Product Type: Samsung digital cameras
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All singing and flashing
Samsung Digimax A7
Member Name: sirg0508
Samsung Digimax A7
Advantages: Photographs are fantastic, great range of features for different photos and is easy to use.
Disadvantages: Battery dies with lens out, some blurry photos, novelties wear off.
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 didn’t 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 what’s 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 isn’t good and it doesn’t 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 isn’t really too much of a disadvantage for me as I don’t 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 won’t 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 isn’t 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 can’t 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.
I’ve 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 I’ve 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 wasn’t any fireworks but still a good moon view and the camera took about 10 seconds to finally take the photo. I can’t imagine how this is any good because I can’t 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 I’d get a few more pictures taken… wrong. The battery almost dies instantly but what really annoys me is the fact that the lens doesn’t get a chance to retract and I am unable to switch the camera back on to let it return – this has happened several times I’ve 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 isn’t 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 don’t last as long. The camera will switch itself off when it hasn’t 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 doesn’t 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 wasn’t 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 don’t 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 I’m 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 isn’t 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 don’t cause a problem.
Summary: Decent camera for beginners with lots of features
|Ease of use:|
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