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As I am sure most of the Dooyoo members will now know, I am a professional photographer but as well as taking pictures I also hold photography seminars at my local camera club and over the last few years I have become somewhat of a target for sales persons asking me to try out their latest digital cameras and give talks and written reviews on them.
I figured a couple of years back if I was going to be testing out all these cameras and doing reviews anyway then I may as well be posting them on Ciao and Dooyoo and making some money for charity which as a lot of you will know is what I do now.
The latest camera to be thrust my way to be put through its paces was the Samsung PL60, having had a great experience with a Samsung DSLR recently I was really looking forward to seeing just what they had produced in this point and shoot but it really did not go as well as I had hoped.
Right from the word go I was disappointed in the slowish and rather noisy start up, now a day's most point and shoot cameras can start quickly and quietly and whilst I am not saying this took and age to get going and you could hear it streets away, it was noticeably slower and noisier than most.
This camera comes with five main selling points and those are its functions I tested first, the smart auto mode was where I began and Samsung reckon this mode can assess the type of shot you are taking and set the settings to capture it perfectly in the blink of an eye. Personally I thought this setting got the outcome right only about 50% of the time and you are still far better setting the camera up manually then relying on this function.
The second function and another of Samsungs main selling points for this camera is the "Dual Image Stabilisation", this is designed to allow you to take clear blur free shots even if you have a bit of a shaky hand or if the lighting is poor and you might be using a bit of zoom. None of these functions in any point and shoot or DSLR for that matter can ever take the place of a good tripod but this setting worked very well for a compact camera and really did minimise any blurring even when I deliberately added hand shake.
Samsungs "Face Detection" is the next setting and selling point to come under my microscope and this as it is in most compacts was a real let down, it is designed to detect up to nine faces in a shot and focus on getting the skin tones and the contrast of the faces right first and foremost and I took several group shots using this and then switching it off and I could find very little difference in any of the outcomes. It did seem to work for shots with only one face in them and a difference could be seen but even then it is so minimal I personally would never bother with it.
Fourthly we come to "Blink Detection", designed to detect when eyes are closed in a shot and it then triggers the camera to take three shots in a row to catch people with eyes open but what you also catch is people that have moved after the first flash so you get some very strange facial expressions and also the dreaded blur of movement. A setting which I found to just be no use at all and if you want a tip for avoiding shut eyes in group photos it is this, "get everyone to close their eyes and tell them to open them on the count of three, as soon as you say three press the button and everyone will have just opened their eyes so no one will need to blink and hey presto you have a group all with their eyes open"!
Lastly we have the "Beauty Shot" function, this is designed to give the skin in pictures a fresh and smoother skin tone, essentially you are making people look false. Photo shop can do this type of thing well as can many airbrushing programmes that pro`s like myself use but a digital camera cannot, so unless you want everyone to e exactly the same colour of skin tone and look like they have been painted rather than photographed then you want to leave this switched off.
So for me really you only have one out of their five selling points that actually works well, this does not mean the camera is no good just that their so called innovative functions are more gimmicks than anything else.
Forget all these add on`s and let's just look at the camera as a digital point and shoot camera and you have one that does a reasonable job of most things, it allows the user to set up a lot of the setting manually should they wish and having a ten megapixel capability it takes images that are more often than not very good.
The camera has a 5 times optical zoom and even when used at its full capacity it works well and handles shots in poorer light fairly well too, all this leaves me asking myself why those people at Samsung bothered with all the gimmicky add on`s in the first place instead of just marketing this as a very capable point and shoot camera.
Look and build wise the camera is an odd one, it is very, very well made and feels great in the hand but in this day and age of everything looking very aesthetically pleasing it is a bit of an ugly duckling really. I have no idea if they do this in other colours or if they intend to add other colours at a later date but I have only ever seen this in black and silver and it is not too pretty really.
Price wise for this unit you are looking at around £120 which is not expensive really but once you realise the so called great functions this camera has, do not really work that well you are looking at this probably being a bit over priced in my opinion. I have used a few compacts from Kodak and Pentax that can do everything as well as this Samsung and yet cost about £30 less.
Another thing that this unit has in its favour however is that it uses a rechargeable Lithium Ion instead of the dreaded AA`s, this alone is not reason enough to buy a camera of course but you should always take into consideration how the unit is powered.
Samsung PL60 Specifications:
3648 x 2736 pixels
3648 x 2736
3648 x 2056
Lens focal range
F3.5(W) - F5.5(T)
6.3 - 31.5 mm
35 mm camera lens equivalent
35 - 175 mm
Light exposure correction
±2EV @ 1/3EV
Camera shutter speed
1/8 - 1/1500 s
80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
It also has the basic built in flash system that all compacts have and also the ability to capture video but as with any point and shoot camera the less said about these things the better. Video capture is always poor on this type of camera and every compact on the market will cause red eye in people simply because the flashes are so close to the lens. The PL60 does have a red eye reduction setting but as ever this only helps a little and you still need to photo shop to fully get rid of the red eye.
TO SUM UP!
I would have to say the long and the short of it with this unit is the good and bad points about cancel each other out, there is certainly a good camera hidden in here somewhere unfortunately it hides well behind silly gimmicks and a rather ugly appearance. I would never suggest anyone be put off a camera because of how it looks but I know many will be, I would however suggest that people do not fork out over the odds prices for the promise of functions that do not really do their job all that well and that is the main reason i would not go out my way to recommend this unit.
LOOKS - 4/10
BUILD QUALITY - 8/10
EASE OF USE - 8/10
IMAGE QUALITY - 7/10
FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES - 4/10
VALUE FOR MONEY - 5/10
OVERALL - 5/10
Thanks for reading.