Samsung L830 Review
The Samsung L830 is the new top of the line "L" series model. Featuring an 8-megapixel imaging sensor, 3x optical zoom, face detection and Samsung's ASR (Advanced Shake Reduction) system. All of these features are squeezed into an ultra-compact body with full Auto, 12 pre-programmed Scene modes, Program and full Manual shooting modes. It also features a Movie mode that allows you to capture video at near SVGA (800x592) resolution. Allowing you take and view your pictures is the 2.5" "Intelligent" LCD screen filling up any remaining space on the back of the camera. As with other Samsung cameras, there are 3 separate menu systems that you have to look through when you want to change settings. This is only a problem until you learn where these features are, then it is a breeze to find and change anything.
The compact size of the L830 makes it very easy and convenient to carry with you anywhere, fitting very easily into a pocket or small hand bag. The metal body gives it a sturdy feel in your hands. It is very easy to operate with either one or two hands, with the zoom control and shutter release being easy to use in both situations. The different camera modes are easily and quickly selected thanks to the made dial on top of the camera. Some of the buttons on the back are fairly small and could be a little difficult for people with large fingers, but the main controls are easy to use. Taking up most of the back of the screen is a 2.5" LCD screen, that produces excellent color and is very easy to see in all lighting conditions. The display even gains up nicely to help you frame your shots in low light situations.
Shooting performance was ok when completing our tests. From startup to first image captured, was 2.7 seconds. When pre-focused the shutter lag was just 1/10 of a second and 1/2 second or more when a including the focusing (depending on light and distance). The shot to shot delay was around 2.5 seconds without and 3 to 5 seconds with the flash. There are a couple of continuous shooting modes that worked very well. In continuous I captured 10, 8 Megapixel images, in just 8 seconds without the buffer filling. There is also a motion capture mode that shoots in a 640x480 resolution. With this mode I captured 30 images in 4.5 seconds. During these modes the screen turns off so it can be a little hard to follow your subject while shooting. All tests were done using an A Data Speedy 512MB SD memory card, quality/size set at 8M Superfine, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
With a standard 3x optical zoom, you will get a 35mm equivalent of 38mm to 114. This lens is good for taking group portraits and landscape shots at the wide end and close-up portraits and macro framing with the zoom end. It is not, however, enough to bring a distant subject up close. The lens did produce moderate barrel distortion on the wide end and moderate chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) throughout. The color and exposure were both handled very well, but there is some edge softness when viewing the pictures at 100%.
When shooting in portrait mode, the camera did a very good job of adjusting the settings for the present shooting conditions, however, at some times it will sacrifice the quality of the image if necessary. When the camera needs to it will raise the ISO as high as it needs to in order for the flash to work properly. This will also raise the amount of noise in your pictures so you have to keep an eye on the settings that the camera selects, and if possible get closer if you need to. The color and skin tones turned out very nice when viewing them alone, but look a little yellow in the sample pictures due the color of the background. The AF assist lamp is very helpful in low light situations, but the flash takes several seconds to charge (Samsung claims up to 4 seconds) depending on the distance and the lighting conditions.
Nowadays more and more digicams are featuring high sensitivity settings, like ISO 1600 on the L830. With that said, it is important to understand why camera manufacturers are using the high ISO ranges and how they truly affect the average photographer. First, high ISO settings give a photographer the ability to capture sharper, blur free images in marginal lighting as well as extend the flash range. This allows you to capture usable photos free of camera shake and motion blur, that you would not be able to get with a camera that does not have these abilities. The noise issue seen in most digicams when set at a high ISO is to be expected, and as long as you are not going to do a lot of cropping or create prints larger than say a 4x6, this shouldn't be an issue. With the L830, I started to notice noise at ISO 400, and surprisingly 800 and 1600 are still usable.
On top of the standard 640x480 and 320x240 resolutions with frame rates of 15 and 30fps, the L830 also includes a 800x592 (SVGA) resolution with a frame rate of 20fps. While the ability to capture such large size movies is nice, the videos are choppy due to the slower 20fps frame rate, and they also look slightly grainy when you watch them at full size on your computer. The other resolutions take very nice and smooth video at 30fps. The file sizes are surprisingly small on this camera, allowing for more pictures and video on the memory cards, and remember, the video length is still limited to the size of the card.
Power is supplied by a 3.7V 900mAh proprietary battery pack. I had no problems capturing all of our sample photos (about 100 shots), several videos and concluding many of our other tests on a single charge, with power to spare. Unlike most models that us an external AC charger, or a proprietary unit that charges the battery in the camera, the L830 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 L830 is a good digicam with face detection technology, digital image stabilization and high ISO features, all combined into a very easy to use fully automatic design. With a price of around US$179 or less, this is a good deal for the quality and performance you will get.
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