Samsung F90BN Camcorder – Review

Posted: March 17, 2013 in Product Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Its been a long time since I’ve purchased a dedicated video camera.  I’ve been using my Samsung GalaxyS for videos recently and it works great, but it just can’t do what I want.  So when I started looking for a camcorder, I went to Best Buy.

The salespeople were nowhere to be seen, so I started looking around and playing with the various models on my own.  I tried camcorders by Sony, Panasonic, and more, but I stopped and spent most of my time in front of the Samsung models.  I own 2 Samsung tvs, a Samsung phone, a Samsung Tablet, and now a Samsung camcorder.  I love their products and they’re an easy company to deal with.

I wasn’t able to test video playback in the store, but I did get to look through all the settings and try the zoom and image stabilization.  Focus was very fast and I was able to zoom the entire length of the store and read the price tags.  I was impressed with how it worked and especially the $179 price tag.  So now I get to test all the features.

Pros:

  • Easy to use:  I was able to pick it up and start recording as soon as I opened the box.  Nothing complicated about it.
  • Can take pictures as well as video:  Being able to take both video and pictures is pretty handy.  See below for quality comparison.
  • HD video (1280 X 720):  Even after editing, converting, and compressing for Youtube, quality is still impressive.  Straight out of the camera its simply incredible
  • HDMI output:  Almost all tvs now have an HDMI input, so having HDMI as an output on the camera means I can just plug it in and watch my videos in true HD.
  • MP4 video files:  In the world of file types, the MP4 seems to be the most modern.  Most phones use them now and in my experience its been easy to edit without losing much quality.  I’m no tech guru, but I am pretty certain the MP4 is superior to most other video file types out there.
  • 52X optical zoom:  Optical zoom is always superior to digital zoom because digital zoom distorts the image.  Optical zoom (from my understanding) uses only lenses and glass to zoom.  One reason I love my DSLR is the interchangeable zoom lenses; no need to rely on digital enhancement to see farther.
  • Image stabilization:  As I mention in the cons below, this thing is too light.  Having the camcorder automatically stabilize the shot for you (or try to at least) is a huge benefit.
  • Accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards:  Any time you have several options its usually a good thing.  After years of going through cameras and phones, I have several of these cards laying around.  I still bought a new one though since 8GB was only $8.
  • Can still record while charging/no battery:  While not practical, I have already used this capability twice.  I can sit on the couch and record things inside or out the window, even when the battery is dead, as long as I have it plugged up.
  • USB Charging (includes wall outlet):  USB charging is standard on most devices now.  The days of product specific chargers is gone (thank goodness!).  I can charge this thing anywhere I go (new cars are even equipped with USB ports now) and that’s always a plus.
  • Removeable/replacable battery:  No product should ever be made without replaceable batteries (Apple I’m looking at you).  Products that are unable to outlive their battery life are pointless and being able to change batteries allows me to carry a spare (I have 4 for my DSLR) when traveling.  There are few things worse than witnessing something amazing only to find out you have no charged batteries to record it with.
  • Built-in speakers for playback:  There’s nothing worse than catching your buddy just as he trips and falls on the ice and being unable to play back his f-bomb and cries of pain.  There’s no downside to including speakers, yet some companies still don’t.
  • Stereo microphones:  Why not?  Guys always brag about their stereo systems and how impressive it sounds, but all that is wasted if your videos are recorded with only one mic.
  • Lens-cover reminder:  Its easy to tell when the cover is on; the screen stays black.  Sometimes though it takes a second or two for that to register in your head.  Having a message flash on the screen is a simple reminder that doesn’t get in the way at all.  All companies should have little features like this in my opinion.

Cons:

  • Focus is not as quick (or accurate) as I had thought:  It sometimes takes more than one or two seconds for the camera to figure out where to focus.  And it doesn’t always know what I’m looking at.
  • Small, even for my small hands:  My hand wraps all the way around the body and reaching both the record button and the zoom require me to bend my fingers more than a comfortable amount.  Finding the photo button is also a challenge for my fingers.
  • Light:  If firearms have taught me anything, its that weight isn’t always a bad thing.  If something is really light and held in your hands at arms length, its difficult to hold steady for most people.
  • LCD playback is not as clear as actual video:  The LCD display obviously isn’t HD, so playback isn’t going to match the actual quality.  Unfortunately this sometimes makes it difficult to see if the video you just shot is good or not.
  • Playback is sorta confusing at first:  You’ve gotta press and hold to the right more than 3 seconds to activate fast forward.  Tapping right or left only once goes to the next video, even when viewing playback full screen.  Stopping fast forward or reverse requires that you press “OK”.  Pressing the opposite direction reverses the playback.  Just a little confusing initially.
  • Mini USB:  The current standard for phones is Micro USB, and I personally think that should’ve been carried over to this.  Mini USB hasn’t been standard since the PS3 was released.  Having all my cables utilize the same connections makes things a lot simpler but I can live with it like it is.
  • Can’t close the LCD screen while charging:  This is probably to help stabilize the camcorder itself to prevent falling or leaning on the cable.  Unfortunately it takes up twice as much space this way so charging is a little less convenient.  Maybe I’m nitpicking here but I would prefer if it could charge while closed.
  • Have to charge batteries IN the camcorder itself:  This is only inconvenient if you intend to use multiple batteries.  My DSLR uses a seperate charging device for the batteries which means I can be charging one while I’m using another.  There are probably devices built for this purpose that you can buy, but it should’ve come with the camcorder itself in my opinion.

Neutral:

  • Auto upload to Youtube:  I honestly haven’t even tried using this feature because I haven’t had internet at my dad’s.  But I also wouldn’t use it because I like to check everything on a computer first so I can edit anything if I need to.
  • Pictures (at a distance) are not that sharp:  Definitely not HD quality but its not a DSLR or anything.  It does what its designed for and nothing more.  Pictures of things close up are really good but zooming at all diminishes the quality significantly.  See below for comparison.

In a day or two I’ll add I’ve added some photos and videos to let you judge the image/recording quality for yourself.  But until then, Hopefully my review can at least give you an idea of what the Samsung F90 camcorder has to offer.  I’m definitely pleased with it and think I made a good investment.  As time goes on and I get more and more videos uploaded, perhaps it will speak for itself.

If you’ve used this product for yourself and have an opinion of it, please feel free to share it.  I didn’t find any reviews of it at all online before I bought it, so let’s get some up.  Whether you love it or hate it, let me know in the comments below.

Taken with Samsung F90BN under ideal circumstances

Taken with Samsung F90BN under ideal circumstances

Taken with Sony a300 DSLR under ideal circumstances

Taken with Sony a300 DSLR under ideal circumstances

Make sure you watch this video on the best quality setting if you want to judge the recording quality.

**  More photos and videos to come  **

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Comments
  1. […] to my normal look.  As I mention in the description of the video, this was a test of both my new camcorder as well as my new 10 round Black Dog Machine magazine.  I hope to get a review of the magazine up […]

  2. fabian says:

    Hey can an external microphone be plugged into this camera??

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