point and shoot
300 2008

Review: Samsung i8 digital camera

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Love them or hate them, convergence devices are here to stay and thankfully they’re getting better and better. Case in point, the Samsung i8 digital point-and-shoot camera. This tiny little 8.2-megapixel touting digi not only takes clean and sharp pictures, but it also plays back music and video like its predecessor the i85. Oh, and you can catch up on your latest novel too on the text viewer. It manages to do all four tasks surprisingly well and you’re really only limited to the size of your SD card.

Donning a 3x optical zoom, I was able to snap some images that were relatively sharp. You obviously won’t be getting anything close to what a DSLR can do with a faster prime lens, but for only $300 it’s not a bad deal. The AWB isn’t the best I’ve used, but it does pretty well on an all-around basis. All the kids these days love and I mean LOVE taking pictures of themselves with friends without someone else taking the photo and most of them come out blurry or someone’s face gets chopped off. The i8’s face detection does a good job of detecting your mug and up to two others and beeps when everything is in focus. My flaring nostrils never looked so good.

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This was a shot of an awning across the street from my apartment zoomed all the way in. It’s a little noisy, but not too bad.

Having grown accustomed to a DSLR, I never, ever use auto modes on digital point-and-shoots because the flash always goes off and washes everything out among other annoyances. I like being able to control what the camera is doing, so I don’t have to take 10 shots to get one that’s somewhat sharp and not washed out. Allow me to get on a soapbox for a second. Take the time to get to know your point-and-shoot, please. Fiddle with the settings and figure out what does what. Adjust the ISO, try all flash settings, and crank up/down the Exposure values. Anyway, the UI on the i8 is easy to use once you play with it for a few minutes. Like most point-and-shoots, the i8 offers a variety of scene modes and a photo style selector that lets you adjust the color to boost contrast or take black and whites among many other options. It’s fun and lets your creative side have a little fun if you’re not heavy into editing your photos, but it’s nothing special and everyone else is doing it.

The 2.7-inch screen obviously isn’t the largest screen out there to watch videos on a portable device, but it’s a camera with an added feature that the majority of the rest don’t have. However, you’ll have to convert all video files using the included software and you won’t really notice the degradation of video quality because of the screen’s size. The software compresses most files to 25 percent of their original size, so you can pack a load of content on your card if you feel like it. It works and it’s a nice extra.

The MP3 player portion is straightforward without many bells and whistles. One gripe I have with it is that you have to allocate a folder specific to MP3s on your memory card or else the i8 won’t be able to playback tracks, but that’s a minor annoyance and takes an extra five seconds to make a new folder and label it “MP3.” Another interesting feature of the MP3 player is that the DRM License Information for tracks is available on the memory card. Kind of freaky and unnecessary but it’s there.

The text viewer is also a nice addition, but I still haven’t jumped onto the whole e-book bandwagon, so I didn’t use it too much. However, it’s convenient to type out some notes and throw them onto the camera for when you’re out exploring in areas unknown to you. Take it for what it is and consider it another added bonus.

Last but certainly not least is the World Tour Guide feature that provides images of famous attractions in 30 countries and pertinent text about said images. You can download the info from Samsung’s Web site. Again, it’s another added bonus for a tiny digital point-and-shoot in a flooded market place.

Overall, the i8 is an easy to use digital camera with a bevy of added features that make it stand out from the crowd. For $300 (cheaper if you look around) you won’t be disappointed, except for the fact that you have to use Samsung’s craptacularly proprietary headphone jack. But that’s about it.

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