Transcript of "Samsung SC-MX20 Camcorder Review by Kaitlyn Chantry"
Samsung SC-MX20 Camcorder Review
by Kaitlyn Chantry
Published on Oct 17, 2008 10:00 AM
Auto / Manual Controls
Handling and Use
Audio / Playback / Connectivity
Conclusion & Comparisons
Specs and Ratings
Earlier this year, Samsung blew us away with the
surprisingly strong performance of their high definition
SC-HMX20. Over the years, we had grown accustomed
to mediocre video from the Samsung line and the
HMX20 gave us not just reason to pause, but to
recommend a Samsung camcorder. Unfortunately, the
surprising improvements we saw in the HMX20 didn't
trickle down to the latest standard definition camcorder:
the Samsung SC-MX20 (MSRP $229.00).
The MX20 still sports the same 1/6-inch CCD sensor
and 34x optical zoom lens as its predecessor, the
Samsung SC-MX10. With poorly colored video in bright
light and dark—and plenty of noise in any conditions—
the MX20 can't keep up with the competition. What the
MX20 does do well is provide a smooth experience for
beginners and experienced videographers alike. The
menus are streamlined, the manual controls are intuitive,
and the swivel grip makes just holding the camcorder fun and easy.
If you're looking for the best performance from a simple, standard definition camcorder, there are other places you can turn. If you're more
interested in a seamless video experience from store shelf to YouTube, we have plenty of good news ahead...
The Front (6.0)
The Samsung SC-MX20 has virtually the same physical design as its predecessor, the SC-MX10. As with all the recent Samsung
camcorders, the front is entirely consumed by the lens—more so than with most camcorders. This time around, Samsung borrowed from
the design of their own high definition line, placing the Schneider-Kreuznach lens in a more distinctive cylindrical housing, rather than
blending it in with the body of the camcorder, as they did on the SC-MX10. The result is a classier-looking camcorder.
The SC-MX20's 34x optical lens has an aperture of f/1.6 - f/4.3 and a focal length of 2.3 - 78.2mm. This is all unchanged from last year's
SC-MX10. Also unchanged from last year's model is the 30.5mm filter, a standard size for adding accessories like a telephoto or fisheye
lens. On either side of the lens, you'll still find the built-in stereo microphone. This seems like a sensible place for the microphone,
compared to the popular top-mounted microphones that are easily muffled by wandering pinkies.
Really, the only noteworthy new feature to this generation is the built-in lens cover that can be manually opened and closed. We prefer this
to the separate lens cover of the MX10 or the automatic lens cover of the SC-HMX20. Lens caps can be lost and the delicate inner
mechanics of an automatic enclosure can fail. The built-in manual lens cover is a positive new feature.
The SC-MX20's new Schneider-Kreuznach lens has Not much is new: The lens barrel is more
all the same specs as the Samsung lens on last year's distinctive and Samsung has added this switch to
MX10—only the branding has changed. control the new built-in lens enclosure.
The Right Side (5.75)
The right side of the SC-MX20, as on most consumer camcorders, serves only as an otherwise barren handhold. There are no ports,
switches, or other features. However, Samsung has given us reason to be interested again in the right side of a camcorder with their clever
and unconventional swivel-grip. This is a repeat feature from last generation's SC-MX10 and SC-HMX10 (Review, Specs, Recent
News, $288.95): a grip that allows you to rotate the body of the camcorder up to 180 degrees while keeping your hand in the same
horizontal position. It's a very cool design, one that makes all sorts of angles possible—including flashlight-style shooting from the hip.
Samsung did manage to make two improvements over last year's model: the pivot axle on the swivel grip and the adjustable hand strap
have both been beefed up. On the SC-MX10 and the HMX10, the swivel grip tended to bend outward away from the body of the
camcorder. Thanks to the more robust axle of the MX20, you would have to pull very hard and very deliberately in order to replicate this
flaw. The other change is a welcome sight... Samsung has widened the hand strap for more coverage and, therefore, more stability. We
prefer this upgrade over the improvement made for the high definition model: the HMX20 has the same narrow strap, but in a soft gray
Even with its widened hand strap, the right side of the SC-MX20 looks like most ...until you discover the nifty swivel grip.
The Back (5.25)
The back of the SC-MX20 is nearly identical to its predecessor. Most of the real estate is taken up by a large port cover that opens to
reveal outputs for standard AV and mini-USB, as well as a DC power input. The cover on these ports is attached with the same flimsy
plastic strip that we see on a lot of camcorders; it looks like it could pull out or snap with too much wear and tear.
To the right of the port cover, you'll still see the charge light, power switch, and record button. If you had trouble finding the record button
on your MX10, Samsung has graciously doubled the size of the button this time around. We thought the old one was just fine, but we have
no problems with the enlarged button either. Notably, the two skinny buttons that were lodged next to the port cover last generation have
found new homes. The EasyQ button is now nestled within the LCD cavity, while the Mode button has shifted up slightly and increased in
size. It's now nestled conveniently above the port cover, beneath the mode lights, which will tell you when the MX20 is in video or playback
The SC-MX20 has a cleaner design on the back end than last generation's The AV, mini-USB, and DC power ports are hidden away on
MX10. this side too.
The Left Side (5.25)
On the left, we have the sleek, black gloss we've come to expect from Samsung's consumer line. This surface, as well as the black front of
the camcorder and the handstrap, are the portions of the MX20 that change in color with the various models. If the black isn't vibrant
enough for you, take a look at Samsung's red, blue, and white offerings.
The glossy black (or red or blue or white) surface is the back of the camcorder's LCD panel, which flips out to reveal a surprisingly bare
interior cavity. Nestled within, you'll find the same small playback speaker and buttons for iCHECK (information display) and LCD
Enhancer, which changes the way the image appears on the LCD, but not on the recorded footage. Immigrating over from the back of the
camcorder is the Easy Q button, which puts the camcorder into a fully automated mode. This new placement is an improvement over the
awkward, narrow Easy Q button on the back of last generation's SC-MX10.
The left side of the SC-MX20 is sleek and black—a lot like This is one of the more barren LCD cavities that we've
last generation's model and Samsung's high def line. seen on a camcorder.
The Top (4.25)
There's not much to see on the top of the SC-MX20. Many similar camcorders fill half of their top with the built-in microphone; on the
MX20, the microphone is in the front, on either side of the lens. This is a great design, allowing the fingers of your right hand to wrap all the
way around and rest on top, without fear of muffling the microphone with a stray pinky. There's even a comfortable, rubberized grip on the
top of the camcorder, which we found helpful for increasing stability.
