Samsung SC-MX20 Digital Memory Camcorder

Apr 12th, 2009 | By Simon

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Samsung SC-MX20 Digital Memory Camcorder


Date
: 04/12/09 – 05:35:12 AM

Author
:

Category
: Cameras and Camcorders


Page 1 : Introduction

Manufacturer
: Samsung Canada

I, for one, have always been a digital camera kind of guy; whenever I needed a video taken I'd switch my point and shoot from camera mode to camcorder. It wasn't until I wanted to enhance my TV reviews with videos that it was time to seek out a digital camcorder. Giving a call to my good friends at Samsung Canada, this will be my first of probably many digital camcorder reviews.

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The SC-MX20 is the latest digital memory camera available on Samsung Canada's line up. It was released in August of 2008 and utilizes a 680K pixel CCD sensor for 720×480 resolution. Armed with optical zoom, face detection and optimized for YouTube video, this camcorder will be make it easy to capture those precious family moments and highlights of the night.

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Page 2 : SC-MX20 Digital Memory Camcorder

The SC-MX20 comes in a box adorned with pictures of itself. The actual size photo will make it an easy gauge whether or not the SC-MX20 will fit nicely in your hands without opening up the package. It would have been nice for Samsung to share the maximum capture resolution and storage format.

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The accessories are well divided inside the box; the camcorder is secured inside its own compartment with the charger in the middle and the cables to the far right. A partition divides the hardware from the cleaning cloth, registration paperwork, a quick start guide and installation discs.

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The camcorder body is very compact; the official dimensions state it as being 125.00mm deep by 60.5mm tall by 60.00mm wide. The body is definitely designed for a right handed person as the hand strap is on the right side and if held with your left hand, the buttons and keys are in awkward positions – not to mention the fact that the screen will be upside down. You can rotate the arm 180 degrees, giving you some more freedom of how the camcorder is carried and positioned for the best possible shot.

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The left LCD display screen and navigational buttons swing out another 90mm. The arm can rotate 350 degrees and the display is 60mm by 35mm for a diagonal dimension of 70mm.

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On the inside face after flipping the screen open, there are a few quick access buttons (iCheck, Easy Q and LCD enhancer) and a built-in speaker for video playback.

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The top of the camcorder has an indentation for your fingers. Moving towards the back of the camcorder we have the zoom lever. On the back of the camcorder, the mode button switches from record to playback. The big red button is the record button and the sliding switch below powers on or off the device. Opening up the hidden compartment we have the AV cable jack, USB jack and power jack.

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On the underside of the camcorder we have a tripod mount and a battery and memory card cover.

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Last but not least we have the front lens made by Schneider. The lens has a focal length of f=2.3 to 78.2mm. F1.6 to 30.5. There are two microphones on either side and the shutter is always closed until you manually open it with a slider on the side.

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Before we move onto setting up the camcorder and installing the software, let's have a peek at the features and specifications.


Page 3 : Features & Specifications

Heading over to Samsung's website, the SC-MX20 product page offers up a wealth of knowledge.

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Click for full specifications

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Page 4 : Setup & Software Installation

In theory, you don't need to install anything to make the SC-MX20 work. If you pop in the battery and memory card, you can start recording videos. The videos can then be removed from the memory card by any standard card reader. If you have the SC-MX20C or MX20CH, you can take advantage of the 8GB built-in memory and start recording just after the battery installation. However, that's not the model I have so in goes the card reader.

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Depending on your memory card size, you can record anywhere between 23 minutes with a 1GB to 920 minutes with a 16GB.

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The included Samsung software allows you tweak and quickly upload your videos to YouTube for sharing. To install, pop in the CD to begin the installation.

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Once the software is done installing, it will ask you to add media files to your library. If you want to take the files directly off the camera, you'll need to plug the camera into your USB port using the included USB cable. The camera will show up under your next available drive letter, for me that was E:.

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The CyberLink Media Show lets you edit your videos in a number of ways. You can rotate the video, adjust lighting, reduce some of the shakiness from an unsteady hand, reduce some background noise, adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation and white balance, trim the video and view file information.

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Samsung claims to have a very simple video sharing procedure with YouTube – six steps in total in which the first four are to import the videos from your camera to your computer.

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While the graphical user interface does make video uploading a breeze. To upload a video, you click on the Share Tab and press on the YouTube upload button. You'll be asked to sign in to you account, accept the copyright disclaimer, fill in the details of your video and wait for the upload to complete. If you get a pop up message claiming there was a network problem, update CyberLink Media and you're good to go.

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Some final things you can do with Media Show is of course watch your video, but how well does the capture work? Let's compare a few videos and screenshots.

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Page 5 : Video Capture & Performance

The SC-MX20 allows you to record in 4 different modes: TV Super Fine (720×480 60i), TV Fine (720×480 60i), TV Normal (720×480 60i) and Web & Mobile (640×480). As you can guess, the finer the quality the less recording time you get.

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Here's a screen shot comparing the 4 different modes. From left to right we have Web & Mobile, Normal, Fine and SuperFine.

There are many built in features you can modify making the SC-MX20 one of the most customizable entry camcorders on the market. To start we have Focus (Auto, Face Detection, Manual), Anti-Shake (HDIS) Off or On, Digital Effect (Off, Black & White, Sepia, Negative, Art, Emboss, Mosaic, Mirror, Pastel, Cosemetic, Stepprinting), Aspect Ratio 16:9 (Off or On), Resolution (TV SuperFine, TV Fine, TV Normal, Web & Mobile), Wind Cut (Off or On), Voice Mutt (Off or On), Back Light (Off or On), Interval Rec (Off or On), C.Nite (Off, Auto, 1/30, or 1/15), Fader (Off, In, Out or In-Out), Guideline (Off, Cross, Grid or Safety Zone), Digital Zoom (Off or On), Settings (Storage Info, Format, File No, Time Zone, Date/Time Set, Date Format, Time Format, Date/Time, LCD Brightness, LCD Color, Beep Sound, Auto Power Off, TV Display, Default Set, Version, Menu Color, Transparency, Language, or Demo), iScene (Auto, Sports, Spotlight, Beach, Snow, High Speed, Food, Waterfall or Manual), White Balance (AUto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Tungsten or Custom WB), Exposure (Auto or Manual) and Shutter (Auto or Manual).

Here's a video recording some TV being played off my 55A630. The movie The Mummy and is from from a Blu-Ray disc.

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TV Super Fine

TV Fine

TV Normal

Web & Mobile

For basic recording, the SC-MX20 does the trick. You can see there is some barrel distortion in the lens making the flat TV curved. Low light recording can be grainy and some detail is lost in the recording. You could use the C.Nite feature which is intended for low light situations but the manual itself says that it is really only to be used in slow-motion type recordings. In daylight, for an entry camcorder it's more than acceptable. As a camcorder designed to record videos and be shared on YouTube, you can get away with some quality loss and not expect HD family videos.

The microphone picks up low frequencies making the voices appear a bit hollow, WindCut does help to reduce this a tiny bit but can cut out other meaningful recordings.


Page 6 : Conclusion

The Samsung SC-MX20 is a great starter camcorder. It is very customizable allowing you to progress from a new or novice user to one who becomes more familiar at the manual modes. The small profile, long battery life and relatively low price makes it a great deal. The fact that is also has an optical zoom and shoots good daylight videos is a huge plus.

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The SC-MX20 had to make some sacrifices to get the price low. You're limited to 720×480 recordings with no capability to capture a still shot, essentially forcing you to also carry a point & shoot. The recordings are acceptable but not spectacular.

Advantages

  • Easy to use

  • Lots of features for entry camera
  • Rotating screen makes self-captures very easy

Disadvantages

  • Picture and audio quality acceptable but not the best

I would like to thank Samsung for making this review possible.

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