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Samsung ST550 Digital Camera Review

samsung20100406a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker 

 

Samsung’s ST550 is an innovative and attractive compact camera that point-and-shooters (particularly those who have a soft spot for self-portraiture) are going to absolutely love.

In what is a world first in the compact camera market, the RRP $449.00 ST550 features not just one LCD screen on its rear but a secondary 1.5-inch preview screen on the unit’s front as well – not that you’d know it when the camera is turned off.

In truth, the ST550 looks like any other touchscreen compact upon first appearances with, superficially at least, nothing particularly special about it. But power it up and tap the available space to the left of the lens and voila, a stamp-size live preview LCD appears!

Consider the guessing game of self-portrait shooting now over.

Composing a scene from in front of the camera is now a simple and hassle-free task - as long as you remember to look down the barrel of the lens once you’ve finished previewing yourself.

And the secondary LCD screen’s functionality doesn’t stop there. Select child mode and watch as an animated clown sequence is displayed in an attempt to capture and hold a young child’s attention long enough for you to take a picture with their eye line in the correct direction.

Select the 10-second self-timer, compose yourself into the scene using the front display and then get ready to smile as it visually counts down the final three seconds before the shutter is released.

Indeed the front LCD screen is a simple and yet highly effective idea to help further the user’s compact camera experience although its ultra user-friendliness has us wondering what took Samsung so long to come up with the idea in the first place and yet praising them for doing so eventually.

The ST550 isn’t simply a one trick pony though. It’s backed up by some 12.2megapixels and a 27mm wide angle to 105mm telepohoto, 4.6x optical zoom triple tiered lens.

Its generous 3.5-inch rear LCD screen is highly responsive and accurate. It provides a clear and bright display and upon touching, sends out a small vibration (known as the haptic effect) to help users subconsciously acknowledge when they’ve made a selection or changed a function etc.

13  selectable scene modes are available including: beauty, child, backlight, landscape, night, portrait and close-up etc. which extends out to 16 modes when utilising smart auto mode, which cleverly, accurately and automatically detects the scene presented and switches the ST550 into the best mode available to handle the given conditions.

Smile and blink detection technologies work in conjunction so the ST550 will automatically fire the shutter when it detects a smile and will delay firing the shutter if it detects the subject has their eyes closed.

A smart face recognition database is also available and can store up to 20 individuals in its auto recognition system, which ensures they are given priority in future images in terms of correct focus and exposure etc.

The ST550 is also equipped with a smart gesture user interface that allows for quick access to program and movie modes along with smart auto via a defined physical tilt in one of three directions.
During playback, these tilt commands shift to multi slideshow, favourite tag and protect tag and also help to shuffle backwards and forwards through images.


There are two ways made available to delete unwanted images during playback: firstly (and conventionally) you can select the trash can icon on screen and follow the prompts for deletion or secondly, you can use your finger to trace an invisible ‘x’ over an image which indicates to the ST550 that you want to delete that selected image.

An array of standard in-camera editing options are available including resize, rotate, contrast/saturation/brightness adjust and photo style select (soft, vivid, normal, retro, cool, classic etc.)

Three special effects options exist including 1) colour filter, which changes background colours into black and white in order to make your subject stand out, 2) elegant mode, which makes the selected image brighter and softer and 3) add noise, which does as its name suggests in an attempt to make images appear more aged.

One of the best parts of the in camera editing options is that a preview of each effect is offered before it is applied so you needn’t waste any time experimenting with the options available because you know instantly how they are going to effect your image/s.

Five different face effects are also available including red-eye fix, face retouch, snow, mosaic and highlight, the latter being nicely effective in isolating your chosen subject by blurring out insignificant background details.

The ST550 offers 1280x720p High Definition movie mode shooting at 30 frames per second and allowing for HDMI connectivity to a compatible television (if a separate cable is purchased) for sharing your HD clips with family and friends.

Simple USB charging allows for minimum fuss: you don’t have to take the battery out of the ST550 and charge it in a separate unit as the cord provided in the standard kit doubles as a power cable either when connected to the computer or to a separate power adapter (also provided) and into a wall socket.


A minor issue that may bother some users is the ST550’s compatibility with microSD and SDHC cards only, which is likely to mean a new card will need to be purchased.

Image quality overall is fairly good with the exception of low light conditions where in reality almost all compact cameras struggle.medal-gold-r.jpg

For the most part though, the ST550 reproduces colour accurately and vibrantly, particularly when shooting outdoors under ample lighting. Smart auto mode does a good job at determining the scene and therefore regularly produces solid results.


Program mode is available for those who like to dabble with shifting ISOs, metering, exposure, white balance etc. but given the capability of this unit as a general point-and-shooter, most users are likely to use it more often in that way.

Samsung’s ST550 is certainly likely to be a talking point amongst your friends and family especially given the ‘wow’ and convenience factor of the second LCD screen on the unit’s front.


Not only is it a novelty previously unseen but it has a genuine practical application that users won’t be able to help but love and enjoy.

 

Appearance rating 3.5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
3.5 stars
Lens quality
3.5 stars
View finder / LCD screen 5 stars
Value for money 3.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $449
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 12.2 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 8 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 27mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 124.2mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 5x
Resolution Settings From  1,024 x 768 to 4,000 x 3,000
Shooting Modes 15 Scenes
Face Detection Yes, 20 faces
Metering Multi, Spot, Centre Weighted, Face Detection AE
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 80cm ~ infinity
Aperture Range F3.3(W) ~ F5.8(T)
Aperture Priority Yes
Macro Yes (and Super Macro: 3cm ~ 8cm)
Macro Range [cm] Macro: 5cm ~ 80cm (Wide), 50cm ~ 80cm (Tele)
Shutter Speeds 8 sec. ~ 1/2,000 sec.
Shutter Priority No
ISO Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size Main Display: 3.5" (8.9cm) Wide 1152K Full Touch LCD
Front Display: 1.5" (3.8cm) 185K TFT LCD
Viewfinder No
Flash Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off, Red eye fix
Hot Shoe No
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent_H, Fluorescent_L, Tungsten, Custom
Self Timer Self-timer : 10 sec., 2 sec., Double, Motion Timer, Remote Controller (SRC-A5)
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes
Audio Voice Recording (max. 10 hours)
Voice Memo in Still Image (max. 10 sec.)
Storage Type External Memory (Optional): Micro SD™ (up to 4GB guaranteed)
Micro SDHC (up to 8GB guaranteed) - TBD
Storage Included [Mb] 55MB Internal Memory
Capture Formats Still Image: JPEG (DCF), EXIF 2.21, DPOF 1.1, PictBridge 1.0
Movie Clip: H.264 (MPEG4.AVC)
Audio: AAC
Connectivity USB
Power Source Adaptor: SAC-48, CB34U05
Connector Type: 34pin
Battery Options Rechargeable battery: SLB-07A
Dimensions (W) 99.8 x (H) 59.8 x (D) 18.6 mm
Weight 165.7g (without battery and card)

 

 
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