Samsung SC-D6550 Mini DV Camcorder

One of a Kind Duet

The Samsung Duo Cam SC-D6550 is certainly a one of a kind camera that unites a still camera and a mini DV video camcorder. This dynamic duo will surely please amateur shooters looking to have the benefits of both worlds in one complete system.

Double Take

By far the most interesting feature of this camcorder is its defining double lens system. One lens takes stills, while the other is responsible for capturing full frame, mini DV video. Additionally, each lens has its separate imager and the still imager weighs in at a whopping 5.25 Mega Pixels.

While having two different lenses might seem overwhelming, the camcorder is still relatively light and compact. It fits nicely onto your hand, although the zoom rocker seems unnaturally too far down the camcorder. It is easier to use the zoom rocker with your middle finger rather than the index finger. This awkward positioning takes a little getting used to and, fortunately, it is the only issue with the controls and their accessibility.

The SC-D6550 features a 10x and 3x optical zoom for video and stills, respectively. As far as video is concerned the zoom seemingly has only two speeds, which is rather limiting. The image stabilizer performs well, removing shakes and jitter even at the long end of the zoom.

Format Frenzy

With two cameras stuck together as one, the SC-D6550 offers a variety of recording formats. Primarily for video, the camcorder will record onto mini DV tapes, but you can also record MPEG-4 video onto memory cards using the still imager. The Duo Cam will take SD, MMC and Memory Stick (Standard and Pro) memory cards for its stills.

With all these different types of recording formats there is equally many ways to bring this information out of the camcorder. There’s FireWire, USB 2.0, S-Video and the typical RCA connectors to give you plenty of options depending on how you want to view or edit your videos and photos. Additionally, the camcorder comes with two Ulead software titles; Photo Express SE and Video Studio SE DVD (Windows only).

Now Hear This

The onboard microphone rests on top of the camcorder near the lens. Its location makes it a little susceptible to operator noise. In our test this mic performed very well at picking up sound from distances of 15 feet and beyond. The mic records PCM stereo 12 bit 4-channel or 16 bit 2-channel audio.

All in all, the audio is rich in tone and sound full. There’s even a 1/8" mic input to allow for more precise audio capturing. Unfortunately, there is no accessory shoe to mount a shotgun mic, nor is there a headphone jack to monitor your audio.

Seeing Double

Strictly looking at the mini DV playback, the SC-D6550 performs fairly well. There is an average amount of detail in the images and the contrast looks good. The biggest weakness, however, is the auto white balance.

In our lab test, the auto white balance shifted between cool and warm, depending on the scene and subject. Also the camcorder tends to warm colors and slightly underexpose shots. While warming up the image is not so good, shooting slightly under normal exposure can actually make sure that your shots are safe from being blown out too much.

The still imager on the other hand is a rock solid still camera. High resolution pictures are a reality with a maximum resolution of 2592 pixels by 1944 pixels. And with the built in flash, you’re in luck if you are shooting in low light situations.


In the End

There’s nothing like having two tools in one and this camcorder will surely please amateur shooters who need a unique solution that won’t break the bank. While there are slightly better performing video camcorders out there for relatively the same price, there aren’t too many that can take high quality pictures too. Overall, this Duo Cam could be a big money and time saver for many camera users.

TECH SPECS

Format: Mini DV (video), JPEG DCF (still)

Number of CCDs: 1 video, 1 still

Size of CCDs: 1 / 6" (video) 1/2.5" (DSC)

Pixels on CCD: (k) 680 (video) 5.25 M (still)

Video Effective Pixels (k):340, 5.1 M (still)

Focus: auto/manual

Shutter Speed: auto/manual

Maximum Shutter Speed:1/10,000 (video), 2~1/2000 (still)

Minimum Shutter Speed:1/60 (video), 15 (still)

Lens f Stop:f1.8-2.4 (video), f2.8-f4.9 (still)

Optical Zoom: 10x (video), 3x (still)

Focal Length: 2.4-24mm (video), 7.7-23.1mm (still)

Image Stabilization: Digital

Manual White Balance: no

Viewfinder: 0.3" color

LCD Monitor: 2.5" color Trans Reflective 112k

Progressive Scan: no

HD Modes: no

Video In: FireWire

Video Out: FireWire, USB 2.0, S-Video, Composite

Mono/Stereo Recording: Stereo 16/12 bit

Microphone In: Yes

Manual Audio Level Controls: no

Manual Audio Level Controls: no

Headphone Jack: No

Speaker: Yes

Still Shot Media: Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SD, MMC

Memory Card Included: no

Flash: Yes

Wireless Remote: Yes

External Battery Charger Provided: No

Battery Type: Lithium Ion

Tape Loading Configuration: Bottom

Onboard Video Light: No

Accessory Shoe: No

STRENGTHS

  • 5.25 Mega Pixel Still Imager
  • USB 2.0 and FireWire
  • Still Flash

WEAKNESSES

  • No Manual White Balance
  • Video image tends to warm
  • Bottom Loading Tape Transport and Media Card Slot

SUMMARY

If you’re looking for two for the price of one, you’ve found your cam.

Mark Montgomery is Videomaker’s technical editor.

$350

Samsung Consumer Electronics

16765 W. Bernardo Dr.

Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660

www.samsung.com

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