For a sub-$200 camera, Samsung's 8-megapixel L830 packs some strange and useful features into its slimmer-than-it-feels frame. A manual exposure mode, manual color adjustments, and a high-resolution movie mode belie the camera's small price tag. However, features don't make the camera, and in the end we have to judge the L830 on how well it takes photos.
Though it measures 0.9 inch at the widest part and weighs 5.4 ounces with battery and SD card, the L830 feels slightly thick compared with other slim, compact cameras. One reason for that might be the 2.5-inch LCD screen, which sits on a raised bezel. Still, the camera can easily slip into a pocket or slim case. The L830 uses a standard four-way-plus-OK joypad and four additional buttons for most of its controls. The buttons and zoom rocker feel a bit too small and flat to be entirely comfortable under large thumbs, but they're well placed and organized. Function and Effect buttons offer fast access to most settings, and a convenient face-detection button easily toggles the camera's face detection autofocus/auto-exposure mode on and off.
Despite its budget status, the L830 offers a manual exposure mode and color channel controls. The manual mode lets you adjust the shutter from 1/1,500 to 8 seconds and toggle the 38mm-to-114mm-equivalent lens between F/3.0 and F/7.7 at its widest position (or F/5.6 to F/14.1 at its farthest telephoto position). Unfortunately, it doesn't offer aperture or shutter priority modes; if you want to manually adjust exposure, it's all or nothing. In addition to a variety of color effects, the L830 lets you create your own color mode by adjusting individual red, green, and blue color channels. If you don't want to deal with the various controls, the L830 features a handful of scene preset modes on top of the standard automatic shooting mode. It can also shoot movies at near-SVGA (800x592) resolution, though only at 20 frames per second; if you want standard 30 fps video, you need to use the VGA (640 x 480) or lower-resolution modes.
Up to ISO 200, the camera took 2.8 seconds between shots with the flash disabled. At ISO 400 and above, that wait increased to 4.5 seconds. Most point-and-shoot cameras activate their noise reduction algorithms around ISO 400, so a slight increase in shot-to-shot time is understandable since the camera needs extra processing time. If you mostly shoot in automatic mode, you won't experience this issue; the automatic mode keeps sensitivity at ISO 200 or lower. If you like to shoot in high-speed and high-sensitivity modes, though, you can expect a much longer wait between shots.