I’m usually not the type to get all excited over regular compact point-and-shoot cameras but as a person who sometimes has to carry a bunch of stuff around with me to accommodate my children, there are times I just don’t want to carry around my larger cameras. My wife also finds point-and-shoots much easier to hold and keep in her purse so for the most part, I try out a lot of these smaller cameras with my wife in mind and how easy it would be for her to use and handle. Basically all she needs is a camera that takes is compact, takes good photos, is fast, and is easy to use. When things get to complicated, it’s never a good thing and makes it very hard to like a camera.
With that said, the Samsung DV300F I have here is a very small, compact camera that looks like pretty much any other compact point-and-shoot out there except for the fact that it has a front facing LCD screen built in. Telling my wife this quickly gained her attention as she loves taking self portraits of the family all the time. However, telling her something is different from her actually using it so how did she like using? Well, read on and find out.
Body & Design
I’m going to come in on a slightly different angle with this camera because it is a point-and-shoot and many of these types of cameras have similar features and ergonomics. For instance, the DV300F is small, compact, made to be simple to use, and all you pretty much need to do with it is turn it on, point the camera, and press the shutter button to take a photo. Not much thinking is really required with it and that’s really the point of these cameras. For most of this review, I’ll be referring to my wife a lot because she is really the main target audience for this camera in my household, not me. I’m not really a big fan of simple cameras as I like to mess with all the manual features but for my wife, cameras like the DV300F are perfect in both size and simplicity.
The DV300F has a feature that no other camera in its class really has and that is the front facing LCD screen that can be used for self portraits. From the front, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that this cameras has a front facing LCD screen. It is well hidden underneath the front plate and is only visible when you press F.LCD button up top. The screen is fairly bright, though the resolution on it is not that great. It doesn’t really matter though as all you’re really using it for is to frame your self portraits with and it works well enough. From the front screen, you’ll be able to see what the lens is seeing as well as where it’s focusing. I suggest turning on face detection so that it will automatically focus on your face. The front LCD however does not give you any detailed shooting info.
The DV300F is almost a perfect camera hardware wise except for the fact that I think it’s missing 1 important button. On most of the newer cameras I’ve used, there is a dedicated movie record button. The DV300F lacks this. My wife even mentioned this on the first day and was complaining about how she was trying to find the movie record button and couldn’t find it. That’s because a lot of the cameras I’ve been looking at lately all had one and when a bunch of other cameras have it, you become accustomed to seeing one. Instead, she was forced to go through the menus and select it manually on the mode screen. I know it’s something small, but it’s just a convenient thing to have and it’s not like there isn’t room on the camera for one. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s a feature the DV300F should have had.
Other than that, the DV300F is a well built camera. The body is very solid and doesn’t feel cheapy like some cameras do and doesn’t flex or creak when you try to twist the body. Again, very impressed with the built quality and the fit and finish.
Operations & Features
If you’re familiar with Samsung cameras, most of the user interface and features will be familiar to you. In fact, the DV300F has many of the same features the last Samsung camera I used, the WB850F had. Since it doesn’t have a control dial, you have to use the 4-way directional controller to navigate through the menus. Though the UI is familiar, it doesn’t have all the features the WB850F camera had, but it has enough to satisfy most normal users.
You’ll find 5 different “tabs” to scroll through in the UI – Basic, Wi-Fi, Scene, Magic, and Album. I like how Samsung has this laid out as it’s very clear what each tab does and each tab has a series of icons aligned in a grid so it will be very familiar to smartphone users.
- Basic – In the Basic tab, here is where most of the basic functions of the camera are located. Here you choose your shooting modes, either for pictures or video as well as panoramic mode and camera settings. Most of your time will probably be spent in this tab.
- Wi-Fi – Like the WB850F, the DV300F is a SMART enabled camera which means it has included Wi-Fi and the ability to upload images directly to social networks, email, or to the cloud. Social sharing is still limited to Facebook, Picasa, Youtube, and Photobucket however and the cloud only uploads to SkyDrive.
- Scene – Scene mode allows you to choose one of eight predefined scene modes to shoot. It’s not as robust of a selection that you’d get with some other cameras and most of them on here are pretty basic. The ones Samsung does include are pretty useful though and also make use of the front LCD screen. The most interesting of the bunch I think is the Jump Shot mode which displays a countdown timer on the front screen so your subject knows exactly when to jump in the air. Very neat in my opinion.
- Magic – This tab features mainly fun filters you can use to spruce up your photos. These are used during shooting so you can see the results in real time before you take the shot. The most common type of filters are located under the Photo Filters icon and these include your usual art filters that you find. My favorite is the Funny Face magic filter which will distort faces in real time while shooting. It makes for some really funny photos.
