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Having never had a camcorder before I decided to take the plunge an purchase one, it was 2009 and I wanted to record and keep the memories of my child's first participation in his nativity play which involved him singing and dancing the 'Jingle Bell Rock' suited and booted with a dicky bow tie, having seen him practicing I did not want to miss a chance to record his very sweet performance.
I was looking for a camcorder that was lightweight and compact, one that was very easy to operate and to understand, it was important to me that it should be easy to transfer recordings straight to DVD's because I have never really been tech savvy so the one I chose definitely had to be very simple to use.
After some research I decided to purchase the Samsung SC-DX103 DVD Camcorder in a home shopping catalogue priced at a reasonable £169.99 (2009 price)
It was described as a lightweight dvd camcorder and digital camera in one, with the option to record straight to DVD mini disc or onto an SD card, easy set up & record, excellent film and sound quality with easy controls, special features include Lcd backlight, swivel viewing screen, digital photo function, digital effects function, built in lens cap and a wind cut function.
Picture Format- MPEG-2 (Disk) MPEG-4 (SD Card)
Image Device- 800k Pixels
Lens- F1.6 34X (Optical) 1200x (Digital)
Focal Length- 12.3-78.2mm
Power Source- 8.4v DC Lithium-ion 100v-240v Battery Pack
Power Consumption- 4.6w
Internal MIC- Omni-Directional stereo microphone
Width- 2.3 Inch
Height- 3.4 Inch
Length- 4.8 Inch
INCLUDED IN PACKAGE
CHARGING THE BATTERY-
For this you need to make sure that the battery pack is installed opposite the Lcd screen, then using the included AC power adapter in a wall socket you simply plug it in and the camcorder immediately starts to charge, an orange indicator light shows up at the viewing end of the camcorder and when fully charged which is usually a maximum of 2 hours then the indictor light turns green.
I have noticed that even when the camcorder is not in use it still looses power if the battery pack is left attached in its slot, if you remove this when the camcorder is not actually being used the battery life lasts a lot longer, a fully charged battery pack typically gives 60 minutes of continuous recording time or 65 minutes of playback time which is pretty good.
The camcorder switches on by a little sliding power switch located at the viewing end of the product, you simply turn on or off by sliding the switch down, once switched on you then need to set the desired operating mode by storing the mode you wish to use, either DISK or CARD, these options are displayed on the Lcd screen, you then get the option to set the time and date using the little directional joystick button to the left of the Lcd screen, all alerts, options and settings are displayed and can be adjusted here, a feature I love is that the Lcd screen tilts and rotates allowing a perfect comfortable angle for recording.
You can view the options menu at the right of the pictures and images through the viewfinder and this works even with the Lcd screen shut, there is a focus adjustment bar above and to the right of the viewfinder, using this bar enables perfect picture focus even for those who have problems with clear vision.
When you want to record film onto a dvd mini disk and have selected the corresponding mode for doing so then you need to insert a diskette, the camcorder needs power to do this as the disk cover partly opens mechanically by sliding the switch on the edge of the disk holder down to open, once the disk holder partly opens you have to open it the rest of the way gently by hand, you simply place the disc onto the holder until a little click is heard, there is a reminder on the inside of which way the disk should be facing when inserted.
Every time a new disk is inserted it needs to be formatted, the camcorder will run auto-recognition and the formatting menu will display on the Lcd screen, you simply chose a recording format which is one of two options, video mode which means a finalised disk will play straight away on most dvd players/recorders and this is the option I use most often, or you can opt for VR mode which means you can edit the disk on the camcorder but can only play it back on a dvd recorder that supports VR mode, compatible disks are DVD-R/+R DL, DVD-RW.
There is two start/stop recording button options on this camcorder, one is located on the rear right of the product and the other is on the Lcd control panel, this is handy as you have the option to chose which is best and most comfortable for you, I prefer to use the rear right control as this is easily controlled single handed whilst your hand is strapped in to support filming.
I have found it simple to start/stop recording modes and the digital zoom function is located via a bar reachable by one finger on the right top side but can also be controlled by the joystick on the LCD screen, this is also a very good feature of this camcorder because even when recording from a great distance away you can get a really good sharp close up effect.
