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The most significant feature of the L77 has to be the large 7x optical zoom cunningly concealed in the thin frame. It's a feature that more cameras are having and Samsung are one of the select few daring to be the Avante Garde.
- Sensor: 7.1Mp
- Image size: 3072x2304 pixels
- Lens: 38-266mm f/3.5 - f/5.6
- LCD Monitor: 2.5in colour TFT LCD (230,000 pixel)
- Focusing: Auto- 80cm, Macro- 10cm
- Shutter speed 1-1/1250sec
- Metering : Multi, Spot, Center
- ISO: Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
- Flash modes: Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off
- Storage: 20Mb internal/SD/MMC
- Batteries: Lithium Ion
- Connectivity: USB 2.0
The L77 costs around £169 and price comparisons would be the Panasonic FX12 at £159 with 7.2Mp, 3x optical zoom and a Leica lens. Alternatively, the Fuji F40fd at £165 with 8.3Mp, 3x optical zoom and face detection technology. Both these models are cheaper, but both are larger cameras and neither match the zoom capability. The Panasonic has a far superior glass on the front whilst the Fuji has the hardware-based face detection system.
Samsung L77 Modes and features
The front of the L77 harbours a deceitful lens because when the camera is switched on, nothing pops out. All the zoom and focusing is internal which makes the camera truly thin. The power button is flush with the body to stop accidental powering up.
On the back is the zoom function which is a tilt switch pushing up to zoom in and pulling down to zoom out. There is a distinct lack of easy to understand icons or buttons. The M button is for the easy menu. Interestingly, the camera has two menu buttons and the M button will give quick access to the simpler shooting options like Auto, EPS which is the Electronic Picture Stabiliser and, unfortunately, that in itself is a worse version of image stabilisers. Other options are Program mode for those who are daring to take control and a Video mode. Pressing down in the Menu will open up the Scene modes which consist of Nightscene, Portrait, Children, Landscape, Macro, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks and Beach & Snow. Samsung have realised that Beach & Snow are basically the same and put them on the same option as the camera compensates for the reflection of light from the ground. However, they have decided that Dawn and Dusk are in some way different which may mean that the camera boosts different colours depending on the sunset or sunrise or it could always mean that in Dawn mode, the camera refuses to take pictures whilst pointing West.
The E button below the M button is for some basic effects which include black & white conversion, Sepia toning, Red, Green and Blue casts and finally a Negative option which puts all colours and tones into the opposite.
The proper menu button is located in the middle of the navigation pad and pressing once brings up recording settings which in Auto only seem to allow modifications to the Voice memo and Voice record option. In Program this menu sub heading is extended to include Sharpness and Contrast. Pressing left will swap between the different sub headings of the menu and the next option is Sound control. This option allows changes to the noises the camera makes which clears up why the Voice options aren't in this sub heading. There are two set up screens and the first one gives the options of changing the file numbers from continuous to renewing when erased. This means your pictures will always being at number one, but bear in mind that if your images are not renamed, you will wipe over previous images when saving to computer. The Language can be changed in the first screen as well as the Date & time, Imprinting the date onto the image, LCD screen brightness and adding a start image when the camera is powered up. This can be a Samsung icon or one of your own pictures.
The second set up screen gives options to change the quick view of the image when taken, Power save timer, LCD save, Video output, Format the card and Reset all functions.
The navigation pad also has options and they are to control the flash, macro, self timer and display properties. The two buttons on the bottom are the Playback button which doubles up as a direct print button and the fn button which doubles up as the delete button when in playback mode. One thing about the buttons is that for recording images, all the functions are ingrained into the buttons and can be difficult to see. When in playback, if any buttons double up, the functions they perform are illustrated in white. I digress as I notice that there is a distinct lack of options for changing things like the Image quality, ISO, white balance and other things. That is what the fn button is for and when it is pressed, highlights the right side of the screen where the Image size, Quality, Metering modes, Continuous shooting, ISO ratings, White balance and Exposure compensation.
The hole for the lanyard has been put on a piece of metal that sticks out of the side like a wing which seems a little unusual, but it has been curved so makes for a suitable thumb rest. Given that, it still seems like a completely pointless bit of metal stuck on the camera. It is unlikely that the top corner of the camera has anything there and so could have had the lanyard hole put there instead and not made the camera look uneven.
The Playback screen has a series of options in the menu and the only ones that are really any different are the Playback menu instead of the Recording menu and the addition of a Slide show option.
Samsung L77 Build and handling
The body is made of a mixture of metal and plastic and feels well built. A small grip at the front ensures comfortable handling. Start up time is fast and the screen suffers minimal motion blur. The focus is relatively fast and my only gripe with it is when shooting in Macro, I moved closer each time testing the focus distance and when it couldn't focus any closer, I moved out slightly to go back a step, but the camera still said it was out of focus even though it had previously said it was in focus, so I had to start from the beginning again and hope that I didn't get too close. So, with that in mind, I took ages getting the macro image as it kept saying I was too close and had to measure again. The battery is a Lithium Ion and is separate to the memory card which has its own slot. Curiously, the battery is not held in by a catch and simply slides out but is a comfortable fit, so doesn't slide out too easily or with difficulty.
Samsung L77 Flash options
The L77 has the options of Auto flash, Red-eye reduction, Flash on over-ride, Flash off over-ride and a slow shutter flash for lighting up dark backgrounds. The distance of the flash is 0.4m - 3.5m at wide angle and 1.0m - 3.0m at telephoto which scrapes the barrel of performance.
Samsung L77 Performance
Seven images were taken in the burst test before the buffer was full and the camera had to download which it did just outside of the 10 seconds. The camera makes the shutter noise as all digital cameras do, but it will only make this noise once and carry on taking pictures in silence.
There are three menus on one camera which could be confusing, but the camera is laid out in such a way that it isn't which is great for the happy snapper that the camera is aimed at.
The camera isn't a brilliant performer as a lot of fringing was evident on the wide and zoomed in images and to me the results looked the same as from a cheaper camera. The Portrait mode shot also looked virtually identical to the Program mode shot of the same portrait so there seems little point having the mode available at all. The macro mode is annoying as has been previously mentioned due to not being able to focus properly. I have never had a landscape test image so bad as the one from the L77. Landscape mode had been chosen, but it was a sunny day and the camera obviously got overwhelmed by the sky.
Samsung L77 Noise test
ISO50 gives beautiful results with a smooth grey, and lots of detail in the richly coloured petals. ISO100 loses a bit of the contrast and results in going a more neutral grey on the card with the petals brightening a little whilst ISO200 pales the petals even more. ISO400 has visible noise and the orange of the petals has dropped off considerably. ISO800 sees a predictable increase in noise and the petals going even paler with ISO1600 having the grey card break down into different coloured pixels and the orange petals getting overwhelmed by the noise too.
Samsung L77 Verdict
The pictures failed to impress and I've seen better results from cheaper cameras. The slimness and large zoom are a great benefit, and if it wasn't for the picture quality the camera would get a high score, but essentially fails on its primary function. The L77 is attractive, easy to use, the menus are split down into three parts, but in this case it doesn't seem to detract.
If you need a slim camera for happy snapping that looks good, has a good zoom with odd bits of metal sticking out of the side then this camera is for you, but otherwise it won't be.
Samsung L77 Plus points
Easy to navigate
Samsung L77 Minus points
Macro doesn't work
Chromatic aberration on contrasting images
Portrait mode is exactly the same as Program mode
The Samsung L77 costs around £169 is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here .