Samsung Digimax i6 review revisited

composite of 4 shots at 4 different film speeds of a old brick at 2 times resolution

After a couple of months of regular use, I thought I should update my views on the Samsung Digimax i6. Warning, I spent five years being a serious photographer shooting 25000 frames of film with manual focus cameras, before calming down and using a Canon G2 and later a Canon D300, for a variety of different photographic tasks, no bands or low light work, instead a lot of print work that covered national magazines, newspapers and 100 or so publications, including magazine covers that came out of work in the past five years. As a result of this I have pretty high standards when it comes to cameras.

I decided I need an ultra compact camera to supplement the G2. There are no cameras on the market with all the features I wanted, so I chose the small size of the i6 over the ability to shoot RAW format and aperture priority, because the cameras with those features were more than twice the weight of the i6 and I had those features in the G2. The additional features of the i6 to shoot video, record audio, plays mp3s and video just made the choice easier.

With some exceptions noted below I am happy with the output of the camera, if you want to see the results yourself, all my photos on flickr and videos on youtube are shot using the Samsung Digimax i6.

Good points

  1. Small size, fits in a pocket and can be taken anywhere and almost always is.
  2. Does not look like a real camera, this is a big advantage and you can get far more candid shots from people than you would get with a DSLR.
  3. Robust, it has survived two 1m+ fall to the floor.
  4. In most cases no noticeable shutter lag, and in my opinion the lag far better than the G2 and as good as the D300. Note my definition of shutter lag is the time between, after you have composed the shot and have a meter reading by slightly depressing the shutter release, fully depressing the shutter release and the time taken for the camera to respond. In true point and shoot use this may differ.
  5. Reasonable battery life, when taking photos and playing mp3s, just don’t use the flash.
  6. Stylish good looks.

Bad Points

  1. Film speed and quality, this is not really a problem, you just need to be aware of degradation that happens at the different ISO levels. The image is 2x actually size so you can see the difference from top to bottom between 50, 100, 200 and 400 ISO speeds. I was surprised by the difference from top to bottom, between 50 and 100. The 200 and particularly the 400 are far superior to the G2, though no where near the same quality as the D300.
  2. Because on the size, shape and lack of viewfinder the i6 takes a lot of getting use to hold correctly. Still practice makes perfect, in others words I am no longer taking photos that include my fingers and less likely to move the camera as I press the shutter release.
  3. The flash is underpowered, power hungry and there is considerable delay (5 seconds +) between taking shots with the flash. But then again I find the same with almost every built-in camera flash, (except the length of delay) and why I purchased a dedicated external flash for the G2 a couple of months after buying that camera. However, I find the i6 flash to be very power hungry, resulting in the long delays to recharge and for all that trouble very ineffective except at really short range, less than 1.5m.
  4. The AWB (automatic white balance) does not seem to work well under low light natural light conditions (dawn, dusk and heavy shade) it gives everything a magenta hue. You need to set change your white balance manually in these conditions.
  5. When shooting video you lose sound, when you zoom in or out and a second or two after.
  6. The advanced shake reduction is post processing software and takes considerable time . I preferred to leave it turned off and take three or four shots in rapid succession and choose the best one and clean it up myself, rather than hope the one taken by the camera and it’ processing tricks is the best shot.
  7. The tripod mount is an extra piece of plastic which I am almost guaranteed to break or lose in the next couple of years. Even with such a small camera, I regularly use a tripod.

Conclusion

To take great photos you need a camera with you. That is the big advantage of the i6, you can just stick it in your pocket then when the opportunity arises pull it out of your pocket, hit the power button (it powers up very quick) and be ready to take the shot. The i6 is not a replacement for a quality compact camera for a serious photographer, it lacks features like a fast lens (f3.9 at the wide end), does not store photos in uncompressed format, has limited controls ie no aperture priority or manual settings and no connection for an external flash. But if you own a DSLR and do not enjoy lugging it with you everywhere then the i6 is a handy take everywhere alternative, the photos are good for a camera of it’s size, they may not be the quality you are use to but you will have the photo, unlike if you left you big camera at home and you can listen to music or watch videos while waiting for the light to be just right on the big photo shoots.

2 Responses to “Samsung Digimax i6 review revisited”

  1. Ollie alexander Says:

    hey i was wondering where you got that mount from for
    the tripod
    i have been trying to find one for quite some time now

    olliealexander@gmail.com

  2. Nick Says:

    Ollie, the tripod mount came packaged with the camera. A small piece of plastic(about 1cm cube) that fits into data/power cable slot under the camera, tightened by a plastic threaded knob and with a metal thread for a standard tripod mount underneath. Nothing fancy and looks fragile to me,

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