Available in grey, wine red or slate blue Samsung's Digimax U-CA5 sports a 5-megapixel CCD and Samsung-branded 3x optical zoom lens. Although designed for point-and-shoot photographers, like the V700 model it has lots of user-adjustable controls, including some innovative effects settings. However, its idiosyncratic menu system makes some of them hard to reach. . . [more]
Rating (out of 10)
Ease of use: 8.0
Image quality: 7.0
Value for money: 8.5
Available in grey, wine red or slate blue, Samsung's Digimax U-CA5 sports a 5-megapixel CCD and Samsung-branded 3x optical zoom lens. Although designed for point-and-shoot photographers, like the V700 model it has lots of user-adjustable controls, including some innovative effects settings. However, its idiosyncratic menu system makes some of them hard to reach.
A slider switches the U-CA5 from movie capture to voice recording to still picture mode. The zoom rocker works for both capture and playback and the four-way controller is used to set the flash, macro, voice memo and self-timer/remote controls, with a central button accessing the menu. After that it gets tricky.
A button marked 'M' accesses the manual and scene modes (11 all told), while the '+/-' button controls the manual settings for ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and colour adjustments. Seven white balance settings are provided, including custom measurement. Playback is initiated via a button below the four-way controller.
As well as the regular flash settings, the U-CA5 boasts a clever Safety Flash function that boosts sensitivity in low light conditions where the photographer doesn't want to use flash. The camera is supplied with a cradle that recharges the battery and simultaneously allows shots to be downloaded. Interestingly, both the camera and cradle use the same 24-pin charging system as many mobile phones, which means the same charger can be used for topping up the battery. Local distributor, Adeal, generously bundles a 128MB SD card with the camera.
In bright outdoor lighting, the test camera produced fairly contrasty pictures with little in the way of highlight or shadow detail. However colour saturation was modest and overall sharpness was quite good. Low light shots were reasonably noise-free but the flash required ISO 400 sensitivity to illuminate an average-sized room. Colour accuracy was adequate but the auto white balance had the usual problems with incandescent lighting. Colour accuracy with the manual pre-sets was, however, good. We measured an average capture lag of 1.2 seconds, which reduced to 0.5 seconds with pre-focusing. The burst mode recorded shots at 0.75 frames/second to available capacity. 
Resolution is good - but not outstanding. This camera should be able to produce acceptable A4 prints.
Chromatic aberration is detectable at a low level. Problems should only be visible at high magnifications.
Colour accuracy is good and saturation is close to normal. Any colour errors shown should be easily correctable with editing software.
The above chart confirms the camera is capable of high colour accuracy but suggests that image noise may occur at high ISO settings.
Image sensor: 5.34 x 4.01mm CCD with 5.25 million photosites (5.13 megapixels effective)
Lens: 5.8-17.4mm f2.8-4.8 (35-105mm in 35mm format)
Zoom ratio: 3x optical, up to 5x digital
Dimensions (wxhxd): 102.2 x 54.7 x 29.6mm
Weight: 130g (without batteries and card)
Image formats: Stills - JPEG (EXIF 2.2); Movies - AVI (MPEG-4)/WAV (VGA at 30/15 fps)
Shutter speed range: 1 to 1/2,000 sec. (to 16 sec. in Night Scene mode)
Focus system/range: TTL-AF; range 80cm to infinity; macro 5 to 80cm
Exposure metering/control: Multi, Spot metering; Program AE plus 10 scene modes
White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent H, Fluorescent L, Tungsten, Custom
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Slow sync, Off, SF; range 0.3-3.0 m
ISO range: Auto, 100, 200, 400
Sequence shooting: 0.75 fps to card capacity
Storage Media: 128 MB SD Card; holds 44 high-resolution images or 808 VGA shots
LCD monitor: 1.8-inch colour TFT LCD (118,080 dot)
Power supply: SLB-1137 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
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