Samsung SCHMX-10C 720p High Definition Digital Camcorder
The Samsung HMX-10C (and the newer, 1080p HD HMX-20) are an excellent choice for the aspiring digital videographer. The camera is lightweight and always ready to capture the action.
The internal memory is convenient if you don't have a bunch of SD memory cards, but I prefered to use the SD cards to organize my video by day or topic. A 2 GB card will hold almost 20 minutes of full HD 720p video.
I found the 10x optical zoom to be more than sufficient for anything that I was recording, but the auto focus would often miss my target when zooming in on something nearby or far in the distance. The single LED is handy, as it is bright enough for some recording in the dark, but it will not help at distance. The touchscreen interface takes a little getting used to, and may be inconvenient for people like myself who end up with lots of oil or other grime on their hands. The photo mode is easy to use, and enables digital zoom. The photos are clear and bright, and there is a multishot mode that takes tons of pictures over two seconds with a single press of the button.
The camera itself has an all plastic case with a gold metal rim around the lens housing.
This plastic is more resilient than I expected, I have dropped the camera twice since I purchased it while recording my automotive how-to series, the only damage being to the chrome on the top near the zoom lever.
The video format proved to be rather difficult, since I could not find any free software to work with Samsung's semi-proprietary implementation of the MP4 H.264 video format, however; there are free video conversion utilities (such as MediaCoder, which can be found on our Free Helpful Essentials
page) that can convert to Mpeg1 or Mpeg2 for your choice of video editing software. I found the high definition video to be clear, without any major compression artifacts, blockiness or blurs even when there was lots of motion in the video clip.
The camera comes with the CyberLink DVD Suite (Director, Producer, DVD) which works great for editing on a well equipped system (dual core processor recommended).
Power Director is the software that does the video editing, Power Producer and PowerDVD are for burning and playback of DVDs.
The most recent full version of Power Director can be purchased from the CyberLink store online:
Clear High Definition video, ample internal storage, memory can be expanded with inexpensive SD or SDHC memory cards, great battery life and optical zoom.
Multi-shot photo mode takes lots of clear pictures.
Only one video file format (AVCHD MP4) that is not compatible with most existing video editing software. Requires conversion to Mpeg for smooth playback on most budget computers.
The auto focus sometimes misses the target.
The grip on the side could use a little work, the camera is almost too small to get a good hold on the side (but it is resilient, I have dropped it twice onto concrete).
In my opinion there is nothing to match this camera in this price range.
If you have a newer computer, this is the perfect entry into HD home video and editing.
I have a budget notebook used for testing that doesn't quite cut the mustard for the included Cyberlink video authoring suite.
If you want to burn your HD videos to Blue-Ray instead of DVD, the latest CyberLink Media Suite might be for you.