For a sub-£150 camera, Samsung's 8-megapixel L830 packs some strange and useful features into its slimmer-than-it-feels frame.
A manual exposure mode, manual colour adjustments and a high-resolution movie mode belie the camera's small price tag. However, features don't make the camera, and in the end we have to judge the L830 on how well it takes photos.
Though it measures 21mm at the widest part and weighs 133g without battery and SD card, the L830 feels slightly thick compared with other slim, compact cameras. One reason for that might be the 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen, which sits on a raised bezel. Still, the camera can easily slip into a pocket or slim case.
The L830 uses a standard four-way-plus-OK joypad and four additional buttons for most of its controls. The buttons and zoom rocker feel too small and flat to be entirely comfortable under large thumbs, but they're well placed and organised. Function and Effect buttons offer fast access to most settings, and a convenient face-detection button easily toggles the camera's face detection autofocus/auto-exposure mode on and off.
Despite its budget status, the L830 offers a manual exposure mode and colour channel controls. The manual mode lets you adjust the shutter from 1/1,500 to 8 seconds and toggle the 38mm-to-114mm-equivalent lens between F/3.0 and F/7.7 at its widest position (or F/5.6 to F/14.1 at its farthest telephoto position).
Unfortunately, it doesn't offer aperture or shutter priority modes. If you want to manually adjust exposure, it's all or nothing. In addition to a variety of colour effects, the L830 lets you create your own colour mode by adjusting individual red, green and blue colour channels.
If you don't want to deal with the various controls, the L830 features a handful of scene preset modes on top of the standard automatic shooting mode. It can also shoot movies at near-SVGA (800x592 pixels) resolution, though only at 20 frames per second. If you want standard 30fps video, you need to use the VGA (640x480 pixels) or lower-resolution modes.
Up to ISO 200, the camera took 2.8 seconds between shots with the flash disabled. At ISO 400 and above, that wait increased to 4.5 seconds. Most point-and-shoot cameras activate their noise reduction algorithms around ISO 400, so a slight increase in shot-to-shot time is understandable since the camera needs extra processing time.
If you mostly shoot in automatic mode, you won't experience this issue; the automatic mode keeps sensitivity at ISO 200 or lower. If you like to shoot in high-speed and high-sensitivity modes, though, you can expect a much longer wait between shots.
In our other performance tests, the L830 showed mostly average results, though its time between shots with the flash enabled is longer than we'd like to see. It took 2.7 seconds from power-on to capturing its first shot. The shutter lagged 0.5 seconds with our high-contrast target and 1 second with our low-contrast target.
At ISO 200 and lower, the camera took 3.7 seconds between photos with the onboard flash enabled. Finally, the L830 captured nine maximum-resolution shots in 7.8 seconds for a rate of 1.2 frames per second.