures are a record of priceless moments, especially moments with kids and grandkids. They will definately appreciate them when they are grown up.

I tote around a DSLR and several lenses when not backpacking. When in the woods I take a 4-5oz point and shoot. Some tote their DSLR, whitch I find too heavy. I guess we all have our trade off points.

In my opinion take a small point and shoot. A picture woth taking is a picture worth taking well.

I just got a Pentax w80 for father's day. It's completely waterproof. I haven't weighed it yet. The picture quality is great in bright light and poor in dim light. It records HD video at 720p 30fps which is really nice. Either way, the picture quality is leaps and bounds better than any cell phone.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
field testing keychain camera on 07/31/2010 09:33:31 MDT Print View

Here are the results of field testing the camera.

The image quality is abysmal, but that's what I expected, and I was making a conscious decision to save four ounces by accepting bad quality. Here is a sample landscape:

sample image

The problem that I didn't anticipate, but probably should have, was that its battery drained itself after the first day of my 12-day trip. Presumably this was because the buttons were exposed, and they got depressed while the camera was in my pack.

If the image quality wasn't so ludicrously bad, I would probably put some effort into finding a way to store this thing in my pack without the buttons protected, but as it is, I don't think it's worth the effort.

It's frustrating that you can't seem to get any middle ground in terms of weight and image quality. There just don't seem to be any decent options below about 5 oz.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: field testing keychain camera on 07/31/2010 14:14:11 MDT Print View

Pentax Optio WPi is 4.9 oz if you could find it on a gear swap.

hank yates
(hankyates) - F
vistaquest vq1015 on 08/20/2010 11:26:47 MDT Print View

Im not sure if there are any lomography buffs here, but the vq1015 is a phenomenal keychain camera that weighs next to nothing. It has its set of limitations though. It is awful in low light and if you dont like high contrast/vignette I would stay away.

mississippi river

Flickr Group

Worth at least taking a look.

tim hower
(jeepcachr) - F

Locale: Great Lakes
pentax on 08/20/2010 13:00:37 MDT Print View

I've had 2 of the pentax w series cameras. I love them for being waterproof and taking reasonably good pictures. Not near as good as my DSLR but still good.