Barbie Cam Review
As a amateur photographer and tech fanatic, I enjoy playing with new toys, particularly those that are in the technology space.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the Mirrorless vs DSLR space, and forget to look around, but sometimes you need to realize there is a life outside of the interchangeable lens cameras.
My 3 year old daughter has taken an interest in photography, largely to prevent herself being on the receiving end and I'll be honest and say that having a pro body with pro lenses falls into the "slightly to heavy for a toddler to wield comfortably" territory.
Whilst browsing around the tech section of Target one day, something new caught my eye. A new Barbie camera. How did this camera miss the main stream media when Fuji X-T2's and Nikon's D5s is plastered all over the place? Finally there was something Barbie related that a real man could play with, and of course share with my daughter.
Packaging is reasonable given the heavy $20 price tag of this piece of professional glass. Weight is surprisingly light, and I'm not quite sure how they managed to keep it that light with professional glass in it. They even included a wrist strap which is surprising given my Fuji X-T2 body only came with a neck strap.
The specs are a little astounding for this type of gear so hold yourself back. This baby houses a 1.4MP sensor and to top it off, Barbie have splashed out on internal memory so you don't need to bother yourself with expensive 64GB SD or CF cards. That's a saving of $100 which means they are virtually paying you to take this camera. That's right, from the moment you buy it, you're making a profit! Granted its full within a relatively short period of time, but if you've ever seen how long a single toy holds a toddlers attention, that won't be a problem.
They don't specify the glass on this camera, but given my lengthy professional photography background and superb photography analytical skills, I'd be inclined to believe this camera holds a 35mm Zeiss f/1.2 prime. I've showed the quality of photos to number of professional photographers and the look of shock when I mentioned Barbie cam, $20 and Zeiss prime serves to confirm my suspicions about the legitimacy of my Zeiss lens claims. I have contacted Zeiss for a comment on the matter, but I can only assume their silence is a clear indication that they don't want to spoil the sales of their $4000 primes when potential buyers find out they can just buy a barbie cam.
The "Zeiss" optics with Zeiss like plastic quality. No expense has been spared.
Here is an example of a picture. Bare in mind that this is also handheld at f/3.0. The sharpness of the optic is so strong it picks up the dust particles in the air!
Now compare that to this photo taken with a much more expensive camera and lens, and it's hard to see how Nikon, Fuji or Canon justify the price differential (no post processing)
Usability is on a par for what I'd expect. It has a number of buttons on the back that offer the ability to switch on the camera, play photos and scroll through the photos. The rear LCD is an astounding AHD (almost HD) 640x480 which puts in on a par with the pro bodies (in 2001).
If I was to niggle about anything on this camera that would limit its capacity to hit a 10/10, I'd say the lack of rechargeable battery may be a killer for some buyers, but the AAA batteries have reasonable battery life and are located in most countries if you intend doing international travel. I'd also say that the lack of zoom probably pushes this into the professional territory as most novices will be looking for a zoom.
No IS/VR required on this baby. It's startlingly sharp. This photo was taken by my daughter and if you compare it to the photos I took of her with my D700, they are barely distinguishable.
Size is amazing considering the tech that is inside this body. When comparing the Barbie cam against my D700, if you look at 1.4MP sensor vs 12MP sensor, by simply moving the decimal point one character to the left, the Barbie cam actually has a bigger sensor. $3000 vs $20 for one decimal point is pretty hard for Nikon to justify the additional $2980 purchase price! Add the internal memory of the barbie cam, and the fact that the D700 doesn't come with its own lens, and it's clear that the barbie cam is the winner in the specifications race. No need for an l plate on this baby, it comes tripod ready
One of the things I like about having bleeding edge technology at my disposal is the attention it gets from the public. Pull out a pro DSLR or mirrorless these days in a tram or bus, and it's a dime a dozen with tourists everywhere sporting similar displays. Pull out a Barbie cam, and people really start to stare. Now I know how people in Ferrari's feel when they get out of their cars. I was one of the first to get an iPhone and even that wasn't enough to garner the sort of looks I get when I pull out my Barbie cam. You can even see the disapproving looks from the more jealous members of society shaking their heads in disapproval. I was at the Fuji meet last weekend and when I pulled this out it was like I had just shown them a Fujinon 100-400. When a couple of females joined the group, I could feel myself constantly surrounded by them. As I said, this is like having a Ferrari in your pocket. If you don't like attention, go with a Fuji.
If you're in the market for a camera and are currently looking at a Fuji, Nikon and Canon pro body, I'd recommend you consider this option seriously, if not just to keep your toddlers hands off your real body. If you're the kind of person that likes to be noticed and be the envy of people's attention, this camera fits the bill.