The most noteworthy feature of the top is the MX20's zoom toggle—at first glance, a fairly standard control. Unfortunately, it's the same
toggle found on last generation's MX10; it's easy to grip, but offers a pitiful amount of control. This is something we'd like to see improved
on all Samsung camcorders. If you want to zoom in or out at a slow, even crawl, the MX20 will frustrate you to no end. There is only a
single, fast zoom speed, which can be achieved just as easily with the directional pad as with the slightly less responsive zoom toggle.
This is a real disappointment.
From an aerial view, you can also see the switch for the manual lens cover on the front and the Record and Mode buttons, which wrap up
from the back.
The relatively unadorned top of the SC-MX20 That rubberized grip is handy.
There isn't usually much to say about the bottom of a camcorder—it typically holds the tripod mount, a sticker or two, and not much else.
On all the standard definition Samsungs, however, the bottom is also home to the battery compartment and SD card slot. The placement is
a bit of an inconvenience to anyone using the SC-MX20 on a tripod, but this probably isn't a camcorder that finds itself mounted to a tripod
all that often. The compartment itself is functional enough, though the hinge on the cover seems unusually fragile. This single cover serves
as protection for both the battery and the SD card; the battery is released by a small switch and the SD card sits in a traditional spring-
loaded slot. The biggest compaint we have about the battery compartment is that it is entirely enclosed, which means no upgrading to a
larger size battery.
The bottom of the SC-MX20 is busier than most, including a battery compartment and
SDHC card slot.
Video Performance (2.75)
Unfortunately, the Samsung SC-MX20 (Review, Specs, $249.99) didn't get the same sensor upgrade that its high definition cousin
received; the MX20 still sports the same 1/6-inch CCD that we saw in last generation's MX10. The gross pixel count is still 680,000 and
everything about the lens remains the same, except for the new Schneider branding. If the SC-MX20 is to have improved video
performance, let's hope that Samsung has upgraded their processing. We tested the camcorder both in our labs and out in quot;real lifequot; to see
how it fared.
Inside the lab, we shot a DSC Labs Chroma DuMonde chart at an even 3000 lux, then compared the results to other similar camcorders.
Shooting in auto mode with a manual white balance, the Samsung produced footage fairly comparable to most of the competition. The
biggest difference you'll see is that the MX20 seems to have a darker, noisier image. This becomes more of an issue in less-than-ideal
lighting conditions. Compression artifacting plagues both larger fields of color and also areas of fine detail, but the sharpness looks quite
good overall. Color, in general, looks muddy, especially compared to the often oversaturated look of today's camcorders.
The Samsung SC-MX20 at 3000 lux, automatic settings
Unfortunately, we did not test last generation's SC-MX10, but we can compare the MX20 to similar standard definition camcorders from
other manufacturers. Overall, the MX10 looks darker and muddier than competing camcorders from JVC, Canon, Sony, and Panasonic. Is
this the result of a sub-par sensor? Poor manual white balance? Or disappointing processing? The likely answer is quot;all of the above,quot; but
we would give the edge to processing, since this is the same type of sensor used in the JVC GZ-MS100 (Review, Specs, Recent
News, $257.00), Canon FS100 (Review, Specs, $295.00), and the Panasonic SDR-H200 (Review, Specs, Recent News,
$936.81)—all with better results.
Even though we've come to expect a fair amount of compression artifacting from standard definition camcorders, these blocky chunks of
discoloration are reduced among the competition, especially the Sony DCR-DVD910 (Review, Specs, $465.85). The Samsung SC-
MX20 looks even worse than the JVC GZ-MS100, which was also riddled with compression artifacting and purple fringing. The most
surprising result from the SC-MX20 was how sharp the footage looked, especially compared to the JVC. It's too bad that the areas of finest
detail are marred by so much noise and discoloration.
Samsung SC-MX20 at 3000 lux auto JVC GZ-MS100 at 3000 lux auto
Panasonic SDR-H200 at 3000 lux auto Sony DCR-DVD910 at 3000 lux auto
Out of the lab, the Samsung SC-MX20 verified what we saw with our in-lab testing: the sharpness is quite good, but compression
artifacting is everywhere you look. The colors, at least, seemed to look a lot better with natural outdoor lighting. Before we go any further,
it's important to emphasize that Samsung is marketing the MX20 as their quot;Shoot and Sharequot; YouTube camcorder. We're often spoiled by
the beautiful footage we see on $2000 high-definition camcorders—we're bound to be disappointed with these standard def budget
camcorders. Though there's a considerable amount of compression artifacting and motion trailing, these unpleasant side effects will get
added to your video if you upload it to YouTube anyway—YouTube compresses video significantly in order to make files managable for the
web. If the only destination you have in mind is YouTube, the SC-MX20 will be more than sufficient.
As for how the Samsung compares to similar camcorders from the competition, we were disappointed to find Samsung falling behind the
rest: more noise, more artifacting, disappointing color balance. It seems that the improvements to Samsung's high definition line—the ones
that surprised and impressed us on the SC-HMX20 (Review, Specs, Recent News, $745.25)—simply didn't make it over to the
standard definition models. The video performance on the MX20 is sufficient for YouTube, but generally mediocre.
Video Resolution (4.875)
To test video resolution, we shoot a DSC Labs video resolution chart at an even, bright light, then watch the playback footage on an HD
monitor. The resolution is determined in line widths per picture height (lw/ph). The Samsung SC-MX20 produced a horizontal resolution of
325 lw/ph and a vertical resolution of 300 lw/ph.
These results confirm what we saw with out eyes: the SC-MX20 is just a bit better than most other camcorders in its class when it comes
to resolution. These numbers are identical to the Panasonic SDR-H200, but better than competing models from JVC, Canon, and Sony.
Low Light Performance (4.45)
Every camcorder that comes through our labs undergoes the same barrage of low light testing. Unfortunately, it's a rigorous series of tests
that the Samsung SC-MX20 just couldn't withstand. Despite the excellent low light performance of Samsung's latest high definition model,
the standard definition SC-MX20 didn't stand up to the competition.
The first stage of our low light lab testing involves shooting the DSC Labs Chroma DuMonde chart at an even 60 lux and 15 lux, then
comparing it to the results of similar camcorders.
The Samsung SC-MX20 at 60 lux auto
At 60 lux, the most striking shortcomings of the MX20 are brightness, color balance, and noise. The footage looks darker than much of the
competition—especially the Panasonic SDR-H200 and Sony DCR-DVD910, which probably boost the gain in order to brighten the image.
