Samsung SCD6040 Mini DV Camcorder Review
$800

Samsung Consumer Electronics USA

105 Challenger Rd

Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660

(800) SAMSUNG

www.samsung.com

In recent years, Samsung has successfully changed the focus of its consumer electronics products from a low-cost approach to a dynamic, stylish and innovative line of camcorders, televisions and digital cameras. One success story that illustrates this shift in focus is last years SCD5000 DuoCam, a combination video and digital still camera that used two separate lens components to deliver both high quality video and excellent four megapixel stills. This year, Samsung attempts to keep the innovation alive with the SCD6040 DuoCam, an improved model that costs less and offers several improvements in a smaller, more compact configuration.

Why Two?
Many camcorders offer video and still features in a single-lens package, but Samsungs approach is slightly different. In a nutshell: todays high-resolution digital cameras use a CCD thats quite different from the one found in a typical Mini DV camcorder. The main difference is the number of pixels on the CCD, but also in the actual CCD technology. A typical digital still camera can have as many as eight times the number of pixels that DV video requires. Another difference is easily seen with a quick glance at the two lenses on the SCD6040: the optical needs of a video camera are different than the needs of a still camera. There is a bit of a still-quality trade-off for video cameras that also shoot stills using the same lens and CCD.

Manual Controls
For both video and still camera use, the SCD6040 sports a number of excellent features, including an impressive set of manual controls for iris, shutter speed and white balance, along with a good selection of program AE modes. For storage of still images, the camera offers a multi-card reader, to give the photographer plenty of memory card options so you can probably reuse the memory cards you already own if you are upgrading. The camcorder has a 1/8-inch microphone input, but, unfortunately, no headphone jack (or VU meters).

Ergonomically speaking, the camera sits somewhat awkwardly in the hand, making it a bit of a stretch to reach the zoom controls and other camera features. Still, it is a huge improvement over the first DuoCam, which had a rather goofy pivoting body with lenses on both the front and back.

When you flip the LCD monitor out and prepare to roll tape, you immediately notice what is perhaps the cameras biggest flaw: a dim LCD display thats faint indoors and did not improve outdoors in sunlight. This is new technology, so we arent sure why our LCD performed so poorly.

And as long as were being picky, we should mention that the camera makes use of a proprietary A/V cable, the kind thats difficult to replace if you should happen to lose it or destroy it somehow. This is not uncommon with many camcorders, but it is still unfortunate.

Quality Control
In spite of its quirks, the SCD6040 shoots excellent video and stills. The quality of the Mini DV video is great, with rich colors and crisp details. The quality of the stills is not quite as good, owing mainly to the smaller, less-capable lens of the still-image portion of the camera. The stills are, however, better than any other video camera on the market.

Theres more to making a good quality digital still image than just capturing a large number of pixels, and the limitations of the cameras small size become apparent when you attempt to achieve depth of field effects or other similar photographic techniques.

Light
The camera has decent low-light performance for a camera this size. The Power Nite Pix is a green infrared lighting system that will save your bacon in total darkness. The camera also has a pop-up flash for digital stills that worked very well.

The camera has some convenient features as well, including PictBridge technology that lets you print stills directly to a compatible printer via a USB connection. The USB connection can also be used to stream live video to a computer and over the Web.

Pack It Up
The SCD 6040 is a fine video/still combo camera with many innovative features and a number of good manual controls that are difficult to find at this price point. If you are looking to upgrade your video camera, this is not a bad choice. If you are looking to upgrade both your video camera and get a new 4-megapixel digital still camera, however, then this is the device for you. The second-generation ergonomics are much better than the original DuoCam and the combination will definitely save you space in your camera bag.

Joe McCleskey is an instructional media specialist and plays a mean guitar.

TECH SPECS

Format: Mini DV

Lens: f1.4, 2.7-27mm, 10:1 optical zoom, 30mm filter diameter

CCD: 680K (340K effective)

Viewfinder: 0.24 inch color LCD, 113K pixels

LCD viewscreen: 2.5 inch color, 123K pixels

Focus: auto, manual

Anamorphic 16:9: no

Image Stabilization: digital

Exposure: auto, manual, program AE Modes

Minimum Shutter Speed: 1/8 (Slow Shutter Mode)

Maximum Shutter Speed: 1/10000 (Manual)

Iris: auto, manual

Electronic Gain: nes

Zebra Stripes: no

White Balance: auto, hold, indoor, outdoor

Audio: 12-bit, 16-bit

Audio Gain: auto

Audio Meters: no

Microphone Input: 1/8-inch mini

Headphone Output: none

Inputs: DV, S-video, composite video, stereo audio, mike jack

Outputs: DV, S-video, composite video, stereo audio, mike jack, USB for stills

Edit Interface: DV

Additional: Still image/video editing software included, visual photo index

TECH SPECS

Format: Digital Still Camera

Lens: f2.8, 7.7-23.1mm, 4:1 optical zoom, no filter threads

CCD: 4.13M (2,272 x 1,704)

Memory Format: Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MMC, SD

Included Memory: 16MB Memory Stick

Dimensions: 2.6 (width) by 3.78 (height) by 5.51 (depth) inches

Weight: 1.2 lbs

STRENGTHS

  • manual exposure/shutter speed
  • high quality stills
  • multi card reader

    WEAKNESSES

  • dim LCD
  • no headphone jack

    SUMMARY
    A fine video and still combo camera with many innovative features at a good price.

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