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.
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, 800×450-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.
|CCD effective megapixels||12.0 megapixels|
|Viewfinder magnification, coverage||N/A|
|LCD screen size||3.5in|
|LCD screen resolution||1,152,000 pixels|
|Zoom 35mm equivalent||27-124mm|
|Image stabilisation||optical, lens based|
|Maximum image resolution||4,000×3,000|
|Maximum movie resolution||1280×720|
|Movie frame rate at max quality||30fps|
|File formats||JPEG; MP4 (H.264)|
|Mermory supplied||55MB internal|
|Battery Life (tested)||200 shots|
|Connectivity||USB, AV, optional HDMI|
|HDMI output resolution||N/A|
|Focal length multiplier||5.5x|
|Kit lens model name||N/A|
|Accessories||USB and AV cables|
|Warranty||one year RTB|
|ISO range (at full resolution)||80 to 3200|
|Exposure compensation||+/-2 EV|
|White balance||auto, 5 presets, manual|
|Additional image controls||contrast, saturation, sharpness, dynamic range|
|Closest macro focus||3cm|
|Auto-focus modes||multi, spot, face detect|
|Metering modes||multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect|
|Flash||auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction|
|Drive modes||single, continuous, self-timer|