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Appeared on: Thursday, October 07, 2004
Waitec IXO 334


1. Introduction

Waitec IXO 334 Review, Dimitrios Tolios, October 2004

Review based on a production Waitec IXO 334 model

Introduction

Waitec is a European company based in the Netherlands producing various multimedia devices and CD/DVD recording drives and media. Looking forward to advance their digital camera products further than the “Caddy” line featuring cheap CMOS sensors, so they introduced the IXO line of products and the IXO 334, featuring a 3.34MP CCD sensor and a 2x optical zoom lens, in a slim body.

Though many digital camera manufacturers have introduced models featuring 6,7 and 8MP sensors, 3.3MP sensors are more than adequate to provide nice rendered images for everyday use. Can features like the included Li-Ion battery help the IXO 334 stand against the intense competition in its category?


2. Specifications

Specifications

GENERAL

Manufacturer

Waitec

Model name

IXO 334

Serial number

0509E34302172

Camera format

Compact

Body Color

Silver

Retail Price ($ - €)

€185

Street price ($ - €)

€179

Price Update Date

3-10-2004

Date Available

Already available

Weight (gr.)

172 gr

Dimensions (W x H x D) (mm)

117 x 54 x 30

Operating Temperatures

0 ? 40 C

Operating Humidity (%)

85%

Remote Control

No

Remote Control Type

N/A

Tripod mount

No

Operating System

  • Windows 98/98 SE/ME/2000/XP
  • Macintosh: Mac OS 8.6 ? 9.x

Warranty in Months

24 Months Manufacturer warranty, 6 Months for Battery


IMAGE CAPTURE

Image Resolutions

  • 2284 x 2136 (Interpolated)
  • 2048 x 1536
  • 1280 x 960
  • 640 x 480

Image Ratio (w/h)

4/3

Effective Pixels (Mega pixels)

3.14 MP

Sensor photo detectors (Mega pixels)

3.34 MP

Sensor Size

1/2.7" - (7.2 x 5.3 mm )

Sensor Type

CCD

Sensor Manufacturer

N/A

Color filter type

N/A

Focal Length Multiplier

N/A

Movie Clips

Yes

Movie Resolution

320 x 240 - 15 fps

Movie Audio

N/A

Sound Recording

N/A


LENS

Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)

38 – 76 mm

Actual Focal Length

6 – 11.45 mm

Zoom Ratio

2x

Optical Zoom Steps

N/A

Digital Zoom

Yes

Digital Zoom Value

2x

Auto Focus

Yes

Auto Focus Type

Passive TTL

Auto Focus Steps

N/A

Auto Focus Assist Light

Yes

Auto Focus Minimum Illumination

N/A

Manual Focus

Yes

Manual Focus Steps

N/A

Macro Focus

Yes

Macro Focus Steps

N/A

Normal Focus Range

  • Wide: 14 cm to Infinity
  • Tele: 40 cm to Infinity

Macro Focus Range

8 cm to Infinity: Wide

30 cm to Infinity: Tele

Min Macro Area

N/A

Max Aperture

  • Wide: F2.9
  • Tele: F3.8

Min Aperture

N/A

Aperture range

N/A

Aperture Steps

N/A

Lens Thread

No

Lens thread Type

N/A


EXPOSURE CONTROL

ISO Settings

  • Auto
  • ISO 200
  • ISO 400

ISO Rating Min

100

ISO Rating Max

400

Manual White Balance

No

White Balance Settings

  • Auto
  • Day Light
  • Overcast
  • Fluorescent
  • Tungsten

Longest Shutter time

4 sec

Shortest Shutter Time

1/2000 sec

Shutter Type

Mechanical and Electrical Shutter

Shutter Steps (sec)

N/A

Exposure Adjust Range

+/- 2 EV

Exposure Adjust Step Size

1/2 EV

Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)

