Really cheap and really small digital cameras?
January 16, 2006 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a super-tiny digital camera that cost less than 40-50 bucks? I am not getting a camera-phone anytime soon, but I am looking for recommendations for a really, really cheap and really, really small (the size of a lighter is about right) digital camera that I can carry everywhere, but not worry too much about losing or damaging.

Over the weekend at a party a friend pulled out his goofy little mini-digital camera disguised as a lighter. This made me realize how much I would enjoy having something similar. The pictures are so-so - I'd love it if they were bigger than 640x480 @ 72 DPI, but maybe that's wishful thinking? Any recommendations? (I already have a 5 megapixel Kodak that barely fits in my pants pocket, for when I actually am "planning" to take pics.) Someone gave my son a "kiddie" digital camera for x-mas, and the quality is really awful and pixellated, even in bright sunlight - I think it's just a repurposed ancient webcam. I guess I'd like something that approximates current phonecam quality. Thanks!
posted by chr1sb0y to Technology (12 answers total)
Digital Cameras for less than $50
posted by blue_beetle at 1:46 PM on January 16, 2006

Check here.
posted by mr.dan at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2006

See also the first 6 cameras here, including a "pen camera" which is also a webcam for $19.99.
posted by duck at 1:56 PM on January 16, 2006

My [self link] Cheap and Tiny Cameras page has a few low-end tinycams for low prices. I got a 1.3MP Oregon Scientific Thincam for $40, and some retailers sell the Aiptek Mini Pencam SD for just under $50 nowadays.
posted by brownpau at 2:09 PM on January 16, 2006

Check They typically have small cameras at a discounted price. I cannot account for their quality, however, the site generally has user reviews.
posted by orangeshoe at 2:18 PM on January 16, 2006

Aiptek sells some pretty cheap cameras. I bought a tiny cam a few years back that ran on a single aaa battery, and held about a dozen low-res shots. It was fun to play with, but otherwise pretty useless because of its limitations. Generally, you get what you pay for. At that price point the optics are pretty crappy and features are nonexistant. Another thing I've noticed about the cheap little cams is they don't have a flash, which limits their use to outdoors or well-lit situations.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2006

I bought one of the pencams from Aiptek (see what a photographer did with one here) and used it while travelling (in addition to my Powershot a85) in Moldova. As it is cheap ($25), small and discreet, it was useful for photographing things in restaurants, public transit and around police officers (who usually ask for your papers if they see you with a camera in Moldova).

They are most useful on very sunny days with large or well-defined subject matter, such as buildings or closer shots of people and cars. Pencams fail in shadow, at night (no 'manual' controls) and if they are in motion.
posted by vkxmai at 3:21 PM on January 16, 2006

Here's one for $10
posted by Rash at 4:00 PM on January 16, 2006

I wonder if you could find (on eBay or something?) a camera phone where the phone part was broken but the camera still worked? Would probably be pretty inexpensive.
posted by winston at 6:34 PM on January 16, 2006

Check Rite-Aid or CVS or one of those types. I saw a tiny cam that fit on a keyring there once, maybe $20.
posted by GilloD at 9:40 PM on January 16, 2006

I second what vkxmai said. I owned a pen cam by the same company awhile back. Pic quality is very low, but they do have a sort of grainy artist look to them. very light weight and small. Just a tad bigger then the cig lighter you mentioned. Alas mine broke, but even with my DSLR I am thinking of getting another of these, + it takes wonderfully jerky film as well.
posted by edgeways at 10:49 PM on January 16, 2006

The Source/Radioshack was selling keychain cameras for Christmas, two for C$40.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:27 AM on January 17, 2006

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