Samsung HMX-W300 Waterproof Camcorder Review
On ultracompact models like the W300 we rarely expect to see any kind of focus control, let alone a full manual focus option. The W300 does have a basic autofocus system that shifts between macro and regular focal ranges, but it has no method for controlling focus manually.
You won't find shutter speed, aperture, or gain control on this little camcorder, but you can turn backlight compensation on and off manually. That's it as far as "manual" exposure options go on the W300.
Considering its lack of focus and exposure controls, we were surprised to find a few other manual controls on the HMX-W300, including a full set of white balance presets. You can't set white balance manually on the camcorder, but you can choose from daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, and tungsten presets. Some of these presets helped improve color accuracy by a significant margin in our video tests, but for outdoor shots you'll probably be fine with the auto white balance setting.
And if you're into digital filters and effects, you can explore Samsung's Smart Filters on the HMX-W300. Options for vignetting, fish-eye, retro, classic, negative, dazzle, noir, and western looks are all possible on the camcorder. Keep in mind, these aren't professional image controls, they're just silly digital effects. But that doesn't mean they aren't fun to fool around with.
There are a few special auto controls on the W300 that can help for specific shooting situations. There's a face detection option that attempts to maintain focus and exposure on detected faces within the W300's frame, there's a backlight compensation setting, and there's a waterproof mode button that optimizes settings for underwater shooting. You don't have to turn the waterproof mode on to shoot underwater, but the mode should make your underwater videos look clearer.
Other than the waterproof mode, you can't select a specific scene mode for use with the HMX-W300. However, the camcorder does have an built-in set of scene modes that are selected automatically based on the shooting situations. For example, a night mode will turn on when the W300 detects low light levels, but you cannot turn this mode off or on manually.
No manual audio controls and no external microphone inputs are available on the Samsung W300. There is a built-in stereo microphone, though, and it does pick up audio underwater (just not very well).
You can't do much in playback mode other than delete your video clips, protect your clips, or mark them for upload. Hitting the "share" button to mark videos for upload makes the upload process simpler, but you're still required to connect the camcorder to a computer to complete the transition.