Gobii 12MP Digital Camera
- Ease of use:
- Photo Quality
- Video Quality
- 12 Megapixel CCD Sensor
- 4x Optical zoom and 5x Digital zoom
- Selectable scene modes
- 3” Touchscreen LCD display
- Digital image stabilizer
- 720p Video recording
- Pricing: R999, exclusively at Kalahari.com
Kalahari.com has started selling the Gobii brand quite recently and is the sole distributor of this brand. When I first heard about Gobii, my first thought was, cheap, nasty and probably Chinese. I couldn’t find a whole lot of info on this brand and it seems as though this might be the first review of this camera…anywhere on the web… So, let’s get this show on the road.
The Gobii digital camera has modest written all over it. You are greeted by a camera that has only 4 buttons on the outside. There’s the power button and the normal shutter release/zoom button, and then strangely, next to the power button, Gobii decided that stabilization should have its own dedicated button. At the back is a big 3” LCD touch screen and just a play button.
Gobii decided to keep the buttons to a minimum, and to use a touch screen interface. This adds to the solidity of the body and the camera does feel very solid in your hand, despite the all-plastic exterior.
The camera has its own unique battery and only has a USB interface. Photos and video can be transferred directly from the camera, by plugging it into your computer, or with a card reader.
One big problem I found was with my battery run-down test. The battery does last quite long despite the touch screen, but when the battery died, it did not retract the lens. I took the camera on a trip with me, without its charger, and it left me in the precarious position where I had to carefully stow it away with the lens still sticking out. This could easily be damaged. A big design flaw.
As with other Gobii products, the screen has a very poor resolution. Everything looks extremely pixelated. I guess this is part of the cost saving strategy. The problem is that photos never really look that sharp or that out of focus on the screen. After downloading photos and videos, I saw a few photos that looked fine on the screen, but were actually out of focus.
The other problem with the poor resolution is that it makes the touch screen interface more finicky to work. Overall I didn’t find the touch screen interface very well executed. Having had a touch screen phone for almost 2 years now, the interface here was the most frustrating thing about the camera. The interface is as basic as it gets, to the degree that one has to question the reasoning behind the touch screen at all.
The interface is also very basic, but laid out so that everything is easy to find and figure out, but again it does take some time to get to everything, as the interface has broken up everything into small little pages. It seems tailored for a five-year old.
The software provided by Gobii isn’t bad. It has quite a lot of features and a lot of editing on the photos can be done. As far as proprietary software goes, it was quite good and I found myself playing with more features and editing more than I thought I would.
So, it is cheap, and I have no idea where it is made, probably China though. But is it nasty? Yes and no.
First the good news:
The photos weren’t bad. 12MP isn’t pushing any limits, but for the casual shooter, it’s more than adequate. I did find some of the usual lens distortions, like chromatic aberrations and some barrel distortion when the lens was at its widest. Both were relatively well controlled.
There is not a lot of detail in the photos at pixel level, but the camera was mostly noise free. This isn’t an advanced camera, so don’t expect to make large prints from this camera’s photos.
This sensor cannot handle high ISOs, with ISO400 as far as usability will go. You might get away with ISO800, if it is not going to be printed very large.
The exposure was well controlled and I didn’t find any issues there. The built-in scene modes worked well, especially the one for when the subject you are photographing is backlit.
The one scene-mode I found interesting, was the night mode. Instead of pushing the ISO high up, like other cameras, it kept at its base ISO to minimize noise in the photo, but it does then necessitate the use of a tripod. The camera also struggled to focus in low light, and I didn’t manage a single sharp photo without flash, after sunset.
The only really disappointing feature was the macro mode. There was no real difference between shooting normally and setting the camera to Macro mode. It just could get close enough for proper macro photos. I didn’t find it a deal breaker though, as there is space to crop closer with 12MP at your disposal.
For a sub-R1000 camera, the photo quality is decent. Try and avoid night shooting without flash, and high ISOs, but apart from that, no real bad news here.
Now for the bad news:
The video was atrocious. It was the worst video I have yet to see come out of a digital camera in the last few years. It can shoot at 1280×720 HD resolution, but as with Mega Pixels, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. It was bad. There is no real detail in anything, and for all intents and purposes it’s useless. If you think I’m exaggerating, check out this clip.
Kalahari.com is trying to punt the Gobii brand as a good value for money brand. Overall, this camera isn’t too bad at that, except for the video implementation. I haven’t seen anything with regards to warranties, but hopefully Kalahari.com can guarantee decent after-sales service.
On the Kalahari.com site, the camera is advertised as having been priced at R1999, but marked down to R999. Even at R999, I struggle to see merit for buying this camera. But if they were to actually try to sell this camera at R1999, then there would be no way to recommend it. Even on the Kalahari.com site, there are 20 camera models from the big brands (Kodak, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic) at R999, or less. It really then becomes really hard to justify this camera at this price-point.
Make no mistake, this is an entry-level camera, and its feature-set and certain short-comings cannot justify a price-tag beyond the R1000 barrier.
Have a look at this gallery if you want to see more photos from this camera: