108 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2012
I spent a long time researching camcorders, read a lot reviews and looked at a lot of test footage before ultimately buying this model.
Many of the better reviews I read compared this model to models several hundred dollars more expensive, which I took to mean that this model was a significant value at this price.
It was a gamble on my part that I think paid off as I am very happy overall with this unit.
There are thee consistent criticism I have seen for this camcorder. I took them very seriously when I was deciding what unit to buy. Now that I have hands on experience with the unit I wanted to share my experience regarding these criticisms:
- The camera records its own zoom: This is true but I don't find it distracting. In fact I find it to be a cool effect. You should really only be zooming with the camera on if you are intentionally calling attention to the camera anyway. This is a consumer camera. It is not intended for professional use. The "zoom sound" is really only audible in a very quiet room. I recorded some footage outside on a non-windy day and the ambient noise outside covered up the sounds of the zoom. For reference, I watched some footage I took with my miniDV camera and noticed that on all of the footage you could hear the whir of the tape motor. Probably the zoom would be more noticeable if the tape motor wasn't constantly going. At any rate the noise doesn't bother me on either camera and the miniDV footage was far noisier. I don't see how this issue would be a deterrent. If you are shooting a movie or any professional product you need a professional camera anyway and you also would be using a separate sound recording system.
- The camera isn't great in low light: This is also true. The camera produces a better picture with more light on the subject. This is true of all cameras. Cameras record light. This camera doesn't come with a light for dark settings. If you want a camera with a light on it don't buy this unit. This also didn't bother me. I just turned a lamp on and the video quality was fine. Again, this is a consumer camera. Professionals bring their own lights anyway. To be fair though the camera performs much better in daylight than it does indoors.
- There is no viewfinder and there is a glare on the LCD screen in sunlight: These things are also true. There is no viewfinder. If you want a viewfinder, buy a different model. As for the glare, you may have to put your hand over the screen to reduce the glare. Easy enough to solve.
A final note. I ran some basic tests and found the 720p to be sharper than the 1080i footage. It's super easy to switch back and forth (even on the same memory card) so play around with it and judge for yourself. I'm sticking with the 720p to because it looks better to me and it takes up less storage space.
I have also been having a lot of fun with the time-lapse setting - a function I wasn't even interested in when looking for camcorder.
Overall I found this to be a great little camera. It records quality HD video has a great optical zoom and can be bought for under $300. The camera is tiny. If a viewfinder were added and the microphone was snaked further from the zoom lens it would be a larger camera. I found the issues above to be legitimate but not large enough problems to be a deterrent.
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2011
Just got this little thing of beauty tonight and I'm very very pleased. It completely blows my old-school camcorders away and is effectively 1/4 the cost in today's terms. Easy to use and full 1080p HD. Picture and sound quality look great on playback on my 51" plasma. File format works perfectly for playback on my PS3.
What a great little device! Oh - and you can't hear the zoom as claimed by another reviewer - there must be something wrong with his unit.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2011
Arived on time and in good shape. 30X zoom is good. I like that you can select 1080i, 720p, or even 480p. 720p looks fine on our 37 inch Samsung 720p LCD HDTV and the files are a lot smaller. I also like that you can drag and drop files directly from the SD card to your PC - no conversion required. Screen on camcorder is very difficult to see in bright sunlight.
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2011
This is a fine little camcorder for the money. It would be nice if there was a 'video in' jack, but then it would probably be two hundred dollars more...very easy to use with my Mac.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2012
The following comments are based on four months of use...
MPEG-4 Video Format: Use of MPEG-4 (not AVCHD) was a major purchasing decision for me. If you use Mac, Linux, or plan to do much video editing on your PC, the MPEG-4 video format used by the HMX-H304 is much easier to work with than the AVCHD format common with other camcorders. The AVCHD format generates MUCH larger files than MPEG-4 and isn't as widely supported by video editing software packages. To be fair to AVCHD, the larger file sizes are related to the metadata features available with AVCHD -features that don't interest me. See [...] for additional background.
Memory: Glad I stepped up to the H304 to get the extra 16-GB of internal memory. I also purchased a 32-GB Class 10 SDHC card. 48-GB means I'll be recording at full HD all the time and not worry about storage.
Testing: Started the first test day with full charge. Shot some footage at a short awards ceremony for kids. Later, some coverage of a basketball game. Not the full game, but testing out the auto-focus, ability to keep up with action, and zoom. Finally, recorded an entire sunset in real time.
For a first test trip, I took the HMX-H304 on a 4 day/3 night camping trip. Started trip with full charge and never recharged during the entire trip. Captured a total of about 1 hour of footage over the 4 day period. I didn't run out of battery, I had simply done all the recording I was interested in capturing. Appreciated how quickly the camera could go from completely off, flip open view screen, and be recording in < 5 seconds. Was able to get some good critter shots (fish, birds, beaver, and a snake) with the strong zoom capabilities. Outdoor colors also well captured.
Focus: The auto focus does seem a little slower in recognizing the need to refocus, but once it begins to refocus, the process is fast. I actually prefer the way this camera auto-focuses. My previous camcorder would be "tricked" by the brief foreground presence of something (like a coach walking down the sidelines) and would too quickly try to re-focus. I like the way this product is somewhat focus sticky.
Zoom: A common complaint I've seen from other reviewers involves the zoom motor sound being captured by the camera's microphone. On one very quiet scene, I did notice the subtle zoom motor sound was recorded. Not a big deal for me since I discourage the use of zoom during filming. The fact that the camcorder might record the zoom mechanism is disclosed in the owner's manual.
