Samsung Digimax V50

Samsung's top of the line Digimax V50 is a 5 megapixel, $699 camera sporting a 3x Schneider-Kreuznach zoom lens. The lens, with a 35mm equivalent range of 38mm-113mm isn't going to let you grab close-ups of wildlife, but it's good for standard snaps.

Like many 3x zoom lenses, it retracts into the case and is protected by an integrated lens cover. The V50 case, while not ultra slim, is small and light enough that you can carry it around in a purse or jacket pocket without problems (a carry pouch is supplied). It's also well built, with a robust cover for the battery and memory card compartment, while the cover for the USB port and DC-in socket is on a flexible mount to stop it breaking off.

There's a large (2-inch) LCD screen on a tilt-and-swivel mount, so you can use it to help compose shots in contortionist positions. The screen deals with outside lighting reasonably well, but in direct light you may need to rely on the optical viewfinder.

The V50 covers the gamut of photographic controls, from auto and scene settings for point-and-shoot photographers to programme, shutter and aperture priority and manual modes for more experienced users. Controls and menu structure, while not bad, are a little inconsistent. For example, an "S" button acts like the Function button on many Canon cameras, giving quick access to key camera settings. Good? Well, it would be if Samsung had put the crucial settings together under this same button. Here you get ISO, white balance and exposure compensation settings and it is also where you swap between aperture or shutter priority or manual modes. But you don't get image size and quality; for those you use the menu button. A bit more logic in the grouping of settings under the S or menu button wouldn't go amiss.

The V50 isn't the speediest camera, with a fairly average shot-to-shot speed and a modest burst mode that will rattle off three shots in succession while blanking out the LCD. But it does take good images, with decent sharpness and low noise at the ISO 50 and 100 settings. While its features are fairly standard for cameras of this type, the V50 has two points of note. First is its potential power sources. The camera comes with a rechargeable Li-on battery pack, which while small, provides a healthy battery life. But unusually for cameras that come with their own rechargeable pack, it also accepts AA alkaline batteries, or AA rechargeable Ni-MH or Ni-Cd batteries. It will also take CR-V3 batteries. Samsung is to be commended for the flexibility it offers with the V50 in this respect.

The V50's other distinction is its dual memory card slots. It's not alone in offering a choice of memory card format, but it is one of the few non-Sony cameras to offer the MemoryStick Duo format as one of those options, the other being SD card (a 32MB SD card comes with the camera). Overall a solid camera, if not one that truly stands out from the crowd.

Price: $699; Vendor: Samsung; Distributor: Adeal; Phone: 1300 723 001

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