US Announcement of Samsung Pro 815 and Samsung Digimax i5 Digital Cameras

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We were able to attend a press conference at the Samsung Experience in New York and get an in-person look at the Samsung Pro 815 and the Digimax i5.  These two cameras have already made their debut outside of the US, so there are no big surprises on specifications, but we wanted to give you a first hand look.

Samsung Digimax i5 featured at the Samsung US Press Conference in New York, 6/17/2005 (larger image)

Before jumping into the cameras Samsung was showing off today though, let’s give a rundown on what Samsung announced as being their target markets for the next few years and where they are absolutely intent on growing their market share:

  • Advanced Market Cameras – this is basically a prosumer focused category.  The new Pro815 fits into this category, cameras will generally have 8MP resolution or higher and buyers will be amateurs with looking for a camera that they can grow into and offers professional level control.
  • Prestige Market Cameras – this category is for cameras in the 5MP – 7MP range and offer stylish finishes for consumers that are image concious and like to have a lot of the latest consumer technologies integrated into the camera.  The Digimax i5 fits into this category.
  • Premium Market Cameras – the premium term stands for the feature to value offering Samsung will bring to market with this category.  3MP – 5MP cameras that offer easy to use functions and are targeted at the average consumer that wants to take everyday pictures of family events define the target market for this category.

Samsung President Joong Koo Lee stated at the conference the company goal is to become a top 3 digital camera seller worldwide and, said Lee, “achieving success will not be simple”, but with agressive pricing based on their ability to manufacture all major camera components internally and with innovative design and features it seems Samsung is truly out to do battle in this product arena.

Samsung DigiMax i5

The Samsung Digimax i5 is focused on what Samsung calls it’s “Prestige” market.  The i5 is a nice thin form factor release.  I had a Sony T33 in hand for the event and I can say this device is just about exactly the same thickness as the T33, but the LCD and features on the i5 outdo the T33.  Some notable features on the i5 are:

  • 30FPS MPEG4 recording
  • SD expansion with 50MB of buil-in memory
  • Text recognition mode so that a business user can take a picture of a text document and it will be converted to Word format (nice!)
  • Charging via USB/Cradle/Stand-alone charge cable
  • “Safety Flash” feature to reduce red-eye, reduce blurriness due to camera shake and enhance color
  • 2.5″ hi-res LCD

When putting the Sony T33 side-by-side with the i5 the LCD was noticeably crisper and brighter.  The i5 is easy to hold and available in various colors so you can be loud and colorful or go with a silver and refrained look.

Notice the i5 offers a Text recognition mode (larger image)

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Samsung DigiMax Pro 815

The Pro815 is targeted at the advanced market segment of camera users and this camera has three really stand out features that can be called world’s firsts for the digital camera segment:

  • Huge 3.5″ LCD screen
  • 15x optical zoom  and 4x digital zoom offers 60x zoom via standard lens
  • 1900 mAh battery is the largest in any camera, with 3 LCD screens one of which is 3.5″ this battery is needed, it will provide enough juice for up to 500 shots which is very good

The 3.5″ LCD could serve well as a TV it’s so big (larger image)

The first thing you notice on this camera is definitely the screen.  This is larger than a lot of handheld gaming console screens, it’s monstrous in comparison to what you typically see in today’s cameras.  The model’s on the showroom floor were not powered, but the one working model they had during the presentation was stunning in the brightness and ease of viewing it offered.  Another great feature of the 815 is the LCD that resides on top of the lens, this allows you to hold the camera at waist or chest level and look down on the camera and focus the shot.

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The 1900 mAh battery should offer users up to 500 shots on one charge, even with the huge LCD sucking the life out of it.  The 1900 mAh size battery is the largest of any camera to date.  The battery and LCD do add weight to the camera (Samsung would not quote a weight number as it is still in development), but the fact this is an SLR substitute means you won’t be carrying a bunch of lenses so that will keep overall travel weight down.  The included standard lens shoots both 28mm wide-angle shots and has 420mm tele-zoom capabilities, with an SLR this would usually involve having two seperate lenses.

Notice there’s an LCD on top so you can hold the camera at waist or chest level and use this LCD viewer to focus the shot (larger image)

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Samsung promises it will have a huge number of offerings going into 2006 and this is just the start of it’s agressive push to offer cameras that are highly competitive with pricing and offer new and advanced features and still meet the competition’s price point for “equivalent” but, as Samsung would argue, inferior cameras.

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