Vivitar ViviCam F529 review: Vivitar ViviCam F529

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The Good Cheap; small and light.

The Bad Poor picture quality; tacky construction; low-res screen; useless anti-shake feature; numerous usability issues.

The Bottom Line The Vivitar ViviCam F529's price might be appealing, but there's nothing else attractive about either the compact camera itself or the photos it takes. Avoid it as you would a leper with head lice.

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3.5 Overall

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At just £55 or thereabouts, the Vivitar ViviCam F529 sits right at the bottom of the market in terms of price. Yet this compact camera boasts a 14.1-megapixel resolution, 5x optical zoom lens, 720p high-definition video and more. Could it be the bargain of the century, or is it an unspeakable waste of plastic and glass?

Too good to be true

For £55, you might well expect a camera's feature list to be pretty sparse. The F529 seems surprisingly well equipped, though, boasting, in addition to its aforementioned specs, a 2.7-inch LCD screen, an anti-shake system, and red-eye-reduction and face-detection features. It's also conveniently small and light.

Colours are blotchy, grungy and either over-cooked or washed-out. Detail is poor, and the image is overly soft, as well as rife with picture noise. This is in a well-lit environment too (click image to enlarge).

Sounds too good to be true? It is. The shiny brushed-metal casing looks good from afar but, up close, you'll be able to see -- and feel -- how cheaply made the F529 really is. Everything from the tacky metal-look plastic rear to the hard-to-press buttons and the dodgy, spring-loaded SD card slot all reek of low-cost manufacturing.

Switch the camera on and you'll find yourself twiddling your thumbs for a good 5 seconds before you can actually take a photo. When the LCD screen finally spasms into life, you'll be treated to a blotchy, bleached-out, low-res picture that's barely adequate for composing your shots.

Sucks bad style

So far, so disappointing. But the F529's real problems aren't obvious until you actually start using it.

The camera's menu and navigation systems are pretty old-school but not entirely unintuitive. More annoying is the fact that important settings, like macro, are buried deep within the menus.

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