The manual exposure setting offers plenty of fine control with 30 increments available. However, there is no direct iris configuration option. Although you can also set the shutter manually to values ranging from 1/25th to 1/10,000th, you can’t use this at the same time as Exposure. Manually setting the latter greys out the Shutter option.
Manual focusing owes more than a passing resemblance to Sony’s camcorders, with a choice between touching the point in the frame you want in focus, or changing the focal distance up or down. The Samsung will focus as close as 20cm, too, which is handy if you like nature videography. White balance presets include Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent and Tungsten, or you can use fully automatic or manual modes.
Delving further into the menu reveals yet more options. There are five Scene Modes – Night, Sports, Portrait, Spotlight and Beach/Snow. The Super C.Nite mode has Normal and Super settings, which reduce the shutter speed by varying amounts at the expense of jerky motion.
However, although the range of settings available is competitive, the physical features are more limited. No accessory shoe is integrated, although there is a microphone minijack on the rear, and you can’t monitor sound levels, as no connection is provided for headphones. On the plus side, the battery readout also estimates time remaining in minutes, so you know exactly how long you’ve got left.
Overall, the build is reassuringly solid, the buttons in the right place for immediate finger action, and the touchscreen a doddle to use. But we didn’t find the HMX20 comfortable to operate single-handed. It’s easier to use with your second hand on the edge of the LCD – which has become the standard shooting posture anyway.