Samsung HMX-R10 HD review: Samsung HMX-R10 HD

Despite being a midlevel HD camcorder, Samsung gave the R10 some very nice shooting options. For example, you can choose from four different HD modes: 1080/60i (superfine quality), 1080/60i (normal quality), 1080/30p, and 720/60p. This isn't uncommon, but nonetheless nice to find on this model. If you're into interval shooting, you can record clips every 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 30 seconds over a period of 24, 48, or 72 hours or until you fill your memory card. You can also capture high-speed video at 300 or 600 frames per second with resolutions of 416x240 and 192x108 pixels, respectively. They only capture up to 10 seconds at a time, but since it plays back in slow motion, the clips are actually 50 seconds from 300fps and 100 seconds for 600fps. Between its Easy Q mode and several scene shooting options and of course an Auto mode, this camcorder seems geared more for general point-and-record use; despite having manual focus and aperture- and shutter-speed-priority modes, they're of limited use and feel more like afterthought features.

The R10's video quality is generally very good for its class. It performed best in 1080/60i (superfine quality) and 720/60p resolutions with the latter ultimately being the most consistent. Movies shot using 1080/30p resolution were very jittery/choppy to the point of being unwatchable whenever there was any movement in the scene--from the subject or shooter. As to be expected, the 1080/60i was smoother, but trailing and artifacts were noticeable. The 720/60p mode turned out the smoothest results with less trailing; however, artifacts were still visible. While video was generally noisy at all light levels, there was a lot of color noise in low light/indoor scenes to the point of distraction. (Samsung includes the capability to turn on its 3D-NR noise reduction, which helps smooth out the picture some.) If you're sensitive to noise, you'll probably want to skip the R10. On the other hand, video was quite sharp so it's a bit of a trade-off.

While not outstanding, the R10's color performance was good and on par with other camcorders in its class. The biggest problem with the R10's colors are that they come across a tad faded and there's no color control options should you want to make things more vivid. The auto white balance was reasonably consistent, but there are presets as well as a manual option if you want to take advantage of them.

The R10's photo quality is better than most camcorders in this price range, but still not up to replacing a dedicated digital still camera. Photos taken in bright lighting conditions using lower ISOs exhibit good sharpness and color making them suitable for Web sharing and small prints. (Its colors were actually somewhat better in photos.) You also get use of many of the same features available in video mode including the manual and semimanual controls and the touch-based focus. According to Samsung, the R10 has a 12 megapixel resolution for still images, but that's an interpolated number; the native resolution is 9 megapixels. Lastly, though you can capture stills while recording video they'll be at the video's resolution and not what you have the still photo resolution set to.

If you're looking at pocket camcorders but are underwhelmed with the features they offer and want something just slightly more flexible, the Samsung HMX-R10 is worth considering. The lure of full HD video is there, but it's the 720/60p option that turns out the best results. The design isn't going to be a good fit for everyone, though, so we do recommend trying it out if possible before you buy.

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