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It is not often I come across a camera this small that has a manual exposure mode. In my tests I found picture quality very good for such a small and relatively inexpensive digital camera. The L210 is also easy enough to use. All in all it is a very good snapshot digital camera.
|Outdoor 1 (Medium Zoom)|
The L210 outperforms the majority of digital cameras in this test. To start with it handles the glare of the sun much better than most cameras do. This means that there is far more detail showing in the lighter areas on the boats and on the white, wooden beams under the roof of the building. Overall sharpness is good. This is true away from the centre as well in the middle. Both the brickwork on the buildings and towards the edges of the boats are sharper than average.
|Outdoor 2 (No Zoom)|
This is a tough test for sharpness with the scene so distant. Even so the L210 does well again. There is a slight loss of definition in the darkest areas of the shot.
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|Outdoor 3 (Maximum Zoom)|
With the zoom lens fully extended sharpness is again better than most cameras manage. Here and there a small amount of purple fringing shows. This is minor and is only likely to be an issue with large prints of scenes where sunlight or another strong light source catches the edges of light objects. I have also been impressed by the smoothness of the photos. As camera manufactures try and pack more and more pixels into tiny sensors jagged areas sometimes show up when making large prints. This is not the case with the L210.
|Outdoor 4 (Building)|
This is the clincher when it comes to sharpness. As in my other photos the L210 has produced a photo that is sharp from edge to edge. This is impressive and the result is again much better than I am used to seeing.
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Maybe the skin tones could do with being toned down a shade or two. Colours have been boosted by using a white balance setting of cloudy. Using the automatic setting for white balance created a duller image and I prefer this one.
|Indoor Portrait with Flash|
The flash is quite strong. This has caused some of the areas of the face to become reflective and you can pick out areas where the light hits the face. This masks the skin tones.
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|Indoor Portrait without Flash|
Without the flash the L210 produces a more natural looking photograph. There is plenty of detail and if there had been a bit more brightness it would have been an excellent effort.
I like the colours created in my tests. The colours produced by Samsung digital cameras have a different feel to them than many other brands. Blues tend to be quite strong.
This is another test where the L210 compares well with other cameras. The macro test shot is bright and is sharply focused.
ISO 400 and ISO 1600: The results of my higher ISO tests are in line with those produced by most other digital cameras. I would not boost the ISO rating on a compact digital camera unless there was no other way of getting the picture. Noise creeps in even at relatively low levels, especially in darker areas of the scene.
Overall: Overall the L210 is a surprisingly good camera. The most impressive feature is the sharpness of the shots. I really like the way focusing remains sharp as you reach the edges of a photo.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times: It took 0.29 seconds to take a single photo. This is a good time. Five photos took 12.7 seconds. With flash turned on the camera was slower, with a single photo taking 1.77 seconds and five photos taking 17.61 seconds. I was able to turn the camera on and take a photo in 2.69 seconds.
Style: At 20mm wide you should have no problem fitting this camera into most pockets. It has a neat "unfussy" design. The L210 is available in black, red and silver.
Dimensions: 87.7 x 56.3 x 20mm
Batteries: Lithium ion. Samsung supply a battery and charger with the L210 as standard.
Memory cards: Samsung have only built 10mb of storage into the camera, so unless you already own an SD or SDHC memory card you will need to buy one before you can really put this camera through it's paces. I was only able to take 3 shots before the memory card was full.
Ease of Use Rating: Very Good.
Points I Like: Picture quality - manual exposure mode
Where it could improve: Small built in memory
Alternatives: There are not many small digital cameras around with a manual exposure mode. You could consider another Samsung model the Samsung NV20.
David Tymon's verdict: There is a tendency for Samsung digital cameras to be overlooked. That's a shame as some of their snapshot cameras like the L210 offer good value for money. I like this camera. It ticks most boxes, has an unfussy design and takes a good picture.
David Tymon works with Cameras.co.uk