Is This the Worst Camera Ever Made? Fstoppers Reviews the Kenko Tokina DSC Toy Camera Pieni II

If you follow my TikTok or my YouTube shorts, you’ll know I have a thing for toy cameras. Over the years, I’ve picked up quite a few cool and quirky film cameras that I love to shoot with. When I saw earlier this year that Kenko had released a tiny toy digital camera, I had to try it. Before using it, I wondered if it could create unique images. After seeing the results, I'm left wondering: is this the worst camera ever made?

The Charm of Toy Cameras
The DSC Pieni comes in a ranges of colors and styles. 

What I love about toy cameras is the way they can spark your creativity, challenging you to create beautiful images, despite their limitations. There’s also a complete lack of predictability that a camera with a single shutter speed and aperture provides.

From the Pingo Penguin camera (an obvious rip-off of the Pingu TV character) to the Kitty Nya Nya Holga camera (complete with lights and sounds to attract your pet’s attention), they all have their charms.

I even have a selection of cameras that fit into the "toy camera" category that don’t look like toys. These include an original 1960s "made in Hong Kong" Diana, a first model Holga, and an ultra-wide classic - the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim.

You might have noticed that all the toy cameras I mentioned so far are film cameras. I was keen to shoot with a digital toy camera to see if it would provide the same level of fun with quirky, unpredictable images.

Deer in Nara, Japan, taken on the Kenko Tokina Toy Camera. © Matt Murray

Introducing the Kenko Tokina DSC TOY Camera Pieni II

The Kenko Tokina DSC TOY Camera Pieni II launched in late 2022. The standard model comes in 4 colors: black, coral pink, lemon yellow, and sky blue. The same camera is also available with Sanrio characters: Hello Kitty (pink), Pompompurin (yellow), Cinnamaroll (light blue), and Pochacco (purple - below).

Super cute, how could I resist?
The cameras weren’t available here in Australia, so I had to source one from a Japanese seller on eBay. I chose a Pochacco camera featuring a delightful looking dog on the front. A week later, a super-light padded envelope arrived containing this super cute, ultra-lightweight micro camera. Including postage and import taxes, it cost me around $100 USD. In Japan, you can pick them up at the much more reasonable price of $35 USD.

Build Quality 

The camera is packaged attractively, with the camera clearly visible through a plastic cover. Opening up the package, it comes with a camera strap, instructions, and a USB charging cable.

Taking the camera out, you realize just how tiny it is, fitting in the palm of your hand. It’s so light, if you kept it in your pocket, you might forget it’s even there. It might look like a keychain decoration, but this is a real working camera. The thin brown strap is long enough for you to wear the camera around your neck - though say goodbye to any street cred you think you have. The back of the camera has a small magnet, so you can stick it on your fridge. All you need to get started is a micro SD/SDHC memory card.

The camera is pretty sturdy - throw it around, drop it, there's not a lot that can go wrong with it.

The DSC Pieni Toy Camera is attractively packaged. 


It might be tiny, but the DSC Pieni TOY Camera has a few tricks up its sleeve. Not only can it shoot still images (1,280x1,024 JPG files) but it can also shoot video (720x480 at 30 fps) and can record audio as MP3 files.


According to the website, the specifications put this camera very much in the toy category: 

  • Sensor: 1/10 CMOS
  • 1.3-megapixel images
  • Shutter speed: 1/100 second
  • ISO: 100
  • Lens: 3.2mm f/2.8
  • Minimum focus distance: 12 inches / 30 cm
  • Takes MicroSD cards (128 MB to 2 GB) and MicroSDHC cards (4-16 GB) 
  • File formats: JPEG images, MJPEG (AVI) videos, MP3 audio
  • Battery: built-in lithium rechargeable battery charged by supplied cable
  • Weight: approximately 18 g / two-thirds of an ounce

At first I thought the description of the optics - a 3.2mm f/2.8 lens - was a typo. But when you take into account the crop factor of the tiny sensor, "3.2mm" makes sense. Thankfully, someone did the math in the comments of this excellent video from Jason Halayko about the camera, saying it's "essentially an 87mm lens that takes in as much light as an f/2.8 lens but gives as much depth of field as an f/75 lens."