The Samsung isn't the darkest camcorder we've seen at 60 lux, but it's certainly near the bottom of the pack. Unfortunately, making out
your subject in the darkness is even more difficult with the clutter of compression artifacting and noise. And unlike the fine-grained noise on
the JVC GZ-MS100 or the more subtle grayscale noise on the Panasonic SDR-H200, the noise here on the Samsung SC-MX20 is coarse,
tinted with color, and distracting.
Samsung SC-MX20 JVC GZ-MS100 Panasonic SDR-H200 Sony DCR-DVD910 Canon FS11
60 lux auto 60 lux auto 60 lux auto 60 lux auto 60 lux auto
At 15 lux, problems with darkness and noise are even more troubling than before. The camcorder also really struggles with color balance,
depicting purple as a strange navy blue and giving the greens a yellow-brownish hue. This was a problem at 60 lux and even at 3000 lux,
but it's made more apparent in the darkest settings.
The Samsung SC-MX20 at 15 lux auto
It isn't all bad news, however. The MX20 does manage impressive whites and blacks at both 60 lux and 15 lux—surprisingly good when
compared to the abysmal white balance that the camcorder performs under bright, indoor lighting conditions. The MX20 also continues to
look sharper than much of the competition, which helps when trying to distinguish fine detail under these less than ideal conditions.
We would be remiss if we didn't also comment upon the SC-MX20's C.Nite modes, which are designed to improve the camcorder's
performance in low light. There are three C.Nite modes to choose from: Auto, 1/30th shutter speed, and 1/15th shutter speed. At all three
C.Nite settings, we found that the image was, in fact, brighter, less noisy, and more saturated. In Auto C.Nite, especially, the footage was a
good improvement over the regular 15 lux results of the camcorder. Unfortunately, recording a still subject while mounted to a tripod gives
a false impression of the C.Nite results: even with the auto settings for C.Nite, there was increased motion trailing when either the
camcorder or your subject is moving. At 1/30th and 1/15th shutter speeds, the image was remarkably bright, but any movement made the
footage practically useless.
In short, we recommend trying out C.Nite for low light situations, but suggest sticking to the auto setting to avoid the unreadable blurriness
of the 1/30th and 1/15th shutter speeds. Even the User Manual suggests that C.Nite is more useful for achieving a quot;slow motion like effectquot;
than for improving ordinary low light performance. A tripod is also a must—the digital stabilization feature cannot be used when the
camcorder is in C.Nite mode.
Samsung SC-MX20 at 15 lux Samsung SC-MX20 at 15 lux
C.Nite mode, auto C.Nite mode, 1/15th shutter speed
The second stage of low light testing measures sensitivity—what is the lowest light level at which the camcorder still produces readable
footage? For this test, we connect the Samsung SC-MX20 to a waveform monitor, then slowly and steadily lower the light until the
camcorder is outputting a maximum exposure of 50 IRE. The MX20 was able to produce a peak 50 IRE at 13 lux. This is a good score for
camcorders in this class: identical to the JVC GZ-MS100 and the Canon FS11, better than the Sony DCR-DVD910 and Panasonic SDR-
Why then does the Samsung appear to be darker than the competition? Our hypothesis is that the MX20 processor is good at handling
blacks and whites, but less well equipped for grays and all the colors in between. While the brightest whites of a scene produce 50 IRE at
13 lux, the rest of the scene may lag far behind. This isn't good news for recording subtle nuances at twilight, but high contrast scenes will
probably turn out better.
The final stage of low light testing determines color accuracy, noise, and saturation. We shoot an X-Rite Color Checker chart at an even 60
lux, then run the results through Imatest imaging software. At best, the Samsung SC-MX20 was able to produce a color error of 16.6—
identical to the poor results from the Panasonic SDR-H200. In the case of the Panasonic, the color error is likely a result of undersaturation
due to the three small sensors; for the Samsung, we see the processor skewing colors toward the wrong tonality. (Seeing purple constantly
outputted as blue is a videographer's nightmare.)
Unsurprisingly, the Samsung also produced some of the worst noise in its class: the 1.5375 percent noise is a little higher than comparable
models from Sony, Canon, and Panasonic. It's considerably worse than the results from the JVC GZ-MS100 or the JVC GZ-MG330
(Review, Specs, $317.95). Saturation measured just 59.95%—about on par with the Sony DCR-DVD910 and Panasonic SDR-H200,
but a bit worse than the rest of the competition.
All in all, what we saw in low light was pretty underwhelming. The Samsung SC-MX20 just isn't the low light performer that its high def big
brother is; if you want an affordable standard definition camcorder for club hopping, evening barbeques, or your child's school play, the
JVC GZ-MS100 or Canon FS100 would be better choices.
The SC-MX20 is equipped with Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), just like its high definition big brother, the HMX20. EIS is generally not
as effective as Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which is featured on even standard definition Panasonics and Sonys. EIS creates a
digital buffer around the frame to compensate for abrupt panning or shaking, while OIS isolates the lens itself in order to maintain
resolution. Based on the disappointing results from the EIS on Samsung's HMX20, we weren't expecting much from the SC-MX20. Even
so, we were disappointed.
Image stabilization is tested at two speeds using our custom-built shake emulator. Speed one is roughly equivalent to normal handheld
shake, while speed two is more similar to what you would experience on a bumpy car ride. At both speeds, the SC-MX20 EIS system did
minimize some vertical shake, but did almost nothing to eliminate horizontal shake. At speed one, the shake reduction was a pitiful
28.57%, while speed two saw only a 7.69% decrease. These results are so pitifully below the average that we almost wonder why
Samsung even bothered.
Wide Angle (9.6)
To test a camcorder's maximum field of view, we set the camcorder on a tripod, pull back the zoom fully, and disengage EIS. Using a
vertical laser and interpreting the video on an external monitor, we can obtain a true aspect ratio. The SC-MX20 displayed a wide angle
measurement of 48 degrees—identical to similar models from Canon and Sony and better than the competition from Panasonic. The JVC
GZ-MS100 displayed an impressive 56 degrees.