No

Metering Modes

Center Weighted TTL

Spot Metering

No

Aperture Priority

No

Shutter Priority

No

Full Manual Exposure

No

Self Timer Shooting

Yes, 10 sec delay

Continuous Shooting

Yes

Interval Shooting

No


DISPLAY & VIEWFINDER

Viewfinder

No

Viewfinder Type

N/A

Viewfinder Accuracy

N/A

LCD Monitor

Yes

LCD Monitor Accuracy

Nearly 100%

LCD Monitor size

1.5" TFT

LCD Monitor resolution

N/A

LCD Monitor Rotation

No

Max Playback Zoom

N/A


FLASH

Built - in flash

Yes

Flash Modes

  • Auto
  • Red Eye Reduction
  • Forced Flash
  • No Flash

Flash Guide Number (meters)

N/A

Flash Range

N/A

Flash Exposure Compensation

No

Flash Exposure Compensation Steps

N/A

External Flash

No

External Flash Connection

No


STORAGE MEDIUM (MEMORY)

Usable Memory Types

SD/MMC, up to 512MB

Memory Included (MB)

16MB Built-in


PHOTO FORMATS

Uncompressed Format

Yes, TIFF

CCD RAW Format

No

Compressed Format

JPEG (EXIF 2.2)

Compression Quality Levels

  • Fine (1/4)
  • Standard (1/8)
  • Economy (1/16)

Movie File Format

AVI, with PCM audio


CONNECTIONS

Video Out

Yes, RCA

Video Mode Switchable

Yes, PAL - NTSC

USB

Yes, USB 1.1

Firewire (IEEE 1394)

No

Serial

No

Other Connection

N/A

DC Power Input

5V

OS Compatibility

  • Windows 98/98 SE/ME/2000/XP
  • Macintosh: Mac OS 8.6 ? 9.x

POWER

Battery Type

Li - Ion 3.7 V ? 950 mAh

Batteries Included

Yes

Battery Charger Included

Yes

External Power Supply

Yes


INCLUDED SOFTWARE

Camera Driver

PC Driver (Windows 98/ 98SE/ 2000/ ME/ XP)

Software Applications

  • Waitec Video Capture Software
  • Presto! ImageFolio 4.2
  • Presto! VideoWorks
  • Presto! Mr. Photo
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 5
  • Microsoft DirectX
  • Electronic User's Manual

ADDITIONAL INFO

Photo Samples

Sample Gallery

Device Forum URL

 

Manufacturer URL

www.waitec.com


3. Design

Design

The IXO’s design is very simple and elegant: The long, slim body is covered with aluminum and silver metal tones, along with nickel plated details and buttons. Construction seems and feels sturdy, though the ergonomics are average, as with no defined handgrip its slim body makes it difficult to find a secure and comfortable grip. Nonetheless the large control buttons won’t make it any more difficult for people with big hands accessing the various settings. The overall built quality is good, though it cannot match the sturdiness of full metal construction cameras.

Side by side

Here you can see the IXO 334 next to a small compact, the BenQ DC C-50. Waitec’s design, though slimmer and narrower, is much longer, despite that it lacks an optical viewfinder and it uses a smaller in diameter lens. The camera can slip easily in and out of a large pocket but surely there is space for improvement it that area, as much smaller designs are available today.

In your hand

The slim design and the lack of a defined handgrip isn't the easier for people with big hands to get used to. The simple control layout however and the large, well spaced control buttons make the operation rather simple using both your hands.

Body Elements

LCD Monitor

The 1.5" TFT monitor in the back is bright and provides adequate detail, though higher resolution units are used in many cameras in this category. This screen won't disappoint you easily, though an optical viewfinder would be a nice addition, as framing under bright sunlight is a problem even on the best monitors.

Lens
The 2x optical zoom (38 - 76 mm equiv. in [135]) is rather noisy when zooming, and also of average brightness. We have seen zoom lenses featuring 10x optical zoom range with similar maximum apertures in the zoom ends. Surely these are found in cameras costing 3 times more than the IXO 334, but still its lens is rather slow.
Memory Compartment

The memory compartment is located at the camera's base. It is protected by a plastic, spring loaded hatch and the memory slot itself is the standard push to lock / push to eject SD/MMC slot type found in most cameras using such modules. MMCs are not recommended by Waitec for the camera due to their slow writing performance.

