So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Sharp shots, good video mode, low price tag
- Some noise and colour issues
If you're after a point and shoot, happy snap camera, Samsung's L730 might suit you well. It does have some image quality issues but it packs in all the features you'd want as well as a pretty good video mode.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
In the incredibly saturated digital camera market the vast majority of models fall into the 'plain but solid' category, and Samsung's L730 is no exception. It doesn't do anything out of the ordinary, but it takes decent pictures and packs in face detect along with an image stabiliser and a standard feature set making it a relatively good happy snap model.
Sporting a 7.2-megapixel sensor the L730 isn't a powerhouse by any means, but it does the job. Its pictures were generally crisp and sharp with good resolution and rendering of detail. Imatest returned a fairly strong result putting this camera in line with other 7-megapixel models.
There was some minor haloing towards the edges of the frame and a little loss of detail, but it wasn't particularly problematic. That said, our outdoor shots did exhibit a little more purple fringing than usual. Fortunately barrel distortion wasn't much of a problem.
Colour response, however, was quite poor. We immediately noticed that the white balance presets seemed off, with our indoor shots coming out extremely warm when taken under a tungsten setting, which was confirmed by Imatest.
Image noise was a little higher than normal but it was manageable at low sensitivities. ISO 100 and 200 produced some relatively clean snaps, but at ISO 400 there was a sharp increase with our pictures coming out blotchy and speckled. We wouldn't recommend the L730 for any kind of fast-paced or low light shooting.
In our speed tests it performed moderately, exhibiting a slightly sluggish 0.1-second of shutter lag but a relatively quick 1.8-second shot-to-shot time. Power up took 2.3 seconds and the burst mode operated at just over two frames per second.
The features list is stock standard and will be familiar ground for anyone who has owned a digital camera in the past. There are pre-set white balance modes along with a custom option, ISO sensitivities up to 1600 and a bracketing mode. Samsung also includes a very basic manual mode allowing you to adjust shutter speed and aperture; however, they are fairly limited in range with only f/3.0 and f/7.7 available and shutter speeds from eight seconds to 1/1600th of a second. Still they allow for a little extra creativity. Face detect and anti-shake are also both present and seem to operate quite well.
One noteworthy feature is the video recording, which captures footage at 800x592; a higher resolution than your standard 640x480. It won't be a replacement for your regular video camera, but it does the job in a pinch and the extra quality is a welcome bonus.
Following the trend, the L730's design doesn't make any waves. The boxy silver chassis is constructed almost entirely from metal and is sturdy if unremarkable. Control is achieved through the usual means; a function wheel on the top of the unit and a directional pad next to the screen. It is slim and slips comfortably into a bag or pocket, but due to the metal body it isn't exactly light.
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