The Samsung SC-MX20 compresses video in the H.264 (MPEG-4.AVC) main profile format—the same format utilized in Samsung's high
definition SC-HMX20 (Review, Specs, Recent News, $745.25). This format is easier to use than the AVCHD codec favored by high
definition camcorders from Panasonic, Sony, Canon, and JVC... and it's about as convenient as the MPEG-2 format favored by most of the
standard definition competition. Though MPEG-4 may be slightly more efficient than MPEG-2 compression, it's unlikely to impact
consumers shooting in standard definition. Both formats are compatible with virtually any editing software and both formats may require
you to download a plug-in to view the footage using a run-of-the-mill media player like QuickTime.
There are three quality settings on the SC-MX20 that record 720x480, 60i video: TV Super Fine (about 5.0Mbps), TV Fine (about
4.0Mbps), and TV Normal (about 3.0Mbps). Even on the highest quality setting, we found the compression artifacting to be hugely
disappointing. There is an additional quality setting that records 640x480 video, called Web & Mobile (about 2.0Mbps). This setting will
significantly increase recording time, but looks horrendous. We suppose it might be sufficient for uploading to YouTube, which compresses
video a great deal anyway, but we always recommend shooting at the highest quality setting so your originals are of a decent quality.
For a list of recording times, see the chart in the next section.
The Samsung SC-MX20 records solely to SD/SDHC memory cards, which may be inserted in
the slot at the bottom of the camcorder. The MX20 does not come with an SDHC card, but
neither do most of the competing camcorders.
Camcorders that record solely to memory cards are becoming increasingly popular, with
comparable models being offered by JVC, Canon, and Panasonic. Manufacturers are finding
that card-only camcorders allow them to keep prices low and meet the demand for solid state
Below is a table of approximate record times for SD/SDHC cards of various sizes.
TV Super Fine TV Fine TV Normal Web & Mobile
(720x480, 60i, 5.0Mbps) (720x480, 60i, 4.0Mbps) (720x480, 60i, 3.0Mbps) (720x480, 2.0Mbps)
1GB 23 min 30 min 38 min 57 min
2GB 47 min 60 min 77 min 115 min
4GB 95 min 120 min 155 min 230 min
8GB 190 min 240 min 310 min 460 min
16GB 380 min 480 min 620 min 920 min
Since Samsung is marketing the SC-MX20 as its quot;Shoot and Sharequot; camcorder, it had better be easy to do both. We liked what we saw
with ease of use for shooting... now how about the sharing? The MX20 ships with the CyberLink MediaShow software. It's actually a
decent little program, so long as Windows is your operating system of choice and your aspirations for home movies are small. You can
import clips, assemble them in any order, then create a DVD or upload them to YouTube. Individual clips can be trimmed, and there's some
limited color, white balance, and contrast control.
The welcome screen lets you choose from a couple of cryptic icons. The import screen is fairly straight-forward. Pick the clips you
This is how you get started importing. want or just grab them all.
The edit screen doesn't give you much to play with, The quot;fine tunequot; option gives you a little more control—you'll probably
but it's easy to use. want to use that White Balance adjustment.
Similar to the software that shipped with the Kodak Zi6 (Review, Specs, Recent News, $169.99), video clips can only be uploaded
to YouTube. If you prefer another host, you're on your own. The idea behind including such a feature is to simplify and encourage the
uploading process. Unfortunately, the CyberLink software errs of the side of offering so many little tweaks and options that complete
neophytes are bound to get frustrated simply finding the upload wizard.
If you head back to the Share tab, you'll find a button in the upper-left made just for YouTube-ifying.
Once you do find it, the process is dead simple. Pick the clip you want to upload, log into YouTube or create a new account, provide some
information about the clip, and that's it—you're done. Shutterbugs should take note that the software also allows you to upload stills to
Enter in the appropriate information, click quot;Uploadquot; and you're on your way!
Picture & Manual Control
Automatic Control (4.25)
When we sit down with a standard definition quot;YouTube camcorder,quot; our expectations for automatic controls are pretty high. Most people
who buy these camcorders don't want to bother with manual adjustments—they want to turn it on and shoot good video. So, it's with some
disappointment that we encountered the automatic controls on the SC-MX20.
In order for the auto controls to kick in, you can set the various options to Auto or engage Easy mode—we found no discernible difference
between shooting with all options set to Auto and shooting in EasyQ mode. The bonus/downside to Easy mode is that it completely
disables any access to manual settings, putting them blessedly out of the way or annoyingly inaccessible, depending on your viewpoint.
For the most part, the MX20's automatic focus was responsive, but from time to time the camcorder would have difficulty deciding where to
focus, especially in areas of high contrast or in low light. Even more painful was the long deliberation that often took place while the
automatic exposure adjustment was happening. There are certainly benefits to a slow and gradual exposure shift, but there are downsides
as well—such as missing out on key events while the camcorder struggles to select the proper exposure. As for white balance, the MX20
fared well in natural light, but had a hard time adjusting in most indoor lighting—especially fluorescent.
There are also a number of one-touch correction features that are useful for anyone who doesn't care to get bogged down in individual
manual controls. Ironically, even these tools are considered too complicated for EasyQ mode; they are accessed through the menu, which
is entirely unavailable while in EasyQ. Probably the most useful of these features is the iSCENE mode, which tells the camcorder to
automatically adjust exposure, shutter speed, and focus depending on the scene selected. Options are: Sports, Portrait, Spotlight, Beach,
Snow, High Speed, Food, and Waterfall. There are also four custom white balance settings, face detection, and back light compensation.
These tools all use the camcorder's internal workings to do the brunt of the work for you, leaving manual controls to the more savvy user.
The directional pad on the LCD panel is used for making all one-touch automatic
adjustments and using the camcorder's manual controls.
Overall Manual Control (5.0)
Even the high definition Samsungs don't offer a wealth of manual controls, so it comes as no surprise that their standard definition lineup
would carry just the bare minumum. All manual adjustments are made using the directional pad on the camcorder's LCD panel—no fancy
joysticks, touchscreens, control dials, or lens rings here. Since most of the adjustments are made in fairly large increments, the directional
pad is usually more than enough control.
We also like that you can access several manual controls in two places: the quick d-pad menu and the main administrative menu. Placing
them in two places might seem redundant, but it's better than splitting all your functions into separate places; this way, you'll usually find
what you're looking for no matter where you look. On the Samsung SC-MX20, you'll find manual focus, exposure, shutter speed, white
balance, and the various one-touch controls mentioned above.
