Nice pocket all-in-one
I went for the Samsung SL820 because I got used to the layout and the value of their cameras, all great buys for the price. This one offered 12 megapixels, nice wide angle (28mm equiv) starting point for the 5x zoom, and the description mentioned HD video. When I first tested it I was a little disappointed because the detail on the highest rez is somewhat fuzzier than the last one I got, a 10 MP model. There appears to be some kind of interpolation that detracts from the crispness of the detail. The sharpness suffers even more when zoomed in, past about the halfway point, even with tripod shots. I almost decided to send the SL820 back after initial testing, but I gave it a chance to change my mind. Things to like: The color is very good, maybe a bit more like Canon, with excellent skin tones and rich but believable color tones spicing up the images. The flash has several settings, full, red-eye reduction, slow sync, and fill flash. That last one really impressed me because it appears to act like through-the-lens control, adding just the right touch to most shots in its range. This is especially true of close-up photos where many other cameras would normally blast out the detail. The shots instead appear to be almost natural, nicely balanced and usually right on for exposure. I also really like the video capability. The format is MP4, very compressed for the file size, but impressively detailed. It shoots 4x3 or 16x9, in 3 diff frame rates. I have found that where I couldn't necessarily get a good still shot, the video exposure is usually pretty good, actually good enough to use individual frames as still shots. I am most impressed with the audio that goes with the video. It's quite good compared to any other digital cameras I've tried. I did an outdoor recording of someone demonstrating a procedure for a group, and the audio clarity was fine, even for people standing a ways from the camera. Even some background sound in a nearby tennis court was clear. I took this camera to some musical performances and was quite pleased with the results. Whether acoustic or amplified, the clarity was excellent, nice reminders to bring home. I won't have any hesitation to combine video clips from this camera with my full HD video camera when I need extra shots to mix in. I have tried doing extended video and the battery held out for well over an hour, but I did have an occasional stop that seemed to relate to a max file size it could handle (just restarted again, no problem). The battery is no longer standard AA, now a lighter smaller lithium proprietary model, but it is easy to recharge in the camera from any USB connector (USB jack pwr supply comes with the cam). Also, the USB cord has a built in LED that shifts from red to green when the charge is complete. The same jack for the charge cord/download connector is also an output for HDMI if you invest in the $40 accessory. Then you can play back big-screen images right to your HDMI TV. All in all, I decided to keep the little gem because it does so much, and even the problems are quite acceptable as a trade off for the versatility. I haven't even tried to list all the extra features, like 2-level shot stabilizing, face recognition, multiple program modes, and high ISO settings for low light, etc. You won't be blown away by any one thing, but as a package it's very nice.
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