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on 2 November 2009
I've recently been asked to video a friends wedding in 2 weeks time - Nothing says, "you are a real good friend" like short notice wedding videoing!

This was made even more challenging by me not owning a camcorder!

So after speaking to a good friend of mine that is handy with videoing, he recommended that I'd need 2 cameras to do an at least half not-rubbish job. Ouch! Extra expense I do not have.

I knew what I wanted to the camcorder to do.

It needed to have a good optical zoom. A rubbish optical zoom would make recording the wedding difficult and manufacturers who offer '200x digital zoom' really are looking to confuse their customers and mislead them into what the camera can do.

I also need a good battery life. Although I will need only about 30 minutes in total, I really will need a lot of footage and that means a good battery life.

Finally I needed to be able to record lots of footage. This could be on internal storage or through memory cards (cheap as chips nowadays).

The Samsung F33 manages to tick all these boxes. Luckily Amazon came to the rescue with a great price and also they had 2 in stock so I ordered 1 in red and the other in blue.

The Samsungs have built in storage for recording but also have an additional slot for an SD card. This means that you can record for well up to the 3 hours of advised battery life if required. It also means I don't have to spend an extra £10 on SD cards for each camcorder. They also have a great Zoom function which maintains great picture quality while remaining close-up on the subject.

In my test the subject was 'Benny the Wonderdog' while chasing his ball. The footage was smooth and the colours were bright. Footage can be watched back on the built in screen and the controls are sensibly placed for both filming and playback. The screen flips out and can be rotated to allow easy filming if the camera is at waist height or held up above your head. The Samsung has no viewfinder which although saves space, may result it glare on the screen while filming, making it harder to frame shots. I've yet to experience this though as the Great British Summer is long behind us!

The camera connects to a PC via a USB cable. As this isn't an HD camera there isn't any need for HDMI but firewire could have given as faster download from the camera. Samsung supply software for making DVD's and although it doesn't cater for much editing, should be enough for the casual user. Perhaps a major downside is that the files aren't compatible with Windows Movie Maker. They are compatible with YouTube though so uploading videos to the famous site are easy and pain free.

Overall I give this a 4 out of 5. The final star missing due to the video format. This is a great camcorder for anyone looking for their first camcorder. It is small, light and fits in a pocket. You can be filming quickly from when you turn the camcorder on and with plenty of built in recording and a 3 hour battery it will keep up with the most extensive filming requirements.

For the price Amazon are selling these you should snap them up. It has more features than the recent batch of camcorders which often have small zooms and short battery lives. Unless you need HD recording then save you money for the features that you will need, storage - battery life - zoom. The Samsung F33 has it all.
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