Samsung i85 Review

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Samsung i85

Steve's Conclusion

Samsung has recently released the "I"series of digital cameras, and the i85 is the top of that line. This is an ultra-compact 8-megapixel digicam with a 5x optical internal zoom lens, a 3" LCD screen with improved color and contrast, Face Detection, Advanced Shake Reduction, and an SVGA video shooting mode. It has a fully automatic shooting mode with 14 pre-programmed scene modes for shooting in most situations. There is also a program shooting mode that gives you some control over the shooting settings like ISO, white balance, etc.

Not only is the i85 a very capable ultra-compact digital camera, but it is also a media player. The camera has a very large amount of internal memory (190MB!), that allows you to download a World Tour Guide from the Samsung web site. This tour guide gives you travel information on attractions from 30 countries around the world. There is an MP3 player built into the camera that will play songs that are loaded onto the internal memory or the SD card through the included headphones or through the camera's speaker. The same can be done with movies or videos using the PMP player. Finally there is also a text viewer that will display a .txt document up to 99,999 pages long.

The i85 has a very sturdy feel to it. Even though the stainless body is only 20.2mm thick. The slight curve on the right side gives it a very comfortable feel, and made one handed operation as snap. The zoom is easy to operate with the thumb, and the shutter release is easy to operate without shaking or moving the camera. The rest of the buttons are arranged above and to the right of the 3" LCD screen. The menus are very easy to navigate, however, there are 4 separate menus when in shooting mode, that can make things hard to find until you learn where they are. The LCD is very bright and easy to see outdoors in all lighting, and gains up nicely in low light situations. When viewing photos, movies, or even a text file, the screen is very sharp and colors look great. One problem is that the screen and the rest of the camera collect finger prints very easily and are very noticeable when light hits the camera.

The performance from this ultra-compact was average for a camera in this class. From start up to the first image captured was 2.5 seconds. The delay when the camera is pre-focused is just 1/10 of a second and 7/10 of a second when including the focusing system. When using the flash the camera is a little slow as it charges the flash after you have focused on your subject. This can take from 1.2 seconds to around 4 seconds depending on the light and distance of the subject. In continuous shooting mode I was able to capture 11 pictures in 10 seconds. There is also a motion capture mode that will capture 30 pictures in just 4.5 seconds before the buffer fills, however, the size of the photo is only 640x480. The LCD does freeze or turn off when shooting in these modes which can make it hard to follow your subject. These tests were completed using an A-Data Speedy SD 512MB memory card, program shooting mode, 8M superfine mode, flash off, and all other settings at the factory defaults unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.

Shooting in 8MP SuperFine mode produced very pleasing results. The color was very vivid and the exposures were excellent when shooting outdoors. The 5x optical zoom lens is above average for an ultra-compact model. It has a 35mm equivalent of 36mm-180mm. This is great for shooting close-up and group portraits. It is also powerful enough to single out someone in a group or get you closer to a subject that is off in the distance. There were slight instances of chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) and very slight edge softness when you are looking real closely at 100%. Also, because of the position of the lens (top right corner on the front), I found my left index finger in the frame often while shooting photos. Using the "pinch" technique seemed to remedy this problem.

When shooting indoors, the flash is very well controlled. It can take a little longer than most cameras to charge (up to 4 seconds) because it doesn't charge until you have prefocused on your subject. It charges and delivers a flash that is near perfect for the subject that you have selected. It has a range of around 13ft. at the wide angle and around 9 ft. at the zoom end. This seemed to be true as all of the portrait pictures that I took were all from at least 6 ft. away and the camera always selected an ISO of 100, making sure that noise is not an issue. It also produced excellent colors and skin tones.

This camera shoots video at a resolution that you will not find on most digicams. The resolution of 800x592 or SVGA is mainly found on digital video cameras, however, the frame rate is limited to 20 fps, which produces videos that slightly choppy. It also has the standard 640x480 and 320x240 resolutions at 15 and 30 fps. The full 5x optical zoom is functional while shooting, which is also a feature that is not available on many models. The file sizes are small considering the quality of the movies, which is good because the size of your memory card determines how much video you can capture.

The i85 is powered by the SLB-1137D 3.7v 1100mAh rechargeable Li-ion Battery. This battery held up very well when put through our tests. It was able to perform all the necessary tests, taking around 100 pictures, several videos, and viewing of the photos several times. On top of this I also listened to MP3's and viewed several text documents on just one charge, with power to spare.Liike many of Samsung's 2007 models, the i85 has a unique way of charging the cameras battery. Unlike most models that us an external AC charger, or a proprietary unit that charges the battery in the camera, the i85 uses the USB cable. While there is an included AC adapter that you can plug the USB cable into, you can also use you PC. This offers great versatility, as you can charge the camera just about anywhere without having to carry anything with you but the USB cable.

Bottom line - The Samsung Digimax i85 is a very capable ultra-compact with a variety of high-end features. It is easy enough for anyone to use with the fully automatic and pre-set scene modes, or you can use program mode to have a little more control. There is also a large variety of effects that allow for a bit more creative photographs. This camera is perfect for someone that travels as it contains many multimedia functions, including a downloadable world tour guide, MP3 player, etc. With class average performance, pleasing image quality and a price tag around US$300 or lower, the Samsung i85 offers an excellent value for anyone who travels or those who have to have the latest "techno" gadgets with multiple functions stuffed in to one device.

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