camcorders

Samsung SC-DC164 Camcorder Review

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Performance

Video Performance* (4.5)*

The Samsung SC-DC164 features a 1/4.5" CCD with 680K gross pixels. This is larger than the average chip size, but the same pixel count. Resolution is largely dependent on the number of pixels, and low light performance is largely dependent on chip size. Why the discrepancy with this particular chip? It could be for a number of reasons, probably related to lower manufacturing costs. What we can tell you is that this is not a very good chip.

At 3000 lux, the DC164’s most noticeable feature is its lack of apparent sharpness. The picture looks fuzzy and just makes a mess of the fine detail that most camcorders are able to obtain. Color performance is surprisingly decent, which is likely a combination of the larger imager and some in-camera saturation. The grey scale, however, has a slightly reddish tone in patches. And despite all the decent colors, the noise is terrible.

By comparison, the Sony DCR-DVD105 was brighter overall, and reported much more fine detail, despite having the same pixel count and a smaller imager. This camcorder, and the next model up, the DVD205, were the only other camcorders that could match the Samsung’s color performance. No camcorder, though, had any problem topping the Samsung in sharpness.

The Sony DVD205 has a slightly larger CCD than most entry-levels (1/5.5") and a much higher pixel count (1.07MP). The picture was very sharp, comparatively, and color balance was excellent.

The VDR-D100, Panasonic’s entry-level DVD camcorder, has slightly paler colors, and noise levels were high, but not as high as on the Samsung. The Panasonic distinguished itself by showing much more fine detail, and on the whole was a preferable image. Finally, the Canon DC100, their entry-level, had a color spectrum that relied too heavily on the greens, and was not as balanced as the Samsung. Again, though, the Canon DC100 could capture alot more fine detail.

No one should expect great picture quality from an entry-level DVD camcorder, but nearly every other camcorder had a better overall performance than the Samsung. It’s simply not a player in the DVD market.

{column='Video Performance' models='Sony DCR-DVD105,Sony DCR-DVD205,Panasonic VDR-D100,Canon DC100'}

Video Resolution* (9.6)*

The Samsung SC-DC164’s video was tested for its resolution by shooting a standard ISO 12233 resolution chart. Stills from that footage were then run through Imatest imaging software. In 4:3 aspect ratio, the camcorder produced 360.0 lines of horizontal resolution (with an average clipping of 1.9%) and 266.5 lines of vertical resolution, yielding an approximate resolution of 95940.0. In 16:9, the camcorder produced 451.1 lines of horizontal resolution (with an average clipping of 0.99%) and 264.6 lines of vertical resolution, yielding an approximate resolution of 119361.06. The score is based on the 4:3 resolution as a standardization method.

Clipping occurs when Imatest cannot read a percentage of the information in the black/white line edge. In this case, some of the pixels had bottomed out (all channels read zero) due to in-camera sharpening. This is common in lower-end camcorders, and can cause some inaccuracies in the resolution scores.

The chart below shows how the SC-DC164 fared against the competition.

{column='Video Resolution' models='Sony DCR-DVD105,Sony DCR-DVD205,Panasonic VDR-D100,Canon DC100'}

**Low Light Performance ***(3.0)*

The Samsung SC-DC164 was tested for its low light performance at low light levels, 60 lux and 15 lux, which might correspond to a fairly lit room at night and a room lit by a single bulb at night. These are difficult environments for an camcorder to perform, and entry-level camcorders have an even more difficult time.

At 60 lux, the SC-DC164 lost a great deal of color information. Saturation levels obviously shot up; what was a pretty good color balance in bright light became quite uneven in the this light. The yellows became golden and the greens blurred together. Noise levels became very high, and there were patches of blue noise that appeared in some parts of the image. The reddish levels of the grey scale that we saw in bright light also got worse.

The Sony DCR-DVD105 produced better colors and, more notably, much better color balance – not that different from the color balance in bright light. And as in bright light, the fine detail was better. The Sony DVD205 actually produced more blue noise than the DVD105, but had stronger colors overall and a much higher apparent sharpness.

The Panasonic VDR-D100 was brighter, likely a result of its strong auto gain. The colors are less saturated, and it had some trouble making out fine detail. Noise levels are high, but did not overrun the image like the Samsung does. The Canon DC100 was slightly brighter, and had better color balance. Noise, however, was worse than the Samsung.

At 15 lux, the Samsung SC-DC164 was completely devastated. Noise had overwrought the image, there was almost no color, and nearly all detail had been lost and it could not focus. Normally, a camcorder can manage to retain at least one of these factors. But, no.

The Sony DVD105 also lost of its color, but managed to retain a fair amount of dine detail. Yes, noise was high, but it’s not in charge – not like on the Samsung. The DVD205 went the other way, with a little color retention, but more loss of fine detail. Blue noise was also a problem. Still, they were both far superior to the Samsung.

The Panasonic VDR-D100 had noise levels nearly rivaling the Samsung (and believe me, that’s not easy), but some colors managed to peek through. Also, the Panasonic did not have any focus issues. The Canon DC100 was not much better, and looked similar to the Panasonic, but with stronger colors. Noise was definitely a problem.

The Samsung SC-DC164 also offers a Color Nite mode, which gives you the options of a digital replication of a slow shutter, either 1/15th or 1/30th of a second. The results, seen here, are pretty bad. Yes, the image is brighter, but the noise levels and loss of detail are significant. Also, these stills do not show the intense motion blurring that occurs with these settings. We recommend avoiding this camcorder altogether for low light purposes.

{column='Low Light Performance Performance' models='Sony DCR-DVD105,Sony DCR-DVD205,Panasonic VDR-D100,Canon DC100'}

Wide Angle* (9.0)*

The SC-DC164 was tested for its wide angle in both 4:3 and 16:9 modes to determine if the camcorder possesses true widescreen. In 4:3, the camcorder produced a wide angle of 45 degrees. In 16:9, the camcorder produced a wide angle of 56 degrees. This dramatic increase in the width of the field was not accompanied by any loss of information to the top and bottom of the image. This is the best kind of widescreen.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Samsung SC-DC164, take a look at these other camcorders.

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Sections

  1. Performance
  2. Format
  3. Tour
  4. Auto/Manual Controls
  5. Still Features
  6. Handling and Use
  7. Audio/Playback/Connectivity
  8. Other Features
  9. Comparisons/Conclusion
  10. Specs/Ratings