There is one thing about Samsung camcorders that never ceases to disappoint: the zoom
toggle feels like most zoom toggles out on the market, but only adjusts zoom at a single,
fast, nonvariable speed. Even when you think you're toggling very lightly, a slow zoom just
isn't possible. Considering that zoom is the most common quot;manual controlquot; used on entry-
level consumer camcorders, we're surprised that Samsung hasn't remedied this sad state
of affairs for the MX20. It's especially frustrating when compared to the level of control
offered by the Canon FS100 (Review, Specs, $295.00), which lets you choose
between three fixed zoom speeds and a pressure-sensitive variable zoom.
Since the zoom on the SC-MX20 is only capable of moving at one quick speed, there's no
real advantage to using the toggle over the directional pad for zoom control. Either one will
get the job done, and how you control the zoom will probably just come down to personal
preference. With either the toggle or the d-pad, zooming will cause a small scale to appear
on the LCD; your zoom progress will be marked at one of 14 intervals on the scale. Unfortunately, the scale is not numbered and many
different zoom ratios belong to each interval, so shot replication is a bit tricky.
Zoom Power Ratio (34.0)
The Samsung SC-MX20 has a 34x optical zoom, which is about average for a standard definition, consumer camcorder. It might seem
baffling that the far more expensive SC-HMX20 (Review, Specs, Recent News, $745.25) from Samsung has only a 10x optical
zoom... this is a question of optics. Larger sensors need longer barrels to get a powerful zoom. Camcorders with a small 1/6-inch sensor,
like the MX20, can reach a 34x zoom in much less space. So, on the higher end camcorders, you get less zoom power, but a higher
resolution sensor. On these less expensive standard def camcorders, the performance isn't as good, but you get a lot more zoom.
Just remember that the more zoom you use, the more you'll want a tripod or impressively steady hands. At 34x zoom, you'll notice
shakiness even more; the MX20's digital image stabilization isn't up to the task of that much correction. If the 34x optical zoom isn't enough
for you, you can activate the up to 1200x digital zoom. But this will decrease image quality significantly and even the slightest shake will
make your subject go completely out of frame. Stick to the optical zoom.
The manual focus on the SC-MX20 will not impress experienced users, but it is servicable. The tool is accessed by either the
administrative menu or the quick d-pad menu. Left and right on the directional pad will allow you to make fine adjustments, though it
happens slowly and you have only the image on the LCD to use for judging accuracy. There is no focus assist tool or viewfinder to help
you when doing a manual focus, but at least the sliding scale is on the bottom of the screen, instead of right in the middle—as it is on the
Samsung SC-HMX20 and many other camcorders from other manufacturers.
The MX20's manual focus is actually quite good.
Since the MX20 has no touch screen, it doesn't offer the excellent TouchPoint focus you find on Samsung's high definition model. This is a
feature that Samsung seems to have copied from Sony and we couldn't be happier. On the MX20, though, you'll have to rely on the slow d-
pad focus or just stick to automatic. In most scenarios, this is more than sufficient. We suggest switching to manual only when something
in the foreground or background is drawing the auto focus away from your intended subject.
Exposure & Aperture (6.0)
The manual exposure tool on the Samsung SC-MX20 is very similar to that found on Samsung's high definition model, the SC-HMX20. It is
incredibly easy to find and to use. Using either the d-pad menu or the administrative menu, you select Manual and a slider will appear at
the bottom of the screen. Use the left and right buttons on the directional pad to select one of 30 numbered increments that are available.
The SC-MX20 has 30 increments for adjusting exposure.
This manner of controlling exposure is happily straightforward and should serve as a model to other manufacturers. Sony has a similar
control, but the scale is un-numbered, making shot replication difficult. Canon, JVC, and Panasonic all have fewer increments and on both
Canon and Panasonic camcorders, the exposure tool is buried in the menus.
The SC-MX20 does not offer direct control over aperture, which comes as no real surprise: the high definition Samsung SC-HMX20
doesn't have it either. As for the competition, it's a mixed bag. Some Panasonics and JVCs at this price point offer aperture control, while
equivalent Canons and Sonys do not.
Shutter Speed (6.2)
Shutter speed can be adjusted manually just as quickly and easily as exposure. Using either the d-pad menu or the administrative menu,
you can bring up the slider that is the main interface of the shutter speed control. Using left and right on the directional pad, you can select
one of eight different shutter speeds: 1/60, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/10000. Using the MX20's C.Nite mode will grant
you access to speeds of 1/30 or 1/15, but once you've entered this mode, access to manual shutter speed disappears.
Eight shutter speeds are at your disposal.
White Balance (6.75)
With only four functions available on the d-pad menu, we were surprised to find that white balance is not one of them. This menu gives you
quick access to manual exposure, shutter speed, focus, and... voice mute? So, you'll have to go delving into the menus to access the
white balance settings. Fortunately, Samsung makes the MX20 menus a breeze to navigate—it won't take you long to locate the manual
white balance, which we recommend using over any of the other white balance settings available.
Since white balance isn't part of the quick directional pad menu, you'll have to go
into the menus to adjust it manually.
Unfortunately, the auto white balance isn't always accurate, especially in any kind of unnatural, indoor lighting. If you want to try playing
with the various white balance options, you can traipse into the menus and try out Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, or Tungsten. Inside the
labs, we always rely on the most accurate option: manual white balance. We were disappointed to find that even the manual white balance
just wasn't very good.
Like every manufacturer except Panasonic, Samsung does not offer gain control on any of its consumer camcorders.
Other Manual Controls (2.5)
Guidelines - Like most cameras and camcorders these days, the SC-MX20 offers a couple options for using guidelines to help line up your
shots. These lines appear only on the LCD and not on your final recorded footage. The choices this time around are Cross, Grid (for rule-
of-thirdsy goodness), and Safety Zone. The last is an interesting one: a small crosshair denotes the center of the screen and a box marks
approximately the middle two-thirds of the screen as quot;safe.quot; Presumably, auto mode will make sure anything in this box will be properly
exposed and in focus. The guidelines can be used while in EasyQ mode, as long as you activate the lines first, then EasyQ.
Face Detection - Another feature getting thrown onto just about every camera and camcorder these days. Face detection supposedly
identifies faces, then adjusts to make sure those faces have appropriate color balance, exposure, and focus. The manual doesn't tell us
how many faces the MX20 can detect, but it does give us a number of caveats about the feature not working in some conditions, not
detecting profiles, and not being available for EasyQ mode, iSCENE settings, manual shutter or exposure, Digital Effects, or C.Nite modes.
Backlight Compensation - As long as you're not in EasyQ mode, you can activate backlight compensation whenever your subject is getting
overshadowed by a bright background like a ski slope or sunny window. Backlight compensation will brighten the foreground considerably,
often with a washed out look. It doesn't make for great footage, but it's better than having your subject entirely obscured in shadow.