Auto Image Stabilization: As others have mentioned, effectiveness of this feature diminishes over 20x zoom. If you plan to be zoomed in the 20-30x range a lot, get a tripod. Frankly, I would prefer to have the option of zooming to 30x and deal with the hand jitter versus being capped at 15x or 20x by other products. Plus, I can remove the jitter in post if it's that important.
Microphone: On the camping trip, I don't recall any strong winds but playback revealed a considerable amount of wind noise. Since there is no microphone plug to allow alternative microphones, this is the most disappointing aspect of the product. HOWEVER, I did find a stick on wind noise reduction product at thewindcutter.com which would be great if it works for $15. Owner's Manual refers to wind cut option. Need to test.
Battery: Lasted the entire test day and test trip, but was only used to record video. I typically don't use the preview/watch features of a camcorder in order to preserve battery life.
Low Light: I think all cameras and camcorders struggle here. Have you ever actually seen the lights they use on movie sets? There's a reason they have lamps that will bake your face off if you stand too close. Is the HD image grainy in low light situations? Yes. Tip: If you plan to do a lot of low light filming; recommend over-lighting the scene during filming and reducing the brightness during post processing. If you think you should be able to point a $300 dollar camera at a piano recital lit with two 60 watt bulbs and get a great image, keep dreaming. Owner's Manual refers to candlelight setting. Need to test.
Bottom Line: Your average consumer needs (sports, parties, vacations, short films) will be well served by this camera. The only drawbacks I've discovered include the lack of microphone jack, captured refocusing motor sound, and captured wind noise. Based on the $285 price point, I'm willing to give a pass on these issues. The hand jitter over 20x and low light complaints fall into the category of "you might not understand how to use a camcorder if this is an issue for you," or perhaps another category called "based on your expectations, you should probably consider spending A LOT more money."
121 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2011
30X zoom is nice, and video quality is quite acceptable, as long as there is enough light, and you are not zooming full range; not as good in low light. There are 2 things about this product, though, that made me return it, and give it 2 stars.
It records the sound of it's own zoom, and, to the lesser degree, the auto focus. If outside sounds are not laud, this sound is quite annoying, and spoils the video.
The image stabilization is not nearly sufficient when zooming beyond about 20X; it's clearly inferior in this respect to other camcorders with similar features, like my wife's Panasonic.
I wouldn't recommend this product. Samsung has to do a lot of work to refine it.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2011
Look, if you're not into video editing or professional photography and just want a VERY simple and easy to use HD camera that works well, this is the camera you should get. I use this mainly for family outings and it works amazingly well. For the price, this is a very good camcorder and for just a regular camcorder user like myself it works better than I expected. The 30x zoom is awesome and the touch screen is very simple to use.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Prior to buying this camcorder, I purchased a Toshiba Camileo HD for very little, and it was a complete pile of junk. For just $100 more, I picked up the Samsung after returning the Toshiba. This camcorder is compact and designed very nicely. The touch screen works perfect. The buttons are all within easy access and ergonomically placed. The battery lasts a long time, and supposedly is ranked at the longest life for cameras in this price range. The camera does not come with an HD cable for direct-connect to your TV, which to me was no big deal. Takes OUTSTANDING pictures for a camcorder-very good quality, and the 30x OPTICAL zoom is awesome. The fact this video saves video in MP4 format is awesome. I use a Mac, so editing is effortless-no converting necessary. Camcorder has a time-lapse feature which is fun as heck to use. Low light shooting has a tendency to be grainy. HD video comes out very nice, colors are very sharp, and there are TONS of settings on the camera to get the image to your liking. Image stabilization works very well, but tends to cause some interference on playback...not sure if this is because I am using VLC to view the movie. Once I edit it in IMovie, it seems this disappears. Cons? not many. The integrated lens cover is handy, but the switch is kind of awkward to get to, wish they had made it easier and designed it better for quick one-handed opening. The LCD flip-out is a bit flimsy-if you shift it a bit while carrying it closed, it sometimes causes the camera to turn on..but it automatically turns off immediately, so no big deal, really. All in all, you cannot beat what you get for the cost. If you are looking for a sub-$300 full HD camcorder with some higher-end features, this is the one. If you want a professional camcorder that takes incredible video to be featured on the Discovery Channel HD, then look elsewhere. This is a great all-around family vacation and kids-growing-up camcorder that won't break the bank. It isn't perfect, but it's under $300, and that's a good thing.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2011
completely agree with alex. this camcorder is amazing, the price is amazing. even works with windows movie maker, which is a must for my household. glad to know i can play the vids on the ps3. filming the kids' football games is about to go HD!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2011
The HMX-H300 is an incredibly well-kept secret. This is, as far as I know, the least expensive, full-fledged camcorder that records 60 frames per second in 720p HD. This means buttery smooth slow motion in FCP 7 via Cinema Tools or retiming in the new Final Cut Pro X. This camera is so tiny and light that I park it atop the hot shoe of my Nikon D3s for ready accessibility or even grabbing video while I'm shooting high res stills. (The shows I create use both.) Prior to this camera, the Canon 7d was the only reasonably priced option. At the $250 via Amazon, the Samsung is a phenomenal bargain. Video quality doesn't rival Panasonic's new AF100 but nonetheless is acceptable, given the opportunity to shoot 720p 60fps. Try it, you'll like it.