Wayne Thorp will speak at the 2015 AAII Investor Conference this fall; go to www.aaii.com/conference for more details.
A digital point-and-shoot camera with a front-facing LCD and Wi-Fi integration.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed the olloclip, which is a three-in-one lens attachment for the iPhone 4/4S. In the review, I said that the olloclip is nice for those not wanting to carry their iPhone and a digital camera. However, there are definitely times when you want a true digital camera with more features and higher resolution. For just those occasions, I have been testing out the 16-megapixel Samsung DV300F for the last few months, which was loaned to me by the company.
Several years ago, I purchased a Canon D-SLR camera body and a range of lenses. When I am looking for high-quality pictures, this is my go-to camera. Unfortunately, the backpack required to carry the camera body, lenses and accessories makes it difficult to take on longer trips. Furthermore, when I am traveling I usually have a notebook or tablet, so space becomes a premium in my luggage. With the DV300F, however, space really isn’t a consideration. It is very compact, even for a compact camera, measuring 2.2 inches by 3.7 inches by 0.8 inches and weighing 3.5 ounces.
One of the DV300F’s most unique features is its 1.5-inch, front-facing LCD. You probably won’t even know it’s there when it’s not active, but it’s a handy feature when taking self-portraits. Some reviewers complain about the color quality and limited viewing angles, but it serves its purpose well: taking the guess work out of taking a picture of yourself at arm’s length. The rear LCD is three inches with a 460k-dot resolution and is one of the better displays I have seen on a digital camera.
Having spent a fair amount of time reading about digital photography to get the most of my D-SLR camera, I can appreciate a true point-and-shoot camera that doesn’t require a lot of fiddling to start taking pictures. I was taking good-quality pictures within minutes of unpacking the DV300F. As such, the DV300F is geared toward the casual photographer looking for a compact digital camera that takes good pictures without inflicting too much pain on the wallet.
On the back of the DV300F, you will find control buttons for the flash, macro focusing mode and self-timer on a “dial” button. Here you will also find the Home and Menu buttons as well as the delete and play functions.
The zoom control, shutter release, power button and front LCD buttons are all on the top of the camera.
On the right side of the camera is a micro-USB connector, while the microSD and battery compartments are on the bottom. You can only charge the battery by plugging the camera into a USB charger, as no dedicated battery charger is included.
If you want to get creative with your shots, you can use the DV300F’s menu options, which you access by pressing the Home button on the back of the camera. From the rear LCD, you can choose from different shooting modes, “magic” features and filters, photo albums or Wi-Fi function. Depending on the type of photo you are taking, or where—landscape, sunset, dawn, backlight, beach & snow and text—the camera will automatically adjust the settings to fit the situation. The “magic” features and filters allow you to change the look of your pictures, add virtual frames and more.
There are also some built-in scene modes worth mentioning. Self Shot uses face detection to take a self-portrait and the Children scene displays a cartoon sequence on the front LCD with funny sounds to capture a child’s attention and, hopefully, make them smile.
For more “power” users, you can manually program the camera, adjusting for ISO light sensitivity, photo size and photo quality. You can also adjust exposure compensation, white balance, focus area, contrast, sharpness and color saturation.
Besides the forward-facing LCD, another one of the DV300F’s unique features has to do with Wi-Fi. The camera’s built-in wireless transmitter allows you to transfer photos to your Android and iOS device or even use your phone as the camera’s viewfinder and to trigger the shutter release to take a picture. You can also push photos and videos to Facebook, YouTube, Picasa and Photobucket and email them.
I used the camera extensively when I was on a week-long vacation in Michigan this past August and while in the Pacific Northwest in September. It performed very well in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. Colors are vibrant in the photos, although in its standard landscape mode I did find things to get a bit washed out in bright sunlight and colors blended together in low-light conditions. For the vast majority of pictures I tool, the standard settings were just fine. The camera does offer “power” options such as programming the ISO and EV (exposure value).
The DV300F also offers a 5x optical zoom lens with a 25mm wide-angle setting and dual image stabilization. At maximum zoom, the stabilization performs admirably, although it still requires you to have a steady hand.
The DV300F also records 1280 by 720 pixel video at 30 frames-per-second in MP4 format, but I have yet to find a digital camera that also delivers good-quality video. Footage tends to be grainy, but the lens’ motor sound does not come through when zooming in and out, and the optical zoom also functions while recording video.
For a point-and-shoot camera, I was pleased with the performance of the DV300F. For those of us that don’t want or need a great deal of customization, this is a camera to consider. However, it still offers customization and programmability that more advanced users look for. The built-in Wi-Fi is a nice touch as well, giving you the ability to share your pictures across social media sites or transfer them to other devices. Lastly, if you are someone who takes a lot of self-portraits, the forward-facing LCD is a must-have. Lastly, at around $130 from outlets such as Amazon.com, the DV300F is relatively inexpensive given its capabilities, making it a good choice for the casual photographer.
$199.99 (Currently $129 from Amazon.com)