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Samsung VP L 300

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      29.06.2002 01:42
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      I have to admit – I ain’t no Steven Spielberg. So when we went shopping for a camcorder, it had to be something easy to operate and pretty foolproof. I ain’t no fool either, but you know what I mean! I had produced a rather gorgeous bouncing baby girl and decided a camcorder was exactly what I needed to capture all those heart-warming little moments that were sure to come with her. Plus, I figured we were bound to make our money back on all those “You’ve Been Framed” moments we were going to make a fortune with. To date, I have to say, the moments we’ve had seem to stubbornly only happen when the camera is firmly locked up in its bag and the battery out of charge! Ah well, have to find another get-rich-quick scheme! So, I was watching QVC one day and saw the Samsung VPL-300 Analogue 8mm camcorder was Today’s Special Value. It was, at the time, very cheap at around the £300 mark, so we took the plunge and ordered it right away. This model is about three years old now and has been superseded by the VPL700, which costs around the same as we paid for ours a couple of years ago, but which has much improved features. You can still pick up the 300 very cheaply second hand on Ebay or from dealers. ******FEATURES****** ~LCD Screen~ The main thing that attracted me to this model was the 2.5” TFT LCD colour screen. The little screen flips out from one side and can be used to frame your shot instead of the viewfinder (the viewfinder gives a black and white display, by the way). The screen gives a pin-sharp image and makes taking your film so much easier. Somehow, not having to have the blasted camera stuck to your eye makes you feel much more part of the action, rather than just an observer. This is great at family gatherings like weddings and Christmas celebrations, because the person doing the majority of the filming usually feel
      s left out. The LCD screen can also flip horizontally through 180 degrees, allowing you to film yourself, whilst still seeing what your are filming, if you get my drift. What is even more brilliant, however, is that the camera flips the image too, so you aren’t upside down! Wicked! I sat for ages once just turning the screen over and over and watching the image flip, because it was soooooo cool. (Jeez, this is much harder to write than a soap review!) The screen can also be used for playback, so you can watch what you’ve filmed instantly, rather than having to wait and plug the whole kit into a television set. This is really useful because there’s nothing worse than taking loads of film and getting it home only to find that it’s rubbish, or shaky, or you’ve cut off everyone’s heads. All in all, it’s rather nifty, though you have to be aware that using the LCD screen really sucks the juice out of the old battery. So, it’s best to make sure you have spare batteries charged up if you intend to use the LCD display a lot. ~Digital Special Effects~ The camera allows you to fade in and out of shots, while you are shooting. This is great if you remember to do it at the time, as it makes your finished film look much more professional with much less fiddly editing. The camera contains seven digital creative effects: make-up (red, yellow, green or blue colour wash), emboss, wide (16:9), cinema (letterbox style), negative, mirror and mosaic. The effects are very easy to access and use, but I can’t say that I make much use of them. I’m very much the point and shoot type of photographer. But it’s nice to know they are there if I want to attempt something a bit artier! ~22X Opital Zoom, 320X Digital Zoom~ I really like the zoom feature on this camera. The slider button is very easily accessible and comfortable to work. The zoom works very smoothl
      y and gives really good results when you view your film. The footage with zoom is really sharp. This budget model, however, doesn’t have an electronic image stabiliser, so be very careful of camera shake when you are in full zoom, or use a tripod. I sobbed so much when filming my daughter’s first school Christmas play that it came out too shaky to watch! Zooming in and out also sucks power out of the battery very quickly, so use it sparingly. Also, be careful to reset the view completely back to normal after zooming because if you stop filming and go back later, it won’t be apparent if you are still in zoom mode. ~Titles~ A small range of pre-set titles can be superimposed over the footage you are filming, or filmed onto a blank background before you begin your filming proper. ~Automatic or Manual~ For people like me, who like to point and shoot and know they will get good results, the camera works extremely well in automatic mode. It automatically adjusts focus and exposure. The automatic function can be overridden by more experienced users, or if extreme circumstances make automatic filming impossible (bad light conditions for example). There are other focussing modes available, though I haven’t really had occasion to use them. The are: sports mode (for quick moving objects); portrait (focusing on the foreground subject with the background out of focus); spotlight mode (when there is light only on the subject and not the background); sand/snow mode (when shooting dark objects against very light backgrounds); and HSS (high speed shutter mode, for fast moving subjects like sports people). ~Self Timer and Remote Control~ Just like a still camera, this camcorder has a self-timer so that you can set it up to record and jump into the picture. There is also a remote control, which can be used for both recording and playback. ~Playback Function~ As I a
