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This camera is fairy easy to use without really understanding the finer points! I have been using it for ages without knowing how it works or all the features. Although it's worth looking around for courses (some are free) to really maximise the usage and enjoyment of your digital camera. I did and it was fun.
The camera is quite heavy but quite robust. I dropped it recently and it suffered a few scratches only, though I wouldn't recommend doing this! It does have a wrist strap to prevent such accidents.
It was a present a couple of years ago and no doubt on special offer, so I don't know the price, though it was quite expensive. I think that you should be able to pick one up cheaply second-hand now.
It has 7 Mega pixels, which means basically that you can get a good picture even if you enlarge it to say A4 size.
Using a tripod:-
Any settings with a longer exposure tend to result in camera shake, unless you can stabilise your hand. The fixing for a tripod is off-centre so requires a special one to remain stable, not off balance, remembering that this is a relatively heavy camera. You could get a bendy tripod which "grips" onto an object, like a fence for stability and look fun to use.
Getting clear pictures:-
There does seem to be a long delay between depressing the button and the flash. Sometimes the subjects move thinking the photo has already been taken. I tend to go into the ASM menu and select "children" if this is likely as it allows to some extent for people moving. N.B. There are lots of useful modes like "fireworks" which give good results (remember the tripod for this or a least rest on say a wall to steady the camera whilst the shutter is open for a long time).
This camera uses 2 X AA batteries. They quickly run out, even the better makes, so I suggest the use of rechargeable batteries and to carry a spare set of them with you.
Features include the usual:-
Being able to choose the picture size and also quality, so for example if you know you are going to email them make them both small and "normal" (not "fine") to reduce the file size, for the sake of the person you are going to send them to.
You can review your photos using the buttons at the top (back) which is useful to see what you've taken and to delete the poor ones, if you have any! Plus lots more standard features.
What doesn't it have that I would like in my next camera?:-
A feature for taking pictures through glass, and an "auction" feature for splitting the screen into 3 or 4 images on one view, great for selling goods on e Bay. Otherwise, a great little camera.
Not a camera for an expert but a good quite a robust and fairly easy to use digital camera for someone starting out. If you can get it very cheaply give it a go.
I bought this camera when it was new out about two years ago, i paid well over £100 for it at the time, but i am sure it is available for a lot less than that now.
It has some great features and i have never had any problems with is or using it. The LCD screen is 2", this at the time that i bought it was excellent size, although compared to many other cameras on the market it may be slightly on the small size. However it is still perfectly adequate for viewing photos with.
It is a 7 mega pixel camera which produces great pictures, and a 3x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom. The camera also has 32MB of internal memory which is not a great deal, therefore does require you to use a memory card with it.
Th only problem i have found is that it takes just regular AA batteries, unlike some of the more up to date cameras which have Li-on batteries. The AA batteries do seem to be used and run down quite quickly which was proving to be quite expensive until i bought some rechargable ones!
Overall, i have had this camera two years and never had any problems, i think the quality is excellent for amatuer use!
The Samsung Digimax A7 is quite a cosmetic digital camera that although has the basics of a very good camera has added extras such as flashing lights and sounds that just use up more battery life than serve any real purpose. It does make it a little flashier but they dont particularly serve any purpose. I bought it as an upgrade from a very cheap AGFA camera which was extremely temperamental so at least I knew Id be happy with a Samsung. This one was £139.99 (excl. VAT) (price gone down a lot now) from Amazon.co.uk (£14 cheaper than Argos) which isnt really that cheap for a camera. It came in a compact box and turned out to be a bit smaller than I had imagined from pictures on the internet but still has a decent sized 2.0 LCD on the back to view the pictures after they have been taken. At 7.0 mega pixels, it isnt one of the best you can buy but is far from being classed as basic.
As soon as it arrived I was opening up all the separated components battery, battery charger, cables and looked a little in shock at the 4 thick manuals which only contain the information in English, Italian, French and German. The box clearly states on opening the order that things should be done however it fails to mention the battery has no life and has to be charged for a good few hours before use (around 3 hours in my experience). One advantage of the re-chargeable battery is it is only 2 AA batteries which are widely available if the re-chargeable one does die. As someone with limited technical knowledge I didnt even bother reading the manual so once the battery had charged, it was in like a shot and I was discovering all it had to offer.
