Massive strides in video technology have made filming in HD accessible to just about everyone with camcorders available at every price point. Samsung produces many of the most affordable camcorders, with plenty of options in the $90 to $350 price range. The HMX-F80 has great user reviews and is a pretty good camera for the price.
The film quality is about what you would expect for a camera in this price range—about the same as the camera quality on a brand new smart phone. The stabilizing technology works for anyone whose hands don't shake much but is pointless for anyone with particularly shaky hands or who is filming while walking/running.
Like most affordable cameras the HMX-F80 is really only powerful during the day, taking poor pictures at night.
The HMX-F80 has an impressive zoom of 52x but you do lose some quality as you zoom in and the auto-focus lags significantly when you're zoomed in.
Using the Samsung HMX-F80 will force you to learn how to use the manual focus setting on your camera, particularly if you're going to be moving during filming or you're filming something that's moving quickly. The auto focus feature tends to lag, making this camera frustrating for most people to use. That said, it can be an excellent tool for learning how to use a camera manually.
The sound quality on the HMX-F80 is remarkably average, distinctively picking up voices of people talking nearby but rarely picking up on quieter background sounds.
There are a couple little extra features Samsung's added to make the HMX-F80 more appealing including an adaptor that allows you to plug the camera directly into your TV for replays. You can also add background music to an existing video or a slideshow of still photographs.
The HMX-F80 can take still photographs but reviews are mixed as to the quality of those photographs. It varies largely based on what you're actually trying to photograph.
The biggest drawback is the low quality of the auto focus. If you're filming something moving quickly or your hands are moving a lot while you're filming your video will come out choppy and the auto focus will lag. The lag grows more significant as the camera zooms in.
Another drawback is the poor still photography. You can probably take better pictures with your smart phone even if it came out a couple years ago. This is particularly true at night when the picture quality suffers greatly.
If you can afford to spend more on a camcorder it's well worth the investment, but the HMX-F80 is a great deal for the price, especially since you can regularly find sales on this camera knocking it down to a great price.
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