Korean electronics giant Samsung has released a compact camcorder targeted at those who want an affordable, easy-to-use, pocket-sized, ambidextrous-friendly, high-definition video camera. The Q10 isn’t only a capable little camera, but it’s so user friendly your grandmother could operate it.
The Q10 shoots video at a resolution of 1920×1080 in the increasingly popular H.264 format. Audio is recorded in AAC by means of built-in microphones. There’s no option for external audio input but then, considering its target market, that’s to be expected.
Though the face of the Q10’s plastic shell boasts 20x digital zoom, it’s worth turning off digital zoom in the menu and relying on the 10x optical zoom as even a severe crop of the maximum optical zoom will produce better results than any degree of digital enhancement.
The Q10 also shoots stills, which are recorded as Jpeg files at a resolution of 2944×1656 pixels (or about 4,9 mexapixels). Like most video cameras the Q10 doesn’t offer internal storage but supports both SD and SHDC cards. Unfortunately, no SD card is supplied with the camera.
The Q10 offers an optical image stabiliser that works for both stills and video, but surprisingly isn’t turned on by default — you’ll have to go into the settings menu to turn it on, but once you’ve done so, unless you’re shooting on a tripod, you’ll never need to turn it off again.
Though there’s little on the official specifications list that makes the Q10 stand out from its competitors, it’s the minimalist controls and the ability to shoot left- or right-handed that really makes this camcorder shine.
Opening and closing the 2,7-inch LCD touch screen turns the Q10 on and off. The only buttons are a record/pause button surrounded by a zoom ring, and a home button next to the touch screen.
The benefit of having only essential controls (the record/pause button and the surrounding zoom ring) centred on the rear is that the Q10 is just as easy to operate in either hand. The built-in hand strap is fully adjustable, and as the body of the Q10 is reminiscent of a soft drink can, it’s a pleasure to hold and operate.
Hidden beneath a sliding panel under the fold-out screen are the output options, and these include a mini USB, a composite AV port and an HDMI port. The proprietary battery pack and SD card slot, meanwhile, are under a sliding cover on the bottom of the device.
TechCentral’s Craig Wilson runs through the Q10’s features (via YouTube):
The greatest disappointment of the Q10 is the quality of its video in low-light conditions. Despite the inclusion of a backlit CMOS sensor, which is meant to reduce noise in low light, the Q10 not only suffers from a large amount of image noise, but even occasional banding. Thankfully, neither of these is an issue in decent light, be it natural or artificial.
Overall, Samsung’s Q10 is a great HD digital video camera for the casual user who’s looking for a user-friendly device that produces great results in good conditions. Considering its diminutive size and its similarly small price (R2 399), the Q10’s performance-to-price ratio is excellent. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral