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At the start of the digital camera revolution I was there; my AGFA digital camera held a whopping 32 pictures on its internal memory, the only way to get things off it was to transfer them via your PC, this was a long arduous process. As a result I got annoyed with my digital camera and decided these things will never take off putting it away in a cupboard.
Now ten years on and I'm well behind so I felt it was time to catch up. I was not prepared to lash out a few hundred quid on something I had little knowledge of so investing in what I consider to be a mid-price camera the Samsung L700. Why did I choose Samsung? Well its simple really I bought a great TV, which is just fantastic, I have a Samsung mobile (as well as another), which again is amazing. Then last year I stumbled on a Samsung DVD recorder, the only one I have ever encountered that doesn't get sensitive when you use discs time and time again. So when I saw Currys.Digital had Samsung camera's on special I felt obliged to get one.
Unfortunately the camera I wanted which featured 10 mega pixels promotion had ended just a day earlier. But a new Samsung promotion was on the L700 this consisted of the camera, a 512mb memory card, and a nice antler leather case all for £129. Being impressed with what I saw I decided to make the purchase.
A couple of specs for you:
* 7.2 Mega Pixels
* 3X Optical Zoom
* MPEG 4
So what does this mean? I couldn't and to a certain extent don't have a clue. And I'm hoping that if you're reading this you won't have a clue also. I'm aiming to bring you a step by step review of the camera for the technology shy individual.
OPENING THE BOX
Fairly straight forward, upon opening the box there you are provided with a variety of leads. Where the hell they all go, who knows but it took me not much time to figure out. (I should just add I'm not reading the instructions as I review the product, for me I'm interested in the ease of use. I'll go over anything I missed at the end courtesy of the instructions.) As well as the wires there is of course the camera, a charger for the battery, the instructions, and a CD for connecting the camera for your PC.
Realising the battery was very much like a mobile battery, and suffering in the passed from using the battery before fully charged I opted to charge the battery for 12 hours.
Once charged the phone goes together quite easily, the little flap at the bottom holds the camera and memory card. You need to take the battery out of the camera for charging, this allows you if using the camera frequently to get another battery without having your camera plugged in at the mains.
Upon powering up there's a lot to see, you can easily identify the power button as it has the word POWER next to it. The screen on the back of the camera comes to life the screen points are:
* A green camera logo in the top left, this allows you to switch from camera, to video camera.
* The scale of the image size, this automatically comes on at the smallest size allowing you to zoom to the required size.
* A number illustrating the photos left I have 226, so for 512mb memory card that's the amount of photos you can take before needing to transfer them to a pc. When you change from standard camera to video camera you are told that the memory allowance for video is 22.5 minutes.
* The battery scale this has three bars to indicate the remaining charge.
* An eye icon, this is to indicate that the flash is on and ready, this alternates to a circle with a bolt of lightning going through it to indicate that the flash is on. The eye icon also comes with an automatic red eye offset, to reduce red eye when taking photos of the criminals most of us refer to as friends and relatives.
* The bottom icon on the left shows that a memory card is inserted.
* The centre of the screen shows a box, this is to help you aim the camera on its central target.
* Over to the right and there is a icon that says 7m this is to indicate the amount of megapixals that you are using. You can alternate this via the camera settings.
If you accidentally leave the camera on for 5 minutes without doing anything it shuts down. When you power up by the way the lens/zoom sticks out from the camera so be aware of this and be careful.
I figured all that lot out within 2 minutes of switching the camera on, now I consider this to be an achievement because when I had my last digital camera none of these were options that I had, and I have not used a digital camera (with the exception of my phone one). I personally consider this a great success on the part of Samsung, because I'm told these digital cameras can be complicated things.
Ok so onto the buttons:
* On the top centre is the power button, push and hold and it will go on or off.
* Next to it is your "click" button, the button you push to take a photo (believe it or not but I have an A-level in photography). Push the button slightly and it highlights the target zone indicated by the central box, and lets you know the flash is ready. With your target in sight push down hard and the photograph has been taken.