Still Features (0.0)
Despite some misleading specs on the Samsung website, there is no dedicated still photography on the SC-MX20 (Review, Specs,
$249.99). There is no still camera mode, nor a still capture button. This is actually an odd omission, since comparable camcorders from
all the other major manufacturers include a dedicated still photo mode.
The camcorder does have an Interval Recording feature, which will take a still photograph at specified intervals and record the series of
stills as a single movie file. (See Other Features.)
Still Performance (0.0)
There are no still features on the Samsung SC-MX20.
Still Resolution (0.0)
There are no still features on the Samsung SC-MX20.
Ease of Use (8.25)
Even for a camcorder that is marketed to a more casual consumer, the Samsung SC-MX20 is remarkably easy to use. Much of the
accessibility is due to the clear and intuitive menu system, accessed via the Menu button and navigated with the directional pad. The
directional pad may not be as responsive as a joystick, but it's certainly adequate.
The quick menu, accessed by pressing the button at the center of the directional pad, gives easy access to four commonly used functions:
focus, exposure, shutter speed, and voice mute. We might have preferred to see white balance on there instead of voice mute, but the
main administrative menu is so easy to navigate that everything is equally accessible. Plus, all four of these quick menu options are
replicated in the admin menu, so you never have to stumble around trying to remember which features are in which menu. This is a case
of redundancy used well.
The one baffling feature is the EasyQ mode, which seems to do nothing except disable the menu functions. We're not really sure why
anyone would want to do this, since the menus are so easy to use and actually contain some beginner-friendly items. Strangely, even
features that can be used in EasyQ mode (such as Guidelines) can only be activated or deactivated outside of EasyQ mode. If you decide
to use a grid and then change your mind, you'll have to exit EasyQ, deactivate the grid, then re-enter EasyQ. This is a lot of needless
shuffling about just to have a mode that prevents accidental menu activation. We would like to see an EasyQ mode where some basic
menu features are still enabled.
Take our advice: don't use EasyQ mode. The SC-MX20 is a great camcorder for learning the basics of manual controls like exposure,
focus, shutter speed, and white balance. We recommend shooting with everything in auto and playing with one or two manual controls at a
time. And start with manual white balance—the MX20's auto white balance leaves much to be desired.
If you've handled any of the other recent Samsung camcorders, the MX20 will be a familiar tool. What you have, essentially, is a little
torpedo that fits right in the palm of your hand. It's small and light, without an internal hard drive or DVD drive to bulk up the right side of
the camcorder. This absence makes the MX20 more portable, but it also means there's less to grip—with hard drive camcorders, you're
often wrapping your fingers around the top of the drive for added leverage. Fortunately, Samsung is quickly becoming the best in the
business for hand holds: not only have they widened the hand strap for increased stability, but they've increased the rotation on their
unique swivel grip. You now have a complete 180-degree rotation for finding all those strange shooting positions you never thought
possible. We're big fans of the quot;flashlightquot; grip, which lets you rest your camcorder comfortably below shoulder level. For long shoots that
are likely to tire out your arm, this is a fantastic feature.
The Samsung SC-MX20 can be held like a traditional ...or you can use the swivel grip to experiment with alternate hand
In several different positions, the main controls are in easy reach. In the traditional upright hand hold, the record button rests easily under
the thumb and the zoom toggle under the index finger. Both the record start/stop and zoom functions are duplicated on the LCD panel, for
easy two-handed shooting at almost any angle. (We found this to be the easiest way to operate the camcorder from our favorite quot;flashlightquot;
grip position.) Plus, the LCD panel and swivel grip axle are both solidly constructed and move smoothly and easily; the Samsung SC-
MX20 encourages you to experiment, without fear of wear and tear breaking the most important components. A few silver and glossy black
surfaces are prone to greasy fingerprinting, but at least there's no touch screen to attract untold grime.
If you anticipate using any of the manual controls on the SC-MX20, you'll be relying entirely upon the directional pad mounted to the
camcorder's LCD panel. It's a fairly responsive control and easy to use, but it isn't quite as reliable as a joystick or as finely tuned as
Sony's cam control dial or Panasonic's multi-function ring. Sometimes, it's hard to get your thumb in there to click on the d-pad, especially
when you're aiming for the right arrow with your left hand. (We would sometimes click the center button instead of the right button, causing
some annoying backtracking through the manual controls.) Fortunately, the menus and the manual adjustments are all very straight-
forward, so there's minimal cause to struggle with the d-pad.
The Samsung SC-MX20 has some of the most easily navigated menus that we've seen this year. With consumer camcorders adding more
features every generation, the menus seem to be getting more convoluted. Fortunately, the MX20 features a single, straight-forward menu
system that packs all the features into one intuitive, tabbed structure. Unlike some of the competing camcorders, there's no need to use
guesswork or rifle through three different menus in order to find the feature you want. Plus, the MX20 allows you to change your menu
color (options include blue, pink, purple, orange, and green) and to set your menu transparency so you can keep a better eye on your
subject while navigating the menus (choose from 0%, 20%, 40%, or 60% transparent).
The main administrative menu is accessed via the Menu button on the LCD panel and contains the following options:
iSCENE Auto, Sports, Portrait, Spotlight, Beach, Snow, High Speed, Food, Waterfall, Manual
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Tungsten, Custom WB
Exposure Auto, Manual (0-29)
Shutter Auto, Manual (1/60, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/10000)
Focus Auto, Face Detection, Manual
Anti-Shake (HDIS) Off, On
Digital Effect Off, Black & White, Sepia, Negative, Art, Emboss, Mosaic, Mirror, Pastel, Cosmetic, Stepprinting
16:9 Wide Off, On
Resolution TV Super Fine, TV Fine, TV Normal, Web & Mobile
Wind Cut Off, On
Voice Mute Off, On
Back Light Off, On
Interval REC Off, On
C.Nite Off, Auto, 1/30, 1/15
Fader Off, In, Out, In-Out
Guideline Off, Cross, Grid, Safety Zone
Digital Zoom Off, On
Settings Storage Info, Format, File No. (Series, Reset), Time Zone, Date/Time Set, Date Format, Time Format, Date/Time,
LCD Brightness (-15 - +15), LCD Color, Beep Sound, Auto Power Off, TV Display, Default Set, Version, Menu Color,
Transparency, Language, Demo
The main administrative menu of the Samsung SC-MX20 Plenty of less important options are filed under the Settings tab.
