Samsung Digimax L60 Review
The Digimax L60 is the first model from Samsung's "Prestige line" that we have seen (as of
7/2006.) It features 6-megapixels of resolution, a 3x optical zoom lens, 2.4-inch LCD screen,
640x480 (30fps) MPEG-4 movie mode with movie stabilization, all wrapped in a compact (3.8 x 2.23
x 0.8 in.) and durable metal body. This is a typical point-n-shoot model that offers loads of
fully automatic exposure modes for the beginner or novice users, while still allowing the more
creative access to settings such as ISO, White balance, Metering, and Color Effects.
Ergonomics are good. This is a very compact model that can be tucked away in almost any size pocket or purse. However, it has a well built feel to it and I found that it fit well in my large hands. One handed shooting was also a breeze. The various controls are precisely arranged and the menu system was easy to navigate. We especially liked the "Low Light!" message that will display while in dim lighting, which is great for helping beginners achieve better images with less camera shake by telling them to use the flash. Its large 2.4-inch LCD features a non-reflective coating, which makes it great when shooting outdoors, even in bright sunlight. Although it does not "gain up" when shooting in marginal lighting, the exposure system is very sensitive to light, allowing you to see you subject in these conditions.
Shooting performance was good. From power up to first image captured measured approx. 2.5 seconds. Shutter lag when pre-focused was about 1/10 of a second and 4/10 of a second including autofocus. When using the flash, these times slowed to 4/10 of a second and 7/10 of a second. The shot to shot time averaged 1.9 seconds between frames without using the flash and from 3 to 5 seconds with the flash, depending on subject distance and battery life. The Continuous Shooting mode was a little disappointing. I was able to capture 5 frames in approx. 5.5 seconds. The LCD goes blank when shooting in this mode, so following a moving subject will be difficult. All tests were done using a Lexar 1GB SD card, quality/size set at 6m Superfine, image review off, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
Image quality was average for a 6-megapixel consumer model. While the majority of our samples were sharp with pleasing color saturation and exposure, the canon shot was a bit troubling. When you view the image to fit your screen (about 30% for my 19-inch LCD set at 1024x768), the image looks good. However, at 100% you can see lots of chromatic aberrations (purple fringing around highlights) and the subject itself looks pixelated. On a better note, the L60 did well in the portrait department. Both our indoor and outdoor samples show sharp facial detail as well as natural skin tones. Samsung claims the L60's built-in flash can cover approx. 9.8 feet (3m) at wide angle, with the ISO set to Auto. When shooting close-up portraits of our model, I found it produced good flash exposures from about 5 or 6 feet away, using the mid telephoto end of the zoom range.
When a picture can't capture the moment, you can opt to us the L60's movie mode. It records video at resolutions of 640x480 or 320x240 with a selectable frame rate of 15 or 30 frames per second. Unlike most digicams that record audio, you can use the zoom while recording, and this model also features "movie stabilization". Overall, our movie samples were average. I saw typical amounts of image noise and compression artifacts, the AF system did OK when zooming or following moving subjects. When zooming in and out, the L60 stops recording sound, so your movies won't have the annoying sound of the zoom mechanism. Movies are captured using MPEG-4 compression and use much less space than other movie types.
Power is supplied by a 3.7V 860mAh SLB-0837 Li-ion Battery that Samsung claims is good for 190 shots or 84 minutes of continuous video capture. We had no problems capturing most of our samples (about 60 shots) and concluding many of our other tests on a single charge.
Bottom line - the Samsung Digimax L60 is a tempting model in the 6-megapixel compact consumer digicam category. Other than the issues we saw with one of our subjects, it offers good image quality, performance, and versatility, all at a reasonable price of about US$299.99 or less. So, if you're in the market for a durable camera with loads of "cool" effects and easy to use exposure modes, be sure to check out this model.
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