Product Type: Samsung digital cameras
Newest Review: ... for those in their early twenties like myself. But I wouldn't limit it to that as I have a lot of small children in my family, so they... more
Two screens, one very large price tag!
Member Name: thebigc1690
Advantages: Good picture quality, good looks and well built.
Disadvantages: Not the easiest to use and a huge price tag.
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.
I have not written a review for some time but I have still been testing cameras for my camera club and have plenty to tell you all about, some good, some not so. I have just about found the time to write a review on the Samsung ST550 a camera which was announced back in August and yet again Samsung were giving us a worlds first, a compact camera with front and back LCD technology.
Too often however, when a company have a big new gimmick on their camera they forget to make sure that all the expected things within the camera are up to scratch but thankfully with this one that is not the case and Samsung really have produced a good compact camera that does have something different from the rest (for now anyway)!
As anyone who has been a regular user of compact cameras over the years will know, the use of digital imaging technologies has evolved greatly and there are things now in digital compact cameras that a few years ago we had not heard of but we now expect as standard and Samsung do not let us down with this.
The Samsung St550 has a one touch shooting and auto function which allows you to change the focal point of the autofocus from the centre of the image to other areas, it also features a smart auto or scene recognition function which allows you to focus on the basic composition of your shot whilst the camera takes care of the aperture and shutter speed for you to get the best possible shot from the conditions you are shooting in.
You then get the more gimmicky settings such as smart face recognition which automatically recognises up to 20 faces in one shot and sets about making sure that the faces are clear and in focus but Samsung have taken this one step further and this camera actually remembers faces that it sees regularly and prioritises them when focusing a shot, I call this a gimmick because I personally feel it is the duty of the photographer to catch a great photo and no camera can ever do the work of a good photographer, that and also that this function for me does not actually work too well.
The other annoying claim that this camera makes is that it can shoot HD movie recording, when will still cameras stop trying to be video cameras? A camera of this quality can shoot very decent still images and in the very best lighting conditions can indeed capture HD movie footage but as soon as the light is anything less than perfect then the video footage is poor quality and in my opinion pointless.
Back to what is good about the camera and we have a very useful Dual image stabilisation system within this camera that offers both digital and optical image stabilisation that ensure that even when zooming in you get blur free images almost every time even in low light situations.
The Samsung ST550 has a 12.2 megapixel sensor and unlike many of the compact cameras it has a lens which will allow you to get the benefit of what the sensor can produce, the images I took on the first day of using this camera were all taken outdoors under grey cloud and they were all very good clear and colour rich images and the white balance settings within this unit worked very well as standard and along with the fact that the ISO can be set manually and offers a good range with up to 800 ISO shooting virtually noise free it meant that I could capture the colours in my images exactly as the naked eye saw them on the day.
Now came the cameras next test which was indoor use with its own flash for lighting and like many compacts it failed spectacularly here, with the images having really bad hot spots and every person photographed having horrendous red eye even with the red eye reduction activated, now I cannot be too harsh on the camera for this because almost every compact will produce this result and the one thing this camera had in its favour was that it could cope well with focusing in poor light and apart from the annoying hot spots the rest of the image had excellent colour reproduction and perhaps with a bit of time in Photoshop these images could be greatly improved.
The next test I gave this little unit was to use it in conjunction with some studio lighting and it worked very well, producing very good images that could actually compare with some low end DSLR`s, this might be a bit of a pointless exercise because I doubt anyone buying this would use it with studio lights but I thought I would mention it anyway.
Ok now let's move on to what is the cameras main selling point, its dual LCD screens. The one on the rear is the world's highest resolution LCD screen to date and measures a massive 3 and a half inches and also has touch screen features whilst the small one on the front to allow you to compose photos of yourself is a one and a half inch offering with much less clarity but still useful should you want to take pictures of yourself for whatever reason.
So here we have a camera that offers everything you would expect along with a few things you might not and it takes very good photos too so is it then the best compact around? Well no it is not and it is much more expensive than many other compacts that can compete with it admirably and a few that can beat it for overall picture quality, I personally feel that the Sony Cybershot DSC-W180 produces better final images under all circumstances than this camera and costs around £100 less so unless you really must have the front screen then perhaps you should think carefully about spending £220 on this camera.
If you have £220 to spend and you really want the latest technology then fine go ahead and purchase this safe in the knowledge that what you will be buying is a very good compact camera with the very latest state of the art technology but if all you want is a good compact that can produce good images and has the basic things that you expect these days then my advice to you would be to shop around and save your pennies, and if you want the best possible camera for your money and do not care if it is compact or otherwise then you could buy a superzoom camera for the price of this and a decent starter level DSLR for only around £50 more.
THE SAMSUNG ST550 SPECIFICATIONS:
Lens 27-124mm (4.6x optical zoom)
File Formats JPEG
ISO Range 80-3200
Flash Modes Off, On, Auto, Redeye, Fill-in, Slow Sync, Red-eye fix,
Weight 165.7g (without battery and card)
Dimensions 99.8 x 59.8 x 18.6mm
Sensor 12.2MP 1/2.3in. CCD
LCD Main Display: 3.5" (8.9cm) Wide 1,152K Full Touch LCD Front Display: 1.5" (3.8cm) 185K TFT LCD
Exposure Modes Multi-pattern, centre weighted, spot by imaging element
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Tungsten, Custom
Memory Card Micro SD / Micro SDHC (to 8GB max) - NOT standard SD-type cards
Connectivity Multi A/V out
Power Rechargeable battery: SLB-07A
Other Dual LCD (one front, one back), OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), Face detection, 720p HD movie
TO SUM UP:
This camera has lots to offer but in my opinion is a little over priced for what it actually is, I guess the extra cost is due to the front screen which is certainly something I could live without, in fact I would go so far as to say that it is pointless technology in my honest opinion. I know there could come a time where you find yourself alone in a great place and want to capture the moment but is it really so hard to take a photo of yourself without a front screen?
Anyway to move on from that, you have a nice looking well built camera with the capability of capturing great photos, it has a rechargeable battery which for me is always the best way to go rather than having to replace AA`s every five minutes. The other good points of this camera far outweigh the bad but the price alone for me is a huge stumbling block, because in my opinion this camera is nowhere near £100 better than the other compacts on the market and as I have said there are actually much less expensive compacts that can outperform it so it really is all about whether or not you feel the need for a front LCD screen!
LOOKS - 10/10
BUILD QUAITY - 9/10
EASE OF USE - 8/10
IMAGE QUALITY - 8/10
FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES - 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY - 6/10
OVERALL - 8/10
Thanks for reading.
Summary: Only worth its money if you must have the front screen.
|Ease of use:|