Here's one that doesn't quite fit the mould. The Samsung Digimax Pro 815 digital camera isn't a digital SLR, nor is it quite the same as the electronic viewfinder (EVF) cameras that generally occupy the market space right below digital SLR cameras. We're excited about some features, but some omissions leave us scratching our heads. If nothing else, this is certainly a digital camera to watch.
Simply put, the Samsung Pro 815 does several things that haven't been done before in a digital camera. For example, its Schneider lens is capable of a whopping 15x optical zoom, out to the 35mm-equivalent length of 420mm. But unlike many megazoom digital cameras, it also has a reasonably generous wide-angle focal length of 28mm (35mm equivalent). And the 815 boasts three -- count 'em -- LCD screens on its body: one in the electronic viewfinder, another on top of the camera for hip-level shooting, and an unprecedentedly large 89mm (3.5-inch) screen on the back. Naturally, there's also a full slate of manual features.
While we appreciate Samsung's promises of improved high-speed performance and low-noise photos at high ISO sensitivity settings, we're baffled by the omission of optical image stabilisation on this camera. If camera shake can be a problem at 4x optical zoom, what are we to expect will happen at 15x? It's not enough to say that better ISO sensitivity and faster shutter speed will make up for the lack of an optical stabiliser.
The Samsung Pro 815 has the potential to offer much of the focal-length versatility of a digital SLR camera without the lens-swapping that can make SLRs a pain to transport. The hip-shooting option is also a nice bonus, since articulating LCD screens on competing EVF cameras are uncommon. Of course, the lack of optical image stabilisation is a huge liability. Without some means of steadying shaky hands at high zoom levels, you'll be stuck toting around a tripod instead of the extra lens. The Samsung Digimax Pro 815 will retail for around £500 when it hits the shops this September.
Edited by Lori Grunin
Additional editing by Nick Hide