* Prices may differ from that shown
We've had this camera for a few years now. It was purchased just around Christmas 2007 and was the first time we'd ever bought a Samsung camera - not the most traditional photographic manufacturer.
Many people will be buying similar cameras this festive season and I am really writing this review as a kind of warning to prospective camera buyers, so I'm not going to go into too much spec detail - this particular model would now only be available second-hand and I would strongly advise against buying one. In my opinion consumers are offered a poor choice in the compact digital camera market these days. Yes, there seem to billions of different cameras to choose from but look closely and you'll find they all do the more or less the same thing and with little to differentiate them in terms of photo quality. What irks me is that nearly all of them extend the lens when you switch them on and when you switch them off the lens goes back in. I know it's all about the zoom feature but do we really need this on nearly every camera out there? This is another example of how the modern consumer is forced to pay for features on gadgets that they don't need or will rarely ever use. In the old days of film cameras people got along fine without having a zoom lens. I never use the zoom on a compact digital came because I know it will run down the battery life - ah yes, the battery life, more on that later.
The Samsung D85 like most compact digital cameras today came with a nice body and some impressive specifications and features: a 5x optical and 5x digital zoom, 8.2MP resolution and a large 2.5" LCD screen for viewing and capturing shots. The photo quality was acceptable if not always reliable. Like many digital cameras it suffers from a shutter time lapse delay - you never actually capture the exact picture you see when you press the button. The photos though were generally excellent when printed. The downside however, and it is a big downside in my opinion, was the battery life. I remember that Christmas well when my Dad used 4 sets of AA batteries during the course of the day just to keep the camera going - a brand new camera at that. In my opinion such devices should be banned from sale. You can imagine the environmental waste around the world caused by these hugely inefficient cameras. Many people advised that rechargeable lithium batteries would solve the problem but I have found this does not improve battery life at all. I now only use this camera to take pictures of items that I sell on eBay. My fully charged rechargeable lithium batteries last for about 20 snap shots with this camera. These same batteries work fine with other devices such as Mp3 players.
If you look at manufacturer reviews of the cameras on for sale this Christmas you will be hard pressed to find any information regarding battery life, but for me this is the crucial attribute to take into account when buying a new camera. Consumers need to complain more about this. I used to have a digital Canon SLR. It used a lithium battery that would last for between 6 and 12 months. 6 months should be the minimum before you are forced to change a battery. My advice is not to buy a camera unless this is the case.
At first glance this camera looked like a great bargain at £79.99 however I wish I had taken the time to read peoples reviews before I bought it.
Ive had it for nearly 2 years and so far it has been sent back to Samsung 3 times.
The 8.2 mega pixel with 5 times optical zoom sounded great but Ive found that when you use the zoom the picture quality becomes very poor. It takes approx 2-3 seconds for the camera to take the picture after you press the button, which can be very frustrating when you are trying to capture the moment! The battery life is extremely poor, I would recommend taking a spare couple of batterries with you even if you have just put some new ones in as they wont last, and make sure you take the batterries out when the camera is not in use as this helps battery life.
I have had to have the shutter fixed twice as the batterries have died whilst the camera lens was open and when I replaced them it had froze. I've had to have the hardware looked at as when I have downloaded videos onto my pc the sound and picture were out of sync.
The camera looks great, and is very simple to use. The dial on the top lets you change your settings extremely quickly, and the buttons on the back for flash, deleting etc are simple to follow. I have found it very easy to transfer pictures onto my pc, but I have found this too is a great drain on the baterry life.
It didnt come with a memory card and the camera holds around 50 pictures without one so I would recommend buying a seperate card if you do decide to buy this model.
The spec of this camera looked pretty good when I purchased this camera. However it soon became apparent that there is a big flaw. The batteries run out SO quickly. The camera is now just over a year old and I'm looking to replace it as this problem is very irritating.
There are a range of shooting modes, including video, and when the camera was at it's newest these functions worked really well. This camera is good for a holidays snaps, or pictures of the family but not for anything more.
