As a camera however the i8 is far more useful. Its overall performance is surprisingly good, starting up in well under two seconds and shutting down again even more quickly. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot cycle time of approximately 2.3 seconds, which is a little slow, and it has one of those annoying shutter releases that won’t work if you press it too quickly. In continuous shooting mode the camera can manage approximately one shot a second, which is respectably fast, but the monitor screen is blank and there is no audio cue to let you know it’s still shooting, which is also annoying.
The autofocus system is very good, focusing quickly and accurately in most lighting conditions, and coping extremely well in low light. It focuses without a problem in nightclub conditions, and a small but effctive AF assist lamp means it can cope with total darkness at a range of a couple of metres.
Image quality is also surprisingly good. The lens is the weakest link, but even this performs reasonably well, with good centre and edge sharpness awith only a small amount of barrel distortion, although it does suffer from noticeable chromatic aberration in the corners of the frame at wide angle.
Colour reproduction is very good, and captures highlights in bright colours better than some cameras I’ve seen recently. The exposure system does tend to sacrifice highlight detail in favour of shadow detail, resulting in some burned out highlights, but on the whole it copes well with a wide range of conditions.
The only real weakness in terms of picture quality is noise, which is a visible at 200 ISO and a problem at 400 ISO. Higher ISO settings are very poor, and as usual the 3200 ISO maximum is utterly unusable.
The Samsung i8 is a fairly good attempt to turn a digital camera into an all-in-one travel gadget. As a camera it performs well, with particularly good low light capability, and the built-in MP3 player works well. The other features however are little more than gimmicks that add little to the camera’s value. Overall build quality and design are barely above average, but for under £100 it’s not bad value for money.