Over the last couple of years, Samsung has made a real effort to step up its still camera offerings. This year's CES introductions continue that trend with more stylish designs and smattering of convenient features. You won't find any new dSLRs here, but there are six new compact cameras with pixel counts ranging from 6 megapixels to 10 megapixels. Two of the cameras fall into Samsung's L-series, which is aimed at advanced shooters, while the other four belong to the S-series, targeted at the point-and-shoot crowd. All of Samsung's new still cameras include in-camera editing, so you can resize or crop your images without a PC
The L73 and L700 both feature 7-megapixel CCD sensors, 3x optical zoom lenses, and 2.5-inch LCD screens. Sporting the same innovative Smart Touch menu system introduced in last year's NV7 OPS, the L73 is the fancier of the two. Low-light shooters should appreciate its top sensitivity of ISO 1600, as well as Samsung's ASR image-stabilization system--it's not as effective as optical image stabilization, but it will bump up the sensitivity and select a faster shutter speed. In case you want to get in the shot, a built-in motion sensor can detect any movement in your subjects when in self-timer mode and then wait another two seconds before capturing the shot. With the L73, Samsung also jumps into the face-detection game--they call it Intelligent Face Recognition Technology. According to the company, it will recognize up to nine faces and use them to help set focus and exposure. The L73 can capture MPEG-4 video at resolutions up to 800x592 at 30 frames per second and has a built-in microphone so you can attach voice memos (up to 10 seconds) to your photos. Of course, the L73 also includes the usual assortment of preset shooting modes, such as Children, Backlight, and Portrait. Samsung expects the L73 to hit stores this spring with a price of about $300.
If the L73's too fancy for you, the L700's a bit less complex. The L700's video capture tops out at 640x480 pixels at 30fps and even has a movie stabilizer that acts like the electronic image stabilization in most camcorders to help keep the L700's video clips steady. Soccer moms should like the camera's continuous-shooting mode, while the auto-exposure bracketing aims to help capture the right exposure in difficult lighting conditions. The auto macro function will switch to macro mode for you, while the voice recorder stores up to an hour of your musings at a time. The L700 should hit stores this spring with a price of about $250.
Offering a more straightforward mix of features, the 6-megapixel S630 and 7-megapixel S730 both include 3x optical zoom lenses, 2.5-inch LCD screens, draw their power from AA batteries. In addition to 11 scene modes, these two cameras include program and manual exposure modes. They also capture motion JPEG video clips at up to 640x480-pixels and 30 fps. Plus, Samsung's ASR image stabilization is available in both still and video modes. Like the L73, the S630 and S730 can attach 10-second voice memos to your images. The S630 and S730 should be available this spring for about $180 and $200, respectively.
An extra $50 above the S730 brings us to the S850, which boasts an 8-megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens, a top sensitivity of ISO 1600, and ASR image stabilization. Photographers looking for control in a compact camera should like the S850's aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual modes, while continuous shooting and auto exposure bracketing add to the camera's versatility. Samsung's Wise Shot feature lets you shoot a pair of shots, one with ASR image stabilization and one with flash, in a row, so you can keep the best of the two. As you may have come to expect, the S850 can attach 10-second voice memos to your images. Its video mode also includes image stabilization and can capture MPEG-4 clips up to 800x592-pixels at 30fps. Plus, the continuous movie mode lets you pause and resume video capture. Most compact still cameras won't allow this. Samsung expect the S850 to it stores in the spring for about $250.
Another $100 lets you step up to the 10-megapixel S1050, which has a 5x optical zoom lens, a top sensitivity of ISO 1600, and a 3-inch LCD screen. It too features ASR image stabilization, Wise Shot mode, 10-second voice memos, and in-camera editing. Its video mode, lets you record MPEG-4 clips in your choice of one of four resolutions from 160x128-pixels up to 800x600-pixels, but at a frame rate of only 20fps. The S1050 runs on AA batteries and is expected to hit stores this spring for a bout $350.
According to Samsung, all these new models support the new SDHC standard. (Originally, we reported that they didn't, due to a mixup on our part.) We would've liked to see some of these cameras include real optical image stabilization instead of just ASR, but you can't always get what you want.