Samsung L74 Wide
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The Samsung L74 Wide ($300) is a rather unique digital camera. Not for its design, wide-angle lens, SVGA movie mode, or huge touchscreen LCD, though all of those make it appealing. What really separates the L74 from the rest of the crowd its its enormous amount of onboard memory (450MB to be exact) and a built-in world travel guide. That's right, the L74W can give you information (albeit very basic) about popular tourist destinations around the world. Can't say that this is a feature I've always wanted, but a little break from the ordinary is always welcome.
Other features on the L74W include a 7.2 Megapixel CCD, manual controls, face detection AF/AE, and in-camera redeye reduction.
Is the L74 Wide a capable digital camera with the added bonus of having a built-in world travel guide? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The L74 Wide has a very good bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
The L74 Wide doesn't just have built-in memory -- it has 450MB of built-in memory! Now, a lot of that (around 217MB) is taken up by the World Tour Guide, but if you don't want that feature, you are free to delete it. If you want to add more memory to the camera, you can do so via its SD/SDHC/MMC memory card slot. I would recommend picking up 1GB, high speed memory card for use with the L74.
The L74 uses the new SLB-1137D rechargeable lithium ion battery, which has 4.1 Wh of energy. While Samsung doesn't officially use the CIPA standard for their battery tests, their methodology is almost identical. Here's how the L74W compares to the competition in terms of battery life:
There are only two other cameras in the table above that have both a wide-angle lens and a 3-inch LCD like the L74W. In terms of battery life, the L74 is about 15% below average. Thus, it's probably worth picking up a spare battery.
Speaking of batteries: all of the cameras on the list use proprietary lithium-ion batteries. These batteries tend to be expensive (and I can't even find the battery for sale anywhere -- only third-party versions), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery when the rechargeable dies. That said, you'd be hard-pressed to find a compact camera that uses anything else.
Like several of Samsung's recent cameras, charging the L74 is a bit unusual, as you'll be using the USB cable. You can charge the camera simply by plugging it into your computer via the USB cable, or you can attach an AC adapter to one end of the cable and plug it right into the wall. Either way, it takes about 150 minutes to fully charge the SLB-1137D battery. There is currently no external battery charger available.
As is the case with most compact cameras, there's a lens cover built into the L74 Wide, so there's no clunky lens cap to worry about.
A stylus is also included, and you can use it (or your finger) to control the touchscreen user interface. The stylus attaches to the wrist strap, so it's not going anywhere.
There are only two accessories available for the L74 Wide. First, there's the SRC-A3 wireless remote control ($15), for a "no hands" approach to controlling the camera. The other accessory isn't quite as exciting -- it's just a soft camera case (also around $15).
Samsung includes their Digimax Master software with the L74 Wide. While not the most attractive or powerful software on the market, it gets the job done. Digimax Master is for Windows only -- there is no Mac software included with the camera (iPhoto will work fine, though).
The main screen of Digimax Master has the usual thumbnail view, and from this screen you can rotate, print, and e-mail photos. As you'd expect these days, the thumbnail size can be adjusted.
Double-clicking on an image opens the edit window. If you're editing a JPEG you'll find all kinds of tools on the left side of the screen, including an "auto enhance" option. There are also tools available for putting type (or drawings) on top of a photo.
The manual included with the L74 Wide is pretty lousy. It's poorly laid out, full of fine print, and generally not user-friendly. Samsung really needs to work on their documentation.
Look and Feel
Despite not being in Samsung's NV-series of cameras, the L74 Wide has much in common with them. It has a compact and very solid, all-metal body, plus an "NV lens" (whatever that is) with the trademark blue ring around it, and an unconventional user interface. In the hand, it feels like a much more expensive camera than it really is ($250 street price).
The L74 is easy to hold with one hand, with a grip that's just the right side. The are hardly any buttons on the camera, with the camera being almost entirely controlled via the touchscreen LCD display. Speaking of which, you might want to consider investing in a cleaning cloth for that LCD, as it will be absolutely covered in fingerprints in no time, unless you're using the stylus.
Now let's take a look at how the L74 Wide compares to other cameras in its class: