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Product: Logitech ClickSmart 510
Company: Logitech
Estimated Street Price: $149.95
Review By: Julien Jay


Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Design & Camera Modes
3: QuickCam 6.0 Application

   Logitech is renowned for the exceptional design their products generally feature. The Logitech ClickSmart 510 obviously doesn’t depart from the rule. At first sight, the ClickSmart 510 looks like a conventional camera. The device features a gray and silver shell with a comfortable rubber side so you can have a firm grip over the device. Notice that you can attach a cord to the side of the device. Equipped with a flash the device offers a small black button next to the objective that lets you perform QuickSync operations. Logitech doesn’t communicate the guide number of the flash but it is quite powerful. The plastic lens of the objective is surrounded by a small ring that lets you change the depth field using two different positions: portrait and landscape. Indeed as this web cam can be used as a digital camera it employs a fix focus mechanism that is far from being comparable to the auto focus feature every camera today offers. Thus still images aren’t always clear due to the severe lack of precision the focus system offers. Nonetheless, it’s clear that at the price the device is sold it is not cost efficient to come with an auto focus mechanism.  

In the view-finder of the camera what you see in it isn’t exactly what you’ll get. The camera comes with a small cap attached to its right side by a small cord to protect the lens when the device isn’t in used. On top of the device is the release button.  The rear side of the camera unveils a small LCD screen where information is displayed (like the number of pictures that can still be stored, etc.) with ‘On/Off’, ‘Select’ and ‘Mode’ buttons so you can easily interact with the camera by changing settings. The bottom of the camera includes a standard screw support so you can fix the camera to a tripod. 

Logitech ClickSmart 510 Front & Back Views (click to enlarge)

One of the greatest advantages the ClickSmart 510 offers is the built-in SmartMedia extension slot. Unlike competing models you are not limited in terms of storage capacities since you can add high density SmartMedia cards to have more room to store your photos. The camera is provided with a generous 8 MB SmartMedia memory card that can receive up to 120 pictures in 640x480 (or 480 in 320*240).

SmartMedia 8MB Card

The USB connector as well as the SmartMedia extension slot are hidden and closed by rubber caches. For convenience purposes the camera includes a microphone so you can speak freely while you’re conversing with friends over the Internet. Since the web cam can be used as an independent device it is provided with a very well designed base: so you can fix to it the camera making it possible to use the camera just like every other web cam. The base is robust (much more than the one of the Logitech QuickCam Pro 3000) and lets you orientate the camera thanks to the ball-and-socket joint.

Digital Camera Mode

   Using the camera to take a photo is a child’s game! You just have to push the ‘On/Off’ button until you hear a small ‘ding’ that lets you know the camera is ready. When you switch on the camera a red light appears a few seconds near the viewfinder indicating the flash is being charged. The rear screen shows a battery icon with three levels so you approximately know the remaining power available for you to take photos. The screen also displays the number of photos that are still to be taken. You can customize a few settings like disabling the flash, using an automatic flash or force the flash to be used. It’s possible to take photos using high or low definition by simply pushing a button. You can also enable the timer to take a photo of a group with yourself in it! Another setting lets you take a gust of photos in a snap: the multi-snap mode take five continuous shots. But one of the coolest features is that you can shoot a short 90 second movie (with a limited resolution of 160x120) with the camera when it’s not connected to the PC! Sure you can choose to record movies with a higher quality in 320x240 pixels, but the length of the film can't exceed 40 seconds. If the sound events bother you it’s possible to disable them. After a photo is taken you can eventually delete it with a push of a button. In order to save batteries the camera comes with an automatic shutdown option that switches off the camera after a few minutes of no use.


ClickSmart 510 Shots (click to view full sized 640x480 shots)

The ClickSmart 510 takes pictures at the correct resolution of 640x480. According to Logitech the camera uses a 1.3 MegaPixels 640*480 CCD sensor but with you can take photos with a resolution up to 1280x960. However this impressive resolution is obtained with the use of the software scaling feature which clearly degrades the overall quality. During our tests the pictures we took featured a very satisfactory quality in 640*480 pixels but in 1280*960 pixels the result is simply ugly. Obviously they aren’t always very clear due to the lens limitation, thus shapes or colors aren’t always well detailed but the quality is quite acceptable for such a “gadget”. Indeed the digital camera mode is clearly reserved to be used by kids or family members that want to take funny pictures they can instantly send over the Internet. Photos taken by this camera aren’t intended to be printed.

This shot was made using the 640x480 pixels resolution. Click here to see what it gives in 1280x960 pixels.

One of the big problems I’ve remarked during the test is that when the light conditions aren’t good e.g. night, the flash absolutely dazzles the whole picture since the subject becomes most of the time totally white as shown below:

The left picture was taken without flash: notice how dark the whole picture is.
The right picture was taken with the flash: it's too luminous (click to enlarge).

When you shoot a photo, there’s a few seconds’ delay (generally 2 or 3 seconds) after you’ve pushed the snapshot button and the moment the picture is indeed taken. This small delay is annoying since the camera doesn’t instantly react to your orders. Below are the characteristics of the lens:

  • Focus settings: Close-up 1.3 feet (40 cm) to 3 feet (91 cm)
  • Distance: 3 feet (91 cm) to infinity
  • 40-degree field of view, f 2.8

Web Camera Mode

   The Logitech ClickSmart 510 acts like a conventional webcam and offers all of the features you can expect from such a device, including an embedded microphone. The camera records videos with a resolution that can climb up to 640*480 pixels, with a 30 fps frame rate ensuring the video is smooth and highly detailed. Even in 640*480 pixels the video is relatively smooth except if other USB devices are nibbling the bandwidth the USB 1.1 connection offers.

Snapshot Taken In WebCam Mode

Just like with regular webcams you can take snapshots through QuickCam 6.0 using the mouse or the snapshot button of the camera to capture still images with a resolutionof 640x480 pixels (against 1280x960 for the digicam interpolated mode). We obviously tested this functionality during our extensive review of the camera. We found out that the quality of snapshots taken by the webcam mode is clearly lowest than with the digital camera mode. The webcam CCD sensor is a bit too sensitive when taking snapshots. Indeed at night, colors can turn to red if you light just a halogen lamp, but if the light becomes too strong the colors fade, so you have to constantly play with the gamma, brightness, clearness, against the light compensation settings.

« Introduction QuickCam 6.0 Application »


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