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The Samsung Digimax 350SE is placed towards the top of Samsung's range of digital cameras. It is available with a reasonably stylish blue and silver, or grey and silver finish. The Digimax 350 SE is competitively priced, features a 3.2 megapixel sensor and has some unique features for its price-point.
- F/2.6-F4.5, 7.0-21.0mm (35mm film equivalent: 34-102mm) 3x Schneider lens
- 3.2 megapixel CCD
- 1.5" Colour TFT monitor
- Video clips with sound
- ISO Auto, 100, 200, 400
- Central/Spot metering
- Uses CompactFlash
- Sharpness setting
- Four white balance presets
- Uses 4xAA batteries (alkalines supplied)
- MGI Photosuite III SE
- Dimensions: 114x70x4939mm
- 240g (without batteries and card)
- 350 retail price, 330 online
Looking at the Digimax 350 SE's specifications on paper it appears well featured for a sub-350 three megapixel compact camera.
The hand-grip of the Digimax 350 SE is slightly raised and rounded, giving a comfortable feel and the controls are all placed sensibly.
Build quality is above average, though I would have liked to have seen a slightly more responsive four-way controller. This very minor niggle aside, the Digimax 350 SE offers a good weight and size balance.
Included in the box is a smart, padded case. This will help protect your camera from scratches and perhaps even liquid spills to an extent. There is also a camera strap that can be attached to the eyelet on the right of the camera.
Some of the menus and displays of the Digimax 350SE are shown below. The menus are slower than average in operation but the important facility of playback zooming and scrolling is fast.
|Still capture display screen. Information on camera settings are clearly displayed. A press of the LCD button hides most of these from view.||Playback menu. You can zoom in up to five times and scroll around the photo quickly.||The movie mode menu provides exposure and ISO adjustment, white balance setting and a choice of effects such as black and white recording.|
|The still image menu lets you set up the basic camera settings. These are: image size/quality/sharpness, special effects, single/continuos shooting mode, exposure compensation, ISO adjustment and white balance.||The playback menu has options for a slide show, protection of images, deleting/formatting and printing.||The main setup menu allows you to format the card and set power and language options. There are options for a date imprint and saving your settings. Sound, LCD Brightness, Video out and quick view settings can also be changed.|
A nice feature mentioned in the manual is sound can be disabled by holding down the power button for more than two seconds when turning the camera on. This would be useful in places like a church where you don't want to cause a disturbance and don't have time to fiddle with the menu settings.
The Digimax 350 modes are controlled via the dial surrounding the shutter release on top of the camera. There are six modes:
Still image mode: For macro and normal shots.
Night scene mode: For taking photos at night or against a background. In this mode you can also select landscape and portrait sub-modes.
Movie clip mode: These movie clips can be very long, depending on the size of the memory card used.
Play mode: This shows the stored images on the TFT monitor, you can also view a slide-show or zoom in on the photos.
PC mode: Allows the PC to recognise the camera as a removable disk and lets you retrieve your photos from the card.
Setup mode: Allows the settings outlined in the previous menu section above.
Particularly good features that stand out on this camera are the high quality movie mode and the ability to record audio with each photo. The macro mode allows close up photography of between 20cm and 80cm, more on that later.
The Digimax 350 SE comes with four alkaline AA batteries. These don't last as long as rechargeables and are more expensive, so we'd advise buying a set of high power NiMH batteries. For an explanation on batteries click here. Battery-life seemed good with our NiMH batteries, but for long trips you'll probably need two sets of batteries to be on the safe side.
Connection to a PC is made through the supplied USB cable.
In addition there are sockets for a video out, which can have PAL or NTSC output and 6V power in.
LCD Screen and Viewfinder
The viewfinder is basic and doesn't offer diopter adjustment for spectacle wearers. Adjacent to it are two lights that let you know if the shot is in focus and if the flash is ready to fire.
The TFT display is much easier to use, updates quickly and is clear, bright and colourful. Though like many other lower-priced digital cameras, it can be difficult to see clearly in strong sunlight.
The Schneider lens seemed to help the Digimax 350SE in this department. Images were generally sharp and the metering system held up well under pressure too. Sample shots showed a good level of colour accuracy with no sign of over-saturation.
There was visible image noise on some photos, a common problem with low-cost digital cameras. Used indoors the built-in flash performed quite well and the focussing system was reliable.
|At a normal viewing distance on a 6x4 print this shot looks sharp and detailed. At A4 print size the noise in the image becomes more visible, as you can see in the blown up section shown to the left.|
|The detailed part of this statue was recorded well and the metering system performed well.|
|This shot was taken with the lens fully zoomed out.|
|This shot shows the maximum amount of zoom the lens is capable of.|
Using the Slow synchro flash creative effects such as this can be achieved. The camera's white balance auto setting generally performed well.
Colours appeared reasonably accurate throughout our testing and shots needed very little post-editing.
The Digimax 350 SE is capable of producing detailed and pleasing photos. The movie mode, which allows long recordings is an added bonus. As is the included MGI Photosuite III SE imaging software.
Speed of operation could do with being faster occasionally, but overall the camera is very user friendly. Samsung have produced a camera that is suited well to those entering into digital photography on a budget, priced competitively at around 330 online.
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