Review: Samsung Digimax 350SE
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Thursday, June 27, 2002
this review, we add Samsung as the latest manufacturer to send us
cameras for review. We've got just about everyone now!
350SE ($549) is a 3.2 Megapixel camera with a 3X optical zoom
is a review that almost did not get written. My first experience
with the 350SE was not positive: it locked up three times in a row
after taking a picture. Removing and re-inserting the CompactFlash
card solved that problem. Then, after a walk down to the base of
Snoqualmie Falls (seen in our gallery),
the camera again locked up: this time the lens was suck and it would
not retract, focus, or zoom. After much frustration, we finally
got the lens to move, and the camera was working again. These problems
were probably specific to my review camera, but I thought those
considering this camera would want to know.
let's take a complete look at the Digimax 350SE to see how it stacks
up against the competition.
in the Box?
Digimax 350SE has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.2 (effective) Mpixel Samsung Digimax 350SE camera
AA alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable)
featuring MGI PhotoSuite and Digimax Viewer
page manual (printed)
first purchase you'll need to make after buying the 350SE is a set
of rechargeable batteries. In fact, buy two sets. The Digimax includes
four non-rechargeable AA batteries, which quickly end up in the
trash (please recycle them if you can!). I recommend buying NiMH
batteries (1600 mAh or higher) for your digicam: they last longer,
cost less, and don't pollute the environment like alkalines. Battery
life seemed about average using my 1600 mAh cells.
second purchase you'll probably want to make is a larger memory
card. Samsung includes a 16MB card, which is pretty skimpy these
days. I recommend a card at least four times that size.
nice thing that Samsung does include is a case for the camera.
you can see, the lens cover, which doubles as the power switch,
eliminates the need for a lens cap.
users really get shafted when it comes to the bundled software and
drivers. Samsung's versions of MGI PhotoSuite and Digimax Viewer
are only for Windows. Nothing for Mac OS. The camera does work with
Mac OS X though, so you can use iPhoto and Image Capture.
looked around but couldn't find any information about accessories
for the Digimax 350SE.
350SE's manual isn't going to win any awards. It's confusing with
lots of "notes" on each page.
Digimax 350SE is a mid-sized camera -- comparable to things like
the Sony DSC-S85 or Canon PowerShot G2. The camera is fairly easy
to hold, though I wish it had a larger grip for the right hand.
The body is made of "high grade" plastic, and it feels
official dimensions of the 350SE are 4.5 x 2.8 x 2.0 inches (WxHxD),
and it weighs in at 240 grams (empty).
take our usual tour of the camera, starting with the front.
of the big features on the Digimax 350Se is that Schneider-Kreuznach
lens. This F2.6 lens has a focal range of 7 - 21 mm, which is equivalent
to 34 - 102 mm. The lens
is not threaded.
above the lens, you'll find the self-timer lamp, optical viewfinder,
and flash sensor.
to the left of that is the built-in flash. The flash has a working
range of 0.2 - 3.0 m (wideangle) and 0.2 - 2.0 m (telephoto). There
is no support for an external flash, as you might expect.
thing I'd like to see here is an AF illuminator. There are cheaper
cameras out there (from Canon and Sony most notably) that offer
this focusing aid, and there's really no excuse for not having one
on every camera.
onto the back of the camera. The Digimax has as 1.5" LCD display,
which is rather small for a camera of this size. The LCD itself
is of good quality -- the image is bright and fluid.
the LCD is an average-sized optical viewfinder. There is no diopter
correction knob for those without perfect vision. Nose smudges on
the LCD may be a problem if you use the viewfinder with your left
the right of the LCD are many buttons (there's also the power button
above it). The buttons include the four-way switch, LCD on/off,
menu, and focus/delete.
four-way switch was somewhat annoying in that it wasn't very precise.
It was easy to move up/down/left/right when you tried to push "OK".
The four-way switch is used for menu navigation but also does other
functions as well. These include:
- Audio record (up to 10 secs per photo)
- Metering [center-weighted, spot] and movie play/pause
- Flash [Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, slow synchro, fill-in
menu button does just what is sounds. The focus/delete button took
me a minute to figure out. Pressing the button toggles macro mode
on and off. Holding it down will toggle infinite focus.
all those buttons are the zoom controls. I wish they had more "play",
as they don't move as much as I'd like. The zoom mechanism itself
is painfully slow, in my opinion. It takes nearly four seconds to
move from the wide to telephoto positions.
our tour now with the top of the camera. As you can see, there isn't
much up here.
main thing here is the mode wheel, with the shutter release button
inside it. The choices on the mode wheel are:
are all pretty self-explanatory. The only other items of note on
the top of the camera are the speaker and microphone. I wish the
camera had an LCD info display -- it certainly has room for it.
this side of the 350SE are the I/O ports. They're under that rubber
cover that's on the right of the photo. The ports include DC in
(for optional AC adapter), USB, and A/V.
the other side of the camera... not much to see here. Where is that
CompactFlash slot, you ask?
down here on the bottom of the camera! The slot is hard to see,
but it's just above the battery compartment. This is a Type I slot,
so the 350SE isn't Microdrive compatible.
the left of the photo, you can see the metal tripod mount.
can also see the included 16MB CompactFlash card -- though it looks
a bit funny here.
the Samsung Digimax 350SE
using the Digimax 350SE for a few weeks, I learned that "slow"
is the operative word. The camera takes over five seconds to extend
the lens before you can take a picture. For some reason, it'll take
2-3 more seconds before you can change the flash setting.
