Review of Samsung Z710 3.2 Mpix camera
Samsung has demonstrated various handsets, armed with high resolution cameras numerous times, though not a one out of them made it to the European market. And one of the first mass products in this very line-up is Samsung Z710, equipper with a 3.2 Mpix camera module, powered by CCD matrix. The majority of competitors apply CMOS solutions, as while the quality is nearly the same, energy consumption proves to be less. The history of GSM handsets mentions only a few models, featuring CCD module Ц one of this is Sony Ericsson S700. In fact, the core principles of the modelsТ design are the same: the back part, holding a camera module, is alike a digital camera; there is a possibility for getting a grip on the phone with two hands; the objective glass is covered by a shutter, with a flash located nearby.
Model Samsung Z710 is a clamshell with rotary exterior part Ц once youТve opened the device and turned one of the halves, the handset obtains highest possible resemblance to a digital camera. Camera mode is switched on simultaneously with the abovementioned manipulations. In order to start shooting, you have to open the shutter, though itТs not an easy task since the latch is rather tight and small in size. If you get a closer look at it, youТll discover that the shutter, covering the camera is not well-adjusted Ц as a matter of fact, the root of the problem lies in handsetТs exploitation, since usually the shutter gets this outlook after a month or two. However it doesnТt cause any inconveniences, in light of the fact the shutter preserves the objective glass from being touched rather than from dust, although itТs a part of its functionality as well.
The physical specifications of the object-glass are as follows: f=3.48 мм, 1:3.0, auto-focus.
When in the shooting mode, the upper part of the device hold three buttons: a double key, allowing user to zoom image, a red button for switching between various modes and finally the last one performs shooting. I shall note that one can readily take pictures even when the screen is just open (not rotated), and in closed condition. Though you will find it easy to set up the camera in open condition, as here you will only need to choose all the required settings from the menu or simply use the keypad. Besides, the handset provides shortcuts, assigned to numeric keys, which let you change picture size, shooting mode etc. in one touch.
Nevertheless, the developers also have made sure that you can operate the camera even when the device is closed Ц on default the screen shows a status bar, featuring icons of all chosen modes, on the right you will find actions, bound up with the side keys. Having pressed the red button, you will call up the settings mode, horizontal displacement is performed by pressing the double key. In order to adjust the settings, first of all you need to press the red button one more time, then pick the required item, scroll the list with the help of double key and accept the choice by pushing the red key again, the next step is to return back to a higher menu level Ц this is done via the shooting key. Even though this process appears to be very complicated at the fist glance, itТs easily gotten used to. To name the advantages, I shall say that the device saves the last changed parameter and when entering the menu repeatedly, you will see exactly this item. On the other hand I doubt many will use these advanced settings and will prefer using auto mode to this. The best way to adjust the camera is to do it in the standard open condition.
LetТs peek in the list of main settings and find out how they affect the quality and other parameters.
Shot mode Цsingle shot, multi shotЦ 6, 9, 12 and 15 images respectively, mosaic shot. The last mode allows choosing from the following types: 2х2, 3х3.
Size Ц the top resolution, provided in the handset is 2048х1536 which is equal to 3.15 Mpix. There are also smaller sizes available, e.g 1600х1200, 1280х960, 1024х768, 800х600, 640х480, 320х240, 240х320 pixels. When using the best resolution, a single image can be from 0.7 to 1.1 Mb in size, depending on richness of a picture in details. The pictures, taken in lower resolutions, take up much less storage respectively.
Macro modeЦ this mode can be e turned off or on. Effective distance while shooting in this mode is about 7-8 centimeters.
Flash Ц can be switched off, work either in auto-mode or be permanently on, or used in shooting only mode. The flash itself is rather poor and can make much difference only when shooting in really dark places, though not at night or absolute darkness. ThatТs why the flash is effective only at dusk, as itТs a common LED.
Timer Ц using this function, one can take picture with the delay of 3, 5 and 10 seconds.
Effects Ц the set of the special effects is rather common: Black&White, Negative, Sepia, Emboss, Sketch. Their quality doesnТt leave any negative impressions as well.
Frames Ц various frames may be applied to pictures Ц there are 50 of them, so even the most enthusiastic congratulators will be satisfied. While working with the frames, the resolution is set to 320x240 pixels automatically.
White balance Ц Automatic (default), Horizon, Alight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade. When using the auto-mode, the device isnТt always capable of measuring the illumination and setting appropriate parameters. Typical examples of this weakness are situations, when you are shooting objects on the floor Ц in this very case, you better use manual mode.
ISO. On default sensitivity is set to Auto, though youТre at liberty to choose the value yourselfЦ 50, 100, 200, 400. But you should consider leaving Auto mode as it as, since youТll see particles in any case.
Exposure value Ц the exposure time may vary from -6 to +6 Ц this is a tricky parameter, as big exposure values require cameraТs stability, what is nearly impossible, when holding the camera in hands. Shakings of the camera cause the majority of problems here, because the device doesnТt always have time to take a sharp and clear picture. In order to obviate these difficulties, you will need to stand motionless for 1-2 seconds after triggering the shutter button.
ViewFinder Ц the display can only offer you a Full Screen picture, Full Screen and Guide picture or Full Screen and Indicators picture.
Contrast Ц Normal (default), low, high. These settings strongly affect the output quality of the pictures, as you can this on the following samples.
Saturation Ц this parameter is similar Contrast in terms of adjustment.
Sharpness Ц on default, youТll have Normal Sharpness, though this function can be set to Hard, Soft values.
Zoom incorporated into the camera, is Digital х9, however one can argue about its functionality, since as you keep zooming in, the picture gets worse. The images, given as examples here are out of focus, in light of the fact the device canТt appropriately process images with numerous details. Auto-focus should be turned off in these cases, though the developers havenТt provided this function.
While shooting, the display plays the part of a viewfinder; you can also hold the camera single handedly, as there are no difficulties with this. But in case you aim at avoiding unpleasant shakings of the device, you better get a grip on the handset using both hands. The time span, which separates triggering the shutter and saving the image, is about 1-2 seconds. The picturesТ quality, as you can see, is average, though the amount of setting is overwhelming and can satisfy even the most demanding consumer. For those, you are fond of playing around with settings, looking how the quality differs, depending on various sets of variablesТ values; this is quite a good device.
But the majority of people, who are seeking for a qualitative camera, capable of outputting images, which can be viewed on PC without the strong desire of deleting it stirring up, will find this handset unacceptable, since good images quality is provided only in conditions of good illumination, even more, auto-focus may fail you a number of times. But owing to a great display, all images, even of poor quality, look pretty on the handset Ц youТll never guess that they are out of focus or lack sharpness.
Frequently imagesТ quality is good, so you can view them on your PC and even feel pleasure in doing this. In indoor areas, despite CCD matrix, the camera produces noise and outputs illegible pictures.
Video. The device is capable of shooting video clips in 3 different resolutions, these are 320х240, 176х144 and 128х96 pixels. All additional settings copy the corresponding ones for camera mode Ц you can adjust special effects, exposure time, white balance and viewfinderТs appearance. The developers havenТt capped duration of clips Ц you can easily record video up to 1 hour in length. All movies are saved in mped4 format, at that you can check the option, related to sound recording. In course of shooting, you can interrupt the process, pause it start over again.
You can apply zoom (x6) only before shooting Ц once youТve started filming, youТll be not at liberty to adjust this parameter; itТs seems strange and rather unhandy.
The video recording quality is above average Ц all the clips look fine when watched on the handset and donТt possess any obvious flaws in maximum resolution Ц further more, the quality remains fair even on PC. I shall note that the clips, filmed with the help of this handset are better than the ones, recorded with many other devices, including Sony Ericsson K790/K800, which features a 3 Mpix camera as well.
While in camera mode, you can also choose several additional functions, which are accessed from Settings menu Ц by pushing the accept key while highlighting this item, you will call up a navi-circle. In particular, there you can choose video recording mode and general settings for images.
The imagesТ quality can be set to one of the following: SuperFine, Fine, Normal, Economy.
One of the most interesting features, incorporated into the handset is viewing mode, when you pick a certain folder with pictures or video clips and browse all the saved files, in slide-show or normal mode.
Everything we have left to do it to mention the last mode, going by the name of NameCard. While using this one, the camera automatically switches to Macro Mode and allows taking pictures of business cards Ц itТs essential to keep the distance of 9-10 centimeters between the objective glass and the item itself, in order to have the business card in focus, youТll require soft illumination; therefore try to step away from any table lamps. Having taken an image, youТll have to wait 30-40 seconds while the device is processing all acquired data, after this the information is directed straightly to the corresponding fields in the phonebook, which can be edited or deleted later on. The recognition quality is very average, as many symbols are not processed correctly. ItТs important to understand, that a function of this kind is provided only in smart handsets, where the recognition function works very well, but of course CPU speeds are much greater there, so the developers are free to use more complicated algorithms of processing images. There is no way one could use this function of Z710 in practice, though this very step toward incorporating this option into standard phones makes all the difference.
There are not so many handsets on the market, which could boast of a 3 Mpix camera, and against this background, Z710 appears to be fairly good solution. The imagesТ quality here, as well as overall capabilities, is higher than in products by Nokia, namely Nokia N80 (we are talking here about the latest firmware various, which will hit to shelves of retail stores). On the whole, the camera canТt stand competition with Sony Ericsson K790/K800, as it outputs pictures of worse quality, though on the other hand its main advantage is video recording.
It appears, that we face the same situation, which is typical for the market of 2 Mpix cameras: solutions by Samsung are comparable with NokiaТs handsets in terms of cameraТs quality or even overcome them a bit, but lose to the camera module, featured in Sony Ericsson K750i.
The number of camera settings in Samsung Z710 is closing in to digital cameras Ц in case the manufacturer takes a decision to increase the quality of the matrix, optical system and keep the functionality on the same level, it can result in several extremely attractive solutions Ц and itТs not so long left until this moment, I assure you.
Published 21 March 2006
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