Samsung Pro815 review
I purchased this camera nearly a year ago now it being the third digital camera I've bought within two years after a ten year lay off from photography. I was previously working semi-professionally as a social photographer and actively involved in competition work so I feel I am reasonably qualified to comment about this camera, (unlike some people who have made comments here and do not appear to have even held the camera, can't these people follow the guidelines that have been set for this site)?
The camera has a solid feel to it and its size can aid stabillity for using that long lens. It appears well constructed and all hinge compartments work well and hold securely. The controls for me are laid out quite well and you soon become familiar with the main ones and altering aperture or shutter speed becomes second nature. With a machine of this specification it will take some mastering of all the controls as less used ones require a little thought but all in all I've found it to suit me quite well. (I've used my friends digital cameras i.e. Canon D20 and they are just as daunting at the start, certainly no easier). The menus are colour coded for taking/reviewing/camera settings and are easy to see without glasses and easy to follow, a question of up/down, across up/down and enter, maybe a bit laborious but I'm not sure how it could be improved, it works!
Picture quality is very good if care is taken and the shooter is aware of the pitfalls of slow shutter speeds. The lens performs very well across the whole zoom range and focuses in good light accurately and reaonably quickly. A downside of the lens is purple fringing that occaisionally creeps in, usually only apparent under heavy magnification of the subject on the computer. Also flare at the wide angle end can be encountered even with the hood on, a downside of such a long lens. Obviously an image stabiliser would have been nice but using the HS (high speed) button is easily achieved and this can help somewhat but good practice is the order of the day and any true photographer would expect to use a support of some kind at 420mm.
The LCD rear screen is bright and reasonably accurate in that you are able to judge shooting conditions and adjust exposure accordingly especially with the histogram display, also reviewing shots are easy and zooming to check detail is acceptable. I prefer to use the EVF for composing my pictures and find no problem usually, if the focus does hunt it is easy to swith to manual and normally focus can be achieved without too much trouble although a centre magnifying area would have helped.
At low ISO settings the noise is well controlled and pictures taken at ISO50 can be startling in detail and saturation. At higher settings ISO400 noise is apparent (and when compared with a larger chip SLR, quite bad), however, I would rather have a bit of noise rather than a smudged result from an overactive noise reduction system. Also a higher ISO setting would have been nice.
One branch of photography that the camera is not well suited is action because apart from the .25 shutter lag if the user selects the high speed continuous drive modes the EVF blanks out upon taking the first shot and stays blank until you release the shutter button, not very clever!
The battery is a beast and I have found that on a weeks holiday to Devon this year where I shot approx. 200 images I did not have to recharge it. However, recently at an air show I did not fully charge it beforehand and because I used continuous focus, kept reviewing images on the LCD and left the camera on for extended periods the battery gave up on me half an hour from the end. I'll know to fully charge next time and consider a spare for such draining events.
To conclude, I feel that this is a good camera, especially at the discounted prices now available, and that in the right hands will produce excellent results and satisfy most photographic needs for those not wanting to lug a gadget bag full of lenses around, however in the wrong hands, the hands of an inexperienced photographer the results could probably be soul destroying with the user probably wrongly blaming the camera. It does have its faults, probaly no more than its competitors but it also has a lot to offer if you take the time to get the most out of it.
A 72mm dia. filter was purchased to protect the front element of the lens and a leather protective case bought from Samsung for the camera.
occaisional purple fringing.
blown highlights if not careful.
noise at higher ISO settings.
f8 minimum aperture setting (usual on such cameras).
EVF blanking out in high speed continuous shooting mode.
write times of RAW files are quite long, (around 16 secs.).
Digimax software for RAW files is extremely hard to get accurate or acceptable adjusted results. Use Adobe instead.
two overactive pixel on CCD (only visible under computer magnification of image), sensor replaced by Samsung and returned after three days, brilliant.
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