There is also a quick menu accessed via the center button of the directional pad. This menu gives easy access to four commonly used
functions. All four of these features can also be accessed via the main administrative menu, so there's no fear of trying to remember which
menu to use. It's nice to have quick access to these controls, but we might have suggested replacing voice mute with white balance—
especially since the auto white balance is not usually the best setting to use. The directional pad's quick menu contains the following
Shutter Auto, Manual (1/60, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/10000)
Exposure Auto, Manual (0-29)
Voice Mute Off, On
Focus Auto, Face Detection, Manual
The four options on the quick quot;d-pad menuquot; are: Exposure, Shutter, Voice Mute,
The Samsung SC-MX20 is small and light, owing largely to the lack of internal memory and viewfinder; this camcorder is a lens barrel and
that's about it. The result is a camcorder that weighs just 272.16g (0.6 lbs.) and measures just 66.04 x 60.96 x 124.46mm (4.9 x 2.6 x 2.4-
inches). This is certainly one of the smallest traditional camcorders that's come through our labs. It's still a bit too large for tossing into your
back pocket, but it's small and light enough that you could carry it around all day without much of a bother.
The surfaces are all fairly rugged and seem resilient to most scratches and fingerprints, but Samsung has also includes an optional
carrying pouch to protect the camcorder further. This isn't the kind of carrying case that would protect the MX20 from a drop or hard knock,
but it's better than tossing it in your bag unprotected.
Adding to the portability, the SC-MX20 records entirely to SD/SDHC memory cards, a highly compact, portable, and shock resistant
medium. There are no tapes to clutter up your bag, no discs to get scratched, and no hard drive to fail you after one too many bumps.
Unfortunately, the MX20 is not equipped with any internal flash memory, so you'll have to stock up on memory cards or transfer your
footage constantly. Relying on memory cards does help decrease the price of the camcorder, which is why you can now find standard
definition, card-only models from Canon, JVC, and Panasonic.
One small flaw: the battery compartment is entirely enclosed, so there's no chance of purchasing a longer lasting battery. If you plan to be
out recording all day, you might want to have a spare.
LCD and Viewfinder (3.0)
The Samsung SC-MX20 comes equipped with a 2.7-inch LCD that flips out from the left
side... as usual. The screen resolution is 112,000 pixels, which is low even compared to
other standard def camcorders. While it's always nice to be surprised by your video
quality when you see it on the big screen, a low resolution LCD can spell trouble when
you're trying to perform a manual focus.
There is no viewfinder on the SC-MX20, which is pretty common for standard definition,
flash memory camcorders. When you're buying a camcorder in this class, just remember
that you won't have that glare-free, battery-saving viewfinder on long, sunny days.
Battery Life (18.1)
We tested the efficiency of the SC-MX20's IA-BP85ST rechargeable battery pack by recording continuously in Auto mode with DIS
disabled and the LCD flipped open. The battery performed admirably, lasting a total of 181 minutes and 11 seconds (3 hours, 1 minute, 11
seconds). That's a solid duration for such a small battery.
Since the battery compartment is enclosed, however, you won't be able to upgrade to a larger battery. We recommend just buying one or
two spares if you plan on taking the camcorder out for a long day of shooting.
The IA-BP85ST battery and enclosed battery compartment of the Samsung SC-MX20.
While the Samsung SC-MX20 (Review, Specs, $249.99) does have a couple of intriguing audio options, it certainly doesn't offer the
breadth or depth of control that more experienced videographers crave. Then again, there is also no accessory shoe, microphone output,
or headphone jack... this isn't a camcorder for the pros. The only sound input available is the built-in microphone, cleverly mounted on
either side of the lens—out of reach from wandering pinkies.
The menus offer no monitor or control over audio levels, but there are two options designed to provide better audio: wind cut and voice
mute. According to Samsung, the wind cut feature cuts off quot;low frequency components in the sound picked up by the microphone.quot; This
might help reduce some background wind noise, but it can muffle other sounds too. And it certainly won't magically wipe away the
distraction of a truly blustery day. If you want to mute the sound entirely, you can enable quot;Voice Mute,quot; which will make a completely silent
recording. (Contrary to the name of this feature, the camcorder cannot selectively mute voices and record other sound.)
Like most camcorders, the Samsung SC-MX20 has a separate playback mode, which can be engaged by pressing the mode button at the
back end of the camcorder. The playback mode is very basic: a screen full of thumbnails opens and you use the directional pad to highlight
a clip, then press the center button on the d-pad to select it.
While the clip is playing, you can raise and lower the volume (up and down on the d-pad) or skip to the beginning or end of the clip (left
and right on the d-pad). Holding down on left and right will also let you fast-forward or rewind.
Strangely, returning to the thumbnails is accomplished by pressing down on the joystick, then pressing the zoom toggle. It's the one
unintuitive control on the entire camcorder. Finally, if you want to delete a clip or change your playback options, you can press the Menu
button. There isn't a whole lot you can do, but there are a few options:
Play Option Play All, Play One, Repeat All, Repeat One
Delete This File, All Files
Protect Off, On
File Info This File
Settings Storage Info, Format, File No. (Series, Reset), Time Zone, Date/Time Set, Date Format, Time Format, Date/Time, LCD
Brightness (-15 - +15), LCD Color, Beep Sound, Auto Power Off, TV Display, Default Set, Version, Menu Color,
Transparency, Language, Demo
The SC-MX20 is certainly minimalistic when it comes to its ports. Designed with just two different compartments, Samsung has given the
user the bare minimum when it comes to connectivity.
On the bottom, you'll find a compartment housing the battery and SD/SDHC card slot. The cover is spring-loaded and releases with a
sturdy switch. Inside, the battery is held in place by its own small switch, while memory cards are released with the traditional spring
mechanism. The bottom location makes good design sense, but is less than ideal if your camcorder is typically mounted on a tripod—you
can't replace the battery or the memory card without removing the tripod plate. This compartment is also the flimsiest component of the
otherwise durable MX20; the hinge for the cover seems delicately built and will likely break with too much wear and tear.
The compartment door has a flimsy hinge, but the battery and memory cards are
safely stowed away.
On the back of the camcorder, you'll find the primary port cavity: a small enclosure for the AV output, DC power input, and USB jack. The
cover is attached by a thin plastic strip, but it feels a bit sturdier than similar designs on other camcorders. The placement keeps the cords
out of the way when you're recording or just transferring files.
Just three lonely ports on the Samsung SC-MX20.
