Monday, September 27, 2010

Pint-size punch

HOLDING the Samsung HMX-H200 in my hand, I could not help but wonder how the video camera has shrunk over the years. A couple of decades back, a video camera would need an array of boxes of all shapes and sizes to carry it along with other paraphernalia — it could not be transported in anything smaller than a car. At weddings and other functions which needed to be recorded for posterity, the video cameraman was the chief guest, often dictating how the function should proceed.
Now, however, the video camera is a camcorder not bigger than your palm and still packs far more features than what its VHS ancestors could do. The H200 for instance is small and compact enough to come within the grip of a six-year-old, but it still has a 1920 x 1080 60i Full HD resolution recording and a top of the range 20x optical zoom.
To make sure that the HD and super zoom are exploited to their full potential, the camcorder also boasts of a Schneider Kreuznach lens equipped with Smart OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser). The Smart OIS eliminates the effect of shaky hands or body movement, especially when in maximum zoom, with minute shifts of the lens. It also helps that Samsung has thrown in a 1/4.1” 3M Pixel back side illuminated CMOS Sensor, which is far more sensitive than conventional CMOS sensors, thus reducing noise and distortion. The sensor also works wonders in low-light conditions. 
The camera can also be used to click stills at a decent 4.7 mega pixel, which I thought was slightly below par for a camera which has HD capability. But, interestingly, this feature can be used for time-lapse recording by presetting the camera to click at specific intervals and piecing the images together.
I liked the fact that the camcorder switched on by itself every time the LCD screen was opened. The touchscreen LCD has a very convenient menu, which can also be accessed with the buttons on the body. The interface is intuitive and tells you if the light is low and if the camera shutter has not been opened. This also means you can just touch on the screen to tell the camera where to focus. Talking of focus, the Smart Auto function sets automatically sets up the camera parameters depending on the scene.
Another user-friendly feature is that there are two ways to do most functions, users can just choose which way they like to do it. Then you don’t need to install a software on your PC to access or edit the videos as the built-in Intelli Studio software will take charge as soon as you plug the camera on to a PC through the USB.
But, Samsung could have added a small LED flash to go with the camera, but I guess that would have used up a lot of power. In fact, the H200 claims it can shoot up to two hours without a recharge, enough for you to record a full football match or one of those lengthy Indian weddings. The H200 is completely dependent on the SDHC card for storage, while its costlier siblings like H203, H204 and H205 have built-in solid state drives.
Overall, the H200 is a great buy at Rs 19,000.

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