The power button is pressed and out shoots the camera lens I keep forgetting to keep my hand away when I do switch it on and there is no stopping it. Blue and red lights begin to flash at the front while the LCD screen on the back brings up the Samsung wallpaper and plays a tune. I switched these off after seeing/hearing them a few times they are a novelty at first (and there is even the choice of other pictures/sounds) but as I mentioned before, they use up more of the battery life. This feature is continued in taking a photo too which, if you own a mobile phone with a camera, has the same sound. They are easily turned off in the menu section or changed if they are wanted. The menu section is also a bit of a novelty with its different coloured sections but is important for changing some features quality, taking several shots one after the other, sounds, setup e.g. language or choosing whether USB is to computer or printer and the size of pictures: 3072 x 2304 is the largest (poster size) and is too big for just wanting a photo. When I get the final photo on the computer I find myself reducing it to 25% of that size (which is still a good sized photo) and it reduces (in JPEG format) from being over 1MB to around 60Kb (which is a huge reduction).
LCD Screen and photos:
The LCD screen after the camera is switched on, almost instantly shows what the lens is being pointed at and is of a very clear quality which I found surprising for a small screen. Because of this, I never use the viewfinder as I find it a little too hard to use the distance from viewing at the back of the camera to seeing whats in front me seems to be reduced to a small scale which is more noticeable for distant objects than close up. A drawback I find once I have taken a set of photos is I have to wait for the screen to put them into focus before I can view it in clarity. Unless pressing the right hand (zoom) button on the camera quickly to scroll through them all it can take rather a long time especially if using additional memory. Photos can be viewed as thumbnails (smaller photos of around 9 on screen at once) but the quality isnt good and it doesnt show the best photo. The flash is bright and there are warnings in the book not to take close ups in peoples/pets faces even from a distance I find myself blinking a few times to adjust but I never seem to have a problem with everyone getting red eyes. The camera is also a little noisy. The sound of the lens popping out, the click of taking the picture, the buzz as it tries to focus and the zoom as it magnifies or returns to normal and those are without the added sound effects. This isnt really too much of a disadvantage for me as I dont ever plan on using it in a public library or high risk avalanche zone.
Photo taking features:
There are a lot of features to choose from when taking an ideal picture so I found playing around was best to see how the pictures turned out. With a 32MB internal memory this means I am able to take around 16 photos (dependant on quality etc.) before it tells me the memory is full. This is sufficient for someone who wont be using it much but as I planned to take the camera away places I also bought a 512MB SD card (which costs around £20) and holds around 250 2500 photos. On the top of the camera as well as the power button and of course the shutter, there is a dial with options e.g. auto which is more basic as it does the hard work for you and takes the best picture from its view, Scene which I use a lot to distinguish between close ups, pictures taken at night, photos taken of the snow etc which work under different light, recording moving picture and sound, Programme for optimal settings, Aperture/Shutter priority, Manual, and finally Night Scene. I admit that it was only with playing with the majority of these settings that I found out the differences between them the benefit of the screen of course is the ability to see them as soon as they have been taken so they can be deleted and taken again or different features used for different effects. I like Text within Scene mode. This allowed me to take black and white pictures or Dawn where the pictures would come out with an orange haze as though the sun was rising.
Other features such as choosing whether or not to have the screen on to save battery life, when to use the flash, the ability to zoom in and out on a photo before and after being taken, timer to have a delay in taking the photo, time and date features, ISO settings, white balance settings as well as many more are all available. The zoom feature here is 3 x Optical zoom and 5 x digital zoom. This means that the lens itself will move in/out so the picture is 3 times as big but by pressing the T button it will zoom in a further 5 times (so the photo has essentially been enlarged 15 times). This isnt a good feature as they come out extremely grainy, blurred and the tiniest movement on the camera when pressing the shutter button will mean further blurring. This for that case is not a professional camera.
