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Vivitar ViviCam 3695 / 3695B Digital Camera

The ViviCam 3695 is a point-n-shoot digital camera targeted at entry-level camera buyers. Instead of packaging the camera in square reusable cardboard boxes, Vivitar sealed this camera and accessories in clear plastic. The package includes camera, TV-out cable, USB cable, hand strap, camera pouch, user manual, 2 AA batteries, and software CD. Vivitar packaged this camera with some thought; the LCD screen is protected from scratch by a clear plastic film, from the factory, that can be peeled off.

The camera, itself, is encased in silver plastic that looked quite elegant. Traces of molding can only be seen if the camera is examined closely. Chrome trims around the lens cover and a few buttons makes the camera look up-class. I like the fact that it is silver all around. Unlike other entry-level digital cameras, such as the Kodak EasyShare CX6200, which has a silver plastic in front and dull black plastic in back, the full silver casing on the ViviCam 3695 feels more complete.

The nylon camera pouch that Vivitar included is quite nice. The camera fit in the pouch snug. The hand strap is a nice touch, but seems kind of short. For some reason, I had a hard time getting my hands on the camera and shutter release when the hand strap is around my wrist. I suggest finding a better hand strap at your local camera store. The instruction manual was short and concise. It contained only 30 pages, but was to the point.

The only way of turning on the camera is by sliding the lens cover open, even for picture review mode. The camera has an annoying beep that occurs whenever a button is pressed while going through the menu system. Good thing is that it can be disabled and that was the first thing that I did. After a few seconds of inactivation, the camera turns of the LCD to conserve battery. The camera supports English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese; finally a second language that I can understand.

Although marketed to compete at entry-level, this camera has a number of intermediate features that are generally unfound on other entry-level cameras. These features include macro, exposure compensation, EV Lock, date stamp, command dial, 4-way directional pad, SD card, video out, self-timer and tripod socket. Really, I would have considered this camera to be a very good intermediate camera, rather than an entry-level camera, if Vivitar had added auto-focus to the list of features.

The battery and the SD card shares a single chamber on the side of the camera. It is unfortunate, because the batteries are not secured when changing SD cards. But thumb up to Vivitar to design a camera that can use either a pair of AA or a CR-V3 battery. Both types can be easily obtained in local stores. The former can even be found at local supermarket or corner liquor stores.

Flash Memory

The ViviCam 3695 digital camera has 16 MB of built-in flash memory. Unlike the SDRAM in the Gear To Go CyberPix (reviewed elsewhere on this site), flash memory are non-volatile, meaning that the pictures stored on the flash memory will not be lost when the battery is removed and replaced. I praise Vivitar on the use of flash memory in this camera.

When a SD card is inserted into the camera, the internal memory becomes invisible. All operations thereafter are stored and retrieved on the SD card. Once the SD card is removed, the internal memory becomes useable again.


The ViviCam 3695 camera does not comes with an optical viewfinder. Instead, the viewfinder is implemented electronically through the LCD screen. This concept is the same as the one found on the Sony DSC-U30 digital camera (reviewed elsewhere on this site). In order to save battery life, the camera allows the user to turn off the LCD with the "DISP" button. The LCD display also turns itself off after 30 seconds of inactivity. To turn it back on, the user will have to use the "DISP" button. The camera also turns off the LCD while charging up the flash and turns the display back on when the flash is ready to fire.


The ViviCam 3695 camera comes with an USB port and a TV-port for connecting to external devices. The ports are covered with a black rubber plug, preventing dusts and elements to enter via those ports.

The mini-USB port on the camera is slightly different than the port on the Sony DSC-U30 digital camera and the Sony DCR-TRV350 Handycam. I am not sure what standard this USB port is yet. If you know, please fill us in.

When the camera is connected to the computer via the USB port, the camera memory shows up on the computer as an USB Mass Storage Device. This makes transferring of images particularly simple and easy. And the camera can then be used as a file transportation device.

Date Stamp

The date stamp feature allows the user to put a date stamp on the bottom right of the picture. This is a nice feature that I see missing in all of the digital cameras that I have used in the past. Too often, the camera manufacturers assumes that since the date and time are already associated electronically with the picture file, the user will not want it stamped on the pictures themselves. To us, the users, sometimes the date and/or time is significant to an event and a stamp on the picture will help remind us what is special about the picture.

Command Dial

The command dial really made the camera easy to use. I also tried the HP PhotoSmart 635 digital camera, which did not include a command dial. The usability of the ViviCam 3695 digital camera is far superior to the PhotoSmart 635. The dial allows the user to switch among 4 modes: Setup, Capture, Playback, and Movie.

