In terms of competition, although it is part of Samsung’s Premium range the L700 doesn’t quite match up to the benchmarks of premium compact cameras, Canon’s IXUS range or Panasonic’s FX series. It is closer in specification to some of the mid-range models, such as the Olympus FE-230 (£129), the Casio Exilim EX-Z75 (£149) or the Pentax Optio M30 (£149). Since the L700 costs around £125 this makes it pretty good value for money.
The L700’s specification is pretty basic. It has none of the bells and whistles found on many modern compacts, such as image stabilisation or face detection. What it does have is ISO 1600 sensitivity, spot metering, adjustable colour balance and sharpness, and 11 scene modes. It also has a reasonably sophisticated video mode, with MPEG4 file compression giving 44 minutes of recording on a 1GB card at VGA resolution and 30fps. Unusually for a pocket compact it also allows the use of the optical zoom while shooting, although the zoom motor can be clearly heard on the soundtrack. There are a number of other options in playback mode, including a slideshow with three different selections of bland elevator muzak.
The menu and control system is versatile, but remains easy to use. Pressing the adjustment button brings up a small mini-menu for adjusting ISO, white balance, RGB colour balance and exposure compensation. The main menu is also straightforward, with the various options scrolling across the top of the screen and the menu choices arrayed below. There is also a mode button which allows quick selection of movie mode, full auto, program or scene modes. It’s not as quick or as clever as the Smart Touch control system on the NV10, but it isn’t at all bad.
The camera’s performance is adequate, but not particularly brilliant. It starts up in just under two seconds, which is acceptable for a camera in this class, and the autofocus is reasonably quick in good light. Despite the presence of a seemingly adequate AF assist lamp however, focusing in even slightly low light is very unreliable, usually simply announcing “Low Light!” with a big banner across the monitor. It will still take a picture in this situation, but it may not be focused correctly.