Samsung SC-DC173 DVD Digital Camcorder Review
There is one device that everyone should own at least in their lifetime. There is something that one needs when travelling to capture how their vacation went, something to capture memories. It is a camcorder. Nowadays it’s just not any camcorder because there is a wide array of types on the market. There are memory card based units, miniDV, DVD, hard drive based and now High Definition camcorders.
Samsung is a name that you have seen here at ModSynergy for a while now. We have reviewed Samsungs PC monitors and printers and have loved almost all of them. Samsung is a quality brand that I rank amongst making a purchasing decision.
Samsung has now released a couple of new products over the past couple of months. Today I will be reviewing the newest entry level DVD camcorder offered by Samsung, the SC-DC173. If you are in the market for a no frills DVD camcorder, this could be it.
The Samsung SC-DC173 comes in a basic corrugated box with the product image in the front and some basic information on the side. The box is surprisingly small which gives you an indication of the real camcorder size. I was shocked because I haven’t seen such a small box for a camcorder before. I am used to the miniDV tape camcorders so having something smaller should be better.
Opening up the Samsung SC-DC173 box you will receive the following items…
Let’s visually inspect this DVD camcorder. The Samsung SC-DC173 looks really small; it fits and feels snug for the most part on my hand. The DVD camera sizes in at 54x87x121 (WxHxD) and is really light. You won’t have any trouble carrying it around and using it for extended uses.
Everything is made out of hard plastic on this video camera. Everything on this unit feels secure and durable for the most part. However, I did find some annoyances. First of all its personal preference that the strap is larger than it is. The Samsung strap should be larger so it can grab the back of your hands.
Second of all I don’t like how the zoom dial is built. The zoom dial which tilts left and right feels cheap for some reason. It feels too loose for my taste. In fact the unit I am reviewing had times where I would let go of the zoom button and it would still be zooming slowly. This means it has the possibility of getting stuck.
Thirdly, on the bottom of the camera lie the SD card slot and its cover. The cover is made of plastic but this one is hard to remove and is annoying to move around.
There really isn’t much buttons on the SC-DC173 which is preferable for some people. Some people just like a camcorder that they can just pick up and use without having to fiddle around with any settings. The SC-DC173 is exactly that type of camera.
The LCD screen has the precious important buttons on the left side. These are your record button, and a second set of zoom controls which I like. This zoom button is very precise and operates at an even speed.
The traditional eyepiece viewfinder I don’t even to talk about. Don’t even use it; it’s a thing of the past. On this SC-DC173, the eyepiece viewfinder is not even an inch in size, and the color is nothing to get excited about. Refrain from using this.
To the left of the viewfinder is a button called “EasyQ”. This button I really like for one reason. When you are recording sometimes you move the camera really fast. When you do that the recording does not look professional. EasyQ is something that when turned on will allow any of your movements to flow and become really smooth. It makes the movements very silky smooth, very elegant and gracious instead of your filming being very violent and fast moving. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Camcorder Experiences -- Testing
The Samsung SC-DC173 DVD camcorder is very easy to use because there are few buttons. The menu is very basic but it does include some special effects such as emboss, or sephia, etc. The menu is controlled by the play/stop toggle button right beside the EasyQ button.
Don’t mistake the LCD screen being in what looks like a 16:9 widescreen ratio. This camera by default records at 4:6.
The camera takes about 6 seconds upon startup before getting ready to record.
The autofocus is very good. Very little hunting is required in daylight. Some hunting is required for indoors.
Optical zoom of 34x is massive and works as advertised. You can zoom so far its amazing.
The video quality of this camera is what I would call decent. The video quality when playing back a burnt DVD as my sister put it, “the video looks so old, and why is it grainy?” The video quality is decent. There is lack of saturation and color and things just do not seem vibrant. Even during daylight filming, there is still visible noise. My sister referred to it as grainy whereas it is really noise. There is not a lot of dynamic range on this camcorder as well. You will experience many blown highlights and really dark shadows. If there is no sun, then the recording becomes uniform, you don’t see too many problems.
Things just got worse under indoors where you don’t have as much available lighting. Noise becomes a big problem, and you experience even more dark shadows which kills the subject that you are filming.
Sometimes during playback I would find what looks to be what is reminiscent of anti-aliasing. Imagine a video card with no anti-aliasing. You would find that on this camera on subjects with straight lines. You could also tell during watching a DVD that the camera was compressing video.
Overall the camera does the job decently but the video quality leaves a lot to be desired. Even my uncle mid of the line miniDV video camera produces better video. The camera doesn’t seem to be better than miniDV resolution which is usually around 500 lines of resolution. This Samsung I guess is around 300 lines of resolution.
The Samsung SC-DC173 DVD camcorder has the ability to shoot still images and to record video to SD memory. However this does not bode any better. Still images come out looking flat, dark, fuzzy and similar to a basic web camera.
The included battery with this SC-DC173 isn’t very good. It does not last really long at all. You will be lucky to finish off 50 minutes worth of footage. This thing needs a larger battery desperately. Battery life is even worse when you keep on stopping and resuming a recording session.
A good thing to report is that this camcorder has really nice audio. This can be attributed to the camcorder being able to record is Dolby Digital. Sound is really nice during playback. The microphone pickup is very clear and precise.
I had one fear of using a DVD camcorder that is the possibility of freezing up since it is after all recording to DVD. I was recording footage and when I had finished I pressed the record button to stop recording, however the SC-DC173 camcorder decided to keep on recording and not stop. Nothing I did helped it to stop. I had to remove the battery and luckily the camcorder went into recovery mode and successfully recovered what I recorded.
Camcorder Image and Video Quality
Below are photos taken from this camcorder and the video recording ability via SD card.
Overall the Samsung SC-DC173 DVD camcorder is a decent no-frills product. It does what it needs to do without doing it in much fashion. Unfortunately, after using this camcorder and witnessing the results, I cannot recommend this camera to anyone looking for a basic model. If I myself were on the market, I would skip this model and continue searching for another.
Pros and Cons
- Lack of dynamic range
- Video quality is lacking
- Camcorder didn’t respond after a recording
- Zoom dial can get stuck