Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Conclusion DV300F photo.jpg
  • 16-megapixel CCD image sensor
  • 5x optical zoom lens (25 - 125 mm equivalent) 
  • Dual LCD System, DualView
  • Front LCD: 1.5-inch (61,000-dot) with child mode and self-timer
  • Back LCD: 3.0-inch (460,000-dot)
  • Several special-effect options 
  • Smart Auto mode helps beginners
  • Program mode for shooting with limited manual control
  • Built-in help screens
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for sharing photos with social media websites
  • Rechargeable Li-ion battery 

Pros
  • Camera is very easy to use with graphical menus
  • Good image quality and sharp focus
  • Main display screen is bright and sharp
  • Second display screen on front of camera allows for easy self-portraits and shots with your friends
  • Lens fully retracts inside the camera, protecting the glass
  • Several special-effect options available
  • Built-in Wi-Fi allows for immediate uploading of photos to social networking sites
  • Camera is a lot of fun to use
  • Good value; compares very favorably to other cameras in its price range
  • Start-up is fast versus point-n-shoot cameras
  • Very thin camera body
Cons
  • 5x optical zoom lens is a bit small
  • Camera control buttons are too small to be used comfortably
  • Cannot shoot 1080p HD video
  • Battery life can be below average, if using all of the camera's features
  • Must charge battery inside the camera; no separate battery charger included
  • Color scheme for camera body is a bit odd
  • Some photos can be a bit dull color-wise
  • Very few manual-control features
  • Uses microSD type memory cards, which are tiny and easy to lose
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.7 seconds (with start-up image turned off)
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.6 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 3.1 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.6 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 4.8 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 3.8 seconds with review Off
  • High-Speed Burst Mode = 10 frames in 2 seconds @ 0.3M (640x480)
  • Full Resolution Burst Mode = 10 frames in 15.6 seconds @ 16M
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Class 10, 8 GB microSDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Samsung DV300F is a camera that's aimed at beginning photographers who want a camera that's fun and easy to use, thanks in part to LCDs on both the front and back of the camera. Samsung also has created a camera that performs pretty well versus other similarly priced models. With a small optical zoom lens, the DV300F doesn't offer the most versatile zoom range, but it's a good option for those who want to shoot portrait photos and share them on social networks.
Pick This Up If...
You want a camera that will grab attention with a unique look and some fun special-effect shooting features, while also giving you decent performance and built-in Wi-Fi at a low price. Just make sure you can live with a small zoom lens. 
When Samsung initially introduced its DualView line of cameras a few years ago, it was a novel idea that garnered quite a bit of attention in the market. Having a small LCD screen on the front of the camera to complement the larger LCD on the back of the camera gave DualView models a completely different look, feel, and performance level than other cameras at the time.

Samsung has continued introducing new models each year. The cameras now have a "DV" moniker in their names, and they're no longer officially called DualView models. Although the dual LCD cameras haven't changed that much in appearance in the past few years, one of the biggest changes has come in price. The original DualView cameras carried a cost of between $300 and $400, typically, a few years ago. However, one of the latest Samsung dual LCD models, the DV300F, carries a sub-$200 price tag.

For beginners who want to shoot self-portraits, there are few cameras better for this task than the DV300F, especially considering the price. This model does a nice job with portrait photos, and its focus is sharp the vast majority of the time. Having 16-megapixels of resolution in this Samsung camera is also great for shooting photos that can be printed at a variety of sizes. You can choose from eight different resolutions when shooting photos, which is another nice feature.

Certainly, the 5x optical zoom lens on this camera is going to be unappealing for many beginning photographers. Having a small optical zoom lens is going to be a disappointment when thin cameras on the market today routinely have 10x and larger zoom lenses. However, you do have to keep in mind that the dual LCD design of the DV300F means that this camera is aimed as one that excels at portrait photography. So, with that in mind, a large zoom lens really isn't as important as it might be with a model that's designed more for general photography needs.

Speaking of the DV300F's photography features, they're also pretty solid. Image quality is pretty good across the board. I felt like the image quality for outdoor photos on sunny days was very good, with bright, realistic colors. On cloudy days, the colors were a bit muted for my liking, but the focus remained sharp.

Indoor photos were also pretty good, especially for a camera in the sub-$200 price range, with or without the flash. Even though the DV300F's flash unit is pretty small, it's located in a pretty good spot, and it performs well most of the time. As with most small point-n-shoot camera built-in flash units, you need to make sure you aren't too close to the subject to avoid washout problems, or too far away to ensure proper illumination.

If you want to try to shoot without a flash by manually bumping up the ISO, Samsung has given this camera the ability to shoot at up to an ISO 3200 setting. However, you will start to notice noise in the images at ISO 400 and ISO 800. The noise is pretty prevalent at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, so this won't be the best option for recording low-light photos, if you can avoid it.

Manual settings are also available for the white balance and exposure value when you're in Program mode, but you may not need them. After all, this is an easy-to-use point-n-shoot camera. Considering the audience at which Samsung is aiming this type of camera, it's not surprising that advanced features aren't a priority.

