Samsung Digimax U-CA 3 Review

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Samsung Digimax U-CA 3




Steve's Conclusion

Aiming at the youth of today's consumer market, the Samsung Digimax U-CA3 combines a three-megapixel imager with a 3x optical zoom in a compact and stylish body. It offers point-n-shoot simplicity for the new or less-experienced user, and allows for somewhat more creative shooting with its Manual mode and color effects. Younger users will enjoy the supplied DigiStudio software that lets you create 3D avatars from pictures taken with the camera. Once you have created your avatar you can set it to feature on the loading screen, which will be displayed every time the camera is turned on. The drawback to this is that it extends the power-up time by about 7 seconds.

The overall performance of the U-CA 3 was below average for cameras in this class. From power up to first image captured measured approx. 7.5 seconds. Shutter lag when pre-focused was about 1/10 of a second and 7/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot to shot time averaged about 5 seconds between frames. This camera does not have a continuous capture mode. All test were done using a Sony 256MB Memory Stick Duo Pro card with the LCD on, quality/size set at 2048x1536/Super Fine, flash off, and the avatar feature off. Times may vary dependent on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.

The overall image quality in 2048x1536/Super Fine mode is acceptable but not great. Flesh tones were usually accurate and well exposed but we did see some color-shift problems with "people shots" taken in bright sunlight, see the sample pictures. With it's 3.2 million pixels, it easy to create high-quality prints up to 8x10-inch. Outdoors the camera does OK, most of our samples had good color balance and saturation. The lens produced sharp images throughout its range. Indoors you will have to work with the limited flash range of about 7 feet. It's able to illuminate portraits of individuals or small groups, but lacks the power for large open rooms and often desaturates the colors. The autofocus system works very well outdoors and thanks to the focus-assist illuminator, it can also properly focus in most low-light conditions.

The U-CA 3 is the second digital camera we've reviewed that uses the new Duracell CP1 disposable lithium battery (the first camera is the Nikon Coolpix 3700.)   These very thin batteries are perfect for today's super-slim, compact cameras but they're still difficult to find in stores. The single-use CP1 is also expensive, costing about $13 each. Samsung offers an economical alternative, its NP-60 3.7V 1000mA rechargeable Li-ion pack that costs about the same as four or five of the CP1 batteries. This battery can be recharged 500-1000 times so it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Bottom line - the Samsung Digimax U-CA 3 is a good but not great camera. It's an easy to use compact digicam with a "cool" avatar feature that will appeal to its intended target market - young digicam users. For those looking for more image quality and features we urge you to check out other 3-megapixel digicams such as the Canon A75 , Kodak CX6330, Nikon 3200 or Sony P72.





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