I tend to use the EASY.Q MODE for recording as this allows the camcorder to automatically select the various settings such as anti-shake, focus, digital effects and balance, without this mode I am afraid I would not know what was what and would probably make a total pig's ear of whatever I was trying to record, the sound quality is always automatic and is always crisp and clear.
It is easy to play back and watch recorded images by using the thumbnail image viewer on the LCD screen by using the directional joystick to highlight what you want to view then clicking the mode button to playback, but if you have edited the disks images on a pc then the changes don't show up when viewing back on the camcorder, there are various playback options to chose from such as pause, stop, search, skip, slow, delete and partial delete.
You can create play lists on the disk menu and this is used for editing scenes and connecting part recordings, the camcorder always keeps the original recordings until a finalised edit is executed which is handy for all those mistakes in the early days of getting to know how the camcorder works without losing already recorded movies.
DIGITAL CAMERA MODE-
This camcorder has multi media SD card slots but only a maximum of a 2gb SD card can be used which is not always very practical as this does not hold much when recording moving images in record mode, in camera mode though it does tend to hold larger amounts of data dependable on size and quality, all the functions in digital camera mode work in exactly the same way as recording mode, but to be honest I rarely have used this as a digital camera and prefer to just use it for recording purposes so un-fortunately I am unable to give a balanced opinion on this function.
The best and coolest thing about this camcorder is without a doubt the Digital Effects, the creative effects you can create are amazing when using this, there are 10 different digital effects...
Black & White- changes images to black & white
Sepia- gives images red/brown pigmentation
Negative- reverses the colours
Art- makes the images coarse
Emboss 1- makes the image 3D
Emboss 2- makes the background area 3D
Mosaic- makes multiple mosaic effect images
Mirror- makes a mirror image effect
Pastel 1- makes image appear drawn and in pale pastel colours
Pastel 2- makes background image appear drawn and in pale pastel colours
The scene modes consist of Auto, Sports, Portrait, Spotlight, Beach, Snow, and High speed.
Connectivity to a TV or a PC with included cables and software to do so.
*Swivel viewing screen
*Grip & strap
*The Digital effect function
*Built in lens cap
*Digital Zoom feature
*Ability to play recording straight away on dvd players
*The various options of choice for operation
*The auto setting
*The 2gb max SD card
*Some types of diskettes fail to finalise resulting in lost recordings
*Battery life runs down fast
This being my very first and last camcorder I have no other to compare it to but I was pleased in 2009 when I bought it and I am still quite pleased with it now, it still works fine and does what it is meant to, I love how compact and lightweight the camcorder is which makes it easier to take along to events and outings I might want to record, a downside is the battery life which I noticed has got less over the years, a full charge will give me about 45 minutes of recording now, I am aware that extra and replacement accessories are available to buy for this product so it may be that I need to buy a new battery pack.
The diskettes are reasonable to buy and a pack of 5 usually cost around £6-£7 from most supermarkets and these can be re-used again and again once you get used to the formatting , however I have only recently learnt this myself as someone showed me how to burn my movies to a full sized dvd disk in order to re-use my mini disks.
I have used my camcorder regularly over the years and filmed hours upon hours of film with it, I am overall pleased with this specific make and model although there is plenty of room for improvement, I but it has worked for me and has lasted me since 2009 so far, I think it has been worth what I paid for it three years ago but today it is considerably cheaper to buy at around £99.99, in my opinion this is a fantastic price to pay for all the features and options you get with this product.
The films I have made with this have all been of good picture and sound quality and I have had no major problems with it, the hand strap is brilliant and fits snug and tight which helps with the shaking when filming, there is a good anti shake mode though which unless you switch off is set on automatic, the user manual is fantastic, it compromises of 114 pages and covers everything in great understandable detail from trouble shooting to basic functions it has it all and has been extensively studied and proved very useful indeed.
I think I got everything I was looking for in this camcorder and more, it is a very easy product to use and also an easy product to learn to use when like me you have zero technical ability, it is a simple well designed product that I would recommend as a first camcorder, it looks attractive and stylish too which is always a bonus for a lady owner.
I rated this product a happy but room for improvement 3 out of 5
Thank You for reading
(may also be posted on ciao under mojo-mojo)