Samsung HMX-H300 Camcorder Review
The Samsung HMX-H300 had trouble producing accurate colors in our bright light test, and the test images we captured looked dull and muted. The camcorder's hard numbers in this test came to a color error of 6.33 and a saturation level of 90%. This color error number is far worse than the competition, including the score achieved by last year's Samsung HMX-H200 (the model the H300 was designed to replace). More on how we test color.
To top it all off, the H300 has no color modes or picture adjustment options that let you tool with the colors recorded by the camcorder. This means the colors you see in auto mode are the colors you're going to be saddled with in all record modes. Of course, colors will change depending on the kind of lighting you use, and the type of white balance system you employ. We do all of our testing with a manual white balance in an effort to obtain the best color accuracy possible with the camcorder.
Looking at the color error map taken from our testing (that image with the circles with lines attached), you can see that the HMX-H300 rendered blue and purple colors with good accuracy. It was greens, yellows, and browns, however, that the camcorder had plenty of trouble with, thus lowering its overall color score. Since color quality is very much a matter of personal preference, we urge you to look through the crops and comparison images on this page to make up your own mind about the color performance of the H300 and the camcorders we compared it to.
Low Light Color
In terms of color accuracy, the H300 actually did better in our low light color test than it did in our bright light color tests. The camcorder managed a color error of just 4.9 in low light (compared to 6.33 in bright light), although its saturation level was around 75% (down from 90% in bright light). These scores represent the H300's best performance out of our three low light tests, but we wouldn't consider these scores any better than average for a mid-range model. More on how we test low light color.
The HMX-H300's video image in low light appeared a bit dark, as you can see by looking at the color error map above. Notice how the colors all move towards the center of the spectrum due to their darker tones. In comparison, the Panasonic HDC-TM90 had slightly worse color accuracy than the H300, but its saturation level was a lot higher (85%). The Canon HF M40 had the best color accuracy overall, while the Samsung HMX-H200 had the worst (and the lowest saturation level—59%).
The HMX-H300 redeemed itself slightly with a good performance in our noise test. The camcorder averaged 0.67% noise in this test, which is less than what we saw from the Panasonic TM90 and Canon HF M40. Unfortunately, however, this is more noise than we measured on the HMX-H300's predecessor, the HMX-H200. Usually, we expect to see improvements in noise levels with new camcorders, as updates to processing and sensor technology occur. This was not the case with Samsung, though. More on how we test noise.
Cycling through the cropped images above, you should notice that the HMX-H300 did not capture video with the same level of sharpness as the competition. Numbers in the cropped image appear blurred, as do the lines near the bottom of the vertical trumpet. The fact that the H300 didn't capture as sharp of an image as the Panasonic TM90 or the Canon HF M41 isn't all that surprising, as those are two of the best mid-range camcorder's we've reviewed this year. What shocked us, however, was that the H300's video image was even less sharp than its predecessor's, the HMX-H200. Look at the crops and see for yourself if you don't believe us.