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It's interesting to see how point and shoot compact digital cameras have shrunk over the years - I well recall, for instance, our first digital camera, a Toshiba purchased around the turn of the century which was huge and didn't fit into my handbag. It used 4 AA batteries which needed changing regularly, produced pictures of 2.3 megapixels and used a 16MB SmartMedia memory card.
In 2007, I spotted the Samsung D75 for sale and I expressed an interest in it. Our daughter already had a Samsung digital camera of her own which I quite liked, and upon seeing Argos selling it for £69.99, a reduction from £99.99 my husband bought it for me.
I shall list the main features below - this is a pretty lightweight affair so we are just dealing with the specifications really.
2.5" LCD screen
3x optical zoom
5x digital zoom
16 MB internal memory
SD card compatible
In the box you get the camera, wrist strap, CD-ROM software, USB cable and two AA batteries.
~~Operating the Camera ~~
My first thoughts when I opened up the box was how compact and light the camera was. We had bought a couple of Panasonic cameras in the interim and a slightly earlier Samsung model for our daughter, but this seemed even more compact in comparison.
The camera measures 6.2 cm in height, 9.9 cm in width and just 2.5 cm in depth. Of course you can get even smaller now, but just two years ago this seemed really dinky.
Operation is straightforward - you power it up and choose which option you require from a mode dial on the top of the camera between the power button and the shutter button. You can choose from several modes, including Auto, Movie, Portrait and Night, and also several types of scene photo settings, including Fireworks, Sunset, Close-up and Beach and Snow. There isn't a huge range of photo settings but when you factor in the cost of the camera, it's a reasonable selection.
You can also change from colour to black and white or use effects such as sepia or predominantly red or green tinges to your pictures using the Effects button.
On the rear is the zoom selection button, and also the main menu button which you can also use to select flash options, set the timer or set to Macro for close ups. You also use this button to play and pause any video you have shot using the camera.
Everything is relatively straightforward - if you have any experience with a digital camera you can actually pick up the basics very quickly, and the instructions, which are held on the software CD-ROM which comes with the camera, are clear and easy to understand.
I used this camera for about 7 months, taking it with me on a couple of holidays and finding the pictures it captured to be very good. I did find the shutter button sometimes took rather a long time to respond on occasions however, meaning I sometimes missed the opportunity for a photo.
I also noticed that the camera seemed to get through batteries rather quickly. I was used to this with the ancient Toshiba digital camera, however we had a Panasonic compact digital camera which seemed far more battery efficient than the Samsung.
As time wore on, the battery problem seemed to get worse. Not long after my husband died, my daughter's Samsung camera ceased to operate. I wasn't in a position at the time to buy her a new camera so I decided to give her mine.
My daughter loves cameras - she will take pictures of just about anything and loves to make little movies featuring her toys or clips of her singing along to her favourite singers - in fact I well remember my husband saying the camera we had bought her was the most used gift we had ever given her.
I couldn't believe how many batteries she was getting through using my Samsung camera however - I could put batteries in for her and an hour later she'd be back for more. I realised however that sometimes the "low battery" warning was wrong - if I took the batteries out and put them back in again the battery meter would return to three dots. This never lasted long but we learned to take batteries out and replace them several times before accepting the batteries used were flat.
This is an inconvenience we got used to but the fact remains that this camera quite simply eats batteries up, although perhaps not as rapidly as I had at first thought.
We used this camera predominantly for snapshots and it wasn't until I passed this camera on to my daughter that I started to take more of an interest in the features on digital cameras so I cannot really comment much upon them. We did take some pictures in black and white and in sepia which were good, but I have to say I was never particularly impressed with the digital anti-shake feature on this camera - it didn't seem to improve blurring on photos when it was on any more than when it was off. My daughter used the macro feature as she has a thing about taking pictures of food she gets in restaurants but I didn't find the results particularly impressive.
However I cannot fault the general quality of pictures taken, in spite of the camera's limitations - we took many excellent shots of family and friends, although I did find the night shot feature to be underwhelming, particularly in comparison to the Panasonic camera. This isn't a camera for the photography enthusiast, but for someone who wants something small and reasonably good at snapping pictures, it was fine.
The movie feature is excellent on this camera, and the one thing I really liked a lot. Movies are filmed with sound in AVI format, meaning it's relatively straightforward to transfer them on to DVD. The picture quality of these movies is also startlingly good for such a small point and shoot camera - so it will never be of broadcast quality but if you want to film moments on the go, it's far better than anything you will achieve on a mobile phone. The sound quality isn't brilliant but for little clips such as this it is good and the built-in microphone picks up more than you would imagine.
I had the opportunity last year to go to a very intimate Keane concert promoting their last album and I shot a couple of very good quality video clips at the concert and was amazed how good the clips were overall.
The camera can also cope with SDHC cards - my daughter frequently used a 4GB card and filled the card a couple of times with video clips. The filming quality, the file format used and the ability for the camera to handle higher capacity cards really makes this a handy little pseudo camcorder to have to hand.
Sadly, earlier this year the camera started to malfunction with the low battery warning coming on earlier and earlier and even taking out and re-inserting the batteries wasn't working. It became particularly frustrating because even new batteries were not recognised. Eventually it stopped taking pictures altogether and upon further investigation I realised the flash had stopped working.
I did an online search to see if there was a remedy for this problem and realised this is a very common fault in this camera - along with the low battery life.
So we can still use this camera for video clips and for pictures that do not need a flash, but in light of the battery issue, I am not sure if it's worth it.
I am afraid as a result I cannot recommend this camera to anyone - and when I factor in the fact my daughter had another Samsung camera which quite simply died, I am loathe to buy another one. I have a Panasonic digital camera that is nearly five years old and still works without any problems - as does the old Toshiba one which is over 8 years old, so I have to put the blame firmly at the door of the manufacturers.
It's a shame as for the price and the size it packs a fair punch, and the movies you capture are excellent, but it doesn't offer good value for money, reliability or simplicity and ease of use, so my advice is - avoid.
This camera is exceptionally good for what it says on the tin. 7 mega pixels is enough for the average camera user (fantastic when the sun is out, the night scene is very good too), very durable case (have dropped it a few times myself!), and the battery life is not so bad either (always use rechargables). The video quality on this is not that up to scratch, and so therefore would maybe benefit from not being used as much. Same goes for the zoom, don't bother! I've used it a few times at concerts and the zoom just makes it look even worse. The screen is a good size for looking back at your pictures, and the camera on the whole is easy to use. Good for first timers for a camera. Samsung has rarely let me down, and I'm pleased with the time in which it has lasted me!