Kodak's smallest camera to date is a true compact cam that lives up to its name, but being Mini also means a minimum of features and, lo and behold, a minimum of imaging quality.
The EasyShare Mini is Kodak's latest answer to the young, mobile consumer's thirst for taking happy snaps and throwing them onto Facebook at a mile a minute. They've had less impressive attempts with the likes of the PlayFull, but this time it feels right - they've kept the traditional compact camera design and shrunk it. While even the slimmest compact cams will clash with a pair of skinny-leg jeans, you'll never be at a loss for room with this mini cam.
The smaller brother of the Sport in the EasyShare pool of sharing-focussed cameras, the Mini M200 features a 10 megapixel sensor with a 28mm wide-angle lens on top, offering 3x optical zoom. The mini outperforms the Sport in the smaller package, swapping weatherproofing for autofocus, a slightly better screen and improved optical zoom on an all-round better sensor and lens combination.
The camera takes on the conventional design of any other compact camera, though in much tinier proportions, fitting easily in the palm of even small hands like a camera taken to the shrink ray. The buttons are small and may be hard to press for chunkier fingers, but are otherwise neatly placed along the backside of the cam, with a dedicated video/photo switch on top.
The sharing focus links in with Kodak's three-step Share feature that's become standard to many of their new handy cams. Face tagging blends with this option so that users can take faces and individual photos as they take shots, then plug the camera into a PC with the Kodak software installed, press the Share button on the camera and have their photos instantly uploaded to their chosen destinations (like Facebook, for instance). If you haven't pre-tagged the photos you want to upload on the camera as you've gone along, you're better off drag-and-dropping off the memory card instead - but if you get into the Kodak process, it can save time.
The pictures themselves are pretty good quality for such a tiny cam, though there are quite a few drawbacks. Without image stabilisation on board, you'll be taking a lot of blurry shots if you don't have a steady hand. Being such a small camera, it doesn't lend itself well to good, two-handed shooting technique either. Shots are fine in the sunny outdoors though and are good quality before you start zooming for closer detail. The problems start occurring when the light starts dipping, and with an ISO sensitivity up to 1000 which makes for grainy photos anyway, you'll be aiming for the built in flash.
Pictures have a tendency of coming out a bit too sharp on the edges, where edges of faces or hairs can appear slightly pixelated rather that run smooth. Contrast isn't the best as rich colours bleed into each other in darker shots. Though, when you look at these shots at a standard resolution on your computer screen, the results are still very usable for sharing online. Video isn't very impressive at VGA resolution (640 x 480) at 30 fps, and you won't get fancier additives to recording like a constant stream of autofocus as you go. But for quick videos to throw online, you'll be good to go with this cam.
There are enough features on this cam for its price, though no boundary pushers. Photos can be edited on the camera with filters, and there are a range of scene modes and colour filter modes to pick from to perfect your shot.
Taking photos isn't the quickest affair on this camera, with a faster time to shoot on the Easyshare Sport in comparison. Most photos and especially videos taken were followed by a couple of seconds of a processing screen before showing the preview and readying up for a new shot. The same translates onto the user interface (which isn't the most attractive set up we've seen but adequate for browsing through features), where skipping between photos and videos often brought up the same 'Processing' bar.
It can be hard to justify a budget cam purchase when you can pull similar (if not better) quality out of a common smartphone that always slips neatly into your pocket and follows you wherever you go. But Kodak's persistence in the mini cam corner has yielded some impressive value cams, and the Mini M200 is a strong contender at under $100. You get what you pay for, but in an unprecedented form factor that'll suit anyone looking to take a few happy snaps without carrying around anything larger than a credit card.