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Mitsuba DC500T 5MP

Today we will be looking at the Mitsuba DC500T 5MP Digital Camera an extremely bare-boned entry level digital camera, one of the many cheap digital cameras, for sale at Geeks. That means fixed focus, no optical zoom, no IS (Image Stabilization), no Macro function, and only 5MP of optical resolution. Can a digital camera like this, stripped of most features most of us take for granted today in a digital camera, find a place in today's market? That is what we will strive today to find out. As usual, today's review item is provided by Geeks, our main site sponsor.

Mitsuba Box Top     Mitsuba Box Side

The Mitsuba digital camera arrived safely, packed surrounded by several air-pillows. The Mitsuba digital camera itself was in an attractive retail, high gloss box, covered with lots of useful and some not so useful information (see below). Package contents include USB cable, AV cable, Driver (mini) CD, User's manual, Li-Ion battery, Charger, DC-adapter, Carrying pouch, Tripod (Mini), Wide angle lens, and the Mitsuba digital camera itself. I was glad to see that the Mitsuba included a paper User's manual, not only because I find them more convenient to use and easier to access (which I do), but because I can't find the Mitsuba DC500T 5MP Digital Camera listed on their website. In fact, I can't find ANY digital cameras on their website at all. So it looks like the User's manual is all the manufacturer info/support you can expect from Mitsuba.

Specifications:

Hardware Resolution: 4032x3024 Pixels (12.0 Mega)
Sensor Effective Pixels: 2048x1536 Pixels
Memory/Built-in SD/MMC Card Slot
Storage Media/ SD/MMC Card

Main Functions:

Digital Video Camcorder:
640x480 up to 11/fps
352x288 up to 30fps
160x128 up to 30/fps

Digital Still Camera:
4032x3024
2560x1920
2048x1536

PC Camera:
640x480 up to 10fps
320x240 up to 20fps
160x120 up to 20fps

Digital Video Recorder:
Internal 32MB
External 32MB SD Card(Optional)
TV out: Supports PAL/NTSC color system

2.4" Color TFT LCD
Digital Zoom: 4X Digital Zoom (real time)
Auto Exposure
Auto White Balance
Self Timer: 10 Second
Power Saving: Optional for 1Min or 3Min or 5Min
Built-in Microphone & Speaker
Charger/Li-Ion rechargeable battery
Dimension: 110(L)X92(w)X84(H)mm

Mitsuba has chosen to label this camera as being 12MP on several places on the box. While the true optical resolution of the DC500T is only 5MP, the 12MP figure is obtained through interpolation. Since the Mitsuba does this interpolation in the camera I suppose the 12MP figure is technically correct, but its use here is obviously meant to mislead the user into thinking they are getting a much higher end camera. Slightly less troubling is the 4X Digital Zoom prominently plastered several places on the box, again seemingly labeled hoping to confuse users who don't know the difference between Optical and Digital Zoom, the former of which is entirely missing on the DC500T.

Mitsuba Pack     Mitsuba Bundle

It takes roughly three hours to charge the 3.7V 900mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery in the Mitsuba DC500T 5MP Digital Camera. In addition to the normal battery charge indicator which turns green when the battery is finished charging and at full power, the Mitsuba DC500T also has a separate green charger indicator light in the base of the charger that indicates the charger itself is working. This is a nice extra touch I haven't seen in other digital cameras before. Once charged the battery of the Mitsuba DC500T is good for about 491 shots with the flash on, after which time the Mitsuba DC500T will fail to enable the flash but still take roughly another 35 flashless pictures before turning itself off. Those are Energizer Bunny battery-like results. Neither of my Sony "Prosumer" digital cameras comes close to those results in battery life.

With its "SLR-like" external design, and heft the Mitsuba DC500T is definitely not a shirt pocket digital camera. Even though it is winter here, it probably is not even a coat pocket camera (unless you have really big pockets). With this size camera I personally favor the stereotypical Japanese tourist dangle-from-my-neck carry position. While the Mitsuba DC500T feels slightly small in my hands when taking photos, I imagine for most people with non-freakishly large hands like myself it would be a better fit, possibly even a little large. For a better objective size comparison the Mitsuba DC500T is almost exactly the same size as the popular Sony DSC-H2 I also own.

The Mitsuba DC500T has a straight through optical viewfinder similar to the ones found on much higher end digital cameras. I was initially very excited about this but Mitsuba has for some unknown reason handicapped its usage: The flash has to be deployed or it blocks access to the viewfinder. This is more frustrating than it sounds because the Mitsuba DC500T default start up mode is no flash. So each time you want to use the optical viewfinder you have to enable the flash to get it to pop up, then disable the flash while keeping the flash in the pop-up position to use the viewfinder. Why Mitsuba would design the pop-up flash to block the viewfinder when not deployed remains a mystery to me.

In addition to the awkward design of the pop-up flash, the flash itself is not very strong. Indoor pictures were always much too dark, even when the subject was close up and augmented with overhead fluorescent lighting. Yes, some of this can be corrected in camera with the Exposure Value, and more still can be done post processing with photo editing software, but things shouldn't have been this dark to begin with. I have taken pictures in my condo with at least six other digital cameras and none of them were anywhere near this dark. The flash on the Mitsuba DC500T also takes a relatively long time to charge. When using the flash with a fully charged battery the quickest time I could manage between shots was eight seconds. Needless to say, don't plan on shooting any sporting events with this camera.