I would not recommend purchasing it as the battery life issue seems to get worse (not sure if this is a fault with the camera or if it just with the one I have). It was a bargain at £79 but it has not lasted nor lived up to the initial spec.
The camera looks good and is robust and survived being dropped etc but not one if you want durability or fab shots.
Hint: always carry spare batteries!
~~ Introduction ~~
This seemed like quite a good bargain buy at £80 in a Comet special offer reduced from £150. The camera was purchased just before Christmas 2007. I was a bit weary about buying a Samsung camera as this company is not a traditional player in the photographic market, however the camera did seem to exude quality in terms of body and lens. It came with some impressive specifications and lots of useful features such as 5x optical and 5x digital zoom, 8.2MP resolution and a large bright crystal clear 2.5" LCD screen for viewing and capturing shots. The photo quality has generally been excellent both in terms of digital display and when printed out. The downside however, has been the battery life and the shutter delay. This review is a summary of my experiences using this camera. I have not described every single feature as this would make the review longer than the 110 page manual.
~~ Body Features ~~
The camera looks good with its silver grey sleek rounded design, something you'd expect from Samsung. Ergonomically it's a pleasure to hold. On the top of the camera you have the dial mode, shutter button, power button and speaker. Located on the front is a speaker (bottom right), a flash (top right) and a self-timer lamp/ AF sensor just to the top right of the lens. The D85 lens is an impressive 38/190mm. Down the left hand side of the camera as you shoot is a door flap that flips open to reveal a USB/AV connection terminal and a DC input connection port. The back of the camera are nicely designed and not too fiddly. All the buttons a to the right of the large LCD monitor. At the top is a tiny camera status lamp and a zoom button that you shift up and down. Below these are an E effects button and a delete button. Further down there is a large five function disk button. This incorporates a menu/OK button in the centre, an Information / Up button at the top, a Self-timer /Right button on the right, a macro/down button - play & pause button at the bottom and on the left a flash /Left button. These buttons are easy to use. A play mode/printer button is at the bottom. The strap can be attached to the right hand side of the camera as you shoot. On the base of the camera you will find a tripod socket and the battery chamber cover that you will be using a lot. The memory card slot is adjacent to the battery chamber below the cover.
~~ The LCD Screen ~~
The LCD screen displays a wealth of information about the pictures you are about to take, but you can easily ignore it all and still take excellent pictures. Some of the more important information you will find on screen are the recording mode in the top left corner next to a figure indicating the number of remaining shots. There is also a battery indicator is in the top left corner. A lot of camera settings are controlled via this screen by using the information button on the back of the camera
~~ Taking Pictures and Recording Modes ~~
You compose images by using the LCD monitor. There is no view finder on this camera. This is a disadvantage in that you a re relying on the batteries all the time to view an image. By lightly pressing the shutter button down half way you confirm the focus and flash battery charge. You press the shutter button all way down to take the picture. The available memory capacity may vary depending on shooting conditions
and camera settings.
Recording modes are controlled via the dial mode on the top of the camera. These include the usual Auto, Program and Manual modes. The Manual mode allows you to manually configure all functions aperture value and shutter speed. An Advanced Shake Reduction (ASR) mode will reduce the effect of camera shake and help you get a well exposed image in dim conditions. A Night mode helps to get a well-exposed pictures in the night time and darkness. Portrait mode allows you to take a quick and easy picture of a persons face. A Movie Clip mode allows you to record a clip for as long as the available recording time of the memory capacity allows. There is also a scene mode for taking pictures of various subject matter such as landscapes, sunsets, indoors etc. These scene modes are accessed and controlled via the LCD screen using the information button on the back of the camera.
This mode also includes a Macro mode that works very well with close up shots. When the macro mode is selected a tripod is also recommended to avoid camera shake. You can take pictures within 40cm (Wide zoom) or 50cm (Tele zoom) in Macro mode. There is also a 10cm Super macro range that is quite impressive for a camera in this budget range.
When the Flash Off or Slow synchro mode is selected in a low lighting condition, the camera shake warning indicator may appear in the form of a small hand in the middle of the LCD monitor. In this case, use a tripod, support the camera on a solid surface or change to flash shot mode.