What’s in the Box?
Not much comes packaged with the Samsung SC-
- IA-BP85St battery pack
- AA-E9 type AC power adapter
- AV cable
- USB cable
- Software CD (Cyberlink MediaShow)
- User manual CD
- Quick Start guide
- Pouch (optional)
You'll need to stock up on memory cards, since the
MX20 doesn't come with any internal or external
memory. And you may want one or two spare
batteries if you plan on going out of a long shoot.
The optional pouch will only protect the camcorder
from dirt and scratches—we recommend a padded
bag or case.
Other Features (5.0)
Digital Effect - The MX20 comes with a slew of mostly useless digital effects, including: Black & White, Sepia, Negative, Art, Emboss,
Mosaic, Mirror, Pastel, Cosmetic, Stepprinting. While we can see some people playing with the black and white, sepia, or art effects, some
of the options here are just silly. Mosaic, Mirror, and Stepprinting are sadly unavailable in 16:9 Wide or C.Nite modes. You'll have to turn off
wide screen and shoot in bright light if you want to take advantage of the creepy mirror effect:
An example of the quot;Mirrorquot; digital effect, from the Samsung
SC-MX20 user guide.
Interval Recording - You can use the SC-MX20 to do a sort of time lapse still photography by activating Interval Recording. The camcorder
will record a single still image at specific intervals and store the series as a movie file. It's a fun little tool for watching the changing weather
or the blooming of a flower. The available intervals are 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 30 seconds. Stills can be taken in these intervals for a duration
of 24, 48, or 72 hours. (There's also an infinite option, which will have the camcorder take stills until the memory card is full.) Keep in mind
that you'll want the power adapter plugged in and a mighty large memory card if you plan to do interval recording for a long expanse of
time. Stills are recorded as 800 x 600 JPEGs.
C.Nite - The MX20 has a special mode for low light conditions. C.Nite has three possible settings: Auto, 1/30th shutter speed, and 1/15th
shutter speed. Even according to the User Manual, this is more useful for achieveing a quot;slow motion like effectquot; than for improving ordinary
low light footage. (See Low Light Performance.)
Fader - The usual fading effects. The MX20 lets you fade in, fade out, or fade in at the beginning and out at the end.
iCHECK - A quick tap of the iCHECK button (located in the LCD cavity) will toggle on and off the typical display information: how long a clip
has been recording, what mode you're in, what manual options you're using, etc. But holding down on the iCHECK button for about 4
seconds will bring up a very useful screen detailing precise battery life and remaining storage capacity.
Our greatest disappointment in bringing the Samsung SC-MX20 (Review, Specs, $249.99) to our labs is certainly the video
performance. Considering how much of an improvement Samsung had made in just one generation of their high definition line, we had
hoped to see some of that work pay off here. Unfortunately, The MX20 has poor color and plenty of noise and compression artifacting—
certainly more than the competition. And it's not much of a champ in low light either.
But in the YouTube line of business, video performance isn't everything. If you plan to upload most of your footage to the web, you're not
likely to see much of a difference between the SC-MX20 and comparable models from Canon or JVC. What you will notice is how easy the
Samsung is to use: from shooting in auto mode to tweaking the manual controls, navigating the menus, and uploading to YouTube. Plus,
this is a slick camcorder to look at, comes in a few different colors, and has a clever pivot grip to make for some unique shooting angles.
If you're looking for the best performer in the standard definition, flash memory class of camcorders, the Samsung SC-MX20 is not for you.
But some people want an easy, intuitive video experience with more power and control than the micro-camcorders like the Pure Digital Flip
Mino (Specs, Recent News, $154.95). If that's you, take a look at this quot;Shoot and Sharequot; camcorder... Samsung may have hit the
nail on the head.
This standard defintion, card-only quot;YouTubequot; camcorder from JVC is probably the most direct comparison one
can make to the MX20. While Samsung wins out for ease of use and handling, the low light performance on
the MS100 is considerably better. If you know you want to use your camcorder in darker settings, spring for
the MS100. Otherwise, you can save a little money and will probably find the MX20 adequate.
The FS100 (MSRP $290.00) is Canon's standard definition, card-only camcorder. We reviewed the Canon
FS11, which is identical to the FS100 on paper, except for the inclusion of some internal flash memory. The
Canon does prove to have superior video performance, but the difference isn't overwhelming. If you just want
an easy-to-use camcorder for throwing your videos up on YouTube, you might prefer the stylish and intuitive
Panasonic's version of the standard definition memory card camcorder is the SDR-S7 (MSRP $299.95). On
the comparable HDD/memory card hybrid from Panasonic—the SDR-H200 (Review, Specs, Recent
News, $936.81)—the low light performance was nothing to write home about, but the automatic controls
and the overall video performance far outstripped the Samsung. It's not quite as easy to use, but it's still pretty
straightforward. If you're willing to spend the extra $70 or so for the Panasonic, you'll probably be glad you did.
Pure Digital Flip Mino
Let's face it—the Flip Mino has gathered plenty of excitement and interest for good reason. It's incredibly
compact, trendy, and couldn't be easier to use. (And now you can color and design your Flip just about any
way you want it.) If you opt for the Flip over the MX20, be prepared for a noteable downgrade in image quality
and loss of all manual controls, including optical zoom. This is a decision you can only make for yourself.
Who It’s For
The MX20 is one of the most intuitive, accessible camcorders for navigating the menus and making simple manual adjustments. If you
own a PC, the easy upload to YouTube is an added bonus. Point-and-shooters rejoice!
Samsung has consistently offered competitive products for just a bit less money than the competition. What you'll sacrifice here is a bit of
video performance, but the MX20 is a great deal overall.
Still Photo / Video Camera Hybrid
Go somewhere else. The MX20 doesn't even have a still photo mode or a capture button.
The rotating swivel grip is, let's face it, a very cool toy. Gadgeteers will love the cool new angles and grips they can achieve. Plus, we have
to admit that the interval recording (for Samsung's version of time lapse photography) is a cool feature.
Manual Control Freaks
If you're a manual control freak shopping in the standard definition line, you're going to find slim pickings anyway. The Samsung offers
plenty of basic manual controls that are all easy to access, but manual control enthusiasts will probably frown at the directional pad as the
only means of making fine adjustments.
Pros / Serious Hobbyists
The mediocre video performance from the MX20 will scare away most serious hobbyists. Add that to the limitations on manual controls and
lack of microphone input and this simply won't be making it on the professional holiday wish lists.