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Samsung Pro815 8 to 10 Megapixel

4 star rating
                      4 / 5 (1 Reviews)
MSRP : $850.00

  • Image Sensor TypeCCD
    Resolution8.3 Megapixel
    Optical Zoom15x
    Camera TypeStandard Point and Shoot
    Interchangeable LensNot Interchangeable Lenses
    35mm Zoom Lens28 - 420 mm
    Digital Zoom4x
    Focus TypeAutofocus
    Focus Range19.69 in. to Infinity (w) / 157.48 in. to Infinity (t)
    Macro Focus Range1.18 - 27.56 in. (w) / 59.06 - 169.29 in. (t)
    Focal Length28 - 420 mm
    Camera Resolution8.3 Megapixel
    Image Resolutions640 x 480 • 3264 x 2448 • 3264 x 2176 • 2400 x 1800 • 1632 x 1224 • 1024 x 768
    Video Resolutions320 x 240 (QVGA) • 640 x 480 (VGA) • 160 x 120
    Video Speed25 fps
    Max Movie LengthWithout Limit (Depends on the camera free memory size)
    Video FormatMPEG • AVI
    Aperture Rangef2.2/f4.6 (w/t)
    Shutter Speed15 - 1/4000 sec
    White BalanceAuto • Manual • Daylight / Sunny (Preset) • Cloudy (Preset) • Fluorescent (Preset) • Tungsten (Preset)
    Frames Per Second2.5 Frames
    Memory TypeCompactFlash Card Type I • CompactFlash Card Type II
    Compression ModesFine • SuperFine • Normal • Uncompressed
    Compression TypeJPEG • TIFF • Raw Image • EXIF 2.2 • DPOF 1.1
    File Size (High Res.)4.27 MB (30 images on 128MB card)
    File Size (Low Res.)0.12 MB (about 1,067 images on 128MB card)
    ISO SpeedsAuto • 50 • 100 • 200 • 400 • 800
    Flash TypeExternal
    Flash FunctionsFlash Off • Auto Flash • Fill-in Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash • Slow Sync
    LCD PanelWith LCD Panel
    LCD Panel Size3.5 in.
    LCD Screen Resolution235,000 pixels
    LCD Protected PositionWithout LCD Protected Position
    Interface TypeUSB 2.0
    Video InterfaceVideo Out
    Battery TypeProprietary Lithium
    Self Timer2 Sec. • 10 Sec.
    Built-in MicrophoneWith Built-in Microphone
    Built-in SpeakerWith Built-in Speaker
    Tripod MountWith Tripod Mount
    Operating SystemApple Mac OS X • Microsoft Windows 2000 • Microsoft Windows 98 • Microsoft Windows 98SE • Microsoft Windows ME • Microsoft Windows XP
    Width5.33 in.
    Depth5.69 in.
    Height3.43 in.
    Weight1.92 lb.
    Exterior ColorBlack
    Release DateQ3, 2005
    Product ID24530877

Product Description

The Pro 815 enables you to handle any shooting condition and situation. It has the world's best 15x optical zoom, the world's largest 3.5 inch LCD, the world's first top LCD, and a Li-Ion battery with the world's largest capacity.

by Larry L Greenhill

The full-sized Samsung 815 Pro is an 8-megapixel Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) digital camera with a 15x Schneider 28-420 mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens and large 3.5-inch LCD rear-panel display. The camera is heavy and solidly constructed. It has a highly sophisticated, multi-faceted control system, which takes time to learn. The camera offers real-time visual feedback modes for exposure, focus, and white balance bracketing.

Samsung Pro815 Pros and Cons
  • Huge 3.5-inch, 235K rear-panel LCD display
  • 1.4-inch top panel LCD for waist viewing
  • Kitchen sink of photo features
  • Close "Super-Macro" Setting
  • Ultra-sharp 28-420mm Schneider (35mm equivalent) zoom lens
  • High Speed Shutter Mode
  • Diopter adjustment on EVF
  • Fast f/2.2 - 4.6 lens
  • Smooth operating manual focus and zoom rings
  • Good exposure metering
  • Large 7.4 Amp, 1900 mAh lithium-ion battery for 450 shots
  • Unique real-time picture-in-picture mode for auto-bracketing for white balance, exposure, or focusing
  • Exposure and focus zone can be coupled together and shifted around in viewfinder
  • No optical viewfinder
  • No image stabilization
  • Small sensor which yields high noise levels over ISO 200
  • Poorly organized manual without index
  • Slow learning curve
  • Complicated menu and controls
  • As big and bulky as a pro dSLR
  • Ultra slow auto focus at 420mm
  • Viewfinder and LCD panels black out during continuous mode burst shooting
  • Grainy LCD and viewfinder images make it hard to focus
  • No histogram function in picture review mode
  • Lens doesn't focus close enough for people in same room at 420mm setting
Samsung Digimax Pro815 Studio Test Images
Samsung Pro815 Studio Samples ISO 50 Sample >>
ISO 100 Sample >>
ISO 200 Sample >>
ISO 400 Sample >>

