Mustek GSmart D35 budget digital camera
Typical selling price (approx): UK£50, US$90, EU€75
How many megapixels?
3.5 megapixels is emblazoned across the top of this diminutive camera and, indeed, in best quality mode the image file resolution is 2144x1608 pixels, or 3.44 million effective pixels. But the truth is that under its microscopically small lens, which isn't endowed with autofocus or optical zooming, lies a CMOS sensor chip with an actual resolution of only 2.0 megapixels. Shutter lag is very noticeable.
On the side of the camera is a switch that toggles between close focus and infinity focus mode. A sliding front cover protects the lens and large flash unit but doesn't, as you might expect, double as the power on/off switch. That's on the top side of the camera and there is a fair wait for the camera to wake up and be ready for shooting.
16MB of built in memory means you don't need a memory card for occasional use, though an SD/MMC card slot is provided. The camera can be connected via USB cable to a PC, via which both image files and movie clips can be downloaded. You can also use the camera as a simple webcam. Just two AAA batteries power the camera.
A 1.5 inch colour LCD screen is provided for viewing the simple configuration menus and pictures you have taken. The menu legends are quite primitive and sometimes difficult to decipher and photos are displayed in somewhat murky colours.
The print of the playground slide illustrated a lot of basic quality problems with the Mustek D35. First of all there is no dark shadow detail and yet the grass is quite light. This is a classic example of poor dynamic range. At least the colours aren't over-saturated – if anything, they are a little on the pale side. The green foliage is also a touch too blue. Sharpness is also poor.
In the softer light of the woods, the Mustek D35 produced a more pleasing result. There is still an overall softness to the picture, but this time the foliage colour is about right and the girls' skin tones are fine. The pink tee-shirt has become too red, however and some graininess is evident.
The view across the canal confirms the poor shadow detail, though suppression of purple fringing is quite good and the green of the grass is not too bad. The brickwork of the building, however, is too red. Again, the image is too soft.
This selective enlargement of the canal view print really shows the kind of impression the print in the hand gives; being soft and too red in places. Moiré patterning is all over the roof of the building.
Taken with the close focus mode switched on, these flowers look attractive enough, but there is quite a bit of bleaching of highlights and in reality the flowers are a delicate shade of purpley pink, not reddish-pink. Again, sharpness is distinctly lacking.
Zooming in on the top right of the print, the softness of the image is clear, though there is no sign of major sharpness fall-off in the corners. It's just like this right across the image!
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