Battery Compartment
The battery door is located to the right of the camera. The Li-Ion battery slides in the body and the plastic, spring loaded door pushes it against the power terminals inside the compartment. There is no other mean of holding the battery in place, so you should take care when opening the battery door as the battery could easily slide and fall off to the ground. The battery and its compartment should also be shaped in a way that wouldn't allow you to insert the battery in a wrong way.
Flash and AF assist lamp

The flash is adequately powered, though it charges slowly. While the flash's capacitor charges, the TFT monitor is blank and the appropriate red led flashes in the back of the camera.

The AF assist lamp improves the camera's low light focus abilities, but has a very limited range.

Connections

The connectors are spreader in the two camera sides. On the right side, below the battery door and behind a second spring loaded plastic hatch are the USB 1.1 B-type r and the power input connectors.

On the left side of the camera you can find the TV-out socket behind a small rubber door.

Camera base
The camera's base is simple in design and houses nothing but the memory's compartment. There is no tripod mount on the camera, something that makes nigh shots very difficult to achieve as a flat surface is always needed to place the camera on.
Camera Pouch

The included fleece camera pouch is soft and padded to protect the camera. Though oversimplified, this item is a nice addiction to the cameras included accessories. If it was for another brand you could be asked to pay for it as an expensive accessory.

Box Contents

Included the in the camera's box:

  • Camera
  • 3.V Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • Pouch
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • TV-out cable
  • CD-ROM (containing drivers, user's manual and software)
  • AC adapter
  • Warranty and Quick start cards

4. Operation and Controls

Operation and Controls

The camera is aimed toward the easiness of everyday usage, and thus it isn’t as feature packed as many of the camera’s available from other brands. However this isn’t necessary a bad thing, as most people out there prefer simple to use, point-n-shoot cameras that won’t intimidate them with infinite combinations of controls and settings they have to master.

Rear camera controls

All of the camera’s control buttons except from the shutter release and the power on switch are located on the back and around the TFT screen. Actual operation is very simple once you get a look at the menus, though it might confuse the snapper used in other brand menus as it follows a bit different logic than the cameras from Olympus or Canon. Browsing through the menus is done by the multidirectional control button on the upper right corner and your thumb, the same combination that controls the zoom in/out in record mode. The 2 buttons above the screen switch between the available image resolutions/quality and flash modes, while the “Display” button bellow the TFT turns on and off displayed information or shuts the screen off.

Top camera controls

On the top of the camera you can find nothing but the sliding power-on/off switch and the shutter release button, simple and straightforward. The camera's speaker is also beneath the recessed vents at the left which also help position your left hand for a secure grip that doesn’t obstruct the flash.

Display and Menus

Record Mode

This is a typical Record Mode screen. The camera displays information on the remaining shots for the quality setting currently selected, WB setting, the flash mode and the battery level. Most of these information icons can be switched off.

Pressing the "Menu/Enter" button in record mode brings out the available options selectable by the multidirectional button and the "Enter". "Cancel" gets you back to shooting.

Exposure compensation is easy to select and modify, and the resulting changes in the image are displayed on the screen almost instantly. This setting can help you correct miscalculated exposures since sometimes the camera’s meter can be fooled. A nice feature to have, but 1/3EVsteps would be better to have than 0.5 ones.

The camera also lets you select a focus point manually, so auto focusing can be override in difficult situations. The screen does’t give you an enlarged middle section as many advanced models do, so actually seeing the best focus point isn’t very easy. Though the display’s quality isn’t bad, it surely limits the MF functionality.

Play Mode
The typical play mode screen displays the latest picture along with information the date and time of shooting, file name, picture's quality and number of pictures in the memory card. Pressing the "Menu" in Play mode and using the multidirectional button scrolls through the available display options.
Choosing the Thumbnail view, brings out a 3x3 thumbnail screen in which you can browse between images in the memory card and even delete the unwanted ones. Browsing is quite fast with all of the SD cards used for the test. Choosing "Menu" in the Play mode menu, brings out additional options for creating an automated slideshow for viewing on a TV set, Direct printing or even deleting all the stored images.
Choosing the "SETUP" option on the main dial, brings out this menu with settings concerning the camera's operation, menu's languages, time and power saving options etc.

