Many budget cameras reveal weaknesses in performance where corners have been cut, saving money by using inferior components, but this is not the case with the L830. It starts up quickly in under 2.5 seconds, and takes about the same time to shut down again. Shooting time is a little slow at nearly three seconds per shot in single-shot mode, but in continuous shooting mode it is somewhat quicker, shooting a frame every 0.8 seconds. However in continuous mode there is no shutter sound after the first frame, and the monitor remains blank while the shutter button is held down, so aiming is a bit unpredictable. The autofocus system is nice and quick, and is very effective in good light. In lower light however it doesn’t do so well, failing to lock on in a dimly lit room despite the AF assist lamp. At least it lets you know quickly that it hasn’t focused.
The ASR image stabilisation system is quite effective, producing shake-free shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second, but shooting speed in this mode is very slow, taking several seconds to process each shot. The results do look a bit over-processed, and the boosted ISO setting results in increased image noise.
Overall image quality isn’t bad, but it’s nothing to write home about either. Exposure metering is accurate and manages to retain shadow detail without burning out too many highlights. The 6.3 – 18.9mm f/3 – f/5.6 lens doesn’t bear the Schneider’ branding of Samsung’s higher-spec models, but it performs reasonably well nonetheless. It produces some barrel distortion at wide angle, but I’ve seen a lot worse and corner sharpness is pretty good too. The overall level of detail would probably be very good if only the sensor was a bit better. Unfortunately it isn’t, and lets the side down badly by showing image noise even at the lowest ISO setting. Noise at the maximum 1600 ISO setting is so bad as to be useless. This, combined with the L830’s poor low-light focusing, means that it probably isn’t the best choice for social occasions.
The Samsung L830 is in many ways the epitome of the average digital camera. It is fairly cheap, light and compact, well made and inoffensively designed. It has some problems with handling, but performs well under most circumstances, and does offer one or two unusual features for the price. Unfortunately image quality is poor even for a budget camera, and there are significantly better cameras available for around the same price.
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