Review Price £99.95
The HMX-H200 is the second generation of Samsung’s H series. So where some of Samsung’s models in the last couple of years have put up a stiff competition on quality, such as the VP-HMX20, the H200 takes the focus back towards value. But it still has quite a lot to offer in both performance and features.
Although the H200’s sensor is a relatively small 1/4.9in CMOS, this now incorporates Samsung’s BSI technology, standing for Back-Side Illuminated. The latter is a relatively new feature that is being included in the CMOS sensors used by many manufacturers, for both digital cameras and camcorders. It’s potentially very beneficial, particularly in low light, because a back-side illuminated CMOS sensor has the wiring on the side facing away from the lens, so more of the light-sensitive area of the chip is revealed. Sony has been using its own version, called Exmor, for a few years now, and our experiences have been entirely favourable.
The H200’s CMOS sensor has 3.32-megapixels, although only 2.07-megapixels are used when shooting video – exactly what you need for Full HD. Samsung throws in a bit of interpolation when grabbing still images to boost the resulting resolution to 4.7-megapixels. This enables photos to be taken at a size of 2,880 x 1,620 pixels. One advantage of the small sensor is to the optical zoom. Despite the H200 weighing less than 300g and measuring just over 11cm on its longest edge, it still packs a 20x optical zoom. So although there’s also a 200x digital zoom available, you won’t need it for a powerful telephoto.
Thanks to Samsung’s eschewing of the AVCHD format in favour of H.264-encoded MP4 files, video can be recorded at a number of resolutions. These include interlaced 1080/50i at 1,920 x 1,080, plus 720p and 576p at 50 progressive frames/sec. The top resolution uses a data rate of 17Mbits/sec, so 4GB of storage will be enough for around 30 minutes of video. In the H200’s case, your only recording medium available is SD memory. But there’s also an H203 model with 8GB, an H204 with 16GB, and an H205 with 32GB, with prices increasing respectively to match.
Thanks to its small body size, the H200 naturally lacks the features expected of an enthusiast-oriented model. There’s no accessory shoe, and there are no minijacks for an external microphone or headphones. But there are some manual functions available. The focus options can be found via the Quick Menu, and they include a touch-operated mode where you simply indicate the point in the frame to use as reference with your finger. Alternatively, you can adjust focus entirely manually using onscreen buttons. The white balance has a manual option, too, alongside two indoor and two outdoor presets.
There are shutter and aperture priority modes available, too, where you set one parameter and the camcorder takes care of the other. The shutter can be configured from 1/50th to 1/10,000th, and the aperture from F1.8 to F16, although it’s not possible to adjust both separately. As soon as you engage one priority mode, the other parameter returns to automatic. But there’s also a nine-step exposure setting as well, which gives you a reasonably flexible amount of overall control. This is also more easily available from the Quick Menu, so you don’t need to trawl through the full list of settings.