Samsung QF20 review
1/4in CMOS sensor, 1,920x1,080, 20.0x zoom, 180g
The Samsung HMX-QF20 is a compact hand-held camcorder with a single 1/4in sensor, a 2.7in touchscreen monitor and a 20x optical zoom. It records in the Full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080 and takes photos at a maximum resolution of 3,072x1,728, which provides a lot of versatility if you’re taking it on holiday. A lot of medium-priced consumer camcorders have a similar specification, but the HMX-QF20 also has built-in Wi-Fi, which lets it stream media to your PC or TV or upload straight to social networking sites such as Facebook.
The HMX-QF20 is incredibly light, but it feels substantial and well built. The monitor’s hinge has a good amount of resistance but not stiffness to it, which gives you confidence that it isn’t going to break. The camcorder has a tripod mount, but no accessory shoe or microphone input. The zoom and record buttons are on the rear of the camcorder, but we didn’t find these as comfortable to use as top-mounted buttons.
The camcorder's touchscreen monitor is something of a conundrum. It works well when you use it to change onscreen settings when shooting video, but it becomes unresponsive and troublesome when you’re using it to change settings on the HMX-QF20’s main menu. As an example, you have to swipe across the screen to see more setting categories, but when you try to access these menus the camcorder either doesn’t move far enough or mistakes your swipe for a select and moves you into a sub-menu you don’t want to see. Our problems with the menu really distracted from our experience when using the camcorder.
Despite our difficulties with the touchscreen, the menu items and icons adequately convey their purpose, which means you don’t have to search through the manual to discover what something represents. Even though the camcorder's display is relatively small, it’s big enough for you to survey the scene you’re shooting and image quality is good.
There’s a heavy amount of compression on the footage, but no more than you’ll find on other camcorders in this price range, such as the Toshiba Camileo X200. There’s a lot of noise, too. Samsung's Smart Auto mode is meant to adjust the camcorder's settings on the fly in order to maximise picture quality, but we found that this led to varied image quality even during the same shooting session. The HMX-QF20’s image quality is reasonable for a camcorder of this price, helped by accurate colour reproduction, although outdoor footage was better than indoor. There's also a manual mode that lets you set white balance and focus manually using onscreen controls.