More Samsung Pro815 Resources
All Samsung Pro815 Photos >>
Samsung Pro815 User Reviews >>
Samsung Pro815 Camera Specs >>
Write a Review >>
Samsung Web site >>
larrylgreenhill Profile >>

Samsung Pro815 - front and back
The Pro 815 is the first Samsung digital camera I've had the chance to use, and I'm frankly amazed at what this baby can do. I carried it around in my briefcase and tried it in distinctly different settings. I took it to restaurants, medical conventions, and even to some Porsche Club of America motoring events. The big rear LCD and super-zoom lens was a blast to use, but I had to study the manual carefully and use it for over two months before I could really take full advantage of the features. Overall, I like this camera very much, even though its weaknesses required me to develop a few workarounds.
Samsung Pro815 Features
Samsung Pro815 - Lens The Pro815 stands alone as the only compact digital camera with a fast (f/2.2-f/4.6), ultra-zoom Schneider-Kreuznach Varioplan Zoom 7.2-108 mm (28-420mm 35 mm equivalent) zoom lens. The 15x optical zoom lens employs four low-dispersion lenses plus two aspherical lenses to control chromatic, spherical, and lateral shift aberrations. The lack of image stabilization means that for the sharpest pictures, a tripod helps, as it would with most 400mm telephoto lenses.

Most apparent when you first use the Pro815 is the huge 3.5-inch LCD rear panel monitor, with its rich array of visual control readouts. There are many viewing modes, including the plain screen, plain screen with grid lines, and an information screen that compares a small thumbnail of the previous shot with a real-time thumbnail. Wait, there's more -- hidden deep under the drive menu are auto bracketing functions for white balance, focus, and exposure that superimpose two small picture-inside-the-picture (PIP) frames over the main image on the rear screen. These illustrate the alternative settings for focus, white balance, and exposure in real time. No other camera I've used has this unique display. The menus are large and easily read. Even though the LCD doesn't swivel or tilt, it's possible to switch on a tiny 1.25-inch viewing screen on top of the camera if you have to use the camera at an odd angle.

Samsung Pro815 - PIP Feature Samsung Pro815 - 1.25-inch Screen
Left: Samsung Pro815 picture-inside-the-picture (PIP) feature
Right: Samsung Pro815 1.25-inch top viewing screen

Although auto focus does deliver sharp images, manual focus requires patience because Samsung's Transmissive Micro Reflective LCD screen technology does not produce a needle sharp image. The main LCD screen also displays digital noise, even when the images are free of it. I preferred to use the camera's electronic viewfinder (EVF) with its diopter adjustments. Being farsighted, I find it hard to focus on LCD screens without my glasses, even at arm's length. Although the EVF has good resolution at 230,000 pixels and redraws quickly, the display can be just as blurry and noisy as the main LCD under some shooting conditions.

The Pro815 FX9 offers just about every feature I've found on other digital cameras, so discussing them all would take up most of this article. The main exposure modes are AUTO (completely automatic), Program (automatic except for size, quality, ISO and many others), aperture priority, shutter priority, movie clip, scene, which gives access to the camera's 12 scene modes. I mostly used the Program and manual mode. I frequently adjusted the exposure compensation to fine-tune my photos.

Samsung Pro815 Design
The first thing you notice about the Samsung Pro815 is the large, imposing, black anodized body. One of the main reasons for the large body is "the world's largest rear panel LCD screen." The Pro815's large size gave it a solid feeling that most EVF cameras don't have. The Pro815 weighs more and is larger than my Canon EOS 5D digital SLR with a standard lens mounted. And it can be just as tiring to lug around during outdoor events as a fult-tilt pro DSLR. However, having the fast f/2.2 lens for low light pictures, and a 420mm equivalent telephoto makes the weight worthwhile.

