Sipix SP-1300 Review

Steve's Digicams

SP1300 Shoot & Share

Steve's Conclusion

The SiPix SP-1300 is a small (pocket-sized) digital camera that offers a combination of "OK" image quality with point-n-shoot ease of use. It doesn't record movie clips and there's no advanced camera modes, this is simply a snapshooter's camera. When coupled to it's matched printer, the Pocket Color 200, it yields a good little print. It's priced well within reach of most people's budget at MSRP of $179.00 and about $149.00 street price. The PC-200 printer has identical pricing at about $149.00 street price. It is a value when compared to other 1.3 megapixel cameras as long as you print on the PC-200 and if you don't mind a simple color rebalancing of the image prior to printing via a computer or E-Mailing. The camera produced image does lean about 10 to 15 points too magenta(red-blue) when imported to the PC. It's ready to shoot about 10 seconds after you shoot your previous image, so it's no quick action wizard. It lacks a zoom lens but it does have a digital zoom feature to extend the range of it's wide angle, fixed focal length lens.

Small cameras also mean small LCD displays, the SP-1300 has a better than average 1.8-inch color display. The refresh rate when used as a viewfinder is very close to real time, there is no smearing or herky-jerky motion when panning. It is bright but I wouldn't say it's any easier to use in the bright sun than most other LCD displays. The optical viewfinder is the best choice for most picture-taking tasks other than 22" minimum close-ups. It saves your battery power and allows the camera to be put up to your eye which is the way most of us are used to holding a camera. The optical viewfinder shows about 90% of the captured image but offers no viewfinder information other than a set of four corner image framing marks.

The SP-1300 is powered by four AA size batteries. I used the camera with a pair of 1600mAH NiMH type rechargeable batteries and was quite impressed with the runtime as long as the color LCD was not turned on too often. You could easily fill several 32MB size memory card with an all-day visit to your favorite tourist hangout using just a single set of batteries.

In THREE STAR (Superfine:1280x960,low image compression) mode the average file size is 764KB, in TWO STAR (Fine 1280 x 960, high compression) about 215KB and in ONE STAR (Economy:640x480, VGA) images are about 53KB. Another advantage was the removable CF card capability. Many cameras in this price point do not have removable memory (the Compact Flash Card)but force you to download to a computer when you fill the resident memory. The SP-1300 comes with an 8MB card and a great accessory to add would be a 32MB card. (SiPix warns against using larger than 32MB size cards as the camera's format function could damage them.)

Overall the image quality is good for a 1280 x 960 camera with a non-zoom focus free lens. Outdoors the wide angle lens will "see" a lot of bright sky and it tends to overexpose foreground objects. It is easily corrected when the image is imported into image manipulation software.

As to be expected with a wide angle lens this is certain amount of barrel distortion which becomes more pronounced with close up objects. The most annoying thing to me was the lack of a sequential numbering option for the filenames that it creates. This means that if you swap memory cards you can end up with duplicate filenames if pictures are taken on the same day. The camera names images using sequential numbering as a template (Pictnnnn.jpg) - i.e. Pict0006.jpg is the sixth picture taken since the last battery change or format of the CF card. If you're like me you probably keep all the pictures taken at a particular place or event in one directory so duplicate filenames are a real pain. I use the PicMeta Software's PIE program to rename files to avoid this when necessary.

If you want a no frills, no fuss digicam that is capable of (with the PC-200 printer) Mini-prints without the use of a computer or making 4x6" or 5x7" prints with a computer and fits in your pocket then the SP-1300 Shoot & Share may be just what you are looking for.

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