5. Timings and Sizes
Timings and Sizes

Timings and Sizes

The IXO 334's operation speed adequate for everyday daylight photography . Power on, focus and JPEG image writing and playback timings are close to the competition and won't tire the average snapper easily. Processing of TIFF images and charging the flash on the other hand is intolerably slow. Though TIFFs won't bother the 99.99% of its buyers, the flash's charging speed needs to be radically improved.

Test Notes:

All times are calculated as an average of three operations. All operations are made on a maximum resolution, 2560 x 1920 pixels, fine quality JPEG image. The media used for these tests was a 256MB Transcend 45x SD card.

Action
Details
Time (seconds)
Power : Off to Record  
5 sec
Power : Off to Play Image Displayed
4 sec
Power : Record to Off Lens retracted and all activity ceased
1 sec
Power : Play to Off When Buffer is empty
Instant
     
Record Preview Image displayed
2 sec
Mode: Record to Play  
2 sec
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended
---
Mode: Play to Record Lens not extended
3 sec
     
Play: Magnify To full magnification (4x)
1 sec
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image
2 sec
Play: Image to Thumbnail Time to change to thumbnail view
1 sec
Play: Thumbnail View Time to browse through thumbnail displays
1 sec
     
Action
Details
Time (seconds)
Zoom from wide to tele  
1 sec
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide zoom end
1~3 sec
Half-press Lag (0->S2) Telephoto zoom end
2~3 sec
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD Live view
<1 sec
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) ViewfindedLCD switched off
---
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle
2 sec
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view, wide angle
10 sec
Shot to Shot Flash off
8 sec
Shot to Shot Flash on
16,1 sec

Lag Timing Definitions

Half-press Lag (0->S1)

Most of the modern cameras auto-focus and calculate the exposure needed for each shot when the user half-presses the shutter release button. Half-press Lag is the time needed between half-pressing the shutter release and the camera indicating that focus was achieved and exposure was estimated on the LCD monitor or/and the viewfinder.

Half to Full-press lag (S1->S2)

The time needed to take a shot by Full-pressing the shutter release, assuming the camera had already focused and evaluated the exposure settings.

Full-press Lag (0->S2)

The time needed for the camera to take a shot when the shutter release button is fully pressed, without having pre-focused by half-pressing.

File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time needed for the camera to process and store the image to the storage card. The timer is started as soon as the shutter release is pressed and stopped when activity indicator goes out.The media used for these tests was a 256MB Transcend 45x SD card.

Image Mode
Time to store (secs)
Time to display (secs)
File Size (approx.)
Images on a 256MB card
2048 x 1536 JPEG Fine
6 sec
3 sec
1.1 MB
221
2048 x 1536 TIFF
31 sec
21 sec
9.05 MB
24

6. Photographic Tests

Photographic Tests

White Balance

The camera's white balance settings are the usual found on most digital cameras: Auto, Day Light, Overcast, Fluorescent and Tungsten. There is no option for setting the White Balance manually and this could prove a big disadvantage when trying to shoot in environments with mixed types of lighting.

However the Auto White Balance performance proved to be quite accurate and consistent when it comes to Incandescent and Fluorescent light sources, which are the usual choice for interior lighting. The results are easily comparable or even better than that seen on much more expensive and complicated designs. Very good performance in this area for this little camera.

 

Tungsten Light, Auto White Balance
Fluorescent Light, Auto White Balance

Flash Performance

The flash unit used by the IXO 334 isn't rated by the factory. Flash performance is adequate, though it could be better: the lack of the ability to reduce flash’s power output leads to over-exposures when shot in ranges closer than 1m, thus it should be avoided. White balance and image rendering is of high quality. The test shot was taken about 110 cm from the test target and the bright spot in the middle couldn’t be avoided.

Auto White Balance

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

As with most zoom lenses in this camera class, there is some Barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom, while it’s not significant and won’t the average user. In the middle and telephoto end of the zoom though, there isn’t any noticeable distortion, either barrel or pincushion. Good performance, but notice that this is just a 2x optical zoom lens.

Wide end of zoom

Macro Performance

Macro mode automatically locks the lens at the wide end of the zoom. While Waitec states that the minimum focus distance is around 7cm, we were able to get sharp images much closer than that. Though distortions are above average, the camera was able to focus down to an area of 33x25 mm, something close to 1:1 for 35mm film. This can give you the ability to obtain images of more than adequate magnification for shooting insects or flowers, but notice that getting so close to your subject is usually tricky.

