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Samsung PL70 review

Ben Pitt
3 Mar 2010
Samsung PL70
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
157
inc VAT

Not without its flaws, but high image quality and 720p HD video are an impressive combination at this price

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Specifications

1/2.3in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (28-140mm equivalent), 149g

The PL70 is a tad chunkier than average but its brushed aluminium front fascia looks elegant. It’s just as impressive around the back, with a 3in LCD screen and a mode dial for quick access to its various shooting modes. A Function button provides quick access to key photographic controls, with other settings stowed away behind the Menu button.

Optical image stabilisation is included but we found it to be less effective than rival systems, only managing a 60 per cent success rate at the full zoom extension and a 1/15-second shutter speed (over 90 per cent is common). Combining it with electronic stabilisation improved the success rate to 80 per cent but crippled performance and made various other settings inaccessible. Otherwise, performance was generally decent, but the flash took up to eight seconds to recharge and fire again. Continuous shooting was fast at 1fps, but the screen was blank while shooting.

It’s great to see 720p HD video at this price, and even better when it’s recorded in the memory-saving AVC format with stereo AAC sound. However, it was let down slightly by fixed focus throughout the length of clips and problems with noise when shooting in low light.

The 12-megapixel, 1/2.3in sensor posed serious problems in terms of image noise in photos too. However, Samsung’s digital processing handled it better than usual. Fine details had a syrupy texture but otherwise photos looked impressively clean, particularly in high-contrast lines. The lens performed well, too, producing sharp focus across the frame, and we failed to find a bad photo among our test shots.

The PL70 has a lot in common with Panasonic’s FP8: 12-megapixel photos, 720p videos, optical stabilisation and a wide-angle lens. The FP8 costs £30 less, has a longer battery life, superior video quality and more effective optical stabilisation. The PL70 has a bigger, better screen and superior image quality. Either is equally deserving of your money, but bear in mind that Fujifilm’s fantastic F200EXR costs just a few pounds more.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.3in
Viewfindernone
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent28-140mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,000x3,000
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG; MP4 (AVC)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied76MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)280 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, HDMI (via optional adapter)
HDMI output resolution1080i
Body materialaluminium
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplier5.6x
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight149g
Size60x96x24mm

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£157
Supplierhttp://www.dabs.com
Detailswww.samsungcamera.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speed8 to 1/2,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.4 to f/5.8
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus5cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, motion timer