Review – Samsung SMX-F40 camcorder does video and 65x zoom on a budget

The world of budget camcorders just got a new contender – the Samsung SMX-F40. This compact all-digital camcorder records standard definition video to SD memory cards. What sets it apart from most other budget cameras is its 65x zoom (52x optical + IntelliZoom) and Schneider-Kreuznach lens.

On the outside, the camera looks like every other camcorder on the market – a wrist-strap, swivel LCD display, zoom controls on the top, and a battery on the back.

In this video clip, you get is bit if an idea what the quality is like – it is quite acceptable, as long as you don’t zoom in too much. Even though the camera features some basic image stabilization, when zoomed in all the way (65x), you’ll get a ton of shake. For close-ups like this, you’ll definitely want to invest in a tripod.

Audio is quite decent – it picks up a lot of weak noises, but sadly also a little bit of wind – still, I’ve seen much worse.

Photo quality is quite lousy – and only in 2 megapixels, so don’t expect to replace your point and shoot any time soon. Even mobile phones usually make better shots than this.

Thanks to a small joystick you can quickly navigate through the menus – and inside the menus are a ton of features. You get scene selections, resolution settings and a neat time lapse recording option. The lineup of features is surprisingly impressive for such a budget camera.

Behind the display is a flap to protect the SD card slot, video out connector, USB port and charging port. You can charge the camera using the included wall charger, or over USB using your PC.

Final thoughts

With its weak photos and shaky zoom video, you’d expect a recommendation against this product – but it actually manages to rescue itself thanks to an insanely low price – you can find it online for as little as $159. The camera does not come with a memory card, so expect to invest an extra $20-$30 for an 8GB card. Battery life is rated at over 4 hours on a single charge.

The camera comes with a pretty decent software suite which assists with edits and one-click uploads to video sharing sites.

Now, this camera is obviously up against products like the Flip and Creative Vado HD camcorders – but none of those products offer an optical zoom lens. So, you need to decide whether you want to pay for an HD camcorder with limited features, or a full feature standard definition camera. Do keep in mind that in this price range, your camera will only work well outdoors – indoor shooting requires a camcorder with a much higher price tag.

Despite its shortcomings, $159 for a compact camera with these features is a tremendous deal, but you’ll need to spend some time determining your needs. One more thing to help decide is what you plan to do with the video – HD video is nice, but it takes up a lot of space and editing can require a beefy computer. If you just want some basic quality stuff to show friends and family, a standard definition camera could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 1080p HD camera review

The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 is a pocket HD camcorder with an impressive lineup of features (on paper at least). Inside the camera is a sensor capable of 5MP photos, 1080P “full HD” video, SD(HC) and Memory Stick Duo card support, one-touch uploads and a built in USB connector.

The Bloggie is Sony’s answer to the huge lineup of pocket HD camcorders that have invaded the market in recent years – a market that Sony used to dominate with their Camcorders.

The Sony Bloggie PM5 manages to stand out in the busy pocket camera market thanks to several neat innovations – its first (and easiest to notice) is a swiveling lens. Opening the lens also turns the camera on, which makes it easy to take some spur of the moment video clips.Controls and options

Controls on the Sony Bloggie are aplenty – you get a joystick for menu controls, play and menu selector buttons, a video and photo button and a power button, for when you want to do playback without opening the lens. All these buttons are in line with the long list of features found on the camera – while some pocket HD camcorders may only offer the most basic of options, the Sony Bloggie adds features like resolution selection, various playback options and of course, the ability to delete recordings, which is handy if you just recorded someone doing something you don’t want any records of.


The Bloggie feels very “Sony-ish” – I’m not sure how to describe it, but even without seeing the brand name, most geeks will be able to determine that it was made by Sony. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just feels a little over-engineered. The battery and card slot are hidden behind a slide/tilt cover which just feels way too much for a budget camera.

Then there is the USB plug – it slides out, and is hidden by a flimsy plastic cover, something I just know will break off sooner or later. In the box is a short USB extension cable, which means you don’t have to have the Bloggie hang off the front of your computer (and risk breaking something).

In the hardware section, I’ve kept the worst for last – the screen. Oh my goodness what a disaster… The screen on the Bloggie only works well if you look directly at it – a few degrees to the left or right, and it is almost impossible to see what you are recording. This suddenly makes the swivel lens so much more convenient, because you’ll need to swivel up or down to keep the screen angled correctly.

