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Samsung ST550 review

Ben Pitt
10 Feb 2010
Samsung ST550 dual-screen compact camera
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
193
inc VAT

A massive touchscreen, a second screen for self-portraits and HD video make this the ideal camera for parties and posing for Facebook profile shots.

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Specifications

1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 4.8x zoom (27-124mm equivalent), 166g

Teenagers are the trendsetters when it comes to using technology. Last time we checked, they’re still using Facebook, but their profiles contain photos of themselves as much as other people. Samsung has spotted this trend and responded with the ST550 – a camera with a front-mounted screen for self-portraits.

This screen is mounted behind the smooth plastic front panel. It’s small, dim and hard to see in sunlight, but good enough for framing shots. It’s paired with a wide-angle lens to squeeze a few friends into the frame when shooting at arm’s length. The screen comes in handy at other times, too, reminding subjects to smile at the crucial time, showing a countdown for the self-timer and bewildering infants with animated clowns.

Around the other side, there’s an enormous 3.5in, 800x450-pixel touchscreen. It’s great for slideshows, even though they don’t match the screen’s widescreen aspect ratio. Video playback of 720p HD files looked even better. Touchscreen control is responsive and well laid out, but it took us a while to realise that we had to disable the touch-for-spot-focus mode in order to enable the front screen.

We really dislike the digital airbrushing that’s applied to faces without warning in the Smart Auto shooting mode. The results look ridiculous, and horribly vain. Battery life is a concern, too, dropping from 200 to 150 shots with both screens enabled. In-camera charging means buying a spare and alternating them isn’t particularly practical. Otherwise, though, the camera strikes a pleasing balance of convenience and fun, and is a pleasure to use.

Image quality and performance aren’t as impressive, though. It took a pedestrian 3.1 seconds between shots, rising to five seconds with the flash enabled. As usual for a 12-megapixel, 1/2.33in sensor, image noise was a big problem. Even in bright light, noise reduction removed subtle details. Low-light shots were OK for posting online but not up to print standards.

That probably won’t bother Facebook users, though. There are better cameras at this price, but Samsung has identified a market and met its needs admirably.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.33in
Viewfindernone
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.5in
LCD screen resolution1,152,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom4.8x
Zoom 35mm equivalent27-124mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,000x3,000
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; MP4 (H.264)

Physical

Memory slotmicroSDHC
Mermory supplied55MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)200 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, optional HDMI
HDMI output resolutionN/A
Body materialplastic
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplier5.5x
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight166g
Size60x100x19mm

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£193
Supplierhttp://www.purelygadgets.co.uk
Detailswww.samsungcamera.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangeauto
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 3200
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, dynamic range
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus3cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, spot, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer