Samsung HMX-F80BP - Main Menu
Even more is available via the menu button that can also be found on the edge of the LCD. The aforementioned Colour Nite mode actually has its own menu entry here. There are four white balance presets, two each for indoor and outdoor conditions, plus fully manual mode. No controls are available for shutter and iris, however. You can toggle the digital image stabilisation, and apply a small selection of digital effects including Western and Dazzle, as well as the expected Sepia, Black and White and Negative. You can also turn on guidelines and invoke a time lapse recording mode, which will grab a frame at intervals of between 1 and 30 seconds for 24, 48 or 72 hours, or until your media is full. So manual features go beyond most camcorders at this price, but not as far as Panasonic's HC-V100 or JVC's Everio GZ-E15. Notable omissions include backlight compensation and tele macro.
With its reasonably sized CMOS, the HMX-F80BP promises better performance than you might expect for a camcorder at this price. In good conditions, the colour is saturated and accurate enough, and the detail acceptable, although the lack of Full HD means it is automatically at a disadvantage compared to many competitors. The digital image stabilisation is also only reasonably effective. It’s not as capable as JVC’s Advanced Image Stabilisation or Panasonic’s Power OIS.
Samsung HMX-F80BP - Image Quality
Image quality in low light isn't bad, but it is noticeably behind Panasonic's HC-V100 or JVC's Everio GZ-E15. The image is reasonably bright, and colour remains saturated to a decent level. However, contrast falters somewhat, so dark areas lose detail, and there is also a fair amount of seething grain. In really poor illumination, where the Panasonic and JVC still just about cope, quite a bit of detail is lost along with colour fidelity. So whilst performance in low light is better than most camcorders available at this price, there are more capable alternatives for just a bit more.
Alongside the all-important micro USB port, which is also used for charging via the supplied adapter, as well as data connection, there is a proprietary AV port and micro HDMI. A cable is supplied for the analog port, including RCA audio and composite video. But you will need to supply your own cable for HDMI connection to your HDTV.
If you’re on a tight budget, the HMX-F80BP is good value. Image quality is merely average, but the features are decent for the price, and considerably ahead of what pocket Internet models offer, particularly the healthy optical zoom and iSCENE modes. If you have a little more to spend, JVC’s Everio GZ-E15 performs better with a few more features, whilst Panasonic’s HC-V100 has more to offer all round. But you do get a lot for £120, making this a valid choice if your budget can’t quite stretch to the more expensive sub-£200 options from JVC and Panasonic.