Under certain conditions the auto focus system does not perform so well such as when shooting subjects with little contrast, highly reflective or shiny surfaces, high speed subjects, or very bright or dark backgrounds. In such cases you will have to revert to manual or program modes.
For the most part, the results of shooting in the various modes are very impressive. Exposure seems accurate, images possess plenty of fine detail and colour saturation is excellent. Shooting in the dark in Night mode however, has not produced satisfactory results, but I've yet to come across any digital camera that captures night scenes in the way I used to manage with film.
There is one major drawback that I must mention about taking pictures with this camera and I've never come across it before. There is an exceptionally long delay in the shutter release after you press the shutter button. It might only be two seconds or so, but trying to capture that magic moment, such as a passing expression on a child's face, often proves impossible because of the time between pressing the button and the recording of the image. The image you thought you'd captured is sometimes completely different than the one you had framed on the screen. This is a major flaw.
~~ Movie Clips and Voice Recording~~
In movie clip mode you simply press the shutter button once and the movie clip is recorded for as long as the available recording time in the memory allows. If you wish to stop recording, you press the shutter button again.
You can add your voice-over to a stored still image in the form of a voice memo that lasts for up to 10 seconds per image. Personally I can't really see the point of this - a written note conveys a message or description just as well. You can also make a voice recording for up to ten hours. As you might imagine the sound quality is not outstanding but maybe some will find a use for this. I have seldom used these features on account of poor battery performance.
~~ Memory Card and Downloading Images ~~
A memory card will have to be purchased separately when you buy the camera. The camera can use SD/ SDHC Memory Cards and MMC (Multi Media Cards). Downloading images can be done via a USB cable but if you have a compatible card slot on your laptop or PC then I would recommend slotting the card into this in order to save battery life. For making downloads to your computer at least a Pentium 800Mhz is recommended or a Power Mac G3. The compatible operating systems are 98SE/2000/ME/XP/Vista or Mac OS 10.0 - 10.4. A minimum of 512 RAM and 1GB of hard disk space is recommended. You'll also need an unoccupied USB port, 1024x768 pixels, 24 bit colour display compatible monitor and Microsoft DirectX 9.0C.
~~ Battery Life ~~
As mentioned earlier, there is one big downside to this camera: the battery life. The camera takes 2 AA sized batteries that come supplied. This at first seems convenient, but you'll be lucky if you manage to capture more than a dozen images with two batteries. After having used the camera on Christmas day to take about thirty photos, we soaked up four sets of batteries. Obviously power is used whilst flicking through pictures on the large LCD screen but considerable energy is wasted every time you switch the camera on as the lens protrudes on each occasion and then goes back in when the camera switches off. The fact that you also have to always frame your shots via the moving electronic images on the screen also soaks up a lot of power. There is an auto-power off function whereby the camera switches itself off after a set period, but the fact that this involves the lens retracting means that in most situations little power is saved overall. In my opinion such a camera should have only been designed with a rechargeable or high energy lithium battery.
~~ Recommendation ~~
I would have highly recommended this camera on account of its features and the overall design. But the extremely short battery life would make me dissuade people from buying it. Furthermore, the delayed shutter release is a major drawback to those who like snapping spare of the moment shots. I would advise anyone buying similar compact digital cameras to always find out about the battery life and test the shutter release before making a purchase.
~~ Features Summary ~~
* 8.2 Megapixels
* 2.5" LCD screen
* 5x Optical zoom
* 5x Digital zoom
* Dimensions: 6.1x8.9x2.1(H/W/D)cm
* Advanced shake reduction
* 80 - 1600 ISO rating * Automatic ISO
* 15 - 1/2000 shutter speed range (secs)
* SD/SDHC/MMC/MMCplus memory card compatible
* Compatible with rechargeable AA batteries
* Also takes black-and-white images
Price: £80 at Comet
In Box: camera strap, software cd, user manual, a USB cable, an AV cable and two alkaline batteries.
Zmugzy © March 2008