Although Samsung has bumped up the specifications for its latest camcorders, it hasn’t made many concessions for the videomaking enthusiast. The H104 has no lens ring, no accessory shoe, nor minijacks for headphones or an external microphone. The Quick Menu button on the LCD provides access to a few frequently used functions, including switching shooting resolution, plus manual configuration of white balance, exposure and focus. There are two white balance presets each for indoor and outdoor conditions, plus the usual auto and custom modes.
The exposure control has nine levels, and there are two options for manual focusing. You can either use an onscreen slider, or a one-touch system. However, we found the latter one of the least effective versions we’ve used, having regular difficulty locking to the points we indicated on the LCD.
There are yet more settings available in the full menu, in particular direct adjustment of aperture and shutter. The iris can be set from F1.8 to F16, and the shutter speed from 1/50th to 1/10,000th, but configuring one returns the other to auto mode, so you can’t set them independently. Samsung has also annoyingly placed backlight compensation and the telemacro controls deep within the full menu, making them a pain to enable.
Samsung is clearly aiming this model at point-and-shoot consumers. To this end, the H104 also offers an Easy Q mode which disables both the Quick Menu and full menu. There is also a curious rotating grip, which appears to be designed so you can hold the camcorder like a torch, although you will then need to use your other hand to toggle recording. If you’re shooting from the hip, this configuration does prove more comfortable than simply gripping the camcorder between thumb and forefinger, and you won’t risk dropping it either.