Samsung HMX-H300 Camcorder Review
Low Light Performance
Low Light Sensitivity
Since the Samsung HMX-H300 has a fairly wide angle of view for recording video, we tested its low light sensitivity both with and without using zoom. Fully zoomed out, with its widest aperture setting, the H300 needed 12 lux of light to record a broadcast-worthy image (or 50 IRE for those who care). This is a decent score, but the HMX-H300 needed nearly twice as much light to record an image with the same brightness when we zoomed in a bit. Zooming in to frame our test chart, the H300 required 23 lux of light to hit 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. More on how we test low light sensitivity.
Let's be clear: these scores aren't great, but they do represent a huge increase over last year's HMX-H200 (which needed 42 lux of light to reach the same light levels when using zoom). Both the Canon HF M40 and the Panasonic HDC-TM90 did a lot better than the H300 in this test, and both were better low light performers overall, as you'll see in the next two sections on this page.
Low Light Noise
Looking at the cropped image from our low light testing with the HMX-H300 (above), you'll quickly see just how bad the camcorder performed in low light environments. The camcorder produced a blurred, murky, and very noisy image in low light, as you can see from the crop below. The H300's noise levels were measured at 2.28%, which is roughly twice the amount of noise we measured from our three comparison models. More on how we test low light noise.
The pictures above really tell the story the best. Notice how terrible the H300's video image looks in low light compared to that of the Panasonic HDC-TM90 and Canon HF M40. Even more surprising is how much worse the H300's cropped image looks compared to what the Samsung H200 produced in low light. The HMX-H200's video image wasn't great by any means, but it certainly looks better than what the H300 produced. This test should be seen as a warning for anyone who wants to shoot in low light situations—stay away from the Samsung HMX-H300.
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%).