Samsung PL150 review
1/2.33in 12.4-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (27-135mm equivalent), 139g
Samsung introduced the dual LCD system with the ST550 and it proved to be a success, as Samsung has unveiled a couple of new dual-screen compacts. The PL150 is a cheaper version of the ST550 which eschews the rear 3.5in 1152k dot touch screen in favour of a cheaper 3in 230k LCD, which sits flush with the plastic casing. It's still bright and viewable on sunny days, but the lower resolution is obvious.
The front-mounted screen is the same size as the ST550's at 1.5in and it's activated via a button on the top, but it too has been a victim of cost-cutting - the resolution is just 61k dots compared to the 185k in the ST550's second display. It's as dim as the ST550's front-mounted display and the lower resolution results in increased graininess, but it remains functionally the same. It's useful for self portraits, entertaining kids and offering a handy countdown in timer mode.
A result of the front-mounted screen is that, like the ST550, the PL150 uses the annoyingly small micro SD card format, which is typically used in mobile phones. It's understandable that space is at a premium given the additional electronics required for the second screen, but it wouldn't have hurt to make the camera another few millimetres thicker to accommodate a standard SD card slot. With that said, it's more likely that the Samsung PL150's target audience already owns a number of micro SD cards, so it'll save them the trouble of buying another memory card.
As there's no touch screen, a familiar set of controls have returned on the PL150. The buttons are solid and feel positive when pressed. The mode dial also has a reassuring positivity about it too, making the camera feel very well built on the whole.
The base has been designed with a seven degree angle along the back edge, so that the camera can either sit vertical or lean back when it's rested on a flat surface. Samsung says that this subtle touch was added for taking pictures without needing a tripod or a spare pair of hands when you want to take that family holiday group snap.
The disturbing air-brushing applied to faces in the Smart Auto mode looks over-processed and there's no warning that the PL150 is applying this effect. Even more ridiculous is the Beauty mode, which makes friends look great on the camera's LCD but, as soon as you inspect images a little closer, friends looked like they'd had an accident down at the local plastic surgery clinic.