Samsung cameras typically have the best looking menu structures around, and the DV300F follows suit. The menus use a lot of icons and graphics, which is great for beginners who are just trying to learn how to use a camera for the first time. The 3.0-inch LCD screen on the back of this model is very bright and sharp, and you can pick from three different brightness settings.

The LCD on the front isn't quite as bright, large, or sharp, measuring 1.5 inches diagonally. However, it serves its purpose very well. Since you won't be reviewing images on this smaller LCD screen, it doesn't necessarily need to match the high resolution you'll find on the larger LCD on the back.

If you're planning to shoot a lot of movies with your camera, and you want to view them on your large-screen HDTV, you may be disappointed that the DV300F can only shoot video at a maximum 720p HD. However, for sharing videos with social networking sites or on YouTube, 720p HD video resolution should be adequate. There's no HDMI slot on this DualView camera either.

From Samsung's perspective, this makes a lot of sense. After all, the DV300F is almost the perfect social networking type of digital camera. The LCD on the front of the camera makes it very easy for you to shoot self-portrait and couple shots, whether still images or movies, which are great for posting to Facebook. In addition, this DualView model has built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, which gives you the option of uploading your images directly to social networking and photography sites, such as Facebook, Photobucket, and Picasa. With the right apps downloaded to your smartphone, you even can link the DV300F with the phone, giving you several additional options for sharing photos and videos; like when a Wi-Fi connection is not available, but you have sufficient 3G/4G signal on your phone.

I found it very easy to set up the DV300F with my Wi-Fi network. The camera quickly detected the network and walked me through the process to make a connection. One issue I did notice was that extended use of the Wi-Fi capabilities of this camera tended to drain the battery more quickly than standard photography work.

In addition, Samsung did not include a separate battery charger with this model. You will charge the battery inside the camera with a short USB cable (2 feet long) and an AC adapter. Because the DV300F can drain the battery fairly quickly if you're using the front LCD and the Wi-Fi network quite a bit, you probably will want to have a second fully charged battery available. You'll also need to make sure you have a microSD style of memory card on hand, as that's the only type of card that will work with his model.

There are a few other drawbacks to the DV300F. Obviously, in this price range, it would be nearly impossible to include a touch-screen LCD on the back of the camera, but such a feature would be great for a model that's aimed squarely at beginners. It also would be nice to be able to work with the on-screen menus using a touch screen, as Samsung did not include a mode dial with this camera, nor did the manufacturer make the control buttons a comfortable size. The four-way button on this camera is far too small, and all of the DV300F's buttons should be raised away from the camera body a little bit more. With all of the on-screen menus and the large number of commands that require constant use of the four-way button, having larger control buttons would be extremely helpful. 

The power button also is a little small and is a bit too tight to the top panel of the camera, which can make it tough to turn on the camera when you're in a hurry to capture a spontaneous photo of your children. However, the DV300F does have a fast start-up, so you may be able to overcome any issues with the power button.

Beyond these issues, this DualView model is a fun camera to use. In addition to the LCD on the front of the camera, you can apply a wide variety of special effects to your images, either as you're shooting them or after they're recorded. Picture-in-picture, superimposed frames, "funny face," and more than a dozen other special effects are available with the DV300F, all of which contribute to the way this camera works well with social networking sites.

It fits easily inside a pocket, measuring less than 0.8 inches in thickness. The lens retracts fully inside the camera when it's powered down, with the lens glass protected by a cover. When in use, the lens extends about an inch away from the camera body at its maximum length, which means that the DV300F remains a very small camera, even when you're shooting images.

Considering its market, the color scheme with the DV300F is a bit odd. An all black camera is the most likely configuration for the DV300F, although you may also see a silver model with a red, blue, or purple back, which is a look I don't really like. For a camera that tries to be really fun to use, having better color options would be nice.

Bottom Line - The Samsung DV300F is a really fun camera, which is important for the market at which it's aimed. This camera, with a sub-$200 price point, has basic photography features and is only going to work well for beginning photographers who are looking for a camera that's easy to use. In that segment of the market, though, the DV300F has quite a few really interesting options that will make photography a lot of fun. This camera offers special effects that will allow you to turn an ordinary photograph into something special or funny for your Facebook page. It also features a Wi-Fi transmitter, making it easy to upload your photos and videos to social networking sites as soon as you shoot them. Samsung included a fully graphical menu interface, complete with automatic help screens, to make it easier to find the exact feature you want to use. Best of all though is the 1.5-inch LCD on the front of the camera, which makes it easy to take self-portraits or to keep the attention of children as you're trying to shoot their photos. Considering all of its fun features and its price point, the DV300F provides a great value. It won't work well for everyone -- especially those people looking to shoot a lot of landscape-type photos that require a large optical zoom lens -- but for those looking to create portrait photos that can be shared electronically, the DV300F is a great, inexpensive option.


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