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The design of detectors for radio-imaging of small animals is challenging because of the high spatial resolution required, possibly coupled with high efficiency to allow dynamic studies. Spatial resolution and sensitivity are difficult to attain at the same time with single photon imaging techniques because collimators define and limit performance. In this paper we first describe a simple desktop gamma imager equipped with a pinhole collimator and based on a pixellated NaI(Tl) scintillator array coupled to a Hamamatsu R2486 PSPMT. The limits of such a system as well as the way to overcome them in future systems is shown next. Better light sampling at the anode level would allow better pixel identification for a higher number of pixels, which is one of the parameters defining image quality and improving spatial resolution. The performance of such a design is compared with other designs using other PSPMT types with different light sampling schemes at the anode level. Finally, we show how the substitution of the pinhole collimator with a coded aperture collimator can result in a substantial improvement in system sensitivity while maintaining very good spatial resolution, possibly at a sub-millimeter level. Calculations and simulations of a particular solution show that sensitivity can improve by a factor of nearly 30.