There's a built-in flash on the front of the camcorder, but it can't be used as a video light. There's no accessory shoe, nor are there jacks for adding an external mic or headphones. This isn't so much a surprise as just something to be aware of if you're in need of those things. What is a surprise is the complete lack of lens protection. The R10 comes with a protective case, but you'll have to be very careful not to scratch the lens if you decide to just toss the camcorder into a bag.
Consider your options
Despite being a mid-level, 1080p camcorder, Samsung has given the R10 some very good shooting options. For example, you can choose from four different high-definition modes: 1080/60i at super-fine quality, 1080/60i at normal quality, 1080/30p and 720/60p. These options aren't uncommon, but, nonetheless, they're pleasing to find on this model.
If you're into interval shooting, you can record clips every 1, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 30 seconds over a period of 24, 48 or 72 hours, or until you fill your memory card. You can also capture high-speed video at 300 or 600 frames per second with resolutions of 416x240 and 192x108 pixels respectively. Those modes only capture up to 10 seconds at a time, but since the footage plays back in slow motion, the clips are actually 50 seconds long at 300fps and 100 seconds long at 600fps. Between its easy-Q mode, several scene shooting options and auto mode, this camcorder seems geared towards general point-and-record use -- despite having manual focus and aperture- and shutter-speed-priority modes, they're of limited use and feel more like afterthought features.
The R10's video quality is generally very good for its class. It performed best at 1080/60i (super-fine quality) and 720/60p resolutions, with the latter ultimately proving the most consistent. Movies shot at a 1080/30p resolution were very jittery and choppy, to the point of being unwatchable whenever there was any movement in the scene -- from the subject or shooter. As is to be expected, the 1080/60i mode was smoother, but trailing and artefacts were noticeable. The 720/60p mode turned out the smoothest results, with less trailing, but artefacts were still visible.
While video was generally noisy at all light levels, there was plenty of colour noise in low-light and indoor scenes, to the point of distraction. You can turn on Samsung's 3D-NR noise reduction, though, which helps to smooth out the picture somewhat. If you're sensitive to noise, you'll probably want to skip the R10. On the other hand, its video is quite sharp. The R10's image stabilisation is electronic only. In our tests, it didn't appear to work well.
While not outstanding, the R10's colour performance was good, and on a par with that of other camcorders in its class. The biggest problem with the R10's colours is that they seem rather faded, and there's no colour-control options should you want to make them more vivid. The auto white balance is reasonably consistent, but there are presets, as well as a manual option, if you want to take advantage of them.
The R10's photo quality is better than that of most camcorders in its price range, but it's still not up to replacing a dedicated digital camera. Photos taken in bright lighting conditions using lower ISOs exhibit good sharpness and colour, making them suitable for Web sharing and small prints. The R10's colours are actually somewhat better in photos. You also get use of many of the same features available in video mode, including the manual and semi-manual controls, and the touch-based focus.
According to Samsung, the R10 has a 12-megapixel resolution for still images, but that's an interpolated number -- the native resolution is 9 megapixels. Finally, although you can capture stills while recording video, they'll be taken at the video's resolution and not what you have the photo resolution set to.
If you're looking at pocket camcorders but are underwhelmed with the features they offer and want something slightly more flexible, the Samsung HMX-R10 is worth considering. The lure of 1080p video is there, but it's the 720/60p option that delivers the best results. The design won't suit everyone, though, so we recommend trying it out before you buy.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet