Samsung HMX-H300BP review
1/4in CMOS sensor, 1,920x1,080/50i, 1,280x720/50p, 720x576/50p, 30.0x zoom, 280g
Last month we saw the Samsung HMX-Q10 budget camcorder, which could be used in either hand thanks to a clever inverting LCD screen and had impressive low-light performance. The HMX-G300BP doesn't have the fancy ambidextrous features, but has the same-sized sensor and a useful 30x optical zoom instead of the Q10's 10x.
The HMX-H300BP has a 1/4in CMOS sensor, which is a reasonable size for a budget camcorder. This is the same size sensor as in the superb Panasonic HDC-SD90 and is significantly larger than the 1/6in sensor in Panasonic's £280 HDC-SD80. It's also a back-illuminated sensor, where the sensor's wiring is moved to the back of the sensor so doesn't stop any light reaching the sensor's surface.
This kind of sensor should cause footage to have less noise, and the camcorder is certainly impressive in low light; there is noise, but it's not excessive and footage is smooth and surprisingly detailed. Video taken indoors was reasonable; fairly soft with a small amount of noise, but still much better than the HDC-SD80's over-processed oil painting look. Outdoor shots showed a reasonable amount of detail, but again we found the footage rather soft. Overall quality is still reasonable for an inexpensive camcorder; to get much better video you'll have to find an extra £140 for Panasonic's HDC-SD90.
The HMX-H300BP's video quality was almost identical to the Samsung HMX-Q10's, but we found the larger zoom came in handy. While the Q10's small zoom range means you have to use quality-destroying digital zoom to get in really close, the HMX-H300BP's 30x zoom is big enough for almost all purposes. There's also has a digital zoom, but this is disabled by default; we'd recommend leaving it turned off.