* On the back of the camera the top option is a switch this either closes in on a target or reduces it this is the zoom device. Tjis is quite an impressive zoom, I can now see that the tree in the wood at the bottom of my garden, has barbed wire wrapped round it, before I assumed this to be a plant wrapped round it.
* The M button I assume stands for media this allows you to choose video, or still camera.
* The E button looks at imaging, you can select from the follow: Normal - as you see it, Black & White, Sepia to give that aged brown effect to your photos, Blue that highlights the blue colours giving a lovely tint to the picture, red, and green also offer similar. The final option is negative, this makes your photo look like a negative, I'll have great fun with this.
* Next is a +/- button at first glance this does nothing but when reviewing your pictures this is the button you need to press to delete an image. Made a mistake and deleted the wrong picture, don't worry use this button within a few minutes and it will bring a lost picture back. I should add you are asked to confirm if you want to delete any image before actually doing so.
* The next standard button is like the play button on your DVD, a little forward arrow. This simply allows you to view your video, or photos. You can flick through your media using the circle joystick device to the left of this button.
* The joystick as I refer to it has a few options, firstly quite simply left, right, up, down, and a central button to select. All these buttons have a separate purpose too if you select the central button it brings up a menu screen which allows the general left, right etc use. Otherwise the up position turns sound on or off when in video camera mode. The left button turns the flash on and off. The right button allows a timer in case you want to photo yourself. The button button allows for more artsy shots, slowing the frame rates down etc.
* One final point is a little slot to the left saying AV out, more on this in a jiffy.
When you use the menu button you can go through mode selection, for creative shots, or night/day photos. Megapixel size - from 1-7, I leave mine on 7. Image quality from Normal, Fine and Super fine; the camera comes set on fine, this increases or reduces the picture quantity, so go to Normal and you get over 400 photos on your card, go to super fine and you get just over 100. OSD information allows you select the options and icons you see on screen. My Cam allows you to alter your switch on image, and the sounds your camera makes when taking photos. Setup allows language selection, time and date options, and power down (if you accidentally leave the camera on).
So in a nutshell that's it.
This is as easy as pie, photo's are clear and sharp as are the video images. Sound is crystal clear. Taking a photograph of my Birdbath at the bottom of the garden, from upstairs I zoomed in several times, by the time I got to the most enhanced zoom image the photo looked like I was right next to the bird bath, but without the distortion you often get.
This whole photo video shooting lark really could not be easier, nice and simple without anything to baffle your mind.
TRANSFER OF PHOTOS
You can transfer your photos two ways, either (if your pc has the option) remove your memory card and place it in the port and the images will come off this way. Alternately you can use the software and one of the leads provided with your Camera. Too move 200 images from the camera to your PC with the easy to use software takes about 4 minutes. The included software allows a certain amount of basic editing, but I'd suggest a photo suite of some kind for better image options.
OTHER FUNKY THINGS
You can obviously use the camera as a video camera but the leads that come with it allow you to connect to either a TV, DVD Recorder or VHS, or your PC. You can either play the video on the camera and it appears on the TV or you can literally connect it up and shoot live so all that your recording goes either straight on the TV or onto your recorder without using your memory card.
Connect your camera to your PC and it acts as a webcam, so for any of you wanting to create a home business this is all straight forward (WINK). The leads for all these options connect via the AC output I mentioned earlier.
AFTER READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
I'm rather proud of myself, other than technical terminology I covered everything. A section on reducing shutter speed, I never covered but I think this is something that is better for the user to discover and utilise.
I commend Samsung on making the camera a dream to work with, straightforward and highly durable (yes I dropped it). 30 minutes playing with this camera and you can have it down to a fine art. Everything is explained in the instruction book (should you need it) in painstaking detail.
At £129 I feel I have had a very good buy, and I for one am more than happy with my first adventure in MODERN digital photography.