- Album – This tab doesn’t have too much on it. Basically from here, you can view your photo albums as well as edit your photos directly from the camera. You can edit things like brightness, contrast, saturation, and removing red-eye. You can also apply art filters here. This is great for simple photo editing, but for more advanced editing, I’d still recommend something like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
For users who don’t really care about features and just want an easy to use camera that you can just set it once and leave it like that, the DV300F’s Smart Auto mode allows for that. In fact, the entire time my wife used the camera, she either left it set on Smart Auto or Smart Movie mode. The camera did a fairly good job of choosing the proper scene mode. She usually leaves her cameras on AUTO and doesn’t like messing with the more advanced features so she was quite pleased that the DV300F took good photos in Smart Auto mode.
There was 1 small complaint however with usage. She complained that the camera was a bit slow at times. The user interface has a slight lag to it and isn’t as speedy as the WB850F was. Also, when shooting, it feels fast sometimes but other times, it feels like there is a slight delay before the shutter actually clicks. Then again, a lot of point-and-shoot cameras are like that so it’s nothing surprising.
Wi-Fi Image Sharing
I’m basically copying this portion of the review from what I wrote in the review for the WB850F because it’s exactly the same for both cameras. All you have to do is download the Samsung MobileLink app from the App Store to get started.
To use it, first activate MobileLink on the camera itself. It will turn the DV300F into a Wi-Fi access point. On your iPhone, go into settings > Wi-Fi and then connect to the Wi-Fi network created by the camera. Close settings and then start the Samsung MobileLink app on your device. The app will automatically link to the camera and display all images you set to share from the camera. You can either set it to all images or select images. This way, if you’re sharing photos with someone else, they won’t be able to see all the images on the camera if you only select a couple to share. Once you confirm which images you want to transfer to your device, just tap the transfer button and let it do its magic. Very simple process.
Now, where the DV300F goes above and beyond with their Wi-Fi capabilities is its ability to share directly to several online social networks, the popular one being Facebook. You can also upload photos to Picasa, Photo Bucket, or videos to YouTube. In order to do this, you’ll need to connect the DV300F to your wireless network which is a simple process. Just find your network and connect. It can even connect to password protected networks if you have the pass. Once connected, it’ll remember the network for future use.
You also are not limited to social networks. The DV300F also gives you the option to upload it to Microsoft’s Skydrive, email photos to friends, or beam them to a compatible TV for viewing.
I really didn’t use any of these extra Wi-Fi features but I’m glad that Samsung included them as part of the feature set. I’d like to see an update in the future that allows for more options such as support for Flickr as well as Twitter and maybe even Dropbox support. In the mean time, the features included should satisfy most people one way or another.
Image quality with the Samsung DV300F is quite good, even in low light situations without the flash. I was able to snap a few images in dim lighting that were very good, and yes, these are pictures of food since that seems to be the trend these days with people taking images of what they eat. As you can see from the image above, photos have lots of detail and good color rendering. In dimly lit situations, the Smart Auto mode made images a bit dark. The above image was using the Program mode instead, with the camera choosing aperture and shutter speed on its own and me holding the camera very still.
All the images I’m showing you here have not been post-processed and have only had their size reduced.
Here is an image that was taken in slightly better lighting, but still without the flash. As you can see, exposure is very good with the overall image not being too dark or too bright. Again, this was taken using the Smart Auto mode with the DV300F choosing what it thought was the best scene mode for it.
Here is a shot using the macro mode. Again, you can see that detail is very good and for the most part, the DV300F does a good job picking the right exposure in Smart Auto mode.
For a point-and-shoot, I was very pleased with the image quality. You’re not going to get DSLR quality images here just to be clear, but for your standard compact camera, the images are very acceptable for the average user. I like what I see here and again I am very pleased with what a Samsung camera can do.
The DV300F is a very good camera. It’s not perfect, but all the features it does have overshadows the little imperfections here and there. My wife was very happy using this camera and loved how small and easy to carry it was. The front facing LCD panel comes in handy often and the menu system is very easy to use. Image quality is good as well for a point-and-shoot. The camera feels very solid in your hands and the addition of the tiny raised hand grip makes it easy to hold as well.
Again, the only thing I’d really change about the DV300F would be the addition of a dedicated movie record button and to speed up the overall experience just a tiny bit. Everything else is fantastic about the camera from the styling, fit and finish, and user interface, as well as the addition of Wi-Fi sharing. If you’re looking for a good, inexpensive pocket shooter with a unique front facing LCD, the Samsung DV300F is the camera you are looking for.