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Samsung HZ15W review: Samsung HZ15W

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The photo quality from the HZ15W is fairly mediocre--good for Web use, 4x6-inch prints, and maybe the occasional 8x10. Like a lot of point-and-shoot cameras, the results are at their best when using ISOs below ISO 200. Above that mark and you'll end up with noticeable noise/artifacts and a significant loss of detail, sharpness, and color accuracy. In Macro mode, the camera can produce shots with good fine detail and sharpness, but may look oversharpened and crunchy. Detail and sharpness aren't good out of macro, though, and generally appear overprocessed when viewed at full size.

There's nearly no barrel distortion at the camera's widest lens position. More noticeable (but barely) is some pincushion distortion when the lens is fully extended. However, the amount of chromatic aberration in my test shots was well above normal and the purple/blue fringing not only made frequent appearances, but was visible even when pictures were viewed at smaller sizes. Overall, colors are pleasing and in a standard shooting mode like Program or Manual they're reasonably accurate. Exposure was OK, but highlights had a tendency to blow out.

Video quality is good in general, though low-light movies are loaded with noise. This is typical of video from compact cameras, however. It is appreciated that the zoom does function while recording and that Samsung chose not to cut the mic; the lens moves reasonably quietly.

Again, I'm sure there are people that will be thrilled enough by the Samsung HZ15W's lens and feature set to overlook its unremarkable photo quality and frequently frustrating menu and control design. But with similar--and generally better--options out there from Panasonic, Canon, Sony, and Kodak, it's a much tougher sell.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Kodak EasyShare Z915
1.7 
1.1 
0.6 
0.4 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20
2.8 
2.1 
0.7 
0.4 
Samsung HZ15W
2.8 
2.2 
0.7 
0.5 
Canon PowerShot SX120 IS
2.5 
2.6 
0.7 
0.6 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1
2.3 
2.5 
1.1 
0.9 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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