The camera effectively has a telephoto lens - this came in handy when taking this photo of the Shinkansen (bullet train) from my Kyoto hotel window. © Matt Murray

Using the Kenko Tokina DSC Toy Camera Pieni II

Using the camera can be a fun but ultimately frustrating experience.

The camera is controlled by two buttons - an ON/OFF button and a MODE button. When you first turn the camera on, a small red LED light is displayed - this means you're in stills mode. Press the MODE button again, and the LED turns blue - you're in video mode. Press it again and it flashes red and blue - you're in sound recording mode.

To take an image or start video or audio recording, you press the ON/OFF button - just don't press it for too long, though, as you'll end up turning the camera off instead of taking a photo or video. A couple of times, I took photos only to later realize I'd actually turned the camera off.

Takayama, Japan. One of the better shots I've taken with this camera. You can see here how the ultra lofi image almost resembles a watercolor. © Matt Murray 

In terms of framing your shot, the Pieni has a viewfinder, but it's pretty much useless. You're working on your best guess here.

The effective focal length of around 87mm isn't helpful either, as you may find your photo was part of the scene you didn't want to capture. The focal length isn't your friend either when you shoot video - I thought I was holding the camera quite still, but the resulting footage of trains in Tokyo looks like it was shot by a guy who had a few too many coffees.

There are some other quirks with the camera - there seems to be a slight shutter delay which resulted in some blurry photos and some images taken on an angle. The images must have been recorded when I thought the shot was finished and was moving away.

Of course, with such a small camera, there’s no LCD, so you won't know how good (or bad) your images are until you download them off the memory card later.

Example Images

The marketing material claims that this cute little camera can take good quality photos and real video footage and that images resemble watercolor paintings.

I decided to put the camera to the test in Japan. In my video at the top of this article, you can watch me walk around the beautiful spa town of Jozankei taking photos with the camera. On a second trip to Japan, I also recorded a short video of trains in Tokyo which also features in the video.

There must be some kind of shutter delay with the camera - a few of my images came out on angles, as if I was moving away when the image was recorded. © Matt Murray

Great Buddha of Nara - one of the 3 great Buddhas of Japan. © Matt Murray

The spa town of Jozankei, Hokkaido, Japan. © Matt Murray 

The images do have a watercolor style look to them, I'll give them that. Good quality? I'm not quite as convinced. 

Looking for the Vintage Digicam Look?

If retro digicam vibes are your thing, I’d skip the Kenko Tokina Toy Camera Pieni II, and instead, I’d recommend checking out an early 2000s digicam. My favorite is 2002’s Casio Exilim EX-S1, which I’ve reviewed for Fstoppers

Like the Kenko Tokina, the EX-S1 also has a 1.3-megapixel sensor, but the images have much better dynamic range, detail, and colors. About the size of a credit card (though a little thicker), this is the perfect digicam for travel. 


The Kenko Tokina DSC Toy Camera Pieni II is super cute and a lot of fun. It's truly a wonder that something so tiny actually works. However, I can’t help but shake the feeling that almost everyone who ever uses this camera will end up disappointed. Yes, it can take stills, video, and sound recordings - but it doesn't mean that they're usable.

Despite this criticism, I must admit that I do have a soft spot for it. If this camera had a marginally better sensor and lens, it might actually be a winner. If you can pick one of these up cheap, it's certainly worth playing around with.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the images. Also, let me know in the comments if you think you've used a camera that's worse than this.

What I Liked 

  • Cute
  • Lightweight
  • Fun to shoot with.

What Could Be Improved 

  • Sensor size
  • Lens
  • Image quality
  • Usability

Matt Murray is a travel and portrait photographer from Brisbane, Australia.

Matt loves shooting with compact cameras: both film and digital. His YouTube features reviews of film cameras, film stocks, and travel photography with the Ricoh GR III, Fujifilm X100V, and Olympus OM-1.

See more of Matt's photography and writing on his Substack.

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This article disproves Betteridge's Law.

So true, yet it is super cute! ha ha