The Pro815 has a staggering range of control functions that provide great creative control over all elements of picture taking. It clearly rivals my best pro DSLR, the Canon EOS 1D Mark II, in the complexity of menus and training needed to get the best out of the camera. The Pro815's auto-bracketing real-time PIP (picture-inside-the-picture) functions for color balance and exposure are very cool design elements. However, having to press two buttons simultaneously makes this feature fussy and hard to access. Even with the full technological wizardry this camera possesses, I miss image stabilization, clearly marked control labeling, a histogram in picture review mode, and a sharp viewfinder / LCD. Perhaps Samsung will offer these missing features on future models of the Pro815.

Samsung Pro815 - LCD Display
Samsung Pro815 detailed display during capture, with histogram on

Samsung Pro815 - LCD Display
Samsung Pro815 detailed playback mode display

Samsung Pro815 - LCD Display
Samsung Pro815 Main mode menu, with Quality mode selected

Samsung Pro815 - LCD Display
Samsung Pro815 Playback menu, with Slide Show mode selected
Camera Experience
I got a kick out of using the Samsung Pro-815 digital camera. Once I read the manual and learned the multi-step control sequences I could take advantage of the PIP modes, unique to this camera. It's built like a Sherman tank so I didn't worry about throwing it over my shoulder using the neck strap. The Pro815 traveled with me more than pro cameras of the same size and weight, and that meant I took more pictures. The camera's fast lens and huge zoom range meant I could quickly take wide angle, medium telephotos, and long shots without having to switch lenses. I found it best to use a tripod for extremes - close macro or distant telephoto - in order to avoid blurry pictures.

The big rear panel display worked in lighting situations where other digital camera LCDs would have been impossible to see. The LCD display options include a grid, full display of technical settings, or even the previous picture and real-time image side by side. The Pro 815's big LCD and many display options make it a real pleasure to use when composing photos.

The Samsung Pro815 proved to be a very good camera for sports action work, but I had to learn a bunch of tricks to get sharply focused shots. The camera's default single shot mode has a capture rate of one frame-per-second. When the lens is zoomed to its full 420mm (35mm equivalent), the aperture decreases to a relatively slow f/4.6, and the auto focus takes longer to lock onto the target. It took up to 6 seconds for the shutter to release when tracking a racecar at full speed. Turning off the "quick view" ("quick view" displays the image taken immediately after every shot) and using the "high processing speed" mode helped only slightly. Switching the camera to "Continuous" drive or "Ultraspeed" continuous drive didn't help either, because the camera's viewfinder functions would go black while the camera was shooting. This generated lots of pictures of the grassy areas near the track instead of the cars on the racetrack! Because of these quirks, I panned in single shot mode with the shutter button fully depressed, to capture the racecars whizzing by.

While it has a great many features, the Pro815's physical controls are faintly labeled so I had trouble reading them except in bright sunlight. Additionally, the manual is poorly organized and has no index, so I had to read it from cover to cover to find detailed descriptions and instructions for some of its more complex features. A number of functions -- exposure compensation and auto-bracketing -- would only work if two different control buttons were pressed exactly at the same time. Because these two button functions are not labeled, they are easily forgotten. For example, exposure compensation requires that one press the rear panel AE lock button while simultaneously rotating the unlabeled lens ring closest to the user. Unlike many compact digital cameras there is no single button that brings up all the main control settings - ISO, WB, and exposure compensation -- on one menu screen. These had to be set using the Pro815's top Mode Dial or by pressing buttons on the top panel LCD. These factors - faintly labeled controls, two-step function buttons, many features, and non-intuitive menu structure - made for a long learning curve.

Image Quality
Photos I took with the Pro815 at low ISO settings of 50 and 100 were contrasty and super sharp. Even at a noisy 400 ISO I could read all the lettering on the side of McNish's Audi R8 prototype race car (see racetrack image, below) and even make out the Michelin name on the rapidly rotating tires! Under most conditions, Pro815 images exhibit great sharpness and good color saturation (see picture of stands at Watkins Glen below). Usually, I am more concerned with image composition, color, and focus than noise. But noise is obvious at ISO settings higher than 200.
Samsung Pro815 - ISO 50 and ISO 400 Noise Comparison
ISO 50 (left) vs. ISO 400 (right) noise comparison: click to compare.