Mitsuba Front     Mitsuba Back

The Mitsuba DC500T has a 2.4" TFT LCD. The picture is relatively clear, color saturation is good, text is crisp and easily readable. While images on the LCD are too dark for my tastes indoors, things fare better outdoors where images are bright and colors are surprisingly vivid. While not perfect overall the Mitsuba DC500T has a fairly high quality display that, while a little grainy with pictures, is more than adequate for a budget digital camera.

The on-screen menu controls the Mitsuba DC500T uses are the easiest to navigate of any digital camera I have ever used, making the Mitsuba DC500T ideal for a newbie looking for a first digital camera. Most of this simplicity, though, comes from the almost complete lack of advanced features present on most other current digital cameras. Readers already owning any reasonably modern digital camera will likely find the lack of sophistication here quite stifling, quickly relegating the Mitsuba DC500T to the role of a beater or possibly a backup, should something happen to their primary digital camera.

The Mitsuba DC500T took a glacier-like ten seconds from power on until it was ready to shoot its first picture (throw in another five if you are planning on using the flash). With times like those let's just say that I could have booted my PC to Express Gate (Splashtop "instant on" Linux distribution bundled with many recent ASUS motherboards), and started to do some work, checked my e-mail, or played a flash-based game before I could have taken a picture with the Mitsuba DC500T. There is no reason a digital camera should take longer to come on line than a PC. That is plain unacceptable.

When it came time to test the Mitsuba DC500T's optional Wide Angle Lens I was skeptical that it would be very useful. It looks like a toy and I thought it was just another slick marketing gimmick like the Mitsuba DC500T's 12MP (interpolation) resolution. I was pleased to note that I was wrong, very wrong. The Mitsuba DC500T's Wide Angle Lens was so useful I found myself wishing I had one for my other digital cameras. During this review I took pics with the Mitsuba DC500T Digital Camera fitted with the Wide Angle Lens at least as often as I did without it. It is too bad that the Mitsuba DC500T doesn't have a Macro function because it seems it would go together like Peanut Butter and Chocolate with the Wide Angle Lens and the types of close up pics I take for these reviews. The Mitsuba DC500T's Wide Angle Lens IMO is easily the most impressive thing the Mitsuba DC500T has in it's favor.

Mitsuba Lens

Picture quality outdoors is fair, although focus is soft. In addition, since the Mitsuba DC500T doesn't have any sort of IS (Image Stabilization) it is also very prone to extreme blurriness with even a minute amount of camera shake. You either better have a rock steady shooting hand or plan on frequently using a tripod or some other sort of shooting brace for optimal results. Indoor picture quality is poor, the flash is weak, and even with the Exposure Value set to max, overhead fluorescent lighting, and some further post-shot tweaking in Photoshop Elements I struggled to obtain photos that weren't too dark. Overall the picture quality is not good enough IMO to warrant printing out any of the pictures I took, but would be fine for attaching in an email or posting to your favorite social networking site.

Try as I might I couldn't get the flash to work while shooting video. Realistically IMO this leaves movie making with the Mitsuba DC500T as an outdoor only affair. Unless you happen to have access to an indoor environment that is lighted like a photography studio expect your indoor clips to be so dark they look like they were taken in a cave. Video resolutions are 320x240, and 640x480, video format is .AVI. Videos taken outdoors are not of bad quality for a budget digital camera, superior to any cell phone movies I have taken; although with the low fps of the clips there was some scene tearing if the camera was moved too quickly.

Conclusion:

With a little more attention to details (less clunky viewfinder, faster shots, slightly better feature set) the Mitsuba DC500T 5MP Digital Camera could have been a contender, it could have been somebody. As is, though, it is hard to recommend this digital camera to the masses. That isn't to say, though, that it is entirely worthless and that nobody should bother with it. My father, for example, recently retired and he has been looking to get a digital camera to see what all the fuss is about. His last camera was a Polaroid Instamatic. With its long battery life and easy-to-use menus, the Mitsuba DC500T would be perfect for him. For anyone who has a high quality digital camera and frequently takes it places where they are worried it might be damaged, the Mitsuba DC500T would be a perfect beater for that situation as well. You could leave your quality digital camera at home unharmed.

Pros:

  • Wide Angle lens
  • Good battery life
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Fixed focus
  • Low optical resolution
  • Weak flash
  • Poorly designed viewfinder
  • Not very full featured
  • Slow start-up
  • Long delay between photos

Mitsuba DC500T 5MP Digital Camera Samples

Sample 1     Sample 2     Sample 3

Sample 4     Sample 5     Sample 6

I would like to thank Geeks for providing us with the Mitsuba DC500T 5MP Digital Camera for review. This item can be purchased at Geeks for 80 usd.

Geeks

Added: February 10th 2011
Reviewer: JimAdkins
Score: 5  
Related Link: Mitsuba
Hits: 7010
Language: english

  

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