Wide zoom end macro, 33x25 mm coverage area

Purple fringing/blooming

Pretty-much standard performance in this field too. Purple fingering can be found in high-contrast edges, especially when shooting against a strong light source. However its presence isn't too noticeable in most cases.

A good rule of thumb is shooting with the sun behind you as photographers were taught for generations.

100% Crop
ISO 100, F2.8, 1/790 sec

7. Head to Head Comparison - Page 1

Head to Head Comparison

Below you can find a studio comparison between the Waitec IXO 334 and the BenQ DC S30 . We have included samples for the lowest and higher ISO settings for each camera. There is no Aperture priority or full Manual exposure mode on these cameras, so "Auto" was used for both of them with tweaks for using the appropriate WB, ISO and exposure compensation setting s. The shots where difficult to match as the IXO 334 had no tripod mount and we had to mount it using double sided tape on the tripods head. Both shots where taken at approximately the same distance from the subject (110cm +/- 1%).

Low ISO performance

Waitec IXO 334
BenQ DC S30
ISO 100, F2.8, 1/90sec
ISO 100, F6.2, 1/160sec

Apart from a slight warm color cast, the Waitec IXO 334 clearly produces much more detailed and cleaner images. The detail difference is noticeable in almost all of the included 100% crops, as is the noise produced by the DC S30 even in this low ISO setting. Much worse than the DC C50 of the same stable.

Waitec's JPEG algorithm does a good job, providing almost noise free images. Sharpness could be better by default, but notice that the much smaller aperture the DC S30 program chooses helped it produce superior sharpness in some areas, but the noise spoils the overall impression.

Color is bright in both cases, and perhaps the S30 could give better results if Exposure was set to +0,7EV. The Waitec camera still seams to render more realistic colors.


8. Head to Head Comparison - Page 2

Head to Head Comparison continued

Below you can find a studio shot comparison between the Waitec IXO 334 and the BenQ DC S30 at ISO 400. Both cameras were mounted on a tripod and the shutter was released by the in-camera timer. There is no Aperture priority or Manual exposure mode on these cameras, so "Auto" was used for both of them with tweaks for using the appropriate WB, ISO and exposure compensation setting s. The shots where difficult to match as the IXO 334 had no tripod mount and we had to mount it using double sided tape on the tripods head.

High ISO performance

Waitec IXO 334
BenQ DC S30
ISO 400, F2.8, 1/360sec
ISO 400, F6.2, 1/160sec

The IXO 334's ISO 400 performance is surprisingly good at ISO 400. The noise increase from ISO 100 is very slight, but the image looks softer. Nonetheless the gap increases as the mediocre noise we saw at S30's ISO 100, now is busted in high levels. Not a disappointing ISO 400 result for a sub- €200 3MP camera, but the even cheaper IXO 334 is clearly superior in every aspect and matches or even surpasses much more expensive cameras in high ISO performance! Excellent sharpness and very low noise that is.

Color accuracy is almost identical to this we saw when using ISO 100, with the IXO 334 providing realistic, strong colors and the S30 nice saturated colors, still spoiled by RGB noise.


9. Sample Gallery

Waitec IXO 334 Sample Gallery

Here you can find a small selection of shots by the camera. The images were not manipulated other than renaming in some cases. Some pictures need to be rotated to be viewed correctly, but we didn’t want JPEG to recompress the rotated file. This is up to the viewer to do, if he wishes so.


10. Conclusion

The IXO 334 was a nice surprise. It proved to be a simple to operate and reliable device, providing above average image quality and minimized optical distortions. If it wasn't for the limited 2x optical zoom and with a bit more compact design, this camera could become a best seller for everyday users. Battery life can be also improved with a bigger in capacity Li-Ion battery, but most end users will not need to use any extra battery for everyday/holiday usage.

The lack of a tripod mount surely won't trouble most end users, considering the low price of this camera.

This camera is surely not a toy and will satisfy every user with detailed images and realistic color. Considering its price, it is a very good value for money purchase.

Conclusion - Pros

Conclusion - Cons



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