The Samsung Pro815's image quality depends, to some extent, on the photographer's ability to make the most of its strengths. Bright, colorful, stationary subjects in the sun, like Chevrolet truck in the flowers at Lime Rock Park, will get you keepers almost every time (see picture of LeMans Chevrolet below). But photos that are made in low light, with high ISO settings, and the "High Processing" shutter mode will be definitely be noisy. (see Porsche GT-3 tech inspection photo, below).

The Pro815 offers direct control of image sharpness, saturation, and contrast, as well as the 12 scene modes. I left sharpness, saturation, and contrast at the camera's default settings. I shot most photos as JPEGs but also tested the RAW mode, which produces DNG RAW files, a RAW format developed by Adobe. Photos taken in the RAW mode are especially sharp and contrasty, and can be read by Photoshop CS2 as well as Samsung's excellent Digimax software, which comes packaged with the Pro815.

Samsung Pro815 - Porsche RS Spyder pass Audi R8 - For Now Samsung Pro815 - Spectator Stands at Watkins Glen International Samsung Pro815 - Chevrolet with Flowers at IMSA race
Click on thumbnails to see photos.

Samsung Pro815 - Tech Inspection at New England Grand Prix Samsung Pro815 - Noah and Madeline Samsung Pro815 - Zero System and Campangola Gears on Race Bike
Click on thumbnails to see photos.
Once I mastered it, I was able to give the Samsung Pro815 a hearty thumbs-up. I love the big, sharp, telephoto zoom lens and the huge rear-panel LCD. The Pro815 provides many of the tools I require in an all-in-one, super-zoom digital camera: easy exposure compensation access, a live histogram, quick playback access, and reasonably quick start-up response. The things it's missing - optical image stabilization, noise-free performance, histogram for picture review, quick auto focus response, and minimal shutter lag - bother me, but aren't necessarily deal-killers for a sub-$1000 digital camera. Once I developed workarounds for the Pro815's missing features and quirks, I was able to use the big telephoto to for action shots, candid portraits (See picture of Noah and daughter above) and macro photos (See Campagnolo bicycle gears image, above).
Who Should Buy The Samsung Pro815
The Samsung Pro815 digital camera is for the amateur or advanced amateur photographer who enjoys using electronic viewfinder focusing for action shots, macro shots, portraits, and landscapes who want a all-in-one multifunction camera under $1,000.

Samsung Pro815 box contents
Contents of the Samsung Pro815.

  • Samsung Pro815 Digital Camera
  • User manual, Warranty card
  • Camera strap
  • Software
  • CF (CompactFlash) card
  • Lens adapter
  • Lens hood
  • Lens cap
  • AC cord
  • Battery Charger
  • Rechargeable battery (SLB-1974)
  • USB cable
  • AV cable
Other Resources:
Samsung Pro815 User Reviews >>
Write a Samsung Pro815 Review >>
Samsung Pro815 Sample Gallery >>
All Samsung Digital Camera Reviews >>
Samsung Web site >>
All Digital Camera Pro Reviews >>
Digital Camera Buyer's Guide >>
All Digital Camera Sample Images >>
larrylgreenhill Profile >>

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Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by kermit rohrbach a Expert

Date Reviewed: August 28, 2006

Strengths:    Very natural photos
Fantastic big lens rivalling the best lens in my memory (e.g. Nikon micro's)

Weaknesses:    No IS (as everyone has noticed), so long shots require a stable foundation
Slow focus at long end; generally slow focus anyway compared to something like the Fuji S9500--now if Fuji could just build a lens like this one)

Bottom Line:   
I agree with the review posted here (rather less with the one on DPreveiw). I simply wish to point out something that no one has said:
the Pro815 has a WIRELESS remote (infra-red, so need to operate in line of sight in front of the camera)
who else has a wireless remote? Olympus for some models
the just announced Pentax K100 has a short wired remote, better than nothing, but pretty stupid in the wireless age
why is it important? I had an advertising shoot in an office involving photographing both facilities and personnel; the wireless remote made it easy to distract people and obtain candid shots
I completely agree that you MUST use custom white balance indoors (but it is easy to use simply a piece of clean white paper).
I agree that often you will want to use ISO50, meaning a tripod unless it's bright sun.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   21+ years

Price Paid:    $600.00

Purchased At:   Seoul, Korea

Similar Products Used:   Fuji S9500
Panasonic FZ-20

Type of photography:   Outdoor

Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)

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