The LCD in record mode
you press the shutter release button halfway, the camera usually
locks focus in a second or so.
sometimes the LCD will display the dreaded "low luminance"
warning. If that happens, the camera will focus at 2.5 meters (or
0.5 meters in macro mode), which usually is not a good thing.
you press the shutter release fully, you will first hear the phony
shutter release sound, then the real shutter sound. I'd say there's
about a one second lag before the real shutter is opened. I advise
you to turn off the phony shutter sound so you don't think it took
the picture and then move the camera (thus blurring the photo).
speed is also bad. The camera will take upwards of 7 seconds to
write the photo to the CF card, and the camera is totally locked
up during that time. Add to this the slow zoom speeds and you've
a camera that is much below average in terms of performance.
are several choices available for image resolution and quality on
the 350SE. And they are:
photos on 16MB card (included)
512 x 384
is no TIFF or RAW mode available on this camera.
Digimax has a pretty simple (yet slow-moving) menu system that is
easy to figure out. This is mostly a point-and-shoot camera, as
you'll see. The menu choices are:
- Quality (See chart)
- Sharpness (Soft, normal, hard)
- Effect (Normal, black & white, sRGB, sunset)
- Shooting (Single, continuous)
- Exposure (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/2EV increments)
- ISO (Auto, 100, 200, 400)
balance (Auto, daylight, fluorescent, tungsten)
is, of course, the usual setup menu with basics like date/time,
power saving, beep, etc. A few additional notes about the above
the 350SE has an sRGB mode, it's a good possibility that it's use
a proprietary color space in "normal" mode. Then again,
the EXIF data says it's an sRGB space then too, so who knows.
continuous shooting mode, you'll be able to take 5 to 100 shots
in a row, depending on resolution and quality. At the best picture
quality setting, you get 5 shots. They are taken at a rate of 1
frame per second, more or less.
last annoyance is that the 350SE does not remember its settings
when it is turned off!
that's enough of that! Let's talk about photo quality now.
the fog has been thick here lately, I headed back to SF's City Hall,
my backup-backup night shot site. I was quite pleased with the photos
the 350SE produced here. There's a bit of noise and some purple
fringing, but overall it's not bad at all. (Do note that I rotated
and cropped this image a bit.) I took this picture in the Night
350SE actually did a pretty good job with the macro test shot. The
focal range for macro shots on this camera is 20 - 80 cm.
quality was decent on the Digimax. The two issues I have are higher
than average noise, and auto white balance than tended to give images
a red cast. Some of the last few shots in the gallery display this.
I didn't notice any major problems with chromatic aberrations (purple
fringing), except in the night shot. Take a look at the gallery
and judge for yourself.
Digimax 350SE can record movies, with sound. They are saved in AVI
format at the usual QVGA resolution of 320 x 240.
can be as long as the available memory allows. The bigger the card,
the longer the movie.
you have to depress the shutter release halfway before you can start
filming -- just as you would for a still. The zoom lens cannot be
used during filming.
an exciting sample movie for you to check out. I took it in portrait
view, so I had to rotate it so it looks correct. The sound recorded
sounds more like static than a waterfall.
to play movie (AVI format, 4.3 MB)
view it? Download QuickTime.
Digimax has a decent playback mode. The usual basic features like
slide shows, image protection, DPOF print marking, and thumbnail
mode are all here.
is also a "zoom & scroll" feature, which lets you
zoom up to 5X into your photo, and then scroll around in it. The
scrolling portion was smooth, a nice change from the sluggish operation
of this camera.
of which, the 350SE is very slow moving between photos. A low resolution
thumbnail is shown within 1/2 second of pushing the button, but
it takes another 4 seconds to show the high resolution version.
That's much slower than average.
the LCD button will show some (basic) exposure information about
your photo, a nice touch.
Does it Compare?
Samsung Digimax 350SE is one of those cameras that is pretty good
overall, but with one fatal flaw. For the 350SE, that's the very
slow operation. From startup to zoom to shot-to-shot speed, this
camera is much slower than average. It's very easy to miss a shot
when you have as much focus and shutter lag as this camera. The
350SE's photo quality is average, and the features are pretty basic.
In a world of 3 Megapixel cameras, the Digimax 350SE isn't your
mode lets you record until CF card is full
I didn't care for:
slow operation in many areas
a bit too noisy; occasional red cast
features compared to competition
3 Megapixel cameras (with a 3X or greater zoom) worth looking at
include the Canon
PowerShot S30, Minolta
DiMAGE S304, Nikon
Coolpix 885, Olympus C-3020Z
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P71
and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the Digimax 350SE and it's competitors before you buy!
out the photo gallery to see the Digimax
350SE's photo quality.
a second opinion?
Digicams review to get another viewpoint on the Digimax 350SE.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests
for personal camera recommendations.