Exposure Compensation

For me, exposure compensation is a must have in any camera. The Sony DSC-U30 did not have exposure compensation and that bothered me quite a bit. Exposure compensation allows a photographer to change the brightness of a scene to turn an average picture into an artistic masterpiece. I am quite impressed that Vivitar added this feature to the ViviCam 3695. Usually this feature is only found on intermediate-level to professional-level cameras.

Vivitar called this feature the Exposure Value (EV) Level. The ViviCam 3695 digital camera allows the user to adjust the EV Level between the ranges of +/- 2 stops in 1/2-stop increments.

Movie Mode

The ViviCam 3695 also allows the user to capture video in the movie mode. The movie is captured at 320x240 resolution with audio. The length of the movie is only limited by the amount of free memory. These features are impressive, because the Sony DSC-U30 could not capture audio and was limited to 15 seconds clips. The ViviCam 3695 movie mode works well beyond those limits. I have added a short clip I captured using this camera. Click the picture to see the video.

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The ViviCam 3695 specification, listed below, are taken from the packaging. Surprisingly, marking on the camera shows "4X Digital Zoom" and "4MP Interpolation", contrary to the package specification.

After opening the packaging and looking at the user manual, I realized that Vivitar has shipped the ViviCam 3695B in the original 3695 packaging and did not update the original packaging to show the new specification. I was pleasantly surprised that I got a camera that was better than I expected. Below are specification for both cameras. Unfortunately, the new model also has a new lens specification, which caused the minimum focus distance to increase.


Image Sensor: 2.0 mega pixel CMOS sensor
Lens focal lenght: 9.6 mm
Aperture: F/2.8
Sensitivity: ISO 100
White Balance: Automatic with presets for Sun, Tungsten,
               Fluorescent lighting conditions.
Shutter: Electric
Shutter Speed: 1/4 to 1/2000 second
Internal Memory:16 MB Flash Memory
                (14 MB available for image storage)
Expandable Memory: Secure Digital (SD) or
                   MMC memory (up to 512 MB card)
File Formats: JPG for Still Images, AVI for Movie Clips
Still-Image Resolution: 2304 x 1728 (Firmware Interpolation)
                        2048 x 1536 (Firmware Interpolation)
                        1600 x 1200 (Native 2 MP resolution)
                        640 x 480
Movie Resolution: 320 x 240
Digital Zoom: 10-Step 4X Digital Zoom
Range of focus: 4 feet to infinity
                macro: 8 to 10 inches
Self-timer: 10 second delay
Flash Modes: Auto, Red-eye reduction, Off
TV-Out NTSC or PAL, selectable
Computer Connectivity: USB (Ver. 1.1)
Number of Images stored in internal Memory:
Still Images
Up to 200 seconds at 320 x 240
Power: 2 x "AA" alkaline or one CR-V3 battery
Dimensions: 3.6" x 2.2" x 1.5"
Weight: About 4 ounces (batteries excluded)
Minimum System Requirements:
OSWindows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, OS 9/OS X
CPUPentium 200 MHz or higher
RAMMinimum 64 MB memory or above
CD-ROM4X or above
HDD10 MB free disk space (minimum)
USB PortOne USB 1.1 port


Image Sensor: 2.0 Mega Pixel
Still Image Resolution: 1600 x 1200 (2 MP Native)
                             2048 x 1536 (3 MP Interpolated)
Movie Mode Resolution: 320 x 240
LCD Display: 1.5 Color TFT
Recording Modes: Still, Movie mode
Image Storage: High - 20
               Normal - 40
Lens: Focus Free, 7.5mm Focal Length, f/2.8, 2x Digital Zoom
Range of Focus: Normal: 24" - infinity
                Macro: 4" - 24"
Shutter: Auto Exposure 1/4 - 1/2000 sec
White Balance: Automatic with 4 Preset Modes
Internal Memory: 16 MB (14 MB available for image storage)
External Memory: SD card (not included)
File Format: Still: JPEG
             Motion: Motion JPG AVI
Flash: Three modes: Auto/Off/Red-eye Reduction
Self Timer: 10 Sec. delay
Auto Power: Auto off in 60 seconds
System Requirements: Windows 98/98SE/2000/ME/XP,
                     Mac OS X, or Desktop LX,
                     128 MB RAM, 80 MB hard disk space,
                     USB port, CD-ROM drive
Software Included: Arcsoft Image Editing and Driver software
                   (for PC only) on CD
Connector: USB and video output (NTSC/PAL)
Power: 2 AA Alkaline or 1 CR-V3
Weight: 4.2 Ounces (without batteries), 120 Grams
Dimension: 3.6" x 2.3" x 1.4" (92.5 x 55.3 x 36.4 mm)

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Copyright © 2003 by Chieh Cheng. All Rights Reserved.