Product Type: Samsung digital cameras
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Inspires me to take better photos!
Member Name: dee778
Date: 09/06/09, updated on 05/06/11 (332 review reads)
Advantages: A very small and light camera, with a high spec, very clear instructions, and excellent results
Disadvantages: None that I have experienced
Looking at the enormous range of compact digital cameras on offer, I found it difficult to make a decision; there were many around the £90 mark, and all seemed to offer similar specs. Technical reviews and Which guides all gave the Samsung L201 a very good write up - so when I saw one on offer from Tesco at £78 I was sold. For an extra £10 a camera case and memory card were included in the package. The camera is currently selling for £89.99 on Amazon.
The first thing I noticed was that the camera is much slimmer and lighter than any of my family's other compact digitals. The L201 comes in a fairly broad range of funky colours, including green, pink, blue and black. I bought the silver version, which is not as much fun as the other colours, but has a nice blue LED light around the 'on' button to give it a bit of glitz.
The camera is extremely light at 110g (without the battery), and measures 5.5cm by 8.5cm. Whatever the colour chosen, there is a white plastic strip that runs around the sides and top of the camera. The round control wheel on the top of the camera is also made out of white plastic; giving the camera a rather downmarket feel.
The camera has 10 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom lens. As is usual with modern compact cameras, there is no viewfinder. The LCD screen is an unexceptional 2.7 inches and this is difficult to see in bright conditions.
It is easy to attach the wrist strap to the camera, using the slot on the right hand side.
Technically, the reviews all say that the camera has a very high spec for its size, and I certainly found that the L201 included many more useful functions than my slightly older Finepix F10.
Functions that I found most useful were the face recognition and image shake options, helping me to take clear and focussed shots almost every time. Equally useful is the red-eye elimination; the camera automatically detects and eliminates red-eye from all shots. The flash range is 3 metres, which is adequate for nearly all my shots.
I like taking close-up shots of flowers and my cats, so I was pleased to find that the macro mode worked very well, allowing me to focus 10cm away from my subject. The macro function can easily be switched on by pressing the flower icon once on the back of the camera.
The last of the functions that I have found particularly useful is the efficient self timer, which can be set for 10 or 2 seconds.
~~Using the camera~~
One of the things I really like about this camera is the way that it takes a few small steps into the domain of the professional camera, whilst still maintaining a simple point and shoot option. Unlike a lot of smaller compacts, it has a full manual mode that allows you to adjust both shutter speed and aperture. Although I have to admit that this is not something that I do regularly, it is something that my hubby makes use of if he hasn't got his SLR with him, and it gives him the ability to take better and more professional shots.
Another feature that seems to have been borrowed from professional cameras is something called Auto Exposure Bracketing. If this function is selected before you take the shot, the camera automatically takes three quick, consecutive shots; one which it thinks it has perfectly exposed; a second one slightly under-exposed; and a third one slightly over-exposed. You can then choose which one you want to keep. Although again, this is not something that I use often, I have always admired the function on my hubby's professional cameras and it helps me to take the perfect photo in some difficult light conditions.
The main menu dial on the top of the camera makes it quick and easy to turn on DIS mode, manual mode, portrait, night scene, and most importantly for me, the Photo Help Guide. This help option talks you through almost every problem and query, much like the help screen on your computer. You can chose help on various problems such as 'features to use when the image is out of focus, features to counter camera shake', etc. For example, choosing 'Features to use when adjusting colours' tells you that to shoot in natural colours you must use the Fn button and adjust the White Balance. This sort of semi-professional use is way beyond what other compacts have offered me in the past, and the clear instructions mean that even a traditional point and shoot merchant like me can achieve really good results!
Choosing the Auto setting on the top dial gives access to yet another clear and helpful menu selection via the main screen. The menu navigation is achieved via symbols along the top of the screen, very similar to the menu used in Word and so familiar to most people. You can adjust the camera by choosing one of four main symbols - 'settings, display, sound and recording' - and each of these options has a very clear drop down menu leading from them.
I have not used the movie function much yet - reviews mention that the volume can be very low on this, but as stills are my main interest this does not put me off. This camera has encouraged me to be more adventurous with my photography and to experiment with different settings.
I have now owned this camera for nearly two years, and found it to be very robust for most of that time. Unfortunately my son dropped it recently and as a result the performance has become unreliable. Eight times out of ten it will focus perfectly, but it now often fails to accurately focus on the target. This happens indoors and outdoors, and the camera, although still usable, is no longer reliable.
Summary: Good value, but not robust
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