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Samsung's Digimax S700 and S1000

Samsung's Digimax S700 and S1000

If they can overcome the sins of their fathers, Samsung's recently announced Digimax S700 and S1000 budget models could be very attractive snapshot cameras.

With the S1000, Samsung follows the trend of fitting bigger photos into smaller cameras. Integrating a 10-megapixel sensor, this sub-$400 point-and-shoot usurps the Digimax S800's top spot on Samsung's snapshot food chain. The S1000's small form and high-resolution sensor pits it against contenders such as the Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 and the Pentax Optio A10. Besides 10-megapixel stills, the S1000 can shoot MPEG-4 VGA videos at 30fps. MPEG-4 compression is a more efficient encoding than the M-JPEG video formats the lower-end S-series Digimax cameras use, which should making the S1000's videos easier to share. As with the camera's stills, videos can be edited in camera, so users can trim and splice their clips without connecting to a computer.

With a 7-megapixel sensor, some handy editing features, and a slim price tag, the Samsung Digimax S700 should appeal to casual users looking for an inexpensive, high-resolution point-and-shoot. Its relatively low price and modest feature set take on a wealth of competing snapshot cameras, such as the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W70, the Fujifilm FinePix F30, and the Canon PowerShot A700.

Photographers might be disappointed by both models' lack of manual controls, though they do have some useful features. The cameras can reach ISO 1,000 sensitivity for low-light and high-speed shots, though they lack the image stabilization included by many other current snapshot cameras. They also have several image effects and editing options, including a subject-highlighting mode that soft-focuses the background, and onboard image resizing and cropping.

Though the two have some nice interface touches, the hardware is middling at best. With a 2.4-inch LCD and no optical viewfinder, users will have to frame their shots through the cameras' slightly smaller than average screen. Their lenses are the same 35mm-to-105mm-equivalent version in preceding S-series models, and it's not especially wide or fast. They do use AA batteries, granting users some flexibility in how they shoot. Since they also use most of the same image-processing software, we're not expecting a huge leap in photo quality.

The Samsung Digimax S1000 and Samsung Digimax S700 will ship in August with suggested retail prices of $350 and $250, respectively.