The Mustek Gsmart LCD 3 is small, lightweight, easy to use and inexpensive, but it's also an example of getting what you pay for.
I'm not a camera enthusiast or a professional photographer by any means. I'm just an average joe who was looking for a reasonably priced digital camera, primarily so I could take pictures for eBay listings or to e-mail to friends. So, I wasn't looking for a lot of bells and whistles. I bought my Mustek on eBay for about $40 after looking around a lot and comparing features and trying to determine what I'd need. I think the Mustek usually retails for closer to $100.
One feature I was insistent on having was an LCD screen since for me, half the advantage of digital versus film is being able to see immediately whether you got your shot (the other half is not having to wait to get my film developed before I do something with the photo). The Mustek is considered a "mini" camera because of its small size (72 x 62 x 20mm), and I really liked the idea of having such a small, easily carried-around camera, but most minis do not have LCD screens. The Mustek Gsmart LCD 3 has a 1.5" LCD screen, which is large enough that I can get a good feel for whether I've gotten my shot, though at times, I can't tell how good the quality is until I've downloaded my pictures.
The Mustek also has a 10-second self-timer, 3 resolution settings (2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480), and an AVI movie setting.
A big plus for this camera is that it's both PC and Mac compatible. It's very easy to get started with it. It comes with the camera, a carrying pouch, an installation disc with the software you'll need to dowload pictures directly from the camera, and a USB cable for that purpose. You just pop in the disc and within minutes you're ready to start using your camera and downloading pictures.
The camera is easy to use - basically a point-and-shoot operation, and is so lightweight (62 g) you could carry it and hardly know it's there. Downloading pictures amounts to plugging in the USB cable to your camera on one end and your computer on the other and then just clicking a button to import your pictures. I have a Mac and the iPhoto software already on my computer automatically synched with the Mustek and all I have to do is click "import" and all the pictures download. I'm not sure how other software would work, but I would be surprised if it were much more complicated with any other setup.
The 2 megapixel memory seems to be plenty to hold the number of shots I'd take in a single outing. Unlike digitals with memory cards, though, once the camera is full, you can't take any more until you download what's on there or erase some shots.
Despite these plusses, though, the camera has a lot of minuses. One thing the Mustek does not have is a flash, and I have found that to be important. Most of the photos I take for my purposes are taken indoors of still objects I'd like to sell on eBay, and it's been difficult to get good shots without a flash, even when I thought the lighting was good.
Also, the battery does not last very long at all. The Mustek requires only one AA battery, but the battery sometimes runs out before one session of photo-taking (which might not even be an hour) is over. Recently, the low-battery indicator came on, and I had only put a new battery in less than a half-hour earlier. I took out the battery, then replaced it, and the low-power indicator went away, even though it was the same battery.
This camera has no zoom, which has been a bit of a problem since some of the items I want photos of are small. When I've gotten close enough to get a good-sized picture, the photos have come out grainy, and I couldn't tell that until I downloaded the photos and got a better look at them - and I use the highest resolution for all my photos.
I have also at times found it incredibly hard to get a shot without the image blurring quite badly - even though the item I'm shooting is stationary and I feel like I'm holding the camera steady. I've had to take as many as 8 shots to finally get one that didn't blur, and there was no noticeable difference in the way I held my camera between the shots that blurred massively and the one that came out fine. This can be frustrating to say the least.
Another frustrating aspect has been that the camera gives you very little time between shots before it shuts itself off. The user guide says that after one minute, if you don't take your next shot, the LCD's backlight goes off, and you only have one more minute after that before the camera shuts itself off completely. That means you have to power it back up when you're ready to shoot again, which also takes a few seconds. My camera gives me far less than a minute each for these two things to happen, but even a minute isn't much time.
Think about how much time elapses between shots when you're at a birthday party or on vacation. Do you want to have to power up every time you're ready to take a picture? This is annoying when you're shooting still objects, but if you were trying to use it to catch action shots here and there, you'd be likely to miss your shot by the time the camera was ready to take the photo.
So overall, this camera is usable for doing some very basic shots that you want to download easily, but it's frustrating on a regular basis, and I wouldn't rely on it for most of my picture-taking needs. If I had it to do over again, I'd pay a bit more and get a better camera for even the minimal things I use this one for. It's just too hard to consistently get a good shot.
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Amount Paid (US$): 40
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Easy Enough for Anyone to Use