The recording and sound recording functions are very simple to use as there is a microphone supplied internally. The sound is not completely clear and does tend to be a little loud when listening back on the camera so when loading it onto the computer there is less trouble. The setting cant be changed like it is by turning the dial and of course there is no light so the recording can only be done in a light situation. When set to record it actually shows on screen how long a recording it will take. With the 32MB memory it records around 30 seconds but usually I had photos saved too which reduced this space. With the 512MB card in it, it had over 15 hours worth of space so really is worth spending more for extra memory as it will hold both still and moving pictures at the same time and it is very easy to switch between them both.
Ive had a lot of mixed quality when using this camera this of course was best for testing out what each feature gave. Either they were too blue, too orange, too blurred, too dark but those that were clear were fantastic. Photos I have taken in the past tend not to capture the real situation it has been taken in cloudiness, lack of snow when it is snowing etc. Even without the use of a flash during night scenes it was like looking at the situation with my own eyes using this camera. The LCD may give a 2 image but on seeing the picture on a computer it was amazing. These kinds of photos far outweigh the blurry ones Ive taken with it. Quality on printing them out however do depend on what sort of printer is used. Personally I have a Lexmark X85 which decides whether or not it wants to print on photo paper and has produced some good results.
The shutter speed is a part of the camera that really has to be learnt i.e. the speed from pressing the shutter button to the actual photo being taken. One of the settings in the Scene section is Fireworks. So when I decided to take a photo at night (there wasnt any fireworks but still a good moon view and the camera took about 10 seconds to finally take the photo. I cant imagine how this is any good because I cant take a photo in advance knowing the firework will turn up seconds later.
I found the battery life can be a very important factor and a reason perhaps to sway people away from buying this camera. When using it the screen does warn me that battery life was low but I hoped Id get a few more pictures taken wrong. The battery almost dies instantly but what really annoys me is the fact that the lens doesnt get a chance to retract and I am unable to switch the camera back on to let it return this has happened several times Ive used it. Without spare batteries or case (not supplied) that would fit with the lens sticking out I have to carry it around without anything protecting it. I then have to wait for the battery charging (I take it out the charger after 5 minutes so I could put the lens back in before charging the battery to full). So a lesson learnt either take heed of the warning or carry spare batteries. Battery life as a whole though isnt bad. Of course it all depends on the features being used but I managed to get around 2 hours of life out of mine. If normal AA batteries are used, they dont last as long. The camera will switch itself off when it hasnt been used for a few minutes to save battery life. There is also a third option of an external AC 3.3 V adapter being plugged in but this doesnt come supplied.
The CD is provided along with a USB cable to attach the camera to the computer. I put the disk in and it took less than a minute to install the drivers so the computer recognised this as the camera when plugged in. It really was that simple and the only thing left which did take a little longer to load was the supplied software: Digimax Viewer 2.1 and ArcSoft PhotoImpression 4. These again were simple to install by following the instructions on screen. Having used Coral in the past with my old digital camera I wasnt sure which one to use but this one was still very simple. As soon as the cable is plugged in Digimax Viewer automatically loads up to view what is on the camera. They can only be viewed as small pictures or in a slide show so each picture has to be viewed separately by double clicking on it to see its full size. If any changes want to be made to a photo it will open up PhotoImpression which enables you to cut the picture into different shapes and stick frames around them etc. but I prefer to do any basics on Paint so I just save the photo to my computer and open it up through that. The files are saved as .PSF (PhotoStudio) files which mean they will automatically load PhotoImpression unless the file type is changed. Even saving as a JPEG there is no distortion to the photo.
One disadvantage of this camera is the inability to use the camera when it is plugged in by USB to the computer. With my old one I was able to use the computer as a power source and take pictures by clicking on the screen but there is no life on this one. One advantage however is the ability to plug it straight into the printer to print off which is easier for me using a laptop.
Overall I think that for a more inexperienced photographer who is willing to spend a bit more on a camera then this is a great purchase as it introduces quite a few features that advanced photographers would use that I dont pretend to understand. I find the camera very easy to use and most of the time it is just point and shoot as long as Im on the right setting for the picture I am taking I have very little trouble. I do advise buying more memory (again it was cheaper to buy at Amazon than Argos) as it allows you to take a lot of photos without the worry of having to delete them and a case also needs to be bought as it isnt supplied so above the price of the camera, another £30 roughly will need to be spent. Novelties do wear off and luckily the fun features can be turned off so they dont cause a problem.