Video and photo quality

This part is actually quite positive – both photos and videos are actually pretty decent – but you’ll need to make sure you stick to the middle of the road in quality. The 1080p setting (highest option) may sound great on paper, but in reality, the camera has a hard time keeping up with any kind of fast movement.

Of all the pocket HD cameras I’ve tested, I actually found the photo quality of the Bloggie to be the most impressive – it obviously won’t replace your day to day camera (no flash, no optical zoom), but it sure beats the quality of most mobile phones.

This clip was shot in 720p 30 frames per second – which is (in my opinion) the best setting for the Bloggie. In daylight the camera works surprisingly well – but you don’t want to use it in any dark rooms, as with most cameras in this class, the quality of dark shots is pretty poor.

The camera does feature a digital zoom, but frustratingly, it only works in the photo mode and the 720p video mode – a nice touch to include, but fairly useless in reality.

Final thoughts

There are several reasons to like the Bloggie, and several to dislike it – so lets start with its pros:

The swivel lens is actually pretty cool – it helps with shots above your head, or self portraits. I also like that the camera takes Memory Stick Duo and SD(HD) cards – this provides some flexibility, and allows you to use cards you may already have lying around. A slightly more expensive version of the Bloggie adds a nifty 360 degree lens – which allows you to make wacky fish-eye shots.

The removable battery is definitely a pro but spare batteries are $40. The upside is that the battery pack charges any time you plug it into a USB port, and that its battery life is really, really good.

The price is a tough call – it retails for $149.99, but that is without any memory cards – so expect to invest a bit more. At this price point, there are several other options, including several with 8GB of storage built in.

Now for the cons:

No HDMI output – I feel that this one is a real missed feature – even though you can hook the camera up to your TV for non-HD playback, or pop the memory card in your computer or PS3, the lack of HDMI is just a real shame. Then there is of course the display – I won’t waste any more words on that…

I find it tough to draw any conclusions about the Bloggie MHS-PM5 – I feel like I shouldn’t like it, but it really isn’t a bad camera – it is just a camera with a ton of competition – and some of that competition offers more value for money.

Bottom line:

Despite its shortcomings, I do like the Bloggie – it feels well made, and it doesn’t have the “toy factor” some other cameras suffer from. Bottom line – if you like the pros, go for it, but if the cons are too much to deal with, find something else, you have plenty to chose from.

Gadling giveaway – win one of three JVC Everio HD camcorders!

It really does pay to keep reading us regularly – because in this giveaway, you’ll have a chance at winning one of three JVC Everio GZ-HM550 HD camcorders. This newest HD camcorder from JVC records in full HD to its internal 32GB memory, ready to be viewed on your HDTV or PC.

You can add recording space with SD memory cards and other features include the nifty JVC laser control system, Bluetooth for connectivity to a GPS Receiver, headset or smart phone and a 9 megapixel photo mode with flash.

We’ve got three of these $799 cameras to give away – and all you have to do to enter this contest is leave a comment telling us where you hope to go on vacation this summer.


  • To enter, simply leave a comment below sharing your summer vacation destination
  • The comment must be left before Wednesday April 21, 2010 at 5pm Eastern time
  • You may enter only once.
  • Three winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Three Grand Prize Winners will each receive one free JVC Everio GZ-HM550 HD camcorder
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • Camera is valued at $799.95
  • Click here for complete Official Rules

Daily gear deal – $179 camcorder, $35 stereo Bluetooth headset and more

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Daily gear deal – JVC Everio GZ-MS100 digital camcorder for $180

Today’s daily deal is for the JVC Everio GZ-MS100 digital camcorder. This 35x optical zoom digital camera records directly to SD memory cards and has every feature you’d expect from a high end camcorder.

Inside the MS100 is a Konica Minolta lens, quick 1 second startup, built in lens cover, a touch-sensitive menu system and a handy video archiving/sorting system.

The camera comes complete with audio/video cables and a battery charger. A memory card is not included, so be sure to order one when you order the camera.

The Everio GZ-MS100 normally retails for over $300, but is currently on sale for just $179.99, with free shipping.

Click here to take advantage of this deal.