      lready mentioned, this camera has a playback function, which means you can look at your footage immediately after you’ve filmed it. There is a little speaker, which means you can hear the sound you have recorded too, and this is a great feature. The kids love being able to watch and hear themselves instantly. It keeps them endlessly amused. These are the main features of this versatile little camcorder, and the ones I use most often. It also has the usual time and date, on screen display, battery level indicator and tape counter, etc. I am sure there are a few others, but I haven’t found them yet! ******Accessories****** The camera came with a battery and charger and all the leads necessary for hooking it up to the television for playback or the video recorder, for recording from the little 8mm cassette onto normal VHS tape. The camera connects via two jack plugs (audio and visual), S Video, or scart, so it should work with any television or video, regardless of age. It takes 8mm film cassettes. If you live near an Aldi store I can recommend them for tapes, as they sell a two pack of 90 minute cassettes for an amazing £3.99 – what a huge bargain. ******Ease of Use****** There are much smaller camcorders on the market these days, of course. It is impossible to keep up with the huge advances in technology. But this isn’t a huge camera, by any means. It is not too heavy (860g) and fits easily into my hand (and I have quite delicate little hands!) We took it on our trip to Disneyland recently and I was able to pop the camera into my handbag rather than lug the big camera case around, so it’s not huge (it measures about 9” x 4” x 4”). The various controls are easily accessible and well laid out, making it very simple to use. The advanced features are accessed via a button panel beneath the LCD screen. In automati
      c mode, this is a great little camcorder. It gives pin-sharp, crystal-clear images and is incredibly easy to operate. You can literally just point and shoot and be guaranteed of pretty good results. It is ideal for the majority of normal, everyday family uses. ******Reliability****** Our camcorder has never broken down and has always been reliable. We have taken it all over the world and never experienced any problems. Often, changes in temperature and humidity are known to cause problems with this kind of equipment. I know my mum’s camera (which is a much more expensive Sony) is particularly prone to problems caused by atmospheric changes. Ours, however, has never been affected in this way. ******Picture Quality****** I have been very impressed with the quality of image produced by our little budget camcorder. It is particularly impressive in low light conditions (much better in fact than my mum’s much more expensive model). The picture is nice and sharp, the colour balance is excellent and the sound is reasonable, though you do have to be careful in very windy conditions, as the microphone is very sensitive. ******Overall****** Overall, I am very happy with my Samsung VPL300 camcorder. It was cheap at the time and now, three years on, is still giving sterling service. By today’s standards, its features are a little low-end, but it suits my needs and is easy to operate. I can pick it up and shoot some film and be confident it is going to come out nicely, which is exactly what you need when you have little ones running about. You want to be able to document their little milestones without having too much fuss. After all, as I said, I’m not Spielberg….I’m just a mum who wants something to remember her kids by. I don’t do a great deal of editing of film. I just dump it all onto a VHS cassette when I have a reasonable amoun
      t! For special occasions, we might edit a tad and add some background music. My dad has a nice little gizmo, which is handy for mixing and music and such, but it’s a lot of fuss really. And anyway, I don’t want a feature film. My fondest memories are of watching the jerky, soundless Cine film my dad used to take of us when we were little and project onto the white painted wall, so we like our video to look a little “home made”. This is an analogue camcorder and I am sure one day I will want to upgrade to digital so that I can manipulate my footage on the PC. As an amateur, though, that day is far off for me. I shall use my little Samsung until it falls apart in my hands. Hopefully I shall get many more years of happy use out of it. Sorry I’m not very technical, but if you need technical, you can check manuals. I just wanted to give you a feel of how the camera performs and how easy it is to use. Thanks for reading. Allie xx © ajools 2002

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