Samsung S1030 and S850 digital cameras
More features than a Sunday newspaper supplement
Review The Samsung S1030 and S850 offer huge image sizes at a knockdown price, with plenty of extra features and full 30 fps movie recording with sound. With superior ASR and Wise Shot modes on the S850 you're guaranteed better shots. Just don't forget to buy a few dozen sets of batteries, as these puppies are power hungry.
Samsung S1030 compact digital camera
There was a time when, a hundred and thirty of your hard-earned would get you only the most basic digital camera. But the Samsung S1030 combines a huge 10 megapixel chip with a wealth of extra features at this knockdown price, combining superior image quality with ease of use: its stablemate, the S850, has an 8 megapixel chip but, at £30 more, offers some significant enhancements. One's silver, the other's black; so what is there to choose between them?
Samsung S850 compact digital camera
At 3.3cm thick, neither are the slimmest cameras on the market, and they'd both cause a significant bulge in any pocket. But they fit neatly in the hand, and the 2.7in LCD screen (2.5in on the S850) is large enough to see the image clearly and bright enough to view even outdoors. Unusually, the S1050 comes with 45MB of onboard storage, which means you can use them both straight out of the box if you haven't yet bought a memory card - but remember that, at 10 megapixel resolution, you'll only be able to hold around 9 images internally. The S850 has just 20MB built in memory, which is just plain irritating. With support for up to 4GB of flash memory, though, the internal storage isn't really an issue.
The cameras are both powered by two standard AA batteries, which, in the light of the rechargeable Lithium Ion cells used by many of their competitors, seems a bit cheap. On the plus side, though, it means you're never going to be stuck with a dead camera when you can always buy a couple of new AAs.
But in the long run, it's going to add significantly to the cost of running these cameras: in our tests, a couple of standard AA batteries were exhausted after taking less than a dozen photographs and 30 seconds of video. During the period it took us to test these cameras they gobbled up three sets of Duracell AAs - and they ain't cheap.
The good news is that when the cameras are attached to your computer they draw power through the USB cable; the bad news is that you can't use them as either a camera or a viewer in this mode.
I have a S1000, which from the article seems to be pretty identical to the S1030 and IMO the noise reduction is a minus.
At 50% pictures look great, but viewed at 100% on a TFT the picture is quite ugly. I would prefer generic noise or (some) jpeg artifacts over the look of this noise reduction.
It's not really a major issue, just don't think about using (a part of) the picture for screen display at "original" size (that equals almost 40" - probably what the author meant with not making poster prints).
I echo the comment above about rechargeable vs non-rechargeable batteries: only a profligate fool whose hobby is destroying the environment uses non-rechargeables in such a device. But why "Duracells"? You're just falling for, and paying for, the TV advertising. Those bunnies aren't compared with those using generic *alkaline* batteries - they are compared with those using zinc-carbon batteries which seem to exist purely to show Duracells up in a good light. If you must use dry cells, don't waste your money on Duracells but buy generic alkalines instead.
RE Er...portrait mode?
Actually mate it is a cut out, these samsungs donts have proper depth of field control. Just a choice of 2 pre focused areas in the centre of shot. So blame the camera not the reviewer
"In one of the preset portrait modes, the background is blurred out of focus around the cutout in the shape of a person"
It's not a "cutout", it's called limiting the "Depth of Field", and I would hope that anyone writing a camera review would be enough of a photog to at least use the proper term for it and know how it works...
Good review - Throwaway cameras
Very good review. I've used an S850 since the Spring, when I needed a quick replacement "throwaway" camera that used SD card storage and AA batteries. My experience has been that alkaline batteries last a bit longer than the review stated (perhaps the reviewer accidently bought counterfeit batteries), but I do own a large number of rechargeable LiMh AA's which I use regularly.
The reason that I call the S850 a "throwaway" is that it's just a transitional form. Features that will be upgraded in future models are, no sound while zooming; focus problems when partially zoomed in; default to flash mode when turning camera on every time [drives me nuts]; failure to hold the "S" priority settings if I turn the camera off while on that setting; lack of an optical viewfinder; and numerous other small things that irritate me. I won't own this camera forever. In a couple of years, I'll replace it with something better.
In the meantime, its best features are indeed its excellent anti-shake capability (a tripod is simply not needed any more) and phenomenal picture detail. The ASR is superb. Recording videos is weird when seeing a 1/2-second delay between what I'm recording & what's on the screen.
All in all, the S850 is an okay camera, as